social conservatism and small government

I’m obviously a social conservative but since I’m an agnostic I can’t base my social conservatism on religion. That would be hypocritical. I base my social conservatism on pure pragmatism.

What intrigues me is that mainstream conservatives seem to be blissfully unaware of the political consequences of social liberalism.

In the past half century or so we’ve seen a fascinating social experiment take place in the West – an attempt to create a society without sexual morality and without traditional sex roles. I think it’s pretty clear that the attempt has failed. Predictably it has led to social chaos, human misery and a collapse in birth rates. What we now have is a dying society – a society that cannot reproduce itself is pretty obviously a dying society. It’s become more and more a society of atomised individuals without purpose and without hope.

All this should be obvious but the exasperating thing is that mainstream conservatives just cannot see it. They continue to believe that a society is nothing more than economics. All we need to do is increase GDP and people will be happy. But GDP increases and people don’t get happier. All we need are more tax cuts and everything will be great. But taxes get cut and things don’t get better.

Human beings are social animals, not economic animals. People need more than money and consumer goods to make them happy. People need social connections and they need a purpose (other than greed). Feminism and sexual freedom destroy families. Without families people find that their lives are empty and meaningless.

But there’s another consequence that is usually overlooked. If the family is destroyed then the state must step in to take over its functions. This obviously results in a bigger stronger state. More big government.

Of course for most mainstream conservatives this is a feature, not a bug. Mainstream conservatives want what big business wants, and big business wants big government. So really they’re evil rather than stupid.

But what about the conservatives who claim that they are small government conservatives? They have shown no interest in promoting social conservatism so they have in effect contributed to the growth of big government. The logical conclusion would be that they’re stupid rather than evil. Or possibly they’re merely cowardly.

The libertarians are even more deluded. To the extent that libertarianism might be a workable proposition (which is I think extremely dubious) it could only ever work in a very socially conservative society with fairly rigid adherence to traditional sex roles.

The bottom line is that you can’t have small government without social conservatism. So-called conservatives who think they can be “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” are living in a dream world. So-called conservatives who think they can be in favour of small government without also being in favour of social conservatism are living in the same world of delusions.

conservatives and history

It is a curious fact that conservatives (I mean mainstream political conservatives rather than social conservatives) have never conserved anything and have never seriously tried to do so. The explanation is of course that mainstream conservatives are in fact liberals. Their entire worldview is liberal to the core. But how is it that these conservatives have never been troubled by the contradictions inherent in being liberals who call themselves conservatives?

Perhaps part of the explanation is the Whig view of history which has reigned unchallenged (particularly in the Anglosphere) for centuries. The Whig view of history is that the whole of history is an inevitable progression towards the Promised Land in which society will be organised entirely upon pure liberal lines. Its only challenger has been Marxist history but the Marxist approach to history is merely a variation on the Whig approach. To Marxist historians the endpoint of history is a society organised upon pure Marxist lines but the process is identical. History is inevitable, history is progressive, the trend is always towards a better and more virtuous world, change is good because change is always for the better (because old things and old ways are always bad), the good guys (the liberals) always triumph in the end.

In other times and places quite different views of history have prevailed. Cyclical views of history seemed to have predominated in the ancient world and in the East. The Christian view of history, that it is the unfolding of God’s plan, was at one time immensely influential. For the past couple of hundred years cyclical views of history have been very much on the fringe whilst the Christian view of history is now held only by extremist Christian heretics such as dispensationalists. Mainstream Christians accept the fundamentally anti-Christian Whig view of history.

It’s inherent in the Whig view that everything that happens in history will always turn out in the long run to be liberal and progressive and good and in accordance with Whig principles, because it’s in the very nature of history that liberalism must be the winning side. Liberalism is on the right side of history.

So naturally the outcome of historical conflicts, whether military or political, must tend to contribute to the defeat of those on the Wrong Side Of History. This means that the winners of any military or political conflict must be the good guys. Conservatives tend to believe this, and in fact most of us believe it because for several centuries we have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the Whig approach to history. It’s interesting that this even applies to obviously disastrous wars like the First World War. No matter how appalled we may be by that exercise in butchery most of us still feel that somehow the Germans must have been the bad guys, simply because they lost.  The fact that they lost is enough to prove that they were in the wrong.

This is an attitude that is unconsciously adhered to by most people in the Anglosphere. Victory in war is proof that one is on the Right Side of History. Mainstream conservatives do not question this because to do so would be to question the rightness and the inevitable triumph of liberalism.

This also applies to victory in political struggles. While it may seem obvious that the Sexual Revolution that began in the 60s was a catastrophe in every way and is something that needs to be undone if society is to survive very very few mainstream conservatives would dare to think such a thing, much less say it. It’s the same with the triumphs of feminism and the homosexual lobby. Mainstream conservatives are unwilling to adopt a radically critical stance towards such matters because the very fact that those who pushed the Sexual Revolution and feminism and the homosexual agenda succeeded proves that they were on the Right Side of History. Clearly those cataclysmic social changes were Meant To Be.

The irony is that conservatives end up being totally opposed to the idea of conserving anything because the only way to be on the Right Side of History is to be favour of constant change.