“Trump and the conservatives” – a mistake and a misnomer

“Trump and the conservatives” – a mistake and a misnomer February 6, 2017

“There is a growing, ugly and violent war being waged against the Trump administration and conservatives in general.”

So sayeth Life Site News, in an article so bursting with earnest hysteria that it would be probably pointless, and certainly unfair, to address it at all: but I will direct you to it, here, for your daily dose of “this is why we can’t have pro-life things.” Suffice it to say, radical feminists are involved, and Freemasons, and militant Islam (actually a contrivance of Angela Merkel. Because reasons), and of course the ubiquitous George Soros who is now, it seems, responsible even for the election of the Pope (aka Bergoglio). Yes, Pope Francis is also in on this global conspiracy. And only Trump can save us.

“But Trump is hand in glove with global corporate interests…”

“Stop. Don’t try to use reason! Reason is for academic elites. Take a deep breath, hold it, dpin around one hundred times, snort a line of baking soda, and you will see the GNOSIS unfold before you.”

“But what about Jesus…?”

“Shhh….”

Actually, what I want to address here is the phrasing of the opening statement: “the Trump administration and conservatives in general.” I keep seeing this equation of Trump supporters with conservatives, or the assumption that an attack on Trump is an attack on conservatives. But the thing is, Trump is not a conservative. He’s not even wobbling on the edge of being a conservative. The particular Catholic demographic that applauds Trump and follows such publications as LifeSite is not conservative, either. And the Alt Right, that has hitched its hip techno-wagon to Trump’s gilded star, not only isn’t conservative, but openly mocks conservatives, or the things it thinks are conservatives. “Cuckservatives” is the preferred slur.

By the way, I would like to differentiate here between those who reluctantly voted Trump and now shake their heads at his inanity, or try to focus on happier things – and those who devote their every breath to making excuses for him. It’s this second group, I want to emphasize here, that quite definitively is not conservative.

It’s all the more important to make this distinction, as different right-wing reactionary factions begin to coalesce. On one hand we have the anti-Francis Catholics who have chosen Cardinal Burke as their anti-pope presumptive (whether he likes it or not). These Catholics have completely ignored or laughed off the warnings against mainstreaming the racism and anti-semitism of the Alt Right. They have made excuses for Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulis that they would never make for the ordinary garden-variety divorced or gay person – or for their own pontiff, for that matter. On the other hand we have the Alt Right, which is inherently sexist and white-nationalist, and is largely a secular movement, though it makes utilitarian claims on a species of Christianity without Christ.

The irony is that the Alt Right embraces all the most blatant forms of sexual vulgarity which would usually cause the reactionary Catholics to call for their smelling salts – and sexual exploitaition as well – but we now know how even the most hedonistic sexual adventurer can get a pass: speak out against feminism or black rights movements, and you’re golden. You might even make it up the communion line, in spite of that pesky dubia thing.

The coalescence of these two groups is glaringly evident in that  Fr. Frank Pavone writes for Breitbart, and that Bannon is making common cause with the Burke contingent. And certain features that distinguish this new alliance sharply from conservatives become all the more evident.

I wrote recently about the fact that Americans tend to use the term “conservative” when they actually mean “right wing liberal.”  Here’s a quick checklist of conservative attitudes:

  1. Distrusts utopian schemes, or any universal scheme for human happiness
  2. Views the ordering of society not as the result of a social contract, but as a reflection of a divine order.
  3. Emphasizes not so much rights, but the responsibilities inherent in one’s place in the ordering of society
  4. Tends to embrace diversity via class structure. They may be racist, yes, but the emphasis is class divisions: the racially other can be an equal if in the same caste
  5. This class structure is based on actual social hierarchies, not money
  6. Is patriarchal, but the more deadly elements of sexism are checked in some ways by the “gentlemanly code”
  7. Because everyone has a responsibility within this structure, there is no clear line distinguishing “people” from “governance”
  8. Believes in a regulated market, because all of life must be regulated in accordance with a natural moral order
  9. Believes in conserving and preserving nature, as part of a duty towards creation
  10. Is reluctant to embrace any sudden change
  11. Would really prefer a monarchy, but only if it were traditional: not forcibly and sudddenly imposed. No Oedipus Tyrannos hobbling in to save us from the Sphynx.

I gave Mr. Darcy as an example of the True Conservative, and a friend of mine later suggested that Prince Charles is a good example of a contemporary conservative (it helps to have a title).

The mentality of the new right-wingers who are coming together under Trump is very different, and decidedly not conservative.

  1. Their vision is fundamentally utopian, apocalyptic, and messianic
  2. They have no sense of place in society conferring responsibility, except for when they are scolding the poor
  3. They are essentially middle-class in their attitudes. It has been noted in many contexts that fascism is a middle class phenomenon. Racism fits especially well into bourgeois ressentiment, because those who envy the lords of the land like to have someone to look down on.
  4. They embrace a capitalist ethos, complete with the ridiculous notion of income-based class, the relativism of supply and demand, the faith in the invisible hand, and the rejection of moral checks and balances.
  5. Is patriarchal, sexist, and misogynistic, with none of the gentlemanly restraints on such behavior as boasting about sexually assaulting women, or harassing women online, or mockng women for their looks.
  6. Does not give one hot damn about nature. Unless they’re attempting to make bad natural law arguments.
  7. Is totally about sudden change, violent change, mindless change – change for the sake of change – to the point of nihilism. Probably because the driving force is fear, or reaction.

Of course, this approach not only is not conservative: it is not Christian, either. But it is presenting itself as Christian, within a frighteningly unhinged apocalyptic framework: they truly see themselves as warriors for Christ in a battle for civilization against….well, everyone who isn’t exactly like them. This is a perverse distortion of the Christian Gospel, but perverse distortions of the Gospel have always been beguiling, from the early Church until today.

How do we combat a fundamentally anti-Christian mentality, when it is disguised as Christianity? Here we find a challenge not only intellectual and sociological, but spiritual. Because if we fall into the mistake of waging a “culture war,” we are no longer following Christ.

But that’s a whole other topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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