A Belated Riff On Skip’s Dr. Paul Rahe Post

by Scott Morales

In that it’s out there being discussed, it’s a very heartening read. I meant to get this out a few days ago, but I couldn’t get the time to write this up until now. Skip, thanks for finding and sharing Dr. Rahe’s piece. It reminds me of many things, I’ll touch on just a few.

First my answer to Skip’s last question in his post: there must be, if we’re to survive with liberty. I don’t believe that conservatives and libertarians are that far apart at our core. But I do believe there will always be a constant re-drawing of the line between what is and is not a function of the state when conservatives and libertarians debate. I think that’s good. Our dogma is not settled and probably, hopefully, never will be; that’s what makes us more vibrant than the left. And I think most of the disagreements can be resolved with Federalism. Now, onto a few thoughts.

Though F.A. Hayek is often claimed by the libertarians as one of their own, I believe for the exact reason mentioned in Rahe’s article he belongs in the conservative realm. He did believe in what he called the Extended Order, which, in a nutshell, is the application of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand to social traditions, mores, and virtues. It is the understanding that pieces of wisdom pass down through history because, by definition, they were beneficial to a society’s success. Society thrived and flourished because of innumerable things learned and inculcated into a society and eventually were done so subconsciously. Things that weren’t beneficial were pruned away and withered. Traditions, behaviors, and virtues evolved and hardened. It is precisely these traditions that enable a long and transcendent view of a society, and why they must be cherished. And resistance must be applied when it is sought to remove, deviate, or pervert them for the immediate illusory gain– which brings us to Burke and Montesquieu, but I digress.

Libertarian Leonard Reed illustrated the Extended Order in a way as it applies to manufacturing or assembly in “I Pencil“, but that same illustration can also apply the construction of currency, language, virtuous behavior, social best practices etc. These things came about not by a single human mind or will, but through an ever evolving maturation over time, dispersed throughout many individuals who were often consciously unaware of one another.

The traditions, institutions, and virtues are in place to serve a purpose in society and if they fail to do so, the sinister state is always willing to step in. If functions cannot be met by non-coercive measures, they’ll be met by coercive measures. It is precisely this reason why the Left tries to deconstruct traditions, religion, family, or any unit that is not subject of or to the state because these things provide the functions that people require. If these were to remain strong, the state cannot insert itself in their place and the Left can’t “immanentize the eschaton” as Eric Voegelin said. However, they can bring about Heaven on Earth if these societal institutions are broken down and replaced by the state. This “Crises of the West”, again a Voegelin phrase, is the successes of such a deconstruction effort in the West and the implantation of the state in this way. And it is what was discussed in Rahe’s piece and Skip’s comment.

The culture matters. It matters in an excruciatingly big way.

I heard, I think it was Brent Bozell, I may be wrong about that, but in a response to a question about what he thinks is the biggest threat to our country the crowd was expecting him to say Obama, but he replied something to the effect of “It’s not Obama. The biggest threat to our country is the people who elected Obama”. He’s right. Obama is just a politician tapping into a pervasive sentimentality as politicians have been doing throughout history. At some visceral level the people we know, talk to, and see everyday believe that the state is there to do things that we cannot or should not possibly do ourselves, although we used to do them ourselves. I joked about this in a blog I posted awhile back when the Fluke distraction spurted onto the scene and how:

Soon, even in our most intimate of moments, we’ll look at each other and say, “What bureaucracy is in charge of this?  Wait here, sweetheart, I need to get the Department of Marital Bliss on the line to help me figure out this maneuver.”

And how we changed, so it’s even the government’s responsibility to pay for our peccadillos and that:

“Get the government out of the bedroom” is now replaced with “Get the government out of the bedroom, but before going, leave some cash on the nightstand.”

It was funnier before the election, not so much after. The reality is that it’s this type of self induced dependence that has its grip on too many American minds. And the devil may care attitudes toward sex, drugs, and lawlessness of all kinds is but a symptom of cultural decay and gnosticism. The false belief in a mythical mastermind, an anthropomorphic state, to make the world Heaven absolves the believer of taking any responsibility for his or her happiness and sadness, for his or her successes and failures and simply reduces him or her to a functionary servant of the state. A spiritless organism that serves other spiritless organisms at the direction of the deciding political class. The reduction of the human being down to “the flies of a summer” as Burke said. Dignity drained.

