Saturday, July 02, 2016

IMPORTANT! Edwin Dyga's brilliant article on the capitulation of American political conservatism & why the Left rules the rhetorical battlefield

Why the Left Rules the Rhetorical Battlefield

By Edwin Dyga                                                                                                    June 2016

Earlier this year, popular talk-show host Rush Limbaugh declared that “nationalism and populism have overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal.” Though he retreated from these comments a few days later, saying, “I do not believe nationalism and populism have usurped conservatism,” the damage was done: A onetime neoconservative apologist not only implied the end of establishment conservatism as a viable political force capable of confronting the uncertainties of globalized modernity, but he cited a paleoconservative commentator, Sam Francis, as an authority in explaining the continued popularity of prospective Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Conservatism, like contemporary Western civilization itself, seems to be in eclipse. But this is so only because its advocates cannot, or refuse to, speak on their own terms; instead, they accept the moral authority of leftist ideologues and thus handicap their own putative opposition to militant progressivism. Those on the so-called Dissident Right constantly remind their detractors that the present stewards of mainstream conservatism have repudiated their forefather’s legacy. These warnings are, however, almost universally dismissed in terms identical to the broader Left’s pejorative treatment of conservatism itself. Instead, mainstream conservatives declare that their fealty to liberal ends is more sincere than that of their explicitly leftist opponents. While it is easier to identify these trends in the more theatrical political culture of the United States, the moral bankruptcy of establishment conservatives can be found in Center-Right parties throughout the Anglosphere. An example from Australia illustrates that the nearly universal assumption of leftist morality may have thrust conservative thought over the event-horizon, beyond which it is conceptually indistinguishable from the progressive worldview.


“Tony Abbott just called for both a Reformation and a revolution ‘within Islam.’” So writes Waleed Aly, a Muslim-Australian spokesman on multicultural affairs and lecturer of politics at Monash University (Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 10, 2015). Former Prime Minister Abbott delivered his comments, which largely echoed a similar call by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, during a discussion concerning the compatibility of Islamic culture and modern Western society. Anglo multiculturalists, who believe almost religiously in the inviolable sovereignty of all cultures but their own, were quick to attack Abbott for his offensively “Eurocentric” faux pas and the neocolonial temerity with which he dared to lecture “the Other.” Yet this was no ordinary example of xenophiles pillorying a public figure for offending contemporary progressive sensibilities on cultural identity and religion. Abbott’s comments, as well as the predictable reactions to them, showed that both sides of the culture war have engaged on the Left’s chosen field of rhetorical battle.

Contra Abbott, Waleed Aly explains that Islam already underwent a “reformation” in the tenth century, when the jurisprudential doctrines of Ijtihad and Istihsan (independent and preferential reasoning, respectively) were eclipsed by Taqlid (blind obedience to scripture). Moreover, Aly intimates that this was historically antecedent to Islam’s present difficulty in facing a world defined by a post-Christian secular ideology, its technocratic and managerial theory of governance, and the liberal, universalist biases that accompany it. From Wahhabism to the foundation of the modern state of Saudi Arabia, from anti-colonial Islamism to contemporary manifestations of international jihad and the so-called Islamic State — by illustrating the continuity of these developments as a function of this supposed reformation, Aly reveals the ultimate folly of applying Western concepts to the historical experience of foreign cultures and the silliness of expecting similar sociological outcomes as a result. “This is, of course, perhaps the most well-worn and ill-informed cliché of Western discourse on Islam,” he writes. “The kind of thing people like to say when they want to sound serious but know almost exactly nothing about Islam, Muslim societies, or indeed the [Protestant] Reformation.”

Abbott might have retorted by conceding his infelicitous choice of terminology, that what Islam actually requires — his intended meaning — is, therefore, a counter-reformation. Nevertheless, many Muslim faithful might interpret such a qualification as a call for the fundamental rejection of Islam itself. As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an put it, “Islam is Islam and that’s it” (Milliyet, Aug. 21, 2007). A Western politician enamored of nominalist theories of citizenship is incapable of appreciating the sincerity with which such absolutist beliefs can be held. This is so even in a democratic culture where secular openness and the egalitarian, indiscriminate accommodation to all have become the de facto civic religion. Either way, the existential crisis plaguing the West, coupled with the fundamental otherness of Mohammedanism and its associated cultural practices, only underscores the impracticality, or even likelihood, of compromise in favor of either camp.

