On Conservative Reaction

It’s hard for me to imagine the excitement people must have felt when they first got their hands on John Locke’s “First and Second Treatises of Government”. Emerging from tyranny, the wickedness of a vile nobility, absolute monarchy, the horrible bent excesses of a corrupt church – this last one the worst, because they were supposed to protect the poor.

Emerging into the light, to think about natural rights of man, to contemplate those three basic rights that we all possess, no matter where we are born – those of life, liberty, and property. It caused an explosion, of thinking, of prosperity, of kindness.

But it was not to last. Slowly our Tocquevillian decentralized, spontaneously organized communities were replaced. Brick by brick a prison was built around the free, for our re-enslavement, this time not to a king but to a stifling mono-culture which, in the name of ‘diversity’ bans all dissident thought. Our rights, hard won and given to us by Locke came to mean the fundamental protection by a super-state of each bent and depraved act that man could imagine. It meant the end of reason; beetle-men not only saying that man can be woman if he wants, that right can be wrong, that up can be down – but those who do not bow down and repeat the chant with the others will be destroyed. The firemen are busier now than during the days of Stalin. Our ‘liberalism’ failed, due to its tremendous success of telling people what they want to hear, giving people tremendous prosperity to live as they will without consequences, and then turning on the dissenters to force them, brutally and wickedly, to assent. “Blue is in fact yellow, say it, say it louder!!” – and woe to you if you don’t.

Our liberalism killed itself – spawning culture wars and then real wars as Nietzsche said it would. Its suicide was not in an epic explosion, though that is coming. It is, right now, in the most dramatic race to the bottom the world has ever seen. Recently, I was exploring job opportunities at “William and Mary” university in Williamsburg. I like that town, and in my mind’s eye I have always through it would be fun to end up there, living in a rural house and hosting smart kids who want to think. I went on the site – only to find – not one – but half a dozen teaching jobs focusing on diversity, inclusion and grievance studies. A $400,000 degree in self pity. I, who have worked in foreign policy and government for many years and would really enjoy trying to pass some of that on, brushed aside for a Ph. D. in “Poor You!” A zero sum decision by the Dean, I suppose, to focus on victimization and not performance – how is that a recipe for success? But success is not in doubt anymore, that’s what we learned from Fukuyama – we have arrived, there is no need anymore for that annoyingly disturbing discussion of how we got here (to say nothing of how we stay here). No, those are unimportant topics juxtaposed against a search for utopia so resoundingly applauded. Everybody likes to be applauded, after all.

Our mono-culture is not only here – but we are using the tremendous political and military and economic power of the republic, a leftover of centuries of hard work, strict discipline, and Judeo-Christian ethics to impose our wickedness on other, weaker countries – choosing winners and losers in their societies through the power of our purse. Massive states, deep and wide, reaching into every segment of society, their only perceived role to stamp out any preference; because preference leads to difference which leads to inequality which leads to discrimination – in their mind as direct cause and effect – standing in the way of the new idea of a monograph utopia of the victims, which really isn’t new at all, is it? These are the same people, same ideas who gave us Chavez and Lenin and Mao and Pol Pot. And the only metric for ‘winning’ is a huge pile of money, awarded by a dark hand the market no longer controls. No altruism, or professional achievement, or personal story, or act of goodness can exist outside the clarion call of cash.

“Thinkers Against Modernity” is about this self-destruction, told from the perspective of people who lived 150 years ago in Europe. Brief essays about G.K. Chesterton and Ernst Junger and others. Now that modernity is dead, and so too post-modernity, an analysis of what some writers, who were right about some things, would say about what comes after.

I would say there are difficult times coming, but they are already here. We don’t recognize them, because we are too busy watching the increasingly bizarre ‘show’ played out on our television. We don’t realize our liberalism is dead; that its premise is being re-examined even as we speak; that its excesses judged and its prophets found wanting.

We of course need to be careful, we can’t replace our nihilistic nonsense culture of ignorant hate with more rage and anger; besides the fact that recipe never works, its exactly what they want. They now control the power of the state and they are keen to use it to destroy those who will not say “Blue is in fact yellow” for all to hear. This is where I probably side with Chesterton and Tolkien of the old European right, one of balance and of depth and of propriety and discipline – one which sees value in difference, in nobility and aristocracy and faith, and in the restraint which is product of an old society comfortable with itself and willing to admit that there is much still to be learned. Even in Locke, because he – too – is now one of those old conservative reactionaries; as am I.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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2 Responses to On Conservative Reaction

  1. Lynda Shafer says:

    Well-said. Your analysis, unfortunately, is too true. Joel, I don’t know you except through your writing, which makes me wish I could know you in person, but I think you would absolutely hate today’s academia, even though academia, but more importantly, the kids desperately need a man of your caliber and aesthetic. More deserving of you would perhaps be Hillsdale or the new University of Austin (UATX)


    • Hi Lynda thanks for the note. Ya, maybe you’re right. I have that idea, maybe from movies, about living in a college town and holding court. But you’re probably right, I’ve heard its pretty toxic. I do need to reach out to Hillsdale. Thanks again for stopping by!!


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