On Conservatism and Art

A few weeks ago, another tweet claiming that it was impossible for conservatives to make art made the rounds of Twitter. Like too many in the mainstream culture, its sender erroneously assumed that because art inherently involves edgy innovation, and since conservatives categorically hate and/or fear both extremes and change, art must be the obvious property of the left. The thread received enough attention that I don’t need to invite more here. The Mallard hosted a Space on the topic—not necessarily on whether its message had merit (quote threads were rife with examples contradicting it, from Dostoevsky to Dali to Stevie Ray Vaughan), but rather to discuss the question of how conservatives could most effectively make art. 

Of course, among other topics we discussed the relationship between art and politics. A point made by many was the fact that, when discussing art and conservatism one should at least attempt to be clear about their terms. Furthermore, as mentioned in the conversation by Jake Scott, one must differentiate between political conservatism and metaphysical conservatism; the confusion of the two has, as the above stereotype shows, led to much confusion on the subject of conservatism and art that, so far as I can, I will attempt to nuance here. 

A refrain one hears, usually from activists on the left, is that all art is political. Such assertions are often met with frustration, generally from convervatives but also from people not explicitly on the right but who just want to be left alone when it comes to politics (and who, for such a response, are subsequently branded as right-wing by those who interpret all of life through an unconditional, against-if-not-actively-for ideology). However, the former are not wrong; all art can be interpreted as political—because all art is metaphysical.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, art is, among other things, a concretization of abstract values. When one looks at a painting, listens to a song, takes in a sculpture, walks through a building, or reads through a novel, one is engaging with the values that the artist has given a local habitation and a name (as always, Shakespeare said it best—MND V.1); this necessarily involves, though it need not be fully bound to, the artist’s metaphysical worldview.  

Consider the two literary schools that dominated the nineteenth century and that can generally be placed within Western culture’s pendulum-like sway between the Platonic and Aristotelian: Romanticism and Naturalism. A Romantic whose work assumes that there are things higher than the material world that give this life an infinite meaning will create very different art from a Naturalist who believes the material world is all that exists and that any attempt to say differently is an artifice that will unintentionally or cynically mislead people into accepting suffering as a value. Nothing in these examples is overtly political, but one can see (indeed, we’ve had over a century of seeing) the different politics that would come from each view. This is because politics, as an expansion upon the more fundamental realm of ethics, begins with metaphysical premises from which the rest flow. Different directional degrees will lead maritime navigators to very different locations; how much more will different primary assumptions about the nature of reality and humans’ place in it?

Let’s look at an example from an author who was cited in that thread as a conservative: Dostoevsky. Rather than counter the rising atheist-socialist egotism of mid-nineteenth-century Russia with a political textbook (which, granted, would have been banned under the Tsar’s censors, who eschewed all explicitly political works—hence why the Russian novel had to take on so many roles), Dostoevsky depicts and undermines the burgeoning philosophy in the character of Crime and Punishment’s Rodion Raskalnikov. 

However, though the ideas in debate had (and are still having) political effects, Dostoevsky is not merely speaking politics in Crime and Punishment. He understood that politics was a function of one’s primary assumptions about reality—about one’s metaphysics—and their effects on one’s individual psychology. He also recognized, as Raskalnikov’s unconventional bildung shows, that one’s stated politics may actually conflict with the metaphysics underlying their beliefs. Hence, for all Rodion’s stated atheistic egotism, he finds himself preventing a woman from committing suicide, giving all his spare cash to those with less than he, and being fascinated with the downtrodden but resilient (because Christlike) Sonia. 

In Crime and Punishment and his other masterpieces, Dostoevsky juxtaposes the new generation’s radical ideas not against other ideas (i.e. on the radicals’ terms) but against the background of the broader Orthodox-Christian Russian psyche. Raskalnikov’s working out of the contradiction between his would-be Napoleon complex and his subconscious worldview (if not the fabric of reality at large—Dostoevsky rarely simplifies the distinction between the two) mimics the author’s own similar progression not only from a socialistic politic to one more consistent with his deeper Orthodox convictions but, in his view, one from madness to sanity. 

