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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
United We Fall
Donald Trump has gone on record as wishing to unite the nation. In fact, he has declared it one of his urgent priorities in numerous post-election comments. I hope this is mere presidential rhetoric, for America has long passed the point when unity would be possible. The nation is now hopelessly divided and will remain so. Unless Trump recognizes this unpalatable reality, much of his decision-making and hard work will go for nought.
The left, which includes the majority of national institutions -- the legacy media, the academy, television, Hollywood, the social media providers, the judiciary, online and print groups, government departments, the Democratic Party and much of the Republican Party, the political class as a whole and the army of liberal voters -- will never be pacified. The left will never cease in its efforts to scheme against a Trump -- or any conservative-leaning -- administration.
Trump must take seriously Newt Gingrich's warning against the temptation to "give in" to the left when opposition starts to mount from every quarter -- the Greens, government employees, the teachers' unions, indeed the entire progressivist Category 5 hurricane of demands and vilification. Not only should Trump resist that temptation, he must not waste his time and energy seeking to heal what cannot be repaired, but needs to engage in a kind of domestic cold war, using every legislative means in his purview to contain a dangerous and implacable internal enemy. This is realpolitik applied locally.
Robert Oscar Lopez pillories the academic left and the education industry at all levels, he writes: "Try to build bridges to them, and they punish you for it…[they take] kind gestures from conservatives as a sign that conservatives are weak." The arts of conciliation tend to be perceived as "an invitation to shame you publicly, using anything you say against you." He continues: "Higher education is not a swamp to be drained. It is a diabolical machine, and it is time to pull the plug." What he says of the education consortium is true of the left across the entire cultural, social and political spectrum.
It is naïve to assume that the political fissure between left and right, collectivism and individuality, Socialism and classical liberalism, fantasy and reality, can ever be bridged. In essence, this is a perennial conflict, one which the great satirist Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books, drawing from the classics, described as the enmity between the predatory spider, who purls illusions out of his own entrails, and the foraging bee who produces sweetness and light and convulses the spider's self-spun "citadel." It is a conflict between opposed epistemological frames of reference -- in Swiftian terms, that of the fanatic parvenu and that of the companionable humanist. Today it is a war between progressivists and conservatives, between utopian experimentalism and traditional values. The rupture cannot be parged. One should not invest in a fruitless and destructive effort to create unity where none is possible.
Where the effort to achieve unity has real meaning is in the attempt to mend the surmountable divisions of opinion within the conservative family in order to form a strong front against the forces that would subvert the political coherence and even the survival of the nation. Unity only makes sense if it is accomplished within the often disparate group of genuine patriots who may disagree on many points, yet who are basically at one in struggling to establish the rule of law and a functioning democratic -- or rather, republican -- polity. But to work for the unification of oil and water is not only an egregious error but a recipe for social and political disunity.
E.M. Cadwaladr argues America now comprises "two separate peoples…where any notion of compromise…is painfully naïve and utterly futile." Conservatism is about the "freedom from government interference," the freedom for citizens "to do with their property as they see fit [and to] prosper or fail in accordance with [their own] choices and abilities." Conservatives believe that "charity is an individual virtue, [the purpose of which] is to raise the unfortunate to a state of self-sufficiency." Freedom includes the right "to make one's own judgments about other people" (so much for political correctness). And "equality" means equality before the law.
Progressivists believe in identity politics, in big government rather than scaled-down efficient government, in the collective over the individual, in compensating the aggrieved often at the expense of the deserving, in cultural and ethnic equivalency, and in building a new global utopia. For progressivists, freedom means "freedom from want (entitlements), sexual freedom (and the right to an abortion), and…a self-defined and flexible identity (including being addressed by whatever pronoun suits you.)" Equality before the law is an antiquated concept. Equality means equality of outcome, regardless of input.
In sum, "Nationalist conservatives cannot tolerate the destruction of their national identity. Globalist progressives cannot tolerate the very idea of nation states…They are not different merely in having differing views about the size and scope of government," Cadwaladr concludes, they are "different in kind." It is a divide that has never been healed throughout the course of recorded history and that cannot be healed under any conceivable American administration. Obama widened and exacerbated the divide; Trump cannot repair it, but if he is wise, he may be able to prevent a relentless internal enemy from using the divide to create a Marxist dystopia.
Cadwaladr uses the term "conservative" in a broad preferential sense, which is perfectly legitimate as such, but as we will see, a critical distinction has to be made. In the current political climate, what I've called the "internal enemy" is twofold. Apart from the rhapsodic left that haunts the nation with its malignant dream, a true reformer must confront the schismatic dissension of his nominal allies, in this case the Republican aristocracy that works to undermine the restorative project. This too is a swamp that must be drained (or a diabolical machine whose plug must be pulled). False conservatives are no less and perhaps even more insidious than an avowed and definable antagonist. Major figures in the Republican Party -- John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham, Mitt Romney et al. -- and in the mainstream conservative movement -- George Will, Bill Kristol, Kevin Williamson, Glenn Beck, David Frum et al. -- have effectively acted in concert with the acknowledged foe, espousing many of its programs and laboring to discredit their own presidential candidate.
Such people have come to be known by the New Right as "cuckservatives," an epithet circulating on the Internet and given prominence in John Red Eagle and Vox Day's Cuckservative: How "Conservatives" Betrayed America. Cuckservatives, according to the two Native American authors, are like cuckolded husbands who "raise the children of another man instead of one's own sons and daughters," those who welcome the cuckoo bird to populate their nests. In the words of Mike Cernovich, who provided the Foreword to the book, "cuckservatives are false conservatives who are thrilled to see real Americans get screwed over by immigration!" And not only by immigration, but in almost every other respect as well: wretched education, rampant entitlements, false scandals (the patriarchy, college rape culture), anti-Constitutionalism, gender fluidity, feminism, economic strangulation, in short, an outright attack on what was once known as the American way of life.
In his own recent book MAGA MINDSET, Cernovich claims, with considerable evidence, that a cuckservitive is one who "will never have the back of his nominal friends and allies," who wants "to be part of the establishment," and who "cares more about attacking Donald Trump than putting any effort into understanding why Trump has grown a huge audience." He uses the term, he goes on to say, "to describe prominent writers and talking heads on the political Right who are more concerned with being liked by SJWs than standing up for their actual allies." There can be little common understanding between a conservative and a cuckservative. Conservative unity means marginalizing such collaborators who secretly fly the enemy's flag. The conservative media and punditry are, for the most part, more interested in virtue-signaling to the left, in showing how reasonable and pro-"social justice" they are, than in defending conservative principles or supporting genuine conservatives who have come under attack.
The presumably noble endeavor to achieve unity with perpetual dissidents and adversaries -- that is, between two contending frames of reference, whether in the nation or in the Party -- is demonstrably counter-productive. Beware of unity with those who are wedded to sowing discord and for whom the invitation to make common cause is a weapon to create disunity in the body politic. We should not attempt to cultivate unity where unity cannot exist. We need, rather, to be unsparingly realistic.
Striving to unite eternal incompatibles is a disaster in the making, and the president-elect must take this fact into consideration. Politics may be the art of compromise, but it also the art of determined action and resolute principle. For the incoming administration, this is the time for the head to predominate, the time for determination and scruple. You cannot make peace with those who hate the country, whose values are diametrically opposed to yours, or whose agenda "pivots" toward cultural and political disintegration.
Trump should put the party subversives in their place and, using every constitutional measure at his disposal, render the left in all its manifestations irrelevant and seek to neutralize its poison. And he must do so decisively if his presidency is to succeed. For counterfeit unity goeth before a fall.