stability and order vs dynamism and progress

There are many different axes which can be used to describe political positions. There’s free market vs central planning, libertarian vs authoritarian, globalist vs nationalist. The one that doesn’t get considered so much, but which seems to me to be the most important of all, is that I would call the stability/dynamism axis.

This is more than just a political alignment. Where a person falls on this axis has much to do with both personal psychology and cultural traditions.

Some cultures have always seen stability and order as being the most important objectives  of government. China for most of its history is an obvious example, Ancient Egypt being another. Other cultures have seen stability as a weakness. They have valued change, dynamism, expansion, growth and what they like to call progress.

Western society since the Reformation has been a spectacular example of a culture that has chosen dynamism at the expense of stability. Whether this is actually an inherent feature of western culture is debatable. Western Europe during the Middle Ages certainly seemed to put a fairly high value on stability.

Obviously some individuals are also psychologically more inclined to favour either stability or dynamism.

Overall though western culture has become so focused on the supposed advantages of progress that it is difficult to find any mainstream political party in any western country that genuinely stands for stability and order. Self-described conservative parties are in reality, almost without exception, liberal parties that fetishise growth and progress. One of the few institutions that truly stood on the side of stability was the Catholic Church. Since Vatican II even the Catholic Church has tended more and more to favour the liberal concept of progress. Christianity in general has become, if anything, a destabilising force in the West.

The fact that those countries that were formerly part of the communist bloc are now more socially conservative and less inclined to make a fetish of progress seems puzzling at first. The usual explanation offered is that the citizens of those nations were so horrified by their experience of communism that they reacted by becoming ardent conservatives. That’s probably partly true. It is however worth considering a curious fact about communism in practice. Once a communist revolution succeeds the revolutionaries themselves tend to become very suspicious of change. They start to focus on preserving the revolution. They start to put a very high value on stability and order.

It is of course difficult to reconcile stability and order with democracy. Democracies quickly become obsessed by the idea of change for the sake of change. Democratic governments want to to be seen as doing something and doing something invariably means changing things, and changing things invariably undermines stability and order.

I have to say that I’m basically a stability and order kind of guy. Society is a fragile thing. If you try to change society the odds are very high that you will end up changing it for the worse. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. Not only are changes more likely to be harmful than beneficial, they also tend to make society even more fragile, so the next time you try to change things the risks will be even greater.

Since I favour stability and order it’s not surprising that the one political ideology that really terrifies me is liberal democracy. It’s probably also not surprising that I take a jaundiced view of free markets. Liberal democracy combined with free markets seems to me to be a guaranteed recipe for long term chaos. My inclination is to support any political ideology that stands for stability and order. I guess I’m just a natural reactionary.

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what are we actually fighting for?

There are several reasons why the opponents of the globalist/social justice order always lose. One, which I have alluded to in other posts, is that we are simply not very good at choosing effective tactics. Another is that we are insufficiently ruthless. There is however another factor that may be even more important – we just don’t have a cause to which people are going to rally.

What we have is a miscellaneous assortment of dissidents who agree on very little, who have no coherent program, and worst of all seem to have no clear vision of the future that they want. They are often quite good at explaining what they are against but not so strong when it comes to articulating a positive vision.

Communism up to around the 1960s could always rely on having an endless supply of dedicated ideological warriors, both leaders and loyal foot-soldiers. I’m talking here not just about communism in actual communist societies but also communism in the West, where it gained a very substantial foothold (and it’s worth remembering that a very large number of western communists were not actual party members).

Communism gained such support because it was a cause in which people could believe, and believe passionately. Whether communism was ever likely to be workable in practice is not the point. It sounded reasonably plausible and it sounded very attractive. It sounded like the kind of cause for which it would be worthwhile accepting hardship, suffering or even martyrdom.

One of the reasons communism was so successful in gaining converts is that it appealed to both men and women. Men liked it because it sounded practical and scientific. Women liked it because it was emotionally satisfying – it was all about fairness and justice and therefore produced lots of good feelings.

Communism also had a theoretical underpinning. That doesn’t mean that the theories of people like Lenin and Mao were correct but they sounded impressive and they gave the movement intellectual respectability and discipline.

Communism therefore attracted a high calibre of both leaders and followers. And they had a plan. They were not reacting defensively. They were seizing the initiative. You can do that when you have a plan.

You could, incidentally, make almost exactly the same argument about the spectacular success of Christianity in the Roman Empire which culminated it its becoming the state religion. The early Christians had a coherent program, they agreed on essentials even if they differed on details, they were well-organised and well-disciplined, they had a clear vision of what they were trying to achieve and they came across as having a positive rather than a negative vision. It’s not surprising that early Christianity attracted formidable leaders, and loyal and dedicated followers willing to accept even martyrdom to achieve their aims. They were able to carry out what was in effect a very successful revolution. They were able to do so because their pagan opponents did not have a coherent program, were not organised or disciplined and had lost the kind of clear and positive vision of the future that they had once had. Pagans no longer had a cause for which they were prepared to fight or even die.

So how do we transform a motley assortment of vague and often contradictory dissatisfactions into a program that will unify opposition to the established order, capture people’s imaginations and give them a cause worth fighting for? It has to be a cause that is both attractive and that offers the opportunity to take the moral high ground, and it has to have genuine emotional appeal. I didn’t say it was going to be easy.

are we on the right seen as unpleasant people?

James at Nourishing Obscurity raises a very important but very uncomfortable point today.  

“This is a key issue in getting any of the snowflakes to see reason – that we ourselves come over as unpleasant people.”

There’s no question that the Right has a huge image problem. Unfortunately it’s to some extent well deserved. There are people who identify themselves, and are generally identified as, rightists or conservatives who are the kinds of people who will give any movement a bad name. These unpleasant people are not representative of conservative-leaning voters as a whole and it’s unfair that we get blamed for their sins but that’s the way it is. We need to face the problem.
The first group of the unpleasants is the rabid free markets/free trade/tax cuts for the rich crowd that comprises a large segment of the establishment of parties like the Republicans and the Tories. They obviously don’t give a damn for ordinary people and ordinary people are aware of this and as a result a very large number of ordinary people have an absolutely visceral loathing for these right-wing parties. They would die rather than vote Tory. And unfortunately as far as most people are concerned the vicious grasping Republicans and Tories are the face of conservatism.
The second group of unpleasants is those damned Nazis. Yes I know they’re all dead and there haven’t been any actual Nazis for seventy years but it doesn’t matter. Any political leader who is on the right and who deviates to the slightest degree from the approved path of respectable conservative politics is going to be labelled as Literally Hitler.
Now comes the really uncomfortable bit. While the rise of the alt-right has been understandable and is probably on the whole a very positive thing it does have its lunatic fringe. Of course every political movement and every political party has a lunatic fringe. The trouble is that the alt-right’s lunatic fringe is an absolute gift to our political opponents. It’s just so incredibly easy to portray them as being Literally Hitler. Some of them really are disturbing. It’s quite possible that many or even most of them are actually paid trolls employed by leftist organisations or even agents provocateurs from the FBI, but it has to be admitted that some of them are real and even though they’re harmless nutters if they make me uncomfortable they undoubtedly make ordinary people very uncomfortable.
What this all adds up to is that if you’re on the Right most people are going to regard you as either a cynical champion of the rich against the poor or an angry violent humourless life-hating person. 
So how do we deal with this problem? I don’t claim to have the answer. Perhaps we need to avoid terms like right and conservative altogether. These terms just have too much negative baggage. I’m not sure we can ever rehabilitate these terms.
Perhaps we need to be better at selling an overall positive vision for society. We need to emphasis what we’re in favour of rather than emphasising the things we hate. 
That’s the immense advantage that anyone who claims the leftist label has – they’re fighting to create a Better World, a safer place for children and puppies and we all want that don’t we? If not for the children then at least for the puppies. In actual fact most modern leftists are part of the Fake Left. They’re actually fighting for a better world for bankers and billionaires but they don’t get called out for their deceptions and they still get the benefits of being portrayed a crusaders for justice, equality, hugs and general niceness. We on the other hand just get labelled as hateful bigots.
We need to find a way to market our vision of a better world. We love puppies too.

no enemies to the right?

