Decline And Fall
A man owns a chair with four legs. His friends and colleagues have by turn cajoled and bullied him into believing that one of these legs is superfluous, and that the chair can seat someone safely with one less leg. The man, surrounded by loud, forceful opponents, eventually concedes. He saws off a leg, without making any other alterations to the chair.
He draws a line – “This is enough. I’m not going to saw off any more legs, lest the chair collapse under someone’s weight, after losing the needed support.” And yet, his opponents eventually succeed in convincing him to shear off two other legs as well, leaving only one remaining.
It’s obvious that this chair, in its current form, will fail to ever serve its purpose. Yet the man cannot concede that the changes he made are responsible for destroying the chair. Instead, he starts blaming the last remaining leg for not being strong enough. He believes the solution is to somehow shore up that last leg, to let the chair be usable again once more. “No, it’s not because I sawed off three legs, but because that last leg is just so weak!”
In truth, the last leg alone could never let the chair sit upright, even without someone sitting on it. Nor could any of the other legs. They were all essential to keeping the chair upright and healthy.
Enter The Mainstream Conservative
This man is the modern mainstream conservative. He has conceded much ground to progressivism, and worships at its altars. He freely tolerates and endorses its rituals. There is very little of which he doesn’t approve.
Of course, he doesn’t think so. He is captivated by constant opposition with progressives. The constant battling consumes him, and narrows his view. He is convinced that HE is the very antithesis of a progressive. When people of all eras and cultures are considered, the modern American conservative is indistinguishable from his progressive counterpart. Of course, he doesn’t see it that way; his eyes play tricks on him. The inches of distance between his progressive peer become a chasm many miles wide from his vantage point.
The legs of the chair, as it were, are the elements essential to creating and propagating a society that conservatives claim to want. Most of these legs have fallen away already, initially at the instigation of progressives. And each time progressives started to remove one, conservatives would join in to finish the job. As John Derbyshire memorably put it, the conservative is a man marching eastward on a westbound ship.
The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. – G.K. Chesterton
His protests are comically futile. Yet he shows no desire to jump ship, as it were. That would be too radical. Being a conservative today consists of the inability to see the consequences of one’s actions, and to be yesterday’s progressives.
For anyone who thinks clearly, these legs propping up traditional society are not hard to identify. Conservatives still believe that sex and childbearing ought to be limited to a man married to a woman. Yet people do not marry until their late 20’s nowadays, more than a decade after full-blown puberty. Nor are females sexually restrained enough to prevent promiscuity.
When women well into their sexual prime are free to have sex with little consequence or restriction, they will. To tell independent women to abstain and hope that more than a few will listen is insane. Our forebears knew better of course. But conservatives have long since given up on listening to them. Modern conservatives who pride themselves on being ‘hard-headed’ suddenly become naive utopians in the realm of human sexuality.
Conservatives show no taste for truly addressing promiscuity, let alone women’s liberation. To do so would be to promote early marriage, and largely oppose the admission of women to universities and the workplace, and to shame sluts. Broadly speaking, it would amount to restoring power over the institutions of society to the hands of men, while women would nurture the next generation to good health and spirit. However, their strategy is no such thing; it is identical to that of feminists – empower women and blame men.
The man who cut the legs off his chair steadfastly denied that his actions destroyed the chair. His denial is incoherent, and insane. So too, the conservative dementedly denies that the ideas he now supports contribute to conditions he so deplores. Just as he castigates the media for saturating society with sexual deviancy, he has a television and complete cable package to pipe in Hollywood’s finest at his convenience. The recommendations of the mainstream conservative is unsuited to achieving his stated goals. He must either change his recommendations, or give up on achieving his goals.
Recently, Return of Kings ran a piece by Bacon on how to persuade a woman pregnant with your child to abort it. For the sake of argument, let us concede that abortion is an unmitigated atrocity. When a mature man is confronted with an atrocity, he looks to how he might prevent it from happening again. Detractors of the article were not so wise. They opted for feminine outbursts of anger and condemnation instead.
The calculus is fairly simple – a bastard poses risks that men don’t want. Abortion is one final solution to avoiding these risks. The question then becomes, how do you reduce these risks, so that fewer men have a reason to abort a fetus? As the author suggested, giving the man the ability to opt out of child support obligations was one way – yet not a single detractor, as far as I saw, supported that. The main response was “another reason abortion is horrible – men can use it to their advantage.” In the moral hierarchy of modern conservatism, a woman’s right to a man’s paycheck trumps a fetus’s right to life.
If a man could opt out of paternity obligations, he’d have a lot less reason to push for an abortion. And as the detractors would have it, every conception is an immaculate conception – the fact that a woman chose to have sex goes unmentioned. Men have little in the way of birth control besides rendering themselves sterile for life, or making the sex mediocre by putting on a condom. Not to mention, to hit it raw is divine – God smites he who does not raw dog (Genesis 38:8-10).
Of course, abortion isn’t the only issue. Bastardy and divorce are pernicious as well, yet conservatives have largely given up fighting those. The constellation of factors behind these conditions are too great: late marriage, fornication, contraceptives, female schooling & careerism, racial differences in their prevalence, the list goes on. Abortion is an outcropping of deeper problems that the conservative now ignores. Even if abortion were banned, other problems would continue to surface.
He is too cowardly to discuss those deeper issues; he fears upsetting progressives with allegedly sexist and racist speech. In fact, he is their enforcer. Abortion is the rare safe haven where his perceived morality outshines his ‘bigotry.’ My aim is not to say what should or should not be done, but to note that the conservative has lofty visions and yet timid actions; he suffers from an incredible inadequacy, a marked mismatch of ends and means.
If abortion is their only concern, let them attack it directly by giving men the right to opt out of child-support payments before birth. Let them back their words with action, and call for male birth control as strongly as they’ve condemned Mr. Bacon. Let them fiercely steward female chastity. They won’t do any of these things, of course, because anything that empowers men and obligates women is unacceptable to them. To a modern conservative, just as how the ills of the free market always stem from big government, any time a woman screws up, it’s a man’s fault, someway, somehow.