…and never the twain shall meet.
Anyway, that was Oswald Spengler's understanding of the relationship between basic political philosophies, and it's my understanding, too. However, our friend Richard Fernandez does not seem to share in that assessment. In a recent post at The Belmont Club discussing the political Left's ability to out-woo and out-network their competitors on the Right (thus winning more and closer friends for themselves), the redoubtable Wretchard had this to say:
"The real secret to gaining on the Left isn’t to offer up a more cogent argument or to present more compelling facts. It’s to outfriend them; to open up a door that will make the undecideds out in the cold come in and feel loved. On the day conservatives sweep the Facebook groups they will sweep the world."
There is a profound fallacy involved in this type of thinking. It is in the same family as that fallacy which causes many modern religious people to reduce the essence of Christianity to some ersatz "social doctrine." Such people forget that the Church's first priority is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ's love to man, and therefore she undertakes to love them and to better their lot. There is no sense in having the betterment without the Gospel, for the Church does not exist to be some religiously-themed Red Cross knockoff. She exists to redeem souls, to sanctify the world, and to lead us into all truth; and the truth, be it said, is larger than our material well-being as such.
In the present context, the fallacy has consequences less eternal but no less erroneous than the secularization of Christianity. The political Right cannot seek to become more like the Left without losing its identity in the process. As a purely practical matter, we may note that this strategy has already been tried and found wanting (notice that President John McCain remains a fixture of Alternative History); but more importantly, once we de-sensationalize Richard's argument by removing the references to humanitarian warmth and internet technology, we see that it reduces to little more than a blatant endorsement of panum et circenses. The Right is here exhorted to use any means at its disposal to purchase the affections of prospective coreligionists.
Now here are the facts as Spengler saw them, and as I think most clear-headed people see them. Tools like social networking, affection-peddling, and outcast-courting are not morally neutral techniques of which the Left has availed itself and the Right has not (but yet may, to its advantage); they are subversive practices which issue from the very heart of Leftist ideology and remain forever bound up with it. As G. K. Chesterton once observed, the morality a man really has is not the morality he discusses, but the morality he takes for granted. It is taken for granted by the Left that "numbers win the battle," and that man's greatest good is found in living a comfortable life on earth. To these ends, they assemble coalitions (mobs) to act as unwitting soldiers for them by making empty promises of material abundance and justice (the greatest good for the greatest number). They see nothing transcendent, nothing noble, nothing worthy of sacrifice, and no value in the individual or in the strugglings of great souls.
The Right is very different. We believe first and foremost in the transcendent, and we allow it to inform our every political decision. We put the good of the soul above all earthly goods. The Right draws its strength not from numbers but from the innate superiority of its principles, the very principles that Wretchard says aren't enough to win with. Remember, there can never really be any such thing as a conservative party, for the whole notion of governing parties is liberal through and through. The party is basically the engine and the incarnation of liberal thought: it is mean, "democratic," supra-individualistic, and irreligious. The party's vision begins and ends entirely in the earthy plain. The Right, on the other hand, consists of free and responsible souls who will stand or fall only according to their faith: it is (not coincidentally) the principle of righteousness which triumphs over numbers, weight, and all other material factors.
We remember that God raised up a Moses, a Gideon, a David, an Elijah, and a Daniel to fulfill His mighty purposes, against every sort of earthy odds. I have yet to read about Him raising up a collective to do anything. If the Right wishes to succeed, it must do so by having a 'Thermopylae" moment: it must stand in the breach and intercede, rooted in nothing but faith. This is the sign of its election. To resort to other means indicates a lack of faith and a dangerous dilution of principle. We must decide what we really believe. The opportunity to stand tall and prevail is even now upon us. We must hope and strive to prove worthy of it.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Right is Right and Left is Left...
…and never the twain shall meet.