Simplicity itself

To fight with the enemy on the enemy’s own terms. I’m against this. I think it is poor strategy; what I might call the strategy of pre-surrender. While I might disagree with many, actually most of his policies, one thing I like about this Trump fellow, who seems controversial even in his own country, is his fixation on Victory. We should not be planning to lose. We should not be trying to “manage decline,” though in my view the stakes are not economic but civilizational. Our overall plan should be to win, and as for the demons who are getting in our way, to leave them in humiliated silence.

This is why I don’t call myself a “conservative,” although the word is sometimes useful as a collective for “everyone who is not actively resisting the good.” If I had a quibble with the late Sir Roger Scruton, it began with his failure to be Catholic, and thus a thoroughgoing Reactionary. (I loved the man, incidentally.) He was right about most practical worldly things, even when he had the context wrong. He was “instinctively right,” as it were.

By his Wicked Paedia entry, I am reminded of Sir Roger’s complaint against the modern university, which in the name of “relevance” seeks to replace “pure by applied mathematics, logic by computer programming, architecture by engineering, history by sociology.” That is how it has produced charmless philistines to replace men of breadth and learning.

Of course, to consult any Wickish article on a “conservative” writer is to ask for an insult. Their policy will be to present his life “warts and all,” with a strong emphasis on the warts, many of which will require invention. They will flatulate their “smelly little orthodoxies” (Orwell’s phrase for “political correctness”), in order to elevate something quite unexceptionable into a high crime and misdemeanor. The subject’s views will be labelled “controversial,” sometimes as often as the old Peking Review used the label “running dogs,” in case you hadn’t detected their bias yet.

But that is to be distracted by the dogs, or since I like dogs, by the termites. The trick is not to answer to their arguments, but to shut them out. Getting entangled with intricate malice wastes everyone’s time. Better to confront intellectual termites with the literary equivalent of boric acid, plus Trumpian bait stations.

The “virtue of irrelevance,” as Sir Roger advanced it, is in some limited sense a key to the worldly version of the reactionary view. We may see a distinction from conservatism, with its wearisome emphasis on economic growth. To pretend that the GDP will improve, as a result of our cultivated irrelevance, is to live a lie. Of course it will not. I am not against economic activity, but it can take care of itself. Apart from the need to criminalize certain kinds of economic activity, and put the perpetrators in gaol, “trade and investment,” per se, should be no part of a government’s mandate. Let those who want such things as money, shill for it themselves.

What concerns us all is our salvation, and here the distinction between “conservative” and “reactionary” comes immediately into play, along with the unarguable transcendentals — the good, the beautiful, and the true. What we call “the arts” barely describes the art in what we do — that is positive, not passive or negative. The good, even at its most general, has nothing to do with the gymnastic contortions of “tolerance,” for human action will always be intolerable to some — even the high activity of contemplation. The building (not destroying) of a civilization is a by-product of all efforts, though it is not the end we seek at all. God is that end.

What leads towards Him is good. What leads away is evil. It’s as simple as that.