While to read Dostoevsky solely through a political lens is to not read him at all, his writing does point to the inherent relationship between an artist and the politics of his or her historical context. The norms, laws, and cultural debates of a given generation are interconnected with the art then produced, which can reinforce, undermine, or, in the case of most pre-2010s consumer art, quite simply inhabit them (which, true to form, the aforementioned leftist activist would accuse of being a complacent and complicit reinforcement). 

However, as this political layer is often based in the times, it usually passes away with them. In the coming Christmas season, few people will read A Christmas Carol with Social Darwinism in mind, though Dickens was, in part, critiquing that contemporaneous viewpoint in Ebeneezer Scrooge. Perhaps works like Dickens’s Carol were necessary to ensure Social Darwinism did not succeed—that is, perhaps their politics served the purpose intended by their authors. Nonetheless, today A Christmas Carol is virtually useless, politically (at least, for Dickens’s immediate polemical purposes), which is the beginning of a work’s infinite usefulness as art. What is left is the more general story that, for all intents and purposes, made modern Christmas. Contrary to what politivangelicals and literature majors who read through a new historicist lens (*raises hand*) might try to maintain, this is not a lessening but an enriching; it is the separation of the transient from the enduring—of the metaphysical from the physical. 

One implication of this view of art as concretized metaphysics, and one which was mentioned in our Space conversation, is that not all art that labels itself “art” qualifies as art. If the explanation of a piece contains more discernible meaning (i.e. is bigger) than the piece itself—that is, if no values have been concretized so as to be at least generally recognizable—then, sorry, it’s not art (or if it is, it’s not concretizing the values its creator thinks it is). Often the makers of such “art” believe the paramount aspect of a piece must be its radical message—the more disruptive and cryptic, the better; this conveniently offers the maker a pretext to skip out on, if not directly subvert, style and aesthetic skill, to say nothing of selectivity. It goes without saying that this is a major part of the oft-lamented degradation of aesthetics in Western culture, from “high art,” to architecture, to animation. Why devote rigor to style and skill when the point is to signal that one aligns with the correct message?

By the way, this merits a general exhortation: if you don’t like a piece of art (a building, a sculpture, a Netflix series, etc), it might not be because you, rube that you are, have no taste or understanding; it might be because it’s simply a pile of shit—which, it bears mentioning, has been tried to be passed off as art. You are under no obligation to concede the inferiority complex such pieces try to sell you in their gnostic snake oil. Because the point of art is to communicate abstract human values, one does not need a degree in art, nor in philosophy, to understand and enjoy good art. Indeed, contrary to the elitism assumed in modern art taste, it may be the mark of good art that the average person can understand and enjoy it without too much explanation; such a work will have fulfilled art’s purpose of bodying forth the forms of things unknown but which are nonetheless universal.

The unintentional defaulting or the intentional subverting of the role of aesthetics in art by the modern and postmodern culture unwittingly reveals a possible door for conservatives who wish to make art. Rather than playing into the stereotype by simply making reactionary art with explicitly opposite meanings, “conservative art” (or, more preferably, conservatives who simply want to make good art) must begin with a return to aesthetic rigor. Just as the early church’s response to heresies was not to accept the premises of the heresies’ mind-body split but, rather, to restore the body-mind-spirit unity depicted in the Gospel and the Trinity, so the current response to artistic heresies—which involve a similar, if not the very same, split—is to reunite the physical and metaphysical. 

