August 1, 2010


From neocons to crazy-cons: Once the conservative movement was about finding meaning in private life and public service. But it has undergone a shift toward demagoguery and hucksterism. (David Klinghoffer, August 1, 2010, LA Times)

Defining conservatism is notoriously difficult. But no one did it better than philosopher Richard M. Weaver in a book that, more than any other, launched the modern conservative movement. Published in 1948, the book was "Ideas Have Consequences."

Weaver compared his role to a doctor diagnosing an illness. It is not enough to want to treat the symptoms — in this case, of our demoralized, dispirited culture. You must understand the genesis of the disease.

Weaver describes the course of the revolution in thought that led from a seemingly obscure philosophical debate in the Middle Ages through Darwinian evolutionary theory to class-based determinist theories in economics and onward to contemporary liberal relativism.

In the process of disintegration was an ancient, shared picture of the world and our place in it. Once, Western culture was blessed by a "metaphysical dream" that meaningfully explained man to himself as, in the phrase from Psalms, "a little lower than the angels." Now humans were reduced to mere animals.

Weaver observed: "If we feel that creation does not express purpose, it is impossible to find an authorization for purpose in our lives." A life without real purpose is likely to be anxious, restless, prone to bitterness and suspicion. The goal of conservatism was to restore to men and women a metaphysical dream that allows for ultimate meaning in our existence.

The idea of purpose in the cosmos was central to the conservative vision. Another icon on the right, Whittaker Chambers, described in his 1952 memoir, "Witness," the moment he awoke from his earlier communism: It was upon looking closely one day at his young daughter's ear. Noting the exquisite beauty, the evidence of "immense design" shook him. He could never again subscribe to the secular, materialist dream.

...because the media, unlike the Party, is dominated by libertarians paleocons, and neocons, none of whom partake of the metaphysical dream. The Party is instead theocon, and beholden to the dream.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2010 7:26 AM
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