There are few worthy intellectuals outside of Sowell who are capable of, or have succeeded, in altering the conservative public rhetorical framework. Our think-tanks are largely efforts at consolidating political parties behind the language of moral sentiments — not adapting the political system, nor providing outlets or alternatives to the progressive temptation to manipulate the economy. Partly, that’s because ANY manipulation of the economy is a violation of conservative values. However, conservatives have demonstrated that they are not able to prevent progressive policies. They are arguably the victims of them. And the conservative sentiments are in danger of becoming the private religion of the white minority.
Understanding our conservative sentiments requires that we explore our pre-classical-liberal history and traditions, and the economic and social models that gave birth to them, and that we correct our interpretation of our aristocratic and monarchical past. In justifying the classical liberal conquest of the expanding state power, conservatives demonized the aristocracy and monarchy and its recent past, and embraced the religious norms of the time. Embracing religion was nothing more than use of available political power against the entrenched landed classes by the new middle class.
After Darwin undermined the church, the strategy of attacking aristocracy backfired. Conservatives had nothing to hold onto other than classical liberalism as a civic religion grounded in tradition – the religion of ‘freedom’. A religion that is outnumbered by masses desirous of redistribution, and public intellectuals who profit from selling the promise of it.
The conservatives had demonized the aristocratic political system, despite the fact that their entire society was based upon its social model – a model which they had no rationally articulated explanation of, and even less comparative understanding of their model versus that of others. The church and its religious language was merely a necessary allegorical verbal framework for social thought given the total absence of rationally articulated aristocratic philosophy. That allegorical language lacked the supporting economic information needed to understand its workings and its value. With the destruction of the church, Conservatives were left devoid of a language. The entirety of french and german cultures raised generations of philosophers attempting to reframe religious language in rational terms. They all failed.
Conservatives are still devoid of a rational language. They are trapped in the allegorical and sentimental era. They have demonized the aristocracy to the point where propaganda has been interpreted as received history. Yet most of that demonization is a matter of propaganda, not fact. Left only with the classical liberal religion of freedom, and the constitution and the american political institutions, the aristocratic order crumbled under the combined assault of Keynesian/Knightian economics, reformed socialism in the form of redistributive social democracy, and public intellectuals enabled by the profits the mass media could make selling the new religion of the state.
Russell Kirk and his generation failed to produce anything more than a restatement of conservative sentiments in moral post-religious language. The primarily jewish Libertarians took leadership, and produced economic arguments that by the 1980’s succeeded in gaining policy influence. And the anti-left is now split between the christian social conservatives, classical liberal christian conservatives, libertarian commercial christians and the judaic anarcho-capitalists.
Languages are necessary in order to articulate political preferences. Political preferences are the result of metaphysical value judgements. Value judgements are social strategies.
The Libertarians have developed a language for universal political speech. Unfortunately, that language is grounded in a moralistic assumption about the very nature, cause and necessity of ethics.
One brick at a time, one day at a time, I’m trying to reform the libertarian language into aristocratic language, so that conservative sentiments, values, and social strategy can be articulated in the public debate — so that we may conduct a battle of social models against encroaching totalitarianism brought about by Shumpeterian intellectuals.
It’s a yeoman’s labor. But Lew proved it can be done.
2 responses to “What I Learned From Lew Rockwell”
“Conservatives are still devoid of a rational language. They are trapped in the allegorical and sentimental era.”
This a great explicit statement of what I see as the most promising intellectual challenge of our time. I’m very happy to have discovered your blog, although I’ll have to read farther to see if you’ve already answered the skeptical counter-arguments in my head about whether libertarianism is the best language to approach this issue
I agree that it is the great challenge of our time, and thank you for discovering my blog.
I kind of doubt that there exist any skeptical counter-arguments since I expressly argue that one we have any government that we want as long as a) we are fully informed as to the strengths and weaknesses, and b) we are willing to pay the consequences of our choices.
I don’t use libertarianism so much as Propertarianism. “Property creates calculability. Calculabilty creates the possibility of rational choices. Inclaculability obscures involuntary transfers.”
Please stay in touch. I have a lot of work coming out this year.