We must not ignore the messages of our art, but we should allow them to follow the literally more immediate role of the aesthetic experience. Indeed, we should seek to develop enough skill in conveying abstract themes and ideas through our medium such that little explanation is necessary. As conservatives, especially, we do not need to maneuver things so our audience takes away a certain message. Either the values we are trying to capture will speak for themselves, or we will learn that we need more practice. Above all, unless knowingly engaging in polemics, we should not (or at least try not to) approach art as a sermon. Doing so runs the risk of proving too much, besides turning off audiences who have probably had enough messaging and rhetoric. Instead, use your ethos, pathos, and logos to present their corresponding virtues of Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, and let the aesthetic experience stand as the message. As Jake Scott recently tweeted, underscoring his January article cited above, when making art, forget politics—seek to create heritage.

As always, it’s the conservative’s task to take his or her advice first. While I do currently have a polemical novel in pre-publication process with a clear message against the canceling in academia of Shakespeare and the tradition he represents, in A California Kid in King Henry’s Court, my serial novel for The Mallard’s print magazine, I have tried to focus solely on the aesthetic experience of the story. 

The title is, of course, a throwback to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain’s comedy of an American who, having been knocked on his head in a factory, awakens in Arthurian England and subsequently seeks to industrialize the chivalric country, all the while becoming, himself, as much an object of Twain’s satire as medieval chivarly. My semi-autobiographical serial novel takes an opposite tack: a kid from California, having derived from Tolkien and Shakespeare a love for England’s literary past, attends modern Oxford and finds it far different from what he expects. The joke of each episode is usually on the fictional narrator, Tuck. However, though I’m a far less subtle satirist than Twain (really, my work is parody, not satire, since I am starting from a loving desire to enjoy the book’s subject, rather than a satirical desire to debase it), I’ve attempted to do something similar to Twain: unlock the dramatic and comic potential of Americans’ English past while still poking fun at elite pretensions, whether those of the narrator whose knowledge of literary references is irrelevant outside of academia, or of a modern England that keeps shattering the narrator’s romanticized ideas of Anglo tradition. 

While, beneath the parody, one of A California Kid’s thematic goals is to explore the deeper relevance of the English literary tradition, my main objective has simply been to make readers laugh—which, taking a cue from Monty Python’s discussions of comedy, starts with making myself laugh. If readers walk away from the episodes appreciating Shakespeare or Tolkien, so much the better, but it is only a secondary end to the primary one of telling a hopefully worth-reading story. 

Over the past half-century the postmodern anti-tradition has become the predominant tradition. The task of breaking open a way forward from the metaphysical assumptions of that structure—of liberating people from them—is now the job of conservatives, which, yes, does include everyone who does not want to wholly jettison, deconstruct, or “decolonize” the past, however politically or philosophically they self-identify. However, our goal should not be to merely preserve the past against the current attack and atrophy. The left’s view of art as a vehicle for political messaging can be traced back over 150 years to, among other sources, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, literary rival of Dostoevsky and writer of the utopian polemical novel What is to Be Done? As I tell my US History students, if you want to know why a generation pursues certain politics, look at what they were reading twenty or thirty years before; according to Dostoevsky biographer Joseph Frank, Chernyshevsky’s novel was the favorite book of a young Vladimir Lenin. 

Conservatives must take a similarly long view of art. We must strive, as much as we are able, to make works that will last not just for a given generation, but for several. Yes, we must look to the works and artists whose work has aesthetically endured and whose metaphysics have transcended their own times—and then we must create our own. The messages, insofar as they are necessary, will follow, the greatest of which being that the aesthetic experience is the point of the art. This has always been the point, not because of any inherent politics or lack thereof in art, but because it is the nature of art to simultaneously look backward and forward in its concretization and preservation of values. The same can be said of conservatism, which I take as a sign that we, rather than the left, are best equipped to produce the future of art. Like our philosophy, ours is not simply an art of return, but of resurrection and legacy.

Photo Credit.

Conservatives Just Don’t Get It

This article was originally published in April 2020.

“It is always said that a man grows more conservative as he grows older; but for my part, I feel myself in many ways growing more and more revolutionary” – G.K. Chesterton.

