The future of the past II

Okay, so I’ve provide quite a lot of highlights; highly relevant highlights, though for sure. I feel as if, having regurgitated so much for my readers, I ought to offer a least a few thoughts of mine own. So here I go:

I certainly agree with Daniel McCarthy that we need to work on building infrastructure, but before that can occur, I believe that we need, at least broadly (even paleoconservatism, is, of course, a coalition), to agree, as Mr Dougherty notes, on what the mission and values of our ideology are. On economics, are we Chester-Bellocian Distributists? (I consider myself to be one.) Closely related agrarians or ordoliberals? (I really need to read the Agrarians, as I have Wendell Berry; Röpke is on my bookshelf, awaiting his turn.) Or do we embrace Buchananite protectionism? Need conflict arise between the two? The most extreme (by present-day standards) wish of the Distributist and, particularly, the Agrarian, videlicet, the return to a truly agrarian society, is, barring the not-so-likely catastrophe, little more than just a dream. A more appropriate, wide-spread distribution of property (and of ownership in other senses) and the return of the family farm, rather than agri-business (and a return to the land by many), though perhaps improbable without a long fight, a fight more than worth the while. Perchance, then, middle-ground between the essential autarky of the more traditionalist perspectives and trade-based economic nationalism of Buchanan ought to be our general home on economic policies. How we’ll — if we should so like — maintain any sort of alliance with the paleolibertarians — or even self-styled paleocons less averse to classical liberal policy (After all, as I contended above, we are a coalition!), then, poses another problem. Whether we should care, of course, is worthy of consideration: From the practical standpoint, the answer, of course, is that we should; moreover, they do share many opinions with us. However, I don’t believe that real, cultural conservatism can be achieved without concomitant dedication to an economic system focused on the local and the particular.

If we successfully agree on where we stand economically (With perhaps a few minor exceptions, I believe that paleos hold sufficiently similar views on immigration, war and interventionism, social issues, and Federalism and States’ Rights issues.), we then can successfully begin to build the infrastructure, working from the starting points provided by TAC and Chronicles and The Rockford Institute.

I’ll defer to Mr McCarthy’s forthcoming article here: I’m not sure where to begin this immense long-term project. I have one thought though: We need to desert the G.O.P.

As I read the many opinions offered in the thread, I couldn’t help thinking about The Free State Project. Ought we paleos to adopt a similar plan, attempting to relocate en masse to a smaller state where we might be able to gain political control? I realize that the Libertarians failed at this in New Hampshire, and that it may be an inherently flawed plan. Furthermore, we seek to rebuild our country (our countries, as some may prefer to suggest — though we can hope to rebuild the nation simultaneously), rather than one or two states. However, we need a starting point, and one state or another might be appropriate. Which, I do not know.

Jim and his respondents have provided quite a bit for us to contemplate. I hope that I’ve offered something relevant to the discussion.

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The future of the past

Over at The American Conservative‘s blog, a number of contributors, spurred by Jim Antle’s initial musings, offer quite the engaging discussion of the past failings and possible future(s) of the paleoconservative movement. Something of a paleocon myself, I take great interest in the discussion and the situation it entails. This being the case, I’ll present the highlights herein, but I recommend reading the thread in toto.

Daniel McCarthy, the Tory Anarchist, remarks that “[w]e need to build up institutional infrastructure, so we can educate and reshape voters, and eventually produce candidates and other leaders. . . .This is hard work that will take years and more money than any of us has. There are a few other strategies that might be tried, but this is the only one in which I have any confidence.” (Jim notes aptly that the host magazine, and now it’s blog, offer incipient steps in this direction.) Daniel has informed me that he has an article about building up institutional infrastructure in the forthcoming print issue of TAC. I eagerly await its arrival at my house.

Here, Michael Brendan Dougherty offers some incredibly wonderful insight in response to the previous posts:

[P]aleo-conservatives did not pursue politics. (Many of them believed it was counter-productive to try.) They did not build sophisticated think-tanks to produce white papers on trade, or foreign policy. They didn’t have the resources, manpower, or personality to do so. They supported and shaped only one candidate (Patrick Buchanan in ‘96 and ‘00). They retreated from Francis’ developed concept of a new nationalism [the reformulation in a new myth of the nation as a distinctive cultural and political force that cannot be universalized for the rest of the planet] into a variety of interesting right-wing garden patches: Chester-Bellocian distributism, agrarianism, the Old Right, Nietzschean philosophy, romanticism. Eventually the populist anger on immigration that they anticipated was articulated and shaped by mainstream conservatives. This last development was inevitable — though paleos could have done a better job of claiming the credit.

