French translation here
Some of my best friends are conservatives. I sincerely like them and I admire them for their genuine virtues: for their sense of propriety and personal integrity in an age of corruption, for their independent spirit and their willingness to stand on their own feet in an increasingly paternalistic society.
Therefore, I hope my conservative friends will forgive me for what I am about to write.
A Tragic Choice
There is not the least doubt in my mind that if I were forced to cast my lot with either conservatism or with the left – old or new – I would choose conservatism.
But fortunately, none of us is faced with such a limited choice. It would surely be tragic if we were. It would be tragic in the great sense, in the Spenglerian sense. We would be making the choice of Spengler’s Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii – who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. We would be choosing what is right and honorable and in accord with the traditions of our race – and certain to fail.
For conservatives cannot possibly emerge victorious from the life-or-death struggle in which they are presently engaged. Although their opponents on the radical left may not attain their own goals – indeed, cannot attain them, because they are based on an erroneous conception of man and Nature – conservatives have proved themselves utterly incapable of preventing the destruction of their own world by those same radical leftists.
Conservatives cannot win because the enemy to which they are opposed is a revolutionary enemy – an enemy with revolutionary goals and guided by a revolutionary way of life.
The advantage has always lain – and will always lie – on the side of the contender who is prepared to take the offensive, rather than maintaining a defensive position only. And the evolutionary natures of the conservative and the revolutionary determine that the one shall always play an essentially defensive role and the other an offensive role.
Besieged vs. Besieger
The offensive-defensive dichotomy does not apply absolutely to tactics, of course, but it does to strategy. The conservative may launch brief counterattacks – he may sally forth from his fortress to harry his revolutionary besieger – but in the long run he is always the besieged and the revolutionary the besieger.
The goal of the conservative is to protect what is, or, at the extreme, to restore what recently was. The goal of the revolutionary is to radically transform what is, or to do away with it altogether, so that it can be replaced by something entirely different.
Thus, the conservative talks of halting crime in the streets, of keeping down taxes, of fighting the spread of drugs and pornography, of keeping Big Government in check. And the leftist strives for a utopia in which there shall be no war, no “repression,” no “discrimination,” no “racism,” no bounds on the individual’s freedom of action – a raceless and effortless nirvana of “love” and “equality” and plenty.
The conservative’s goals may seem reasonable enough – and attainable. The leftist’s goals, on the other hand, lie in a never-never land far beyond the horizon of reality. And that is precisely what gives the advantage to the left. When the conservative makes some minor gain – getting a conservative into office – he is likely to act as if he had just won the whole war. He sees the achievement of his aims just around the corner, he lowers his guard, and he settles back to enjoy the fruits of his imagined victory. But the leftist is never satisfied, regardless of what concessions are made to his side, for his goals always remain as remote as before.
The conservative works in fits and spurts. He reacts with alarm to new depredations from the left, but is satisfied if he is able to fall back, regroup his wagons, and establish a new line of defense. The leftist keeps on pushing, probing, advancing, taking a step back now and then, but only to be able to take three steps forward later.
Defeat by Halves
If the leftist makes new demands – for example, for the forced racial integration of schools or housing – the conservative will oppose them with a plea to maintain “neighborhood” schools and “freedom of association.” When the smoke clears, the leftist will have won perhaps half what he demanded, and the conservative will have lost half what he tried to preserve.
But then the conservative will accept the new status quo, as if things had always been that way, and prepare to defend it against fresh attacks from the left with the same ineptitude he displayed in defending the old position.
This continually shifting position is almost as great a disadvantage to the conservative as is his chronic inability to grasp the initiative. The revolutionary left has an ideology, evil and unnatural though it may be, and from this ideology come the unity and the continuity of purpose which are indispensable prerequisites for victory.
What can conservatives, on the other hand, look to as a fighting credo, an immutable principle for which they are willing to sacrifice all? They have been retreating so rapidly for the last 50 years or so that they have completely lost sight of the earlier ground on which they stood. It has simply receded over the ideological horizon.
“Racists” Are Radicals
Consider race, for example. Over half a century ago men like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard were spokesmen for the conservative position on race. They argued eloquently, albeit defensively, for the preservation of the West’s racial identity by maintaining strict barriers against miscegenation, adopting sound immigration controls, and applying eugenic standards to the problem of population quality. Today no “responsible” conservative would be caught with the books of either of these men in his living-room bookcase, for by present conservative standards they are both “racists” – hence, “radicals,” rather than safely respectable conservatives.
How about rescuing the free-enterprise system from the evil machinations of Big Government?
As a matter of fact, the free-enterprise system was still relatively intact during the period when alien forces subverted our governments and took over our countries, and it cannot be said that free enterprise slowed them down even one little bit. The people who gained control of our biggest newspapers and our motion-picture industry and our radio and TV networks did so with the aid of free enterprise, rather than in spite of it.
More than Economics
These comments should not be considered a condemnation of free-enterprise per se, nor a belittling of the importance of economic problems in general; more than one nation has gone to ruin through economic mismanagement. The point is that our problems today go far deeper than any governmental or economic reforms can hope to cure or even substantially ameliorate.
The youth of America are smart enough to recognize these things for themselves, and, consequently, are not to be blamed for having few tears to shed for the demise of either our institutions of government or laissez-faire capitalism.
The left can find plenty of misguided young fanatics willing to set themselves afire or blow up a police station in order to further the cause of “equality” or “peace” but the idea of young men and women assembling bombs in candle-lit cellars to put an end to the progressive income tax or social security deductions is simply ridiculous.
Until conservatives can offer something more inspiring, the youth will not rally to their standard.
Conservatism’s two principle failings, lack of a spirit of aggressive activism and lack of any clearly defined ideological basis, go hand in hand. The one cannot be had without the other.
In the words of an outstanding anti-communist leader: “The lack of a great, creative idea always signifies a limitation of fighting ability. A firm conviction of the right to use each and any weapon is always bound up with a fanatical belief in the necessity of the victory of a revolutionary new order on this earth.”
“A movement which is not fighting for such ultimate goals and ideas will never seize upon the ultimate weapon” … and, needles to say, will never emerge victorious from a struggle with an opponent who is so motivated.
Revolutionary vs. Revolutionary
Though conservatism cannot win against the left, a new revolutionary force, with the spiritual basis that conservatism lacks, and advancing with even more boldness and determination than the forces of the left, can win!
That new revolutionary force is being built now. Its ranks are being filled with disciplined, idealistic young men and women.
They have examined and found wanting both the drugs-and-sex libertinism of the left and the economic libertinism of the right.
A New Order
They are fighting for a new order, based not on the fads and whims of the moment, but on the fundamental values of race and personality – values which once led Western man to the mastery of the earth and which can yet regain that mastery for him and lead him on to the conquest of the universe.
They know that the time is long past when conservative rhetoric or conservative votes might have saved the day. They understand that the West’s salvation must now come from young men and women of revolutionary spirit and outlook who are through talking and instead are willing to do whatever is necessary to take back their nation.
This essay was first published in Attack! issue number 4, in 1971. Online source: http://nationalvanguard.org/2010/09/why-conservatives-cant-win/