One should never attempt to fight the enemy on his home turf. Unfortunately, conservatives have been doing exactly that for the past 60 years. The changes to the social fabric that have occurred over decades, courtesy of the left’s dominance on the cultural front, have been nothing short of extreme. Such changes are paramount to an intergenerational sociocultural revolution, one which many “conservatives” refuse to acknowledge the significance of, either due to ignorance, arrogance, or cowardice.

Some would rather indulge in the rather fashionable practice of vacuous contrarianism, insisting that the concept of “Culture War” is trivial; imported for the sake of disruption rather than anything important. I can assure you, it’s not. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, our politics continue to no longer be defined by the material and the necessities for survival. Nor is it defined by the intricate details of policy papers. Rather, it is fundamentally cultural; it is an existential conflict, one which has emerged amid the increasingly different ways we define who we are. Far too many conservatives underestimate the importance of this fact. Far too many conservatives just don’t get it.

Defining the Enemy

The most common understanding of the left is the left-wing party. Naturally, in Britain, the Labour Party comes to mind. It’s those socialist maniacs who want to raise your taxes, bankrupt the country, and bring back the IRA. To some extent or another, this may or not be true. Some may be (correctly) willing to push the boat out and incorporate other parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the SNP into this understanding. Whilst they incorporate different ideological strands into their party platforms (i.e. liberalism, Scottish nationalism, etc.) they are still understood as belonging to the broadly progressive, left-of-centre bloc of British politics. Of course, this excludes the Conservatives themselves, not because they’re right-wing, but because they are not ‘officially’ seen as such.

However, specifically in the scope of culture, “the left” has historically been encapsulated in (as one in the midst of China’s own cultural revolution would put it) the hatred of “old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas”. It is the movement which not only holds these things in contempt, but has artificial over the course of several generations, actively sought to undermine them, and supplant them with placeholders. Whether it is branded as liberation or social justice, deconstruction or decolonisation, the motive is the same: the eradication of Britain’s true understanding of itself. It is the removal of a nation’s identity, onto which another one can be projected; one that serves the interests of the revolutionaries, who have long since been assimilated into positions of officialdom. Tradition, in all its forms, is not a milestone of progress to these people, but something which stands in its way. Tradition are markers of oppression, bigotry, and other devalued soundbite terms that have long infested modern politico-cultural discourse.

This outlook, when put into perspective, is hardly contained within the confines of mainstream political parties. On the contrary, the most ardent advocates and enforcers of these ideas do not have a seat in parliament or hold a party membership card, yet they still wield extraordinary amounts of influence over the public realm, either as well-known figures or grey eminences. If conservatives are to get serious about conserving, they will have to think outside the party-political box and engage with the wider political arena; the Labour Party is merely one of many heads of the progressive hydra that has been wreaking havoc on our country.

The Conservative Problem: The World Moves On

So often, mainstream conservative figures evoke the Devil-like image of Marx, whose communist ideals linger within the minds of leftists. This is often done with the hope of incentivizing the public to steer clear of such people. This poses two problems. One is that most people (especially young people) really don’t care about the “threat of communism”. They may find the CCP distasteful, they may prefer the USA as the world hegemon, but people (again, especially young people) don’t have a potently adverse reaction to communism. Keep in mind, this general sense of apathy is also felt towards other historically charged political forces, such as the IRA, Hamas, and Venezuelan Socialism. Indeed, one could say the same thing about National Socialism, but I digress.

Too many conservatives fundamentally misunderstand of the type of left we are up against, not just in the party-political sphere but in all nooks and crannies of every institution of society. If you want to understand the grotesque and underhand nature of modern leftism, you’re better off the intellectual descendants of Marx, rather than Marx himself. Whilst Marx called for the proletariat to revolt against their bourgeoisie oppressors, Gramsci fixated on the issue of cultural hegemony – that economic transformations can only occur if a society is preconditioned with the necessary cultural values; it is these cultural values that justify whatever economic system is in place, and by extension, the specific nature of economic redistribution. Conservatives can hardly hope to win if they can’t even recognise the type of battle that’s being fought which is, first and foremost, one of a cultural nature.