And then:

The short version of my answer is that paleoconservatives could have retained their 90s influence (whatever it was) by sticking to their vision of nationalist conservatism. In the future they should think hard about what kind of things they’d like to achieve (I’m sure we all have some ideas) and work hard at building their own institutions on the one hand, and forming tactical alliances with the mainstream right on the other.

Gerald Russello then offers a refreshing bit of Kirkian input: ” Politics, Russell Kirk thought, was only a partial solution, and political programs or solutions or “positions” ultimately will fail unless they are connected to some actual cultural wellspring. I would argue that despite the Ron Paul revolution, paleoconservatism is a long way to tapping into that mainstream. Or, more likely, it must start the process of creating it.” Mr Dougherty follows Mr Russello with like-minded thoughts, tempered with a healthy dose of reality:

“Sure, I’d like to see a cultural revival along the lines Kirk and other traditionalists prefer: orthodox Christianity (a theological, moral, and liturgical revival in mainline churches and the Catholic Church), a return to widely distributed productive property (with a large agrarian component), a truly cosmopolitan elite that sustains high art, and a return to republican norms in American governance. Absent catastrophe (which I don’t welcome or hastily predict), this is just not in the cards for now.”

Enter Daniel Larison, hands down my favorite blogger:

“Again and again, I am brought back to that phrase from Max, when the title character asks, “What would you rather do? Change the way people see, or the way they pay their taxes?” Changing the former is much more difficult, but ultimately much more enduring and meaningful, and it is inculcating the right “vision of order” that will lead to both more desirable popular responses to paleo policies but more importantly will contribute to some important measure of renovatio.”

Continued here.

The Joy of Creating

I had the pleasure of culminating my undergraduate career in the Program of Liberal Studies in the spring of 2006 with a thesis, “Third Way Distributive Economics: Catholicism, Democracy, and the Good Life”, some sixty pages in length, introductory items and bibliography included. Quite pleased with it, I nevertheless over the time since I finished it had come to believe that I had written something sub-par. About a month ago, reading some of my old papers over the course of an all-nighter in which I managed not to be all too productive, I realized that, although my writing has since improved and I would have done some things differently, it actually turned out to be a pretty good attempt. I regained the pride I had initially taken in it.

As proud as I am, though, of my thesis, the amazement at my own abilities (this time in coalescence with the skills of three of my best friends) vis-à-vis my (on-indefinite-hiatus-)band’s forthcoming c.d. completely overshadows all self-esteem I derive from those sixty pages. I’ll be the first to concede that the enjoyment I reap from listening to any of my past bands is so great (and self-absorbed) that it borders on narcissistic: So I tried, to the best of my limited ability, to detach myself and listen to the almost-final cuts of the tracks as an outsider (although my air-drumming, rather than safely driving, probably indicates how poorly I actually played the role of hitherto disinterested listener). And I realized something: We were really good; good enough, at least, that I continue to contend that, even though no more than two of us have even been in the same state at the same time since May 2007, we remain on indefinite hiatus, rather than admitting that we are no more. Perhaps ever too much the optimist, I believe that we will play again for an audience (perchance for multiple audiences) no later than May 2009.

I should like to think that in my quarter of a century I have done reasonably well for myself: I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the world’s premier Catholic University, turned out to be an awesometastic grocery store night manager with many adoring customers, and have started work on my (first) Master’s degree. None of these accomplishments, however, have left me with quite the feeling that the presently untitled Somersaults c.d. has, not because they’re less impressive, but because this is the one thing in which I have taken part as a craftsman. No, it’s not craftsmanship in the sense of building home-made furniture, or even, maybe, as Sennett more broadly defines it, but it’s creation, it’s our creative gift to the world.

I wanted to post one of the tracks, “Jasper Beach”, here, but that requires paying money that I should prefer to keep. So I direct you to the above-linked MySpace page. Listen to your heart’s content!

Is this that elusive reverse racism?

Four Florida men face hate crime charges for allegedly beating an elderly woman and her two disabled friends for not paying a white person fee, police said.