GK Chesterton, writing about English Progressives and Conservatives, wrote in 1924:
The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of conservatives is to prevent those mistakes being corrected. Even if the revolutionist might repent of his revolution, the conservative will still cling to it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types, the advanced person who rushes into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. Each new blunder by the prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity by the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check in our constitution.
The American conservative movement is into its 60Th year, so certain laws of generations apply explaining its descent into little more than a for-profit business line, carrying with it a style manual of clichés and emojis, and a Cliff’s Notes Guide to Conservative Orthodoxy. As Mark Twain once wrote about the Christians of his day, we can now safely call these “professional conservatives” versus the more ancient “professing conservatives”, who, like myself, have been relegated to a back bench.
To this second, and entering into its third generation, conservatism has no real history before World War II, since none of its practitioners were alive then. In fact, many of their parents weren’t even alive. Having been born at the end of that war, and a living memory of the Korean, and nuclear drills under our school room desks, I can look back at least that far and find a connection, thanks to my father, who was an ardent supporter of Barry Goldwater and early subscriber to National Review, leaving copies around, for me to read until I went off to college.
History for me has always been on a need-to-know basis. If I wanted to know something beyond what they taught in the American or World History courses, I picked up a book and read it.
These days I read Richard Brookhiser’s series of biographies of he Founder’s, begun in 1992, for while a Never-Trumper, I think, his disdain is more New York than American, being that Trump is from Queens. I have the same feeling for people from Letcher County, at least until we meet up with a bunch from Mingo County, West Virginia. (There’s a pecking order of loyalties in there which I confirmed in the Balkans.)
Even with the instant access of Wikipedia (a modestly good site for older history) I’ve found modern conservatives of the second generation type seem not to have a handle on that sort of thing.
I’ve found it’s difficult to ask questions if one already thinks he knows everything that can be known.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a long article, part of a series, about Article V and the still-active Convention of States group, headed by Mark Meckler and Michael Farris, at least one of which, I believe, have mercenary motives, which is the point about conservatism’s rising pointlessness I’d like to discuss here.
When there is money and profit in conservatism, does conservatism’s true purpose take a back seat?
The rise of Donald Trump and recent “establishment” conservative opposition to his candidacy has engendered an equal inquiry into just what conservatism really is these days.
This is a good thing.
I am conservative, and am not the least bit ecumenical about it, but I also know what the purpose of my conservatism is, and it is not pay-check- or status-related. (Although it would be nice is someone would drop a twenty at VeteransTales.org from time to time, where we do grass roots work, to cover the night shift.) You see, the people who true conservatives are foresworn to protect have always marched to the beat of a different kind of conservatism; less scholarly, less noble, more rawboned, but of late greatly mocked by more than their arch-enemies, the Left, who would return them (us all) to the kind of rank servitude their theory of history has always believed Nature had bequeathed to them. Just ask that “FBI Employee” in the recent OIG Report[…]
************************Thank you for stopping by Grumpy Opinions and while you are here, please SUBSCRIBE to our Grumpy Opinions newsletter to receive our emails. You can also subscribe to Grumpy Opinions’ in our right sidebar or if you have a WordPress.com account, in our WordPress.com READER in the admin panel on the top left. Social media accounts: