Friday March 6, 2015
A New Manifesto
by Christopher Chantrill
A spectre is haunted the liberal elite -- the spectre of conservatism. All the powers of the liberal establishment have entered into a secular alliance to exorcise this spectre: liberal left and Islamic extremists, left-wing professors and Hollywood moguls, Democratic politicians and government unions, feminists and gays.
Where is the conservative who has not been decried as "religious right" by opponents in power? Where is the Tea Party activist who has not been calumnied as "racist." Where is the objective reporter that has not hurled back the branding reproach of extremism, against the more advanced conservative activists, or anyone that does not truckle to the reactionary liberal elite?
Two things result from this fact:
I. Conservatism is already acknowledged by all in the liberal elite to be itself a power.
II. It is high time that conservatives should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of conservatism with a manifesto of the conservative movement itself.
I. LIBERALS AND VICTIMS(1)
The history of almost all hitherto existing society is the history of patronage and clientage. Freeman and slave, lord and serf, administrator and beneficiary, activist and rent-a-mob, in a word, patron and client stood in magisterial or servile relationship in which unequal power predominated.
In earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere this power relationship between patron and client. In the village community the village "big man" accumulates women and distributes favors. In feudal society the great lord defends his patrimonial estates from the piracy and plunder of other lords and a grateful peasantry grubs for the crumbs from his table in return for his protection.
For a moment in the nineteenth century this age-old relationship is interrupted by the rise of democratic capitalism. It substitutes enthusiastic Christianity for religious hierarchy, family for clan, trust for power, contract for status, equity for debt, and service for plunder.
From the self-made industrialists of democratic capitalism emerged an educated, liberal youth, born to prosperity, in love with authenticity, and searching for meaning. These liberals sneered at the patient accumulation of their fathers; they shouted down rules and roles and sought to achieve epiphany in creativity. In the sufferings of the industrial worker, painfully journeying from the status culture of the country to the trust culture of the city, they found that meaning.
Expensively educated and segregated from ordinary life, the rising liberal elite determined to apply the wealth of their fathers to relieve those who lived below the poverty line. They agitated for child labor laws, factory acts, government pensions, government unemployment benefits, government insurance. They advocated for votes for women, civil rights for blacks, welfare benefits for single mothers. Everything that offended their educated sensibilities would be reformed by legislation or mitigated by elite patronage.
Each step in the development of the liberal elite was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that elite. Unknown before the rise of the commercial middle class, those political insurgents in the early development of modern government, the liberal elite has at last, with the establishment of the modern welfare state, conquered for itself a dominant political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole liberal elite.
The liberal elite, historically, has played a most reactionary part.
The liberal elite, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all benevolent, fraternal relations, and substituted between man and man no other nexus than naked political power, than callous "government programs." For employment at will it has compelled employers and employees into a rigid system of labor "rights." For "learning by doing" it has enforced a rigid system of compulsory education and box-checking credentialism. For mutual aid and fraternal association it has enforced a rigid system of compulsory government insurance. For saving it has substituted a rigid system of income redistribution. For charitable care it has substituted rule-bound social services.
The liberal elite has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere sexual relation.
The liberal elite cannot exist without constantly re-regulating the instruments of production and consumption, and with them the whole relations of society. Constant tinkering with credit, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the liberal epoch from all earlier ones. All free, unhampered relations, with their record of competence and achievement, are swept away. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is ever compelled to face with sober senses his subservient relation to his liberal masters.
The need of a constantly expanding supply of victims chases the liberal elite over the entire society. It must criticize everywhere, nestle everywhere, and dominate everywhere. It has made victims of stalwart working men, confining them into labor unions dominated by its nominees. It has convinced well-born women of a spurious victimhood, representing their minor frustrations in the public square as eternal oppression. It has made victims of African-Americans, poisoning the painful liberation from bondage of the African slave with entangling bonds of patronage, and unjustly sponsoring a black racism that it ruthlessly persecutes in white Americans. It has made victims of vulnerable women, smashing the immigrant family with bribes and subsidies for single parents. It has made victims of children, ripping them from their fathers, and incarcerating them throughout childhood in indifferent government schools. It has made victims of gays, truckling to every political fashion of the left-wing gay activists.
