Random Thoughts on “Conservatism”
August 5, 2013
A new “fact of life”: Conservatism is impossible at the “national” level and is only possible at the “local” level (and maybe the “state” level).
Why? Because conservatism means small or “small-minded” government, concerned with maintenance, not with transformation, with goodness, not greatness. Conservative politics is an unambitious politics and, as such, is only possible “locally” or in “small” areas.
Nations [and hence nationalism] are created for the sake of greatness, a greatness reflected by the glory harvested by their founders [see Machiavelli or Lincoln], for the sake of transformation or creation, rather than maintenance.
All national politics is or becomes, eventually anyway, “progressive,” a politics seeking to “re-form” or “remake” society, to transform what it is into what it should be. This “progressivism” can take and has taken different manifestations. Today, “liberals” see government as the engine of progress, while the “conservatives” see what they call capitalism as its engine. Both of these sects seek “progress” and even greatness and, hence, are all too able to join together whenever the “progressive project” is threatened or failing or both.
This helps explain why progressives must succeed, that is, here, there, and everywhere. Failure, anywhere, points to the delusional character of progressivism – viz., its failure to recognize that humans must live within certain limits or that they live best within certain limits, e.g., recognizing that limits imposed by a god like Eros or the erotic.
But who can resist the “call to greatness” and the glory or fame or immortality reserved for those who appear to do god-like things and to be god-like?
“The catechism of the New Frontier taught that Eisenhower’s people had lacked the intellectual depth to deal creatively with foreign policy. Characteristically, Kennedy assumed that Berlin, like all other foreign policy problems, could have been solved if Dulles and company had not been so dull.” [p. 106, Hell of a Gamble, book on the Cuban missile crisis, emphasis added.]