Politics is Downstream from Culture

Supremacy in Parliament is important; it is the sovereign legislature after all. However, conservatives must remember that power, in all its forms, transcends the walls of Westminster; capturing the building where legislation is made must be combined with capturing the institutions that shape our nation’s political “Overton Window”. It is this framework that inspires the legislation that is created within it and dictates what legislation can exist. If legislation isn’t allowed to exist in a ‘culturally appropriate’ sense, then it almost certainly won’t be allowed to exist in a practical sense.

Conservatives must reaffirm themselves with the timeless truth that “politics is downstream from culture”. Politicians are important actors, but they are not the only actors. Conservatives must learn to march through the institutions as the left has done for so many years with frightening efficacy, whether it be in the classroom or the court room, the media or the civil service, the hospitals or the churches. It is victory on this front that has already altered the perceptions we have of our society, and therefore how we conduct our politics.

Currently, the products of these institutions are often laced and ingrained with progressive preconceptions and cultural attitudes. Dissenting views and sentiments are purged from the circles that produce these mass-consumed cultural products. This is not because they are wrong in any objective sense, on the contrary, many have realised that what’s said in these instances is actually pretty milquetoast (“trans women aren’t biological women, etc.). People’s politics are shaped by the environment in which they operate, and as time has gone by, the leftist-domination of seemingly neutral institutions has resulted in those who would otherwise being apolitical becoming (either explicitly or implicitly) averse or straight up hostile to conservatism. Then again, why shouldn’t cultural progressives do this? They have shown time and time again that they cannot (currently) advance their ideas via the ballot box, so instead they focus on maintaining and integrating their power where it already exists and doing what they can from there.

Conservatives are foolish if they think that they can ignore the concerns of people until they reach 30. Whilst young conservatives are more radical than their elders, they are fewer in number. Young people are far more hostile to conservatism than 40 years ago, and older people are becoming increasingly progressive themselves. The demography is against us, in more ways than one. They may not call for the workers of the world to unite, but they still hold disdain for those who hold socially traditionalist sentiments. The Conservative Party can win as many elections as it likes, but it won’t matter provided culturally conservative ideas are suppressed and forced to remain on the fringes. The electorate may not be averse to the Party, but as for the philosophy from which it draws its name, that a very different kettle of fish.

The Conservative Problem: Parliament is the Ultimate Prize

Despite all this, it is hard for many in the Conservative Party to comprehend how “the left” continues to be an existential threat to the British and our way of life. When I converse with Conservative Party members, many often exalt over “Bojo winning a stonking 80 seat majority and saving Britain from the clutches of Red Jezza”. Once again, the problem with this is that it reduces the political to party politics, electoral success, and the squabbles of Westminster and Tory Twitter. It also severely underestimates the vehicle for change an 80-seat majority could act as provided we addressed the current cultural paradigm in which the party is forced to operate. A cultural paradigm that will only continue in the favour of progressives provided conservatives get their act together.

Unfortunately, anytime someone within the ranks of the party dares to defend Britain from continuous desecration besides the safe stuff, such as the monarchy and purely liberal-democratic interpretations of Brexit, much like the spiteful and monotonous Marxist-drones thy insist to be so different from, they hound you, assassinate your character, declare you unfit for public life. To not sufficiently submit to the brand of “Conservatism” permitted by the current cultural paradigm is often nothing short of social suicide. This also goes for those who espouse their profusive love for the “broadchurch” and talk about free-thinking with impassioned vigour, like some firebrand philosopher from the enlightenment. Then again, one should expect such two-faced behaviour from careerist sycophants. For the overwhelming number of apparatchiks, patriotism is just for show.

