This column begins another new series, one devoted not to the politics of the current presidential campaign but rather to its policy side. What agenda do conservatives have to offer as an alternative to the Establishment’s failed agenda?
My long-term colleague, the late Paul M. Weyrich, and I addressed this question in the last book we co-authored before his death in December, 2008. It is titled The Next Conservatism. For those interested in reading it, it is still available from St. Augustine’s Press in South Bend, Indiana. In these columns, I will discuss the policy prescriptions it offers–which are very different from what the Republican Establishment defines as “conservatism” today.
Philosophically, the conservatism offered in The Next Conservatism is that of Russell Kirk. Kirk may have been the only real conservative in the post-war conservative movement that grew up around Bill Buckley’s National Review. Kirk’s conservatism was what Paul and I called cultural conservatism: conservatism based not on a combination of nationalism and free market economics, but on “the permanent things”, the great truths recognized by traditional Western culture. Kirk disdained unnecessary foreign wars fought to impose our ways on other peoples, and while he was, like all conservatives, in favor of a market economy and strong property rights, he believed markets were less important than culture and politics. Life is to be about more than getting and spending.
Kirk recognized that every generation faces the challenge of redeeming the time. To that end, Paul and I sought in our book to address today’s issues through the lens of Kirk’s cultural conservatism. We consider needed political reforms, such as putting “None of the Above” on every ballot and, where it wins, calling a new election with new candidates. We talk about how to win the war for Western culture, a war conservatives have been losing since the 1960s. We discuss national security in a world where the decline of the state, the rise of new non-state primary loyalties and the spread of Fourth Generation war has made our armed forces and the type of war they prepare for, war between states, obsolete. We call for an end to free trade and the reindustrialization of America; the return of small family farms; and for big government and big business both t0 yield to the local, small-scale, and controllable. Finally, we recommend a new conservative movement that would be about more than politics, one where conservatives would pledge to recover the good things from our past in their daily lives. We call it Retroculture.
At the beginning of this column you will find a photograph of me giving a copy of The Next Conservatism to presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump’s views on avoidable foreign wars, free trade, political correctness and a number of other subjects have much in common with The Next Conservatism. If he reads it, our book might be helpful to him in fleshing out his agenda. And no one can say Paul Weyrich was not a conservative.
The next conservative agenda, as Paul and I defined it, is available to all candidates of either party. Bernie Sanders would find much to agree with in our discussion of foreign policy. A friend who knows him handed a copy of The Next Conservatism to Senator Ted Cruz. The likely Republican nominee, Paul Ryan, will not be elected president on a platform of more foreign wars, more benefits for Wall Street, and more political correctness. If he wants to win, he will need a new agenda.
Thanks to the late Paul Weyrich, we have one to offer. Carpe liberem.
10 thoughts on “The Next Conservatism”
Without tax-payer funded grand moral projects; conservatism can have nothing to offer. So the question becomes – what grand moral projects can be funded whilst retaining a claim to free market leanings? A return to the Trivium and Quadrivium in education, open air gyms, and free business school for all might be a start…. and that hints at what conservatism lacks; a sense of giving something back. A sense of government sponsored moral projects based on – as you rightly say the permanent things.
The real race between liberals and conservatives is who can create a better sense of community. The real problem between them is that they seek community away from the other side; rather than towards it as a coexistent whole (or worse; they seek a community that vilifies the other side).
The Cultural Marxists have to be accepted by the right, the anti-war “hetro-normative” paleocon traditionalists will have to be accepted by the left. Neither seems likely to happen.
In the same way, Rabbits and Wolves cannot “accept’ one another: total evolutionary differences- r/K selection. Liberals cannot create community: a polyglot of reproductive free-for-all in an environment of resource glut is what they create. “Watership Down”, the novel, is a great description of the Cultural Marxist “community” created by r-selected rabbits-
Hmmm, interestingly enough – sex education for women in the third world has reduced the likelihood of the population of earth hitting its carrying capacity.
When the dominant religion in the world is Islam, you will need a whole new model.
The problem you have there is the word “conservative.” If you replace it with “Cuckservative”, you would better define the problem.
The Alt-right is neither and therefore has everything to offer to Western Civilization; first and foremost it offers survival as a nation, culture, and race.
As for giving back, be an American Patriarch.
The internet is a religion killing app.
The internet is a religion killing app
I am a Patriarch, I’m responsible for 3 now adult people (trust me, I helped one of them move house yesterday due to life-problems).
That said; my survival doesn’t seem to me to be in peril; if anything I’m prospering (the one I moved yesterday, moved into better and more luxurious surroundings).
I want well for my kids, just like anyone.
And tomorrow? or next year?
Yes, we’ll be fine then too, thanks.