One of the key choices you have to make if you’re going to aim to achieve anything by political means is whether you’re going to be inclusive or tightly focused. Are you going to adopt a variation on the slogan No Enemies To The Right? In other words a Big Tent approach. Or are you going to aim for some sort of ideological purity? Although personally I’d prefer to think of it as ideological focus rather than ideological purity.
The Left has historically had an easier time adopting a strategy of no enemies to the left. All leftists after all hoped to achieve some form of socialism even if some wanted to push ahead much faster and much more aggressively. And there was pretty general agreement that in order to achieve socialism the existing economic and political structure would have to be overturned. It wasn’t terribly difficult for leftists to adopt a fairly united front.
This was a major strategic advantage for the Left. 
There are those who feel that the Right should adopt the same strategy. I can see the advantages in strictly political terms but I really don’t see it working. The issues that divide the Right are not divisions that can be easily papered over. They’re kind of fundamental.
First of all it’s not at all clear what it even means to be on the Right. It could be argued that Left and Right no longer even exist but as far as most people are concerned if you’re opposed to globalism and the Social Justice agenda then you’re on the Right so for the sake of convenience we might as well accept that label.
So what are these fundamental divisions? 
First of all there’s religion. There are rightists who believe that our culture can only be saved by Christianity, albeit a much more traditional kind of Christianity to that practised by  the mainstream churches of today. There are other rightists who are militant atheists and despise Christianity. And then there are the rightists who consider Christianity to be a non-European import and who want to revive European paganism. The problem is that all three of these groups tend to hold their respective positions very very strongly indeed. And they do not get along well, to say the least.
Then there’s democracy. There are rightists who have an almost religious reverence for democracy. And there are rightists who think that it was democracy that got us into the mess we’re in now and who think that in the long-term some kind of authoritarianism is going to be necessary. These two groups do not play well together either.
There’s also the questions of race and nationalism, with substantial differences of opinion between adherents of the white nationalist position and those who believe that culture and not race is what matters. Most sane rightists agree that mass Third World immigration is a dumb idea but most mainstream conservatives are true believers in the open borders cult.
There’s also the question of capitalism. Many rightists are very enthusiastic about capitalism and free markets but others are much more sceptical. You can be a rightist and dislike capitalism just as much as you dislike socialism.
Then there’s the social conservative problem. There are those on the right who think that nothing matters except the immigration issue and that therefore we should embrace abortion, drugs, sexual degeneracy and feminism in order to appeal to moderates.
Yet another complication is provided by libertarians. Some libertarians claim to be on the Right, but they tend to hold views that most people on the Right would find to be rather disturbing.
My problem is that most of these divisive issues are issues that really matter to me. I can’t go along with acceptance of abortion, drugs, sexual degeneracy and feminism for the sake of short-term political advantage. You can’t fight evil by embracing evil. I can’t really compromise on religion – I just don’t think atheism is compatible with civilisation. I’m also very reluctant to embrace the free market fetish. Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who is good at compromising. Whether being uncompromising is a viable political strategy or not is a question I can’t answer. But compromising just doesn’t appeal to me.

how to win and how to lose

Why is it that the globalists and SJWs always seem to win while those who oppose them almost invariably lose? It seems like a mystery since we know from the Brexit vote and the Trump election win that the opponents of globalism are by no means insignificant in numbers.
The answer is extremely simple. The Left has always been well organised, and they have always been passionate and committed. Conservatives have been hopelessly disorganised and they have just not had the same level of commitment. And commitment is what it’s all about. Fanatics make formidable foes. Well-organised fanatics are just about unbeatable. Numbers don’t really matter. A hundred organised political zealots are worth ten thousand lukewarm supporters.
The Left as such has now effectively ceased to exist but the globalist/SJWs who have taken over the movement have retained the old Left’s faith in organisation, passion and commitment. 
They also do not know the meaning of defeat. Take the Brexit vote – the Remain supporters never had the slightest intention of accepting the vote if it went against them. Or take the US election – it never even crossed the minds of Clinton supporters to accept the result if it didn’t go their way.
For conservatives losing has always been an opportunity to display their ability to be gracious in defeat. For the Left losing was always regarded as merely a temporary setback  – a defeat was not the end of the struggle but only the beginning. It is the same with the globalist/SJWs of today.
It may be partly a matter of psychology. Those who wish to preserve traditional ways are characterised more by common sense and good judgment than by zealotry. Those who wish to destroy the traditional order are those who are driven by enthusiasm, hatred, obsessiveness and hysteria – all of which contribute to making them effective political foot soldiers.
There are few examples of traditionalists who have shown the level of commitment and organisation that their enemies take for granted. The few who have demonstrated those qualities have mostly been motivated by religion. In the post-Christian West there seems little chance of religion becoming once again the necessary motivating force.
So what can be done? I don’t claim to have the answers but at the very least, as a first step, we have to understand why we have usually lost.