Abbott’s awkward foray into this debate illustrates a mindset almost identical to the secular liberal’s. The latter feels he is capable of declaiming what Islam really is, or ought to be — namely, a “religion of peace,” inherently humanitarian, tolerant, rational, and scientific. It is “betrayed” by its violent jihadi adherents who, despite their vehement claims to the contrary, have “nothing to do” with the explicit dictates of Mohammed or the unambiguous and disconcerting Koranic mandates regarding the treatment of, and relations with, kufars and dhimmis. Abbott’s call for a reformation within Islam likewise takes as a given the progressive, materialist, and therefore universal and egalitarian perspective wherefrom all cultures will, can, and must undergo the exact same historical development as they move toward globalized modernity. According to this view, any reluctance on their part is merely a failure to progress along an inevitable path toward a world where, as recent history has shown, the only belief system that merits public celebration is one centered on secular, technocratic, and scientific “values.”


In recent decades, neoconservatives and other liberal internationalists have exerted a great deal of energy in trying to correct the third world’s apparent reluctance to mimic modernist first-world conceits, and the fruit of their efforts has today metastasized across Afro-Arabia and its colonial proxies in Western Europe. While freedom may be universally desired, the manner in which it is experienced is a function of culture, which itself is a particular interpretation of the transcendent. This interpretation is likely to be very different in Berlin or Baghdad, London or Lahore, Kraków or Karakorum. Abbott’s and the secular liberal’s underlying mindset leads to the same place because they are both motivated by an inability or unwillingness to recognize core and perhaps irreconcilable differences between cultures that introduce diametrically opposed ethical norms into the multicultural state. Furthermore, both appear equally dedicated to a state that is, by definition, a repudiation of traditional Western norms. This is the crisis that Europe now faces, with little evidence that its political class has any understanding or desire to avert the pending catastrophe. So pervasive is this bias in favor of a liberal view of rationalist, linear progress that even an outspoken conservative Catholic like Abbott falls victim to its assumptions and advocates an essentially Protestant, Jacobin historiography as a solution to the fundamentalism of an alien religious creed ensconced in Western lands.

To put it differently, the egalitarian, sentimentalist, and progressive utopia of the Left is equally as arrogant and dangerous as the no less egalitarian, rationalist, and determinist worldview of the contemporary Right. Thus, far from distinguishing himself from his ardent detractors, Abbott’s politics have actually reinforced some of the more corrosive aspects of the liberal status quo. As a result, the bipartisan consensus of liberals and faux-conservatives on the chimera of “progress” — as well as its logical policy outcomes — begets a society characterized by the vulnerabilities of its weakest members. Both have led to the inversion of the cultural structures that nourished Western civilization for millennia, consequentially neutering its defensive instincts. Consider the following two examples, in which a failed appreciation for cultural particularism, coupled with a naïve, hyper-individualist ideology, has created the unprecedented conditions for a disaster within Western lands.

The ongoing rapes of over fourteen hundred Western girls who were forced into prostitution by Pakistani Muslims in the housing estates of Rotherham, England, over a sixteen-year period, and the rampant sexual assaults on Western women by Muslim refugees in the streets of Cologne and other European capitals on New Year’s Eve, illustrate the brutal clash of two incompatible and uncompromising worlds. One is characterized by virile self-assertion, the other by feminine acquiescence. The result is that twenty-first-century female narcissistic solipsism has been thrust into the embrace of atavistic Afro-Arab male barbarism; only here the politics of the victim has set the stage for her victimhood. If we are to treat the dialectics of multicultural “smash-the-patriarchy” feminism seriously, then the brave new world it is ushering in will end rapidly, not with a bang or a whimper, but with a muffled scream. Diversity has not brought “strength” but taharrush into the heartland of Gothic Europe and the pimping of underage dhimmi girls in plain sight of “IngSoc” Aldermen. The die has been cast, the Rubicon is crossed; one moral paradigm replaces another. A world without White Christian Patriarchy becomes a Daesh slave market. Yet the only solution either wing of the mainstream political spectrum is able to conceive of is a recommitment to commonly held egalitarian-rationalist conceits, applied universally, and globally.


