The politics of contradiction

For a time, I described, on Facebook, my political views as “Libertarian Green Traditional Catholic”. In conversation with a classmate at a recent happy hour, I used the same combination of terms. This description seems to mystify others. Apparently, our political culture has reached such a distressing point that to be a Traditional Catholic, in the minds of others, is to be a party-line “conservative”, and to be a “conservative” is to embrace the strange modern combination of “family values” and economic liberalism. As such, I’ve quit using that particular description. Of course, this has made categorizing myself (which, I confess, I prefer not to do, anyway) no easier.

I believe, by now, that I can best call myself (in hardly less-confusing terms) a “left liberal-conservative”. I shall address these terms, as I mean them, now.

With “conservative” I refer not to the current variants, but to a more philosophical form, the modern father of which is Edmund Burke. Society is not an “organism”, but, rather, a sacred communion shared by the dead, the living, and the not-yet-living. The individual matters, but, in a sense, the community stands prior to him. Aristocracy, the collection of well-born, well-educated, virtuous types, virtually non-existent today in any meaningful way, guides society; egalitarian democracy forces unnatural forms of equality on men and creates a middling mediocrity. Government exists as a “visible” manifestation, for the sake of expediency, of the State, something that God has ordained. Fundamental to the success of society is the sacred respect for private property; protectionism, the welfare state, and other socialist notions harm society, but a materialist form of capitalism, with its concomitant proletariat, equals serves to the detriment of mankind. We conservatives look through Burke to Aristotle and Aquinas, amongst others, as the sources of philosophical conservatism.

I use the “liberal-” preface because, hesitantly, I accept democracy, though, perhaps, without Tocqueville’s degree of willingness (itself hesitant, based on the belief that God must have ordained it). (However, I reject the notion of equality inherent in liberalism, and believe in a return to such checks as a national Senate not elected directly by the people; this, however, rests on the assumption, possibly ludicrous by now, that men worthy of the Senate anymore exist.) Also, I follow in the footsteps of Catholic democrats Belloc and Chesterton, who echo Burke vis-à-vis the necessity of private property and the wickedness of crass, materialistic capitalism, but go further in advocating widespread distribution of property and means of production.

Perchance the most confusing aspect of my current self-categorization is the use of the word “left”. I mean not to include myself among the the Left, but, rather, to indicate my despair at present. I have, in fact, taken the notion of “Left conservatism” from Norman Mailer. Essentially, I fear that we, as a society, have wandered so far from the correct path that nothing short of revolution might guide us back to our proper course. I suggest, that is, using Marxist means to reach conservative ends. As a conservative, I fundamentally oppose radical change, particularly of a violent nature, but, just as the American Revolution served as a “conservative revolution”, so to could a new attack, whether top-down or bottom-up, on the institutions, architecture, and culture of the new totalitarianism.

I sum up my politics as coherence in contradiction. Puzzled? I am, too.

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2 Responses

  1. Good post; though I think Burke would be OK with calling society organic in addition to being inclusive of the living, dead, and yet to be born.

    Glad to have found your site 🙂

  2. Hey Nathan don’t stress the labels too much. People just use them as an excuse to sum you up ‘in a nutshell’ anyway and they promote ad hominem thinking.

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