Here’s a monument to the United Empire Loyalists in Hamilton ON… they were expelled by the American Radicals after the American Revolution. They were the last true Conservatives in America (not Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh… disgusting Radical Rightists all).
A common misconception running about in the land today is that social justice is a “leftist” concern, and that one must be a “liberal” (leftist) to embrace it. I argue that this is simplistic and distorting. Indeed, I believe that so-called “conservatism” in the USA (and “new conservatism” in Canada, as compared to traditional PCs) isn’t Conservative at all… it’s radical and extremist. I would oppose “Red Toryism” (a Canadian political category) to such rot.
To say that Conservatism, by nature, supports the wealthy and laissez faire economics uncritically disregards the historical record. Conservatives, essentially, are Nationalists. Neo-Liberals (“conservatives” in the English-speaking world) aren’t, despite all of their rhetoric. They are rootless and cosmopolitan, in the worst sense of those words; in essence, you can boil down their belief into the formula, “Money knows no borders”. For instance, “outsourcing” is good under such a rationale, as it’s beneficial for this or that individual, and radical individualism is one of the bedrock tenets of Neo-Liberalism. Neo-Liberals discount the fact that it harms the larger community, as they dismiss the notion of communitarian rights, duties, and obligations (conversely, communitarianism is the bedrock of Conservative thought; do see Bismarck and Disraeli). In fact, the Neo-Liberal argues that the radical empowerment of the individual over the community or state takes precedence over any socially useful restrictions. That is, there should be no minimum wage, workplace safety, or anti-discrimination regulation at all, as it’s a restriction of the freedom of individuals.
Ergo, one can see that Neo-Liberal “conservatives” embody a nasty and soulless anarchism, it’s a conscious embrace of “might makes right”, the law of the jungle, and “the race goes to the swiftest”. One must realise this godless (and essentially atheist) notion has only been in the ascendancy since the early 1980s with the rise of Reagan and Thatcher. It has only gained currency in Canada with the recent subsuming of the PCs by the so-called Reformists (that is to say, Stephen Harper isn’t in the PC tradition of Macdonald, Diefenbaker, and Stanfield… he’s an uncritical copier of American Neo-Liberalism). Canadian Conservatism has always been tinged deeply by the collectivism of the United Empire Loyalists (it’s why they decamped northwards after the success of the American revolutionaries… it’s why the USA has NEVER had a coherent and actual Conservative political party).
That is to say, American “conservatism” is nothing of the sort… it’s a bloody and feral right radicalism. Much the same thing was seen after the March 1917 Revolution… the Kadets (Constitutional Democrats) became the most right-wing party left, thus, they are often mislabelled “conservative”, even though they were Neo-Liberal to the core (Schmemann’s distorted thought was deeply in the KD tradition). There is no Legitimatist, Nationalist, or Collectivist tradition in the USA… it’s founded on the principles of Enlightenment Radicalism, note well how all those who dissented from it were expelled (and the history of that has been well hidden ever since).
There are those who argue that we should allow the Neo-Liberal nostrums of the Tea Party to run amuck for a spell, to build up antibodies against it in the body politic. I disagree profoundly. Neo-Liberalism HAS run amuck since the 80s… it led to the current economic depression. Such a notion is found mostly on the Hard Left… it’s why I cannot be a “leftist”. It’s too accepting of allowing people to be hurt “for the sake of the future” and it’s a facile acceptance of “if you wish to make an omelette, you must break some eggs”. Rather, I believe that we can fight the monster and slay it. I’m not arguing for Nirvana… I’m arguing for the America of the late 60s and early 70s… no “outsourcing”, no Neo-Liberalism, and no “greed is good”. The New Deal was a “good deal”… it lead to the prosperity of the 50s and 60s, it’s time to go back to such.
In the end, it’s simple. You can choose the Radical Greed of the Tea Party or you can choose a Humane Conservatism. Yes, Virginia, single-payer nationalised health care and a full social safety net are CONSERVATIVE… do channel the spirit of Otto von Bismarck!
Wednesday 29 September 2010