Waleed Aly’s mockery of Tony Abbott’s reformation-advocacy is, therefore, partly justified. Aly is also correct in identifying establishment conservatism’s defects as a shallow commitment to the banal, which has cultivated a political rhetoric that, he writes, “has no traditional moral language; nothing that richly evokes concepts like empathy, courage, sacrifice, restraint, forgiveness, forbearance, humility.” The traditionalist might respond that, naturally, this is what happens when politics is replaced by a series of economic propositions whose fungible treatment of man differs from socialism only in nuance, emphasis, and degree — exactly the materialist reductionism that characterizes most Center-Right politics throughout the English-speaking world today. Ironically, the antithesis of conservatism has now come to define it, and Aly is certainly aware of its “slow-motion death” within a “hollowed out culture” when he writes that “it’s hard to believe the market should be free to exploit and commodify whatever consumers will tolerate — sex, culture, children — and yet pretend we are bound together by inviolable, sacred values” (Sydney Morning Herald, Mar. 4, 2016). However, many of Aly’s above-mentioned virtues are expressed in communities that share strong organic bonds and, therefore, have high levels of in-group trust and solidarity. Government policies in the post-World War II era have favored a hyper-individualist and subscriptive model of citizenship, but the underlying transnationalist ideology involves a push toward deregulated international labor markets that are facilitated by a concurrent push toward effectively borderless mass migration, as well as the resulting consumerism, alienation, and societal balkanization that these entail.

Should a government assume a more genuinely communitarian sense of public policy — one firmly based on the imperative to maintain its constituents’ cultural and historical legacy — the result would be a reassertion of a particularly Occidental polis from which Aly and his co-religionists would, logically, have to be excluded. To put it differently, where conservatism loses its own sense of cultural particularism, it ceases to be preservationist in any meaningful sense; hence its usurpation by populism and nationalism within a disaffected lower middle class, just as Sam Francis predicted over two decades ago (Chronicles, March 1996). Aly therefore correctly states that Abbott’s politics are “inaccurately” described as conservative. He also rightly decries the inability of conservatism (such as it presently is) to provide “some kind of cultural consensus that can bind society.” Thus, he concludes, “self-described conservative politics cannot offer even that anymore;…it simply cannot tap into a positive register. It’s as though it has forgotten itself. As though it has suffered through its own unfortunate Reformation.”

Here Aly unwittingly gets at the very root of the problem. What is noteworthy is that Aly, a commentator of the Left who still harbors notions of community, would echo a paleoconservative critique of today’s uprooted, abstractionist, and decontextualized faux-Right. Yet, should his observations be taken to heart by the establishment, Aly would undoubtedly be horrified by the results. This is because multiculturalism per se militates against the formation of a “cultural consensus” that can “bind society,” unless that consensus is based on deracinated, ahistorical abstracts — in other words, unless all political dispositions on the Right, however defined, surrender to the essential worldview and value systems of contemporary cultural Marxism. That Center-Right politicians today celebrate subscription identity and civic patriotism as the foundational principles of the modern state indicates that such a capitulation has already occurred. Unfortunately, such a “cultural consensus” is as enigmatic as the workers’ paradise of the Old Marxist Left. Like Soviet economics, it simply does not work, and it is Europe again (this time west of the Oder-Neiße Line) that will reap the bitter fruit of this latest attempt at re-engineering man and society according to the dictates of spiritually dislocated, utopian malcontents.

