From Washington a panicked Republican Establishment is denouncing Donald Trump as “not a conservative”. The Establishment claims custody of the word “conservative” and with it the right to pronounce who is one and who isn’t. But in fact, it is the Establishment’s definition of “conservatism” that is not conservative.
The Republican Establishment’s platform has three main elements: Jacobinism, globalism, and cultural Marxism. Not one of the three is conservative, in terms of what the word “conservatism” has traditionally meant. On the contrary, all three, seen historically, are anti-conservative. They represent forces conservatism has struggled against.
Jacobinism originated in the French Revolution, one of the two great catastrophes the West has suffered in modern times (the other is World War I, which saw Jacobinism re-emerge as Wilsonianism). The Jacobins were the most radical element in Revolutionary France, the origin of the Terror. They believed in democracy and equality, both to be forced down everyone’s throat at home and abroad. France murdered thousands of her own people and brought war to much of Europe in that quest. In the end, even Robespierre, perhaps the best-known Jacobin, admitted that missionaries with bayonets are seldom welcome.
Conservatism first reached a large public (it was emerging before the French Revolution, in the work of people like Ernst Brandes in Hannover) when it attacked Jacobinism, especially in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. So powerful was Burke’s critique that it established Jacobinism and conservatism as opposite poles on the left and right ends of the political spectrum. It is impossible to be both Jacobin and conservative.
Yet the Washington Republican Establishment is four-square in favor of forcing “democratic capitalism” on every people on Earth, in the name of “human rights” as the Jacobins defined them. This Jacobinism/Wilsonianism is what lies behind the Establishment’s anti-conservative demand for a huge and expensive military and equally anti-conservative insistence on American world hegemony. American conservatives in particular have always been suspicious of large standing armies and playing the Great Power game, which our country’s Founders warned would cost us our liberties if we got into it. Earlier generations of conservatives, men like Senator Robert A. Taft, would have fought the National Security State tooth and nail. Today’s “conservatives” on Capitol Hill want to give it still more money.
Globalism is the second leg of the Establishment’s stool, and it is equally problematic. Starting with Burke, conservatives have always valued the local, small-scale, and real over the international, vast, and amorphous. In the eyes of Washington Republicans, globalism means giving Wall Street whatever it wants, including free trade that has destroyed our once strong blue-collar middle class. The fact that the corporations and banks the Republican Party leadership serves (in return for lots of money) care nothing about this country does not bother them. Patriotism is atavistic and obsolete in their view; they have far more in common with foreign elites than with the people who live in the Heartland. Those people only exist to provide them tax money to play with and votes. They get nothing in return but contempt.
Unlike the Democrats, Washington Republicans don’t really believe in cultural Marxism, a.k.a. political correctness and multiculturalism. But they are afraid of it, and when someone like Donald Trump dares defy it they quickly denounce him using its vocabulary, i.e., “racist”, “sexist”, etc. Moral cowards that they are, the Establishment “conservatives” are willing to go along with this hideous ideology in order to get along.
But no one can be a real conservative and not fight cultural Marxism at every turn. Its goals remain what they were when they were established by Lukacs and Gramsci in 1919: destruction of Western culture and the Christian religion. Conservatives’ main goals are preserving both. Again, we find polar opposites. Much of Trump’s popularity comes from his repeated defiance of cultural Marxism.
So on all points we find the Republican Establishment anti-conservative and Mr. Trump saying things that are much closer to traditional conservatism. The problem, it seems, is not Donald Trump. As usual, the problem lies in Washington.