The Conservative Disadvantage
We conservatives are at a certain disadvantage as compared to our leftist brethren. We don’t seek the meaning of our lives in the political sphere but in the private arena: in hobbies, sports, our jobs and professions, in ourselves, our families, friends, neighborhoods, communities, clubs and churches; in foot races and chess tournaments; in the particular pleasures of the quotidian round in all of their scandalous particularity.
We don't look to politics for meaning. Above all, we conservatives do not seek any transcendent meaning in the political sphere. We either deny that there is such a thing, or we seek it in religion, or in philosophy, or in meditation, or in such sorry substitutes as occultism. A conservative who denies that there is ‘pie in the sky’ will certainly not seek ‘pie in the future.’ He will not, like the leftist, look to a human future for redemption. He understands human nature, its real possibilities, and its real limits. He is impervious to utopian illusions. He will accept no ersatz soteriology.
A conservative could never write a book with the title, The Politics of Meaning. Politics for a conservative is more like garbage-collecting: it is a dirty job; somebody has to do; it would be better if nobody had to do it; and we should all lend a hand in getting the dirty job done. But there is little by way of meaning, immanent or transcendent, in garbage collecting and sewage disposal: these are things one gets out of the way so that meaningful activities can first begin.
I’m exaggerating a bit. To write is to exaggerate, as a Frenchman might put it, which amounts to a meta-exaggeration. But I’m exaggerating to make a serious point. We conservatives don’t look for meaning in all the wrong places. And because we don’t, we are at a certain disadvantage. We cannot bring the full measure of our energy and commitment to the political struggle. We don't even use the word 'struggle.' We are not totally committed to defeating the totally committed who would defeat us.
But now we need to become active. Not in the manner of the leftist who seeks meaning in activism for its own sake, but to defend ourselves and our values so that we can protect the private sphere from the Left's totalitarian encirclement. The conservative values of liberty and self-reliance and fiscal responsibility are under massive assault by the Obama administration, and there are indications that they are poised to clamp down on dissent. So if you value your life and liberty, you are well advised to inform yourself and take appropriate action. Posted at 12:37 PM in Conservatism, Leftism and Political Correctness, Politics Permalink TrackBack (0) Maverick Philosopher: In Praise of Blogosophyby Bill Vallicella 9:31 AM