This is not to say supporting the monarchy and Brexit are bad things. On the contrary, I am a monarchist (although, I am not a Windsorian) and favoured Brexit before Brexit was even a word. What should be noted though is that to truly prevent Britain’s abolition, we must do so much more. This “do what you like so long as it doesn’t affect my me or my wallet” mindset is deeply ingrained into our society, even in its economically downtrodden state, inhibits the political conscience we require for national renewal.

Of course, there have been “attempts” by “culturally conservative” minded individuals to engage in cultural discourse. Pity they rarely talk about anything cultural or conservative. Normally its either some astroturfed rhetoric about the wonders of free-market capitalism and individualism, and the menaces of socialism and big-government. When they do, it’s nothing more than them desperately trying to prove to their left-leaning counterparts that they’re “not like those other nasty Tories” or that it “it’s actually the Left that is guilty of [insert farcical modern sin here]”. I look forward to living in the increasingly cursed progressive singularity in which leftists and “rightists” are arguing over who’s more supportive of drag-queen story time, mass immigration, and open-relationship polyamory. What’s more, attempts to indoctrinate the youth into becoming neoliberal shills could be more forgivable if their attempts weren’t teeth-grindingly cringey.

The Mechanics of Political Discourse

The mainstream media, for example, is one of many institutions dominated by cultural progressives, has long perpetuated the façade of meaningful politico-cultural discourse. How many times have we seen a Brexiteer and a Remainer go head-to-head on talk shows and debate programs only for it to be a session of who can come across as the most liberal and globalist? “Brexit is a tragic isolationist, nationalist project” pathetically weeps the [feckless and unpatriotic] Remainer. “No no, it is THE EU that is the isolationist, nationalist project!” righteously proclaims the [spineless and annoying] Brexiteer. These people talk as if the British populace have all unanimously agreed that therapeutic-managerialism is currently the best thing for their country. As much as the grifters and gatekeepers might like to ride the “reject the establishment, stand up for Britain” wave to boost their online clout, they’re just as detached from the concerns and problems facing Britain as “those damn brussels bureaucrats” and “out-of-touch metropolitan lefties”. As a Brexiteer you’ll have to forgive my mind-crippling ignorance, but I am highly suspicious of the idea that most Leave voters sought to accelerate the effects of economic and cultural globalisation. Brexit, by all measures, drew the battle lines between the culturally conservative Leavers and the culturally liberal Remainers (individual exceptions accounted for).

This influence must not be taken lightly, even the most authoritarian regimes must rely on some consent and co-operation from forces beyond the central government. Not the people of course, but those who assist it in the government’s ability to govern; an all-encompassing apparatus through which a government may be permitted to assert its influence; comprised of NGOs, QUANGOs, the civil service, the mainsteam press, and various directly affected sections of society with vested interests in the form of corporate monopolies, universities, and devolved bodies. Without support and co-operation from these institutions, a government’s ability to exert influence is drastically limited. It is from these non-parliamentary sources of influence that have come to possess substantial (and practically unaccountable) amounts of power over the politico-cultural discourse. They decide what questions exist, what topics are taught, how issues are discussed, what viewpoints get publicity, what projects receive funding, what subjects’ officially matter… they decide what’s funny, and what’s not!

The cultural values at the top of society, and therefore endemic to society as a whole, lend themselves both to the creation of a cohesive ruling class. One with capabilities so indispensable to government that even if a party were to capture power on a conservative platform, it likely wouldn’t make all or most of the necessary changes needed. It also makes those values assume a special worth that other cultural attitudes do not have. Like all such “sacred” values, they do not exist in a single place, they permeate out as both a civilisation’s assumed-to-be natural moral standards and as something which exists at the top of socio-cultural hierarchy of status.