The liberal elite, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal government compulsion than have all preceding generations together. Care of the aged has been stripped from families and burdened on taxpayers; education of children has been stripped from parents and awarded to an administrative apparatus; relief of the poor has been stripped from the charitable and awarded to box-checking bureaucrats; the proud independence of the scientist has been converted into servile dependence upon political grant distributors. What earlier century had even a presentiment that such a deployment of political force would be tolerated by any human community?
The reactionary welfare state has overlaid democratic capitalism and reverted to the ancient power relations. It substitutes secular paganism for enthusiastic Christianity, government schools for independent schools, administrative regulations for free enterprise, government programs for mutual aid, victims for citizens. In the modern welfare state piratical liberal patrons collect tax plunder and government administrators distribute benefits to grateful clients and victims.
Our epoch, the epoch of the liberal welfare state, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified power relationships. Every sinew of modern society strains to force citizens into one or other co-dependent role: liberal master or helpless victim.
We see then: the means of power and patronage, on whose foundation the liberal elite built itself up, were generated by democratic capitalism. Its wealth and its productivity alone provided the resources by which the ruthless subventions and mechanical administrations of the liberal elite could be represented to the class of victims as caring and compassion.
The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the liberal elite is government power; the condition for government power is tax revenue. Tax revenue rests exclusively on the productivity of the producers. The advance of government, whose constant promoter is the liberal elite, constantly encroaches upon the productive capacity of the producers and their ability to serve the needs of the consumers. The development of the modern welfare state, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the liberal elite bases its power. What the liberal elite therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the conservatives are equally inevitable.
II. VICTIMS AND CONSERVATIVES
In what relation do the conservatives stand to the class of liberal victims as a whole? The conservatives do not desire to use the clients of the liberal welfare state as political pawns in elite power games.
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the liberal victims as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the culture of the victim classes. The conservatives are distinguished from the liberals by this only:
1) In the struggles of ordinary people everywhere to aspire to the bare middle-class life of a thriving family, a good job, and a home of your own, conservatives offer this radical program: the way forward is through acquisition of skills and the Protestant Ethic and not through political force.
2) In the deployment of government resources towards liberal victims conservatives are dedicated to the principle of a hand up not a hand out, to reinforce success not subsidize failure. The immediate aim of the conservatives is the formation of non-liberal Americans into a governing majority, the overthrow of the liberal hegemony, and the reduction of the political power to its just position as coequal with the economic power and the moral/cultural power.
The theoretical and practical proposals of the conservatives are in no way based upon a specific program such as the comprehensive and mandatory government programs of the liberal elite. They merely express, in general terms, the commitment of the conservatives to offer to the liberal victims a complete manumission from the slavery of the liberal plantation.
The distinguishing feature of conservatism is not the abolition of government generally but the abolition of unjust liberal government programs in particular. Liberal government programs are the final and most complete expression of the system of exploiting and appropriating the voting power of the victims that is based on liberal hegemony, on the exploitation of the many by the few.
In this sense, the program of the conservatives may be summed up in a single sentence. Abolition of liberal injustice.
We conservatives have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the benefits of health care, of education, and of welfare, which benefits are alleged to be the groundwork of all solidarity, equality, and dignity. But does the liberal government program create benefits for the victims? Not a bit. It creates liberal power, i.e., that kind of political power which seduces people of few skills and independence into inter-generational dependency while begetting a new supply of victim votes for fresh exploitation. The welfare state, in its present form, is based on the false choice between laissez-faire individualism and social assistance and deliberately obscures the real choice between a free and benevolent association and a compulsory government dependency.