Paleoconservatives do indeed recall that Anglo conservatism has undergone “its own unfortunate Reformation.” In the U.S. this is frequently attested to in the work of political theorists such as Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming, Pat Buchanan, and others. In the U.K. it is apparent in the mainstream’s contemptuous treatment of the legacy of Conservative politician Enoch Powell, which is astonishing in light of recent events on the Continent, as well as the continued de-legitimation of Nigel Farage by so-called patriotic Tories such as Dan Hannan. Australian conservatism, too, is not immune to this curse, as exemplified by the relative isolation of Senator Cory Bernardi from the mechanisms of government. A common feature of these politicians and theorists is that they appeal to ideas that were once common to conservative political theory but which large sections of the public feel has been ignored by modern parliamentary elites. In essence, this “unfortunate Reformation” of conservatism involves the continual redefinition of rightist political theory according to its ostensible opponent’s criteria for good governance. The de facto bipartisan concordat on issues such as multiculturalism, feminism, and minority identity politics is the clearest evidence of this sublimation of rightist theory by leftist theology. The Right has indeed “forgotten itself” because it has voluntarily repudiated itself by denying its cultural and literary heritage and ostracizing those who remain vociferously faithful to it. The resulting attempt to avoid or mitigate accusations of anachronism, nativism, and bigotry has rendered what passes for the political Right today irrelevant in the national conversation.


Unable or unwilling to take his observations to their logical conclusion, Aly alludes that conservatives’ amnesia is self-inflicted but fails to ask why this is so. In essence, he identifies the vacuity of modern conservatism but shows no genuine sympathy for any program or movement to rediscover what has been lost. Diametric alternatives to the cultural Left are, he writes, simply “the politics of hairy chests,” which “gives the finger to the niceties of postmodern society [and] holds the full range of shadowy threats at bay — from Muslims to the PC brigade.” In an environment where loyalty to one’s own is thus stigmatized, or where a return to a traditional order is denounced as the veiled authoritarianism of demagogues-in-waiting, it is no wonder that a populist counterculture “cannot tap into a positive register” or that the advocates of establishment conservatism will view all cultural traditions as broadly interchangeable, so long as their outward eccentricities are subject to a secular liberal framework. Both are victims of the progressive stranglehold on public discourse — the former by way of its deracinating effect on traditional notions of identity, which creates a vacuum too easily filled by political atavism; the latter through the operation of politically correct gag phrases and a culture of coercive self-censorship, which leads to conformity with the broader Left. Apparent threats to one’s nation or community, therefore, cannot be met with a positive assertion of the good that resides in the history of a particular people because nothing substantive can be asserted about that people outside the conceits of the modern social-democratic state — i.e., outside an order that embodies and promulgates the progressive ideological experiment that would ordinarily be anathema to conservative political theory.

By rejecting the cultural particularism that informed the disposition of the Old Right, its prodigal descendent, therefore, is condemned to aimlessly meander the political landscape, intellectually ill-equipped to appreciate just how lost it truly is. Ironically, it took a man of the multicultural, progressive Left to point it out, even if incompletely or disingenuously. Nevertheless, Aly is as much a part of the problem as the mainstream politicians he criticizes, those who remain committed to the misguided belief that they have reached the “end of history” and somehow inherited a messianic duty to drag the rest of the world along with them into a future that seems increasingly unworkable with each passing month. Whereas at one time counter-revolutionaries reacted against the utopian hubris of Jacobin agitators, today the self-described opponents of leftism have actually embraced it.

Aly has at least been consistent in his misconceptions about the solution to the crisis of Occidental rightist thought. After calling for “new ways of forging social unity” in the Australian journal Quarterly Essay (issue 37; 2010), he contradicts himself by suggesting that conservatism has become “less reactionary and more principled.” It does not seem to have occurred to Aly that reaction — in the M.E. Bradfordian sense, or informed by the work of Latin Catholic counter-revolutionaries Donoso Cortés, Gómez Dávila, or Corrêa de Oliveira — might be essential to this reconnection to principle. Tony Abbott, therefore, has it backward: It is modern conservatism that needs to undergo a counter-reformation, assuming it wants to be relevant as a viable force for national restoration into the twenty-first century. But if false prophets such as Waleed Aly are permitted to set its course, it is doomed to continue down the spiral of political and cultural oblivion, which remains its present course.

Edwin Dyga studied Islamic Law at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. He is the Convenor of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum.  The foregoing article, "Why the Left Rules the Rhetorical Battlefield," was originally published in the June 2016 issue