A friend of mine attended a political fundraiser the other day. In attendance were many “conservative” luminaries, and some prominent Republican candidates for the upcoming presidential election. Among those who spoke was a former Speaker of the House (and presidential candidate himself) [this was probably Newt Gingrich], who, according to my friend, struck a very somber note: he said that the battle for the American culture and political system was effectively over, and that the Left had won.Please click through and read Malcolm's short essay in its entirety, and click on his header for some other thoughts in this vein. And no, I am not morbid. Malcolm's title is ironic, as he observes elsewhere: "The autumn years are not without their comforts, for both a nation and a man." Work out, eat well, drink well, acquire skills, save money, love your family, worship God. Dysfunctional regimes which can't reproduce themselves will be replaced.
Recently I was invited to join a monthly discussion-group for the “Dissident Right”; it’s a convivial dinner-and-drinks affair at an “undisclosed location” in New York. The guest lecturer last month was a prominent conservative intellectual, and the author of several books. He gave a very engaging talk, but with a dispiriting message: there is simply no effective right-wing political opposition in America anymore, and no “critical mass” from which one can be expected to arise. Even as the ostensibly “conservative” GOP holds the upper hand in both houses of Congress, the nation moves faster and faster to the Left. And as others have pointed out: even if they wanted to, the Congress and the Judiciary simply cannot respond rapidly enough to the actions of an aggressive Executive — Congress because of the democratic limitations of a large legislative body, and the difficulty of assembling filibuster- and veto-proof majorities, while the Judiciary can initiate nothing at all on its own. Moreover, we are in such a late stage of this “progressive” disease that we are long past the point where a presidential victory, even by an actual conservative, can make any long-term difference to the morbid prognosis.
Furthermore, we are in the late stages of a kind of decline that is inherent in democracy itself, in which a gradual expansion of the franchise, culminating in universal suffrage, leads inexorably to short-sighted governance, the consumption of future assets for present-day expenses, and the general dissipation of a nation’s vigor. As Fitzjames Stephen wrote in 1874:
The substance of what I have to say to the disadvantage of the theory and practice of universal suffrage is that it tends to invert what I should have regarded as the true and natural relation between wisdom and folly. I think that wise and good men ought to rule those who are foolish and bad. To say that the sole function of the wise and good is to preach to their neighbors, and that everyone indiscriminately should be left to do what he likes, should be provided with a ratable share of the sovereign power in the shape of the vote, and that the result of this will be the direction of power by wisdom, seems to me the wildest romance that ever got possession of any considerable number of minds.
So, here we are, in a runaway train, with a foolish and angry mob at the controls. We have not the numbers to storm the engine. What to do? Neither Hanson nor Mac Donald offer any prescription.
The historically literate reactionary’s answer is: nothing. We can do nothing, other than to hope we survive the inevitable wreck, to learn from our mistakes, and perhaps to carry something forward...
And to conclude this morning's postings, I think we can officially issue James Howard Kunstler his Reactionary/Dark Enlightenment card:
The basic fact of the matter is that the energy bonanza of the past 200-odd years produced a matrix of complex systems, as well as a hypertrophy in human population. These complex systems — banking, agri-biz, hop-scotching industrialization, global commerce, Eds & Meds, Happy Motoring, commercial aviation, suburbia — have all reached their limits to growth, and those limits are expressing themselves in growing global disorder and universal bankruptcy. Do the authors of The New York Times report think that the oil distribution situation is stable?
There were two terror bombings in Saudi Arabia the past two weeks. Did anyone notice the significance of that? Or that the May 29th incident was against a Shiite mosque, or that the Shia population of Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the eastern province of the kingdom where nearly all of the oil production is concentrated? (Or that the newly failed state of neighboring Yemen is about 40 percent Shiite?) Have any of the 23 genius-level reporters at The New York Times tried to calculate what it would mean to the humming global economy if Arabian oil came off the market for only a few weeks?
Paul Ehrlich was right, just a little off in his timing and in explicating with precision the unanticipated consequences of limitless growth. But isn’t it in the nature of things unanticipated that they generally are not?