We have seen above, that the first step in the emancipation of the victim class is to raise the victims out of dependency to a secure competency. Emancipated from the liberal plantation they may then take their place in the political life of the nation. Conservatives have no wish to lead or to exploit the emancipated victims, other than to congratulate them on their new-found freedom.
III. MODERATES AND CONSERVATIVES(2)
Section II has made clear the relation of the conservatives to the liberal victims. They want nothing for them or from them except their emancipation from dependency.
Modern liberal hegemony has turned the economy of free enterprise into a vast sweat shop ruthlessly forced by regulation and taxation into compulsory support of the liberal patronage machine. Masses of workers are organized like soldiers. As privates in the liberal army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the liberal elite and of the liberal State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the payroll tax, by the inspector, by the regulator, by the social-service worker and above all by the cadre of liberal activists and government managers. The more openly this despotism proclaims equality and compassion to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it becomes.
In some Americans the petty and hateful exploitations of the liberal elite ignites a conservative fire; in others, the moderates, the same injustices provoke merely a resignation, a truckling to overweening power. These moderates, the natural allies of the conservatives, have been set against the conservatives by the cunning propaganda of the liberal elite.
But moderates and conservatives are thrown together by the cruel hegemony and escalating subventions of the liberals. The improved means of communication in the internet age permit moderates and conservatives to share their common grievances. And that union, to attain which the burgers of the Middle Ages required centuries, the modern moderates and conservatives may achieve in a few years.
Thus will the exploited moderates, in partnership with the conservatives, combine to win the battle of democracy. Moderates and conservatives will use their political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all privileges and unjust power from the liberal elite and remove all instruments of unjust compulsion from the hands of the State.
Of course, from the beginning, this will be effected without despotic inroads on the rights of employment and property or by means of measures which appear economically insufficient and untenable.
The following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of all takings of private property except for a specific public purpose and that with just compensation.
2. A moderate and flat-rate income tax to replace the current unjust and corrupt progressive income tax.
3. Abolition of the death tax.
4. Guarantee of property rights even for emigrants and rebels.
5. Decentralization of credit by the abolition of central banking and the institution of free banking subject to clear and practical risk limitation. Abolition of the subsidy for debt.
6. Decentralization of the means of communication and transport from the hands of the State.
7. Abolition of all government sponsored enterprise and unfair competition with private enterprise.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Abolition of licensure and credentialism. Abolition of racial preferences. Abolition of academic sinecures and collective bargaining by government employees.
9. Combination of learning and working; gradual abolition of the distinction between education and training.
10. Abolition of forced adolescence. An end to compulsory government education. Emancipation of children by examination.
When, in the course of development, liberal-provoked antagonisms have disappeared, and all economic affairs have been distributed in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its exclusive political character and dissipate into the economic and moral/cultural sectors. Overweening political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of the liberal elite for oppressing all others.
In place of the old liberal hegemony, with its groups and group antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
IV. POSITION OF THE CONSERVATIVES IN RELATION TO THE LIBERAL ELITE
The conservatives fight for immediate aims; they fight at every opportunity the expansion of the welfare state and its political patronage and corruption. They never cease, for a single instant, to instill into conservatives and moderates the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between liberals and the rest of America.
In short, the conservatives everywhere support the movement of freedom against the existing political order and its program of government expansion.
The conservatives disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the power of ideas, peaceful persuasion, and faithful cooperation. Let the ruling liberal elite tremble at a conservative revolution. Conservatives, moderates, and liberal victims have nothing to lose but their shame. They have a world to win.
MEN AND WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES, UNITE!
1. By liberals is meant the progressive educated elite, the patronat of the modern welfare state. By victims is meant the class of welfare state beneficiaries who, deprived of savings or property by government patronage, are reduced to selling their voting power in order to live.
2. By moderates is meant people of conservative temper shamed into silence by the cultural hegemony of the liberal elite. By conservatives is meant people of conservative temper that resist the cultural hegemony of the liberal elite.
Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.americanmanifesto.org.