Tidbits 9/20/13

    1. Defending by annihilating
    2. Roots, Limits, Love
    3. Varieties of Conservative Experience
    4. I’ll never fuse with this kind of Conservative
    5. What’s Worship for II?
    6. How to figure out whose Ferrari that is


[O]nly those who have come to accept a gnostic view of the world could even entertain the notion of defending anything by annihilating everything…. the balance of terror itself is the result of a heresy, a circular heresy, with no respect for the past, no hope for the future and no real God at the center of its present.

(Against the Protestant Gnostics, 1987, 191, quoted at The Importance of Being Earnest: Candor About Ideological Violations of Law and Humanity).


Mark Mitchell, one of the key people at Front Porch Republic, does an astonishingly good job of summing up the contours of real conservatism, as opposed to the bullshit dealt by El Rushbo, Faux News and other poseurs:

The so-called conservatism promoted by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is (when a coherent thread presents itself) a fairly standard litany of pro-growth, pro-war individualism, that claims to despise “Big Government” while championing the upward mobility of the most talented and energetic. These ideas, and the policies they spawn, are not conservative.

Our cultural standard-bearers chaff against the notion of limits. We are told that freedom and limits are incompatible, and that freedom is only real if limits are ignored.

We are told that the solution to our economic woes is growth. We need steady and sustained growth in order to ensure that our standard of living continues to improve indefinitely. No one seems interested in asking whether infinite growth is even possible. No one seems inclined to ask whether our standard of living is sufficient or even sustainable.

In short, the atomized individual, far from being a means to maximizing freedom, was and is instrumental in the growth and empowerment of the centralized state.

So, too, the idol of perpetual economic growth …

So what can be done? First it should be clear that the term “conservative” has been hijacked. We should either work hard for its recovery or abandon it altogether.

Except in reflex, I’ve abandoned the term. “Conservative” standing alone doesn’t convey anything about my convictions, and to the extent that it has been popularized by Limbaugh and Fox, it conveys something quite contrary to my convictions.

The title of Mitchell’s contribution to the symposium (H/T Rod Dreher) is Roots, Limits and Love. This is about a jillion miles from the idea that a “Real Conservative®” is a sociopathic self-interest maximizer who has no roots, denies limits, and betrays love in a heartbeat for a buck?


Among the many groups that have appropriated the term “conservative,” we find self-described fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, southern agrarians, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, conservative liberals, business conservatives, traditionalists, libertarian conservatives, national security conservatives, conservative Democrats, Reagan conservatives, limited government conservatives, Tories, isolationists, bioconservatives, Thatcherites, progressive conservatives, federalists, fusionists, religious conservatives, and so on and so forth.

The differences between these ever-shifting clusters are often profound. The deepest, usually unspoken philosophical division is perhaps between those conservatives who ground their thinking in natural law reasoning and those committed to its polar-opposite: skepticism ….

(Samuel Gregg in the same ISI symposium as Mitchell)


There is no “conservative fusionism,” I think, that can reconcile me with the people whose heartstrings sing at Justice Kennedy’s Mystery Passage:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life …

Abstracted from the pro-abortion concepts that immediately follow, this expresses a “conservative” view that’s quite prevalent today, as some have noted:

Yet it’s ironic that mostly political conservatives attack it, because at the heart of Justice Kennedy’s at-the-heart statement is the essential message of political conservatism, and that is personal liberty.

(Clifford R. Goldstein at Liberty magazine)

I hasten to add that “progressives” (liberals) are no better at politically valuing the roots, limits and love espoused by Mitchell. But I’ve come to recognize that many of them live their personal lives in a more rooted and loving way that supposed conservatives.

As for “limits”? Well, even the name “progressive” evokes a relentless optimism that knows no meaningful limits. In a sense, they’re right. You can blow away most limits, and do what they said couldn’t be done, if you’re sufficiently blindered to the collateral damage.


[Q:] “What is worship for?” … [A:] “Worship is for God.” We need to worship God, because it puts us in right “alignment” with him. God doesn’t need our worship; God doesn’t need anything the human race can offer. But when we drift from him we become scattered and confused. Worship brings us before our Creator, the only source of love that is worthy of the name. The more we focus on him alone, forgetting about ourselves, the more we will be healed.

(Frederica, What Is Worship For? Part 2)


The Missus is a librarian, so I figured she had some license plate database in mind when she said she could find the owner of the Ferrari we’d noticed outside the window of the restaurant last night. It turned out she had something lower tech in mind.

“I’ll just stand on the hood, jump up and down and yell until the owner rushes out of the restaurant,” she said.

I was the only one who’d had a drink, too, I swear. It’s dangerous to get that woman relaxed.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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