11 June 2016

Game over, man

Meet the old boss. Same as the old boss, funnily enough.

There is no conservative candidate on the red team in this election. Just as there is no progressive candidate on the blue team. Each major-party candidate represents, respectively, the most crass and vulgar aspects of our culture, and the most selfish and conniving aspects of our politics.

Why, you ask?

With the honourable exceptions of the First Nations and the Loyalists who were excised bloodily in the Revolution (and among whom were, not coincidentally, quite a few American Indians), American conservatism is an exercise in futility. We as a culture do not have the instinct for preservation of the old. We do not live in lands to which we have deep and religious ties. We do not have a nobility with a generations-old link to the land and to the people; what we have instead are haute-bourgeois speculators who treat both as commodities. (The reason I am so hard on the American South, by the way, is the same reason George Grant was so hard on Goldwater: they actively perpetuate the lie that they are conserving something other than an illusion, an illusion ultimately bought at the expense of millions of broken black lives and families.) With even red-state Americans embracing all manner of simplistic ideologies, and being unable to identify what is worth conserving, even ‘movement conservatism’ has turned out to be a worthless chimæra – an ill-fated attempt to tie together the faith-family-and-flag crowd with the nihilistic apostles of creative destruction, both political (neocons) and economic (libertarians). Trump, the nihilist apostle of – this time cultural – creative destruction par excellence, the candidate of strippers and blow, is simply the apotheosis of the late realisation that movement conservatism is a self-conscious fraud.

Likewise, faith in progress is at this point an exercise in insanity. We have no idea where we are progressing or how, but we are making good time. Or so we tell ourselves as we combine unprecedented levels of environmental destruction, free-trade madness, waste, inequality and imperialistic hubris with unprecedented forms of decadent sexual libertinism and experimentation. Climate change is happening, but we’re looking for more and better ways to wring the last drops of fossil fuel out of the ground before it all goes belly-up. Corporate profits continue to rise – and yet the American middle class hasn’t gotten its fair share since the ‘70’s. And we’ve been at war across the globe non-stop since 2001, and given that we’re no closer to stamping out terror now than when we began, I’d say we’re losing. Pace the Nation’s recent arse-covering, Clinton not only doesn’t represent an ‘incremental’ shift away from any of the above – she’s been busy stepping on the gas, ripping out the steering wheel and cutting the brake lines her whole career. And, to add insult to injury, we’ve got the nauseating display of her jackbooted supporters wagging their fingers at us ‘privileged’, ‘bratty’ young people, telling us to get with the programme or – essentially – the gays get it.

The Democrats (since the ‘60’s the refuge of the anti-war and anti-corporate voices in America) have been morphing for a generation now, under the influence of the liberal-interventionist Clintonites, into the party of war and Wall Street, with a social-liberal gloss. The Republicans (since the ‘60’s the refuge of the voices for social stability and the nuclear family in America) have been spending roughly the same time, under the influence of the libertine wing of the Reaganites, morphing into the party of bunga-bunga. Tweedledee and Tweedledum; the monkey and the lizard – what we are looking at now is simply the full fruition, disappointing as that is, of that entire evolution.

Keep an eye out for the rise of the third parties in America, and a massive revolt against sitting officials in 2018. Hold onto your hats, because the sixth party system is coming down around our ears.


  1. I'm reading Paul Krugman's 'The Conscience of a Liberal' at the moment. He's very critical of movement conservatism.

  2. I can well imagine. I’ve never been attracted to American movement conservatism, and that’s largely been for cultural reasons.

    I always hated the crass, ugly and materialistic elements of it, and I don’t think it was until the eighth grade (courtesy my Anglo-Irish Tory history teacher, Ms Abbott) that I discovered there even was such a thing as a conservatism that actually conserves that which is natural, beautiful, good and true. (It took me a little longer to determine that view largely accorded with my own.)