The Conservative Problem: The Rules are Fair

Considering what is a highly restrictive discourse, many will shake their fist and declare “you just can’t say anything these days”. Total rubbish. You just say certain things. You can say that mass-immigration is a blessing. You can say we should normalise dating sex workers. You can’t say anything meaningful about the nationwide grooming gangs or “I personally believe {insert any run of the mill socially conservative view here}. If you do, you’ll end get fired from your job, or the Church of England and be forced to issue a grovelling and humiliating press-mandated apology for harbouring remnants of Christian sentiment. The New Statesman-lead character assassination of the late and great Sir Roger Scruton, a smear campaign by the media that continued even after his death, is a rather poetic embodiment of the conservative situation. The great irony of liberalism is debating whether one should tolerate those with alternative attitudes (regardless of how illiberal) or utilise the power of institutions to force those people to adopt liberal ones, explicitly or implicitly. As one would expect, vast majority of liberals in recent years have selected the latter. Openness must be secured through the exclusion of those that demand exclusion, which neccesarily narrows the scope of politics.

Unfortunately, despite cultural leftists wanting to eradicate them for political life, conservatives still see themselves as above obtaining and using power. Again, they’ll try their hardest to win an election, but when it comes to actively supporting the defence and furtherance of conservative values they’d much rather not be involved. At most they’ll shake their heads at those crazy progressives with their wacky pronouns and move onto the next Twitter controversy. Of course, power is not the only thing of value in this world, but is neccesary asset if you want your principles to actually mean something. It is hardly a sufficient response to throw your hands up and declare yourself above the fight. If anything, it’s the acknowledgment of this reality that makes people conservatives in the first place.

On Counter-Revolution

A cultural counter-revolution is possible. However, it will require conservatives coming to terms with their new roles, not as protectors of the status quo, but as those who are reacting to the increasing perversity, corruption, and sclerosis of the new order. The struggle will be long but that it is the only way it can be. Efforts to conserve our future must begin in the present, even if we look to the glories of the past for inspiration.

Many will not stand as they do not have a conservative bone in their body and are in themselves part of the problem. Others will be defiant about taking a stand at all. They will self-righteously declare:

“I’m not choosing a side. I want nothing to do with this. It’s got nothing to do with me!”

Unfortunately for them, the choice to be apathetic about the destruction of your civilisation is still a choice. Many haven’t clocked that politics is not only a never-ending war, but an unavoidable one; one which we are losing, with consequences mounting with every generation.

Of course, a lot of conservative activists are like me. We are not just Conservatives in the sense of party membership, we are instinctually conservative. We came to the Conservative Party because, despite the self-interested careerists and the severe shortcomings in policy in recent years, we recognised that the party itself serves a fundamental role in making our voices heard. As much as liberals in the party would like to throw us out by the scruff of our necks, one can only deny social conservatives their rightful place within the Conservative Party for so long.

Although I must say, I was hoping that a party with an 80-seat majority would have more vitality than a freshly neutered dog. Far too many Conservatives would prefer the party to be an over-glorified David Cameron appreciation club, or the parliamentary wing of the Adam Smith Institute, rather than the natural party of Britain. A Conservative Party that supports conservatism will not alone be enough, but it will be necessary, The Conservative – Labour/Liberal dichotomy is so ingrained in British politics that an alternative right-wing is likely to fall flat, even when there may be demand for one.

I am sure we are not small men on the wrong side of history. However, should I be wrong, I have the benefit of being young and naïve. I have come to terms with being an argumentative, nationalistic Zoomer and I’m far too stubborn to give up on my ideals, especially at this stage in my life. The fire of counter-revolution must not be extinguished, it must be passed down.

My fellow rightists, you can continue leading the life of a cringe, narrow-minded normiecon; begrudgingly submitting to apparatchiks, gatekeepers, and controlled opposition; parroting every stale, uninspiring, mass-produced talking point to inoculate against the turbulence of politics. Alternatively, you can break your chains and take Britain’s destiny into your hands.

Photo Credit.

