Word for the day


I’ve been reminded of this word by my Chief Wrocław Correspondent (who is also Convenor for the Polish Branch of the David Warren Friendship Society). He cites the works of another friend and guru, Paul Gottfried, along with other palaeoconservative thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic Sea, most of whom will be utterly unknown to the general reader, let alone the media skipjack. (The allusion is to a shallow-draught fishing vessel, designed to retrieve oysters, only, and only from Chesapeake Bay. Or, in older English, to a class of inexpensive manservant or footman, whose strength and weakness lay in a certain lightness of heel, and a focused literal-mindedness. Or, the word could be left to find its own associations.)

See, should gracious reader be inclined, “No Country for Old Politics,” by Prof. Gottfried, which may be found by diligent Internet search. The gentleman patiently explains at some length what the word might mean; and how “conservatives” in media, the academy, politics, and so forth, are effectively in alliance with “liberals” to keep palaeoconservative ideas out of play.

“Palaeoconservative,” I have come to think myself, is necessary to distinguish actual conservative thought, from the rightwing form of glib liberal thinking. Curiously, we do not also need the term “palaeoliberal,” to describe the old Enlightenment attitudes, which remain in fashion after three hundred years, and some portions of which were, until quite recently, partially sane. “Nineteen-fifties liberal” is sometimes attempted: but that kind of person is now called a “conservative,” and has been called a conservative since at least the Reform Bill of 1832. He is of the faction that waves all the old signboards for Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, and what have you, but would prefer the realities for which these slogans stand to arrive at a slower pace. (The italicized words are the national motto of Haiti; and I think also of France.)

Whereas, a “palaeoconservative” would not like them to arrive at all. He refuses to wave those signboards. (He sees how things have worked out in Haiti.) Indeed, he does not believe in signboards, or like them.

If we want to be democratic about this, I would suggest we form a political party. My proposal for a cool, sexy name would be: “The Catholic Christian Counter-Revolutionary and Anti-Bourgeois Distributist Subsidiarial Limited-Monarchist Hierarchical and Aristocratic Palaeoconservative Action League.” And insist that the authorities print the full name on every ballot, not try to reduce it to “CCC-R&A-BDSL-MH&APAL,” or whatever. That way, by taking up extra space, we will reap a huge harvest of unintentional supporters.

Alternatively, just the “Palaeoconservative Party,” and hope for the best.

For we have to work with what we have, according to a young lady with whom I was speaking recently, who added that what we have is “democracy.” Which is to say, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, and bats with little human faces. She dismissed my central idea (which was to restore Christendom) as impractical, and impracticable, under present conditions. And as I could see she might have a point, I am trying to become more practical.