The why-I-am-not chronicles

Often I am asked by correspondents to define something they call “conservatism.” I rather thought I’d answered this question before, though it is always possible I was mumbling. So lest there be confusion, or perchance new readers, let me give the definition again.

Conservatism is a form of embarrassment or timidity; in an American context, the politics of the cartoon character, Caspar Milquetoast (see here). It is a way of standing astride history to say, “Please watch where you are going,” while being run over. It is a form of apology for being alive.

And no, Trump is not a conservative. He is what is called a “populist,” or to use the older term, insane.

The problem with these “conservatives” today is that they are too conservative. They merely oppose change. Each new generation of them becomes the rearguard for the previous liberal vanguard. They accept the revolutionary advances imposed by the last team of social engineers as “a fact of political life,” that only a fool would gainsay. They survive by breeding, I suppose, but also by adding new constituencies to their ranks, as the liberals safely discard them; then selling out each in turn.

“Free trade” was an example from decades ago. The liberals didn’t want that any more, so the conservatives became the free trade party. Skip forward another three score and ten, and the conservatives are now becoming the “gay” party. They are defending the right of homosexual persons to stay gay on their own terms, as the liberal agenda “moves on.” Along the way they (the cons) bought into second- then third-wave feminism, and now they are the old-fashioned, liberated women’s party, too. In another generation they’ll be defending old-fashioned mixed bathrooms, and the old-fashioned post-sexed against … what? (We must wait and see.)

The function of the modern conservative is to be sincerely appalled by the engineers’ latest proposal, without being able to remember why. And they will resist, cautiously, in the certainty that they will lose. Whenupon their children will go to work, consolidating their loss, to prepare for surrender in the mop-up round.

I hope I have made their position clear.

Notice my use of the gender-neutral pronoun, “they.” I do not use “we” because I do not consider myself to be “a conservative,” except for some purposes of contorted shorthand, when someone calls me that, by way of insulting my intelligence, and I realize it’s the best he can do. One nods, grimly.

Perhaps there is some point in devoting one’s life to slightly impeding the Permanent Revolution, as ants in the Amazon drown themselves trying to build a dam. Perhaps Heaven commends those who briefly got in the way. Someone will have to explain that to me. My own understanding of the Just Culture War, is that you must win it. While the latest revolutionary proposal might be opposed, as evil, it seems to me, the effect is lost if the last is conceded as not being evil any more.

In the Anglophonian world, the “Tory” faction — attractively derived from the Erse term, tóraidhe, for an Irish rebel or brigand — began as Jacobites, defending dear old James II and VII against the Inglorious Revolution of 1688. (Unsuccessfully.) In fact, the label was popularized by the great liar, Titus Oates, who spent most of his waking hours inventing and publicizing “popish plots.” (I cannot imagine his sleeping ones.) Before him, the popish plotters and their friends were more commonly known as “Abhorers.” They ranged themselves against the “Whig” faction, from the Scots term for mule-drivers.

Surely everyone knows this already.

Cavaliers versus Roundheads had been another way to put it. But the Cavaliers had already abandoned the principles of Catholic theocracy which I, for one, am still eager to vindicate. They now championed only the right of the British peoples to be governed by legitimate monarchs, as opposed to linguistically-challenged, low-class immigrants from obscure Protestant townships in Germany, located in some genealogical search. Having to their credit finally seen off Cromwell, they then made the critical mistake of losing the next round.

Whereas, I draw the line at Tudors, and propose that we set about undoing every single liberal innovation since 1530, at the very latest. I believe this position is called, “reactionary.”