The Moment of Decision

In the throes of the culture wars, it’s easy to get acclimated to the situation after some time has passed. It feels like a lifetime ago that the battlefield that has become of the issue of transgenderism was little more than a few videos on YouTube imploring viewers to cringe at ‘Die Cis Scum’, and if anything demonstrates the futility of the adage ‘twitter is not real life’, it would be the recent admission from Jamie Wallis that he considers himself a woman.

There is almost certainly some kind of meaning to the fact that Jamie’s desire to be a woman emerged after he was raped, as though he psychologically associates a lack of autonomy to womanhood. But I am not a psychologist, and Jamie’s warped feelings about his identity are irrelevant in and of themselves. What this turn of events creates however, is a moment of Decision for the Conservatives.

For a long time, the Conservatives have enjoyed playing both sides of the culture wars. At conference, they can laud Maggie Thatcher as the first female Prime Minister and reap the benefits of appearing to be progressive – knowing that opposition can be quickly labelled sexist, and something that even the Conservative party has outgrown. Simultaneously, they can point to the Labour party and remind us of what happens if we abandon them. A few cringeworthy remarks about supporting women into politics is certainly a preferable alternative to those same “women in politics” sporting a five-o’clock shadow and suspiciously broad shoulders.

Governments, political parties, and states, like individuals, can hold simultaneously contradictory beliefs. Those who do not act are fortunate enough to never have to confront these contradictions – for they never implement them. But it is through existential participation in life that these contradictions make themselves plain, and a moment of Decision must occur. Constitutional monarchies justified themselves with recourse to the people – but what happens when the monarch and the people (or at least, the institutions representing the people) are at odds over a decision? Who decides? The logic of constitutional monarchy legitimises the king with recourse to the people, and so those institutions closer to the people in the mind of the populace ultimately set the laws. It’s these moments of Decision that move history – a constitutional monarchy may retain the state form of monarchy but rest atop the principle of democracy, but the moment of Decision reveals the incoherence of this state form and opens up a state of exception to alter it.

Equally, the Conservatives present themselves as being opposed to wokeism, but like the constitutional monarch – justify themselves on the principles of equality, and the moment of Decision reveals the incoherence of their rule. Whilst the party had no skin in the game, and whilst it had no existential participation, it could ignore the incoherence because it never actually had to make any decision based on these two contradictory principles. But the moment of Decision has arrived, and what is in store for us as members of the party?

Jamie Wallis has been supported by Boris and Oliver Dowden, the CEO of the party. It is clear the Conservatives have no intention of removing this person from the party or even coming close to asserting that transgenderism is in no way conservative. Jamie Wallis will most certainly be in attendance at Conference and all Conservative events in the future. The Conservative party will now have to decide:

  • How will it refer to Jamie, should he ask to be referred to by female pronouns?
  • What will they do if Jamie Wallis decides he wants to use the female bathrooms?
  • If they wish to affirm Jamie’s wishes, how will they then define what a woman is, since it clearly no longer conforms to a simple definition?

Once again, the failure of Conservatives to engage in philosophy rears its ugly head. When you don’t attempt to delve into your beliefs, when you rest everything on ‘Common Sense’, you actually rest your political order upon the principles of those who do wish to assert and articulate their beliefs. Then, when you inevitably go to implement your beliefs: you’re struck with the inability to implement them in accordance with the principles you’ve justified your beliefs on. It’s simply not enough to have a political philosophy which resolves political (read: economic, technical, bureaucratic, etc.) problems. Your political philosophy must blend, gel, mesh, and harmonise with your ontological beliefs about the very essence of what it means to be anything at all. The idea that culture, economics, and philosophy are distinct and separate spheres is an optical illusion brought about by extended periods of peace. Any of these things, driven to a sufficient extreme become political, and our only tool to navigate these new political realities is philosophy. Those who don’t use it will find themselves lost, both politically and spiritually.

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