To correct this conservatives need to be everywhere: in the classroom, in the movies, in the music, in the sitcoms etc.  We’ve ceded too much cultural territory, and we’re paying the price now.  Traditions do matter. Culture does matter. To restate what was mentioned a few paragraphs up, there are undeniable needs and wants that human beings require. If those wants and needs are not met by non-coercive means, they’ll be met by crudely coercive means. If they’re not met by a responsible citizenry, they’ll be met by the discharge of the state at the expense of liberty.

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  • C. dog e. doG

    So, how does a conservative go about making substantive steps toward liberty, toward being human and not State chattel?
    – C. dog

    • Scott Morales

      By taking personal responsibility and filling the void that is left after the state is out of the areas in which it doesn’t belong. The first step is getting the state out of those areas.

      • C. dog e. doG

        So, that’s a mighty big 1st step. How do you propose one take it?
        – C. dog

        • Scott Morales

          Alas, it is.The only way I know is what I stated in the post: “conservatives need to be everywhere: in the classroom, in the movies, in the music, in the sitcoms etc.” it’s not easy at all. But I know of no other way. They’re winning. People are convincing themselves it’s okay to be a slave.

          • C. dog e. doG

            Therein lies the rub. Conservatives teaching in a government school system? Seems a contradiction in terms, which is why school choice is at the white hot center of contested ground between the Libs and non-Libs, and the reason I hold Repubs feet to the fire on this issue. If we concede this ground – which RINO’s reflexively do because of their gelatinous spine and equivocating demeanor – then all is truly lost; Marx was no Nostradamus, but he knew his strategery.
            – C. dog

          • Scott Morales

            even in government schools, I don’t see it as a contradiction. If the
            gov forces us to fund them in first place, it seems we should have
            a presence in them. That doesn’t mean I want to fund them at the
            federal level, if I had my druthers we wouldn’t, but right now we’re
            forced to. That also doesn’t mean we abandon the school choice movement. I
            think it’s similar to how Ron Paul approaches spending. He votes against
            the spending bills but takes the cash for his constituents when the bills pass because it
            was pried from their hands in the first place. If he had his way, the
            cash would remain with his constituents and not be cycled through the bureaucracy.

          • C. dog e. doG

            Seems at best a Faustian bargain wherein a wily conservative might fool the devil some of the times, but more often than not, the sheer mass of Lib teachers in their protected cocoon are able to dim the wits of the vast majority of those in their charge. I suspect other strategies may yield better results sometime during one’s lifetime, such as a full court press emphasizing school options hit two of the Libs’ primary colors: choice and diversity. How can they pass that up? Given the Libs are clearly playing from Father Karl’s playbook, in the end only a separation and concentration strategy will likely work.
            – C. dog

          • granitegrok

            But unless we start to change the culture BACK, even if in the diminutive fashion, we lose. Those that go into the fields of Art, Media, and Education will later be called heros for withstanding the slings and arrows.

            School choice is a necessary part of it, but will be of no use if the NEA Communists are there as well. Choice not only entails the building but the teachers as well. Again, Conservatives must be willing to go where they are not wanted.

          • C. dog e. doG

            Where would you rather teach, a government school run by dolts, or a private school that reflects your values? That’s all I’m sayin’.
            – C. dog

          • granitegrok

            In a private school if the parents actually had the educational freedom to choose. But the Grokster in me say “Into the belly of the beast!” and make sport of them all.

  • Sam Adams

    America,s problem is that we comply. We were given God given rights, that were converted into privileges by the state, then licensed, signed contracts, permits, applications, etc.. We pay an income tax on wages or reimbursement for our expertise, to a federal govt that was only given exclusive legislation authority[not to exceed 1o ten sq miles]. DC has NO authority over the residents of the states. But Americans sign W2 contracts and volunteer 25% of their reimbursement. We Comply?? Clint Eastwood,} this is your country, not theirs, they work for you. Fire them.”

  • Pingback: Conservative v Libertarian or Libertarian Class A v Libertarian Class B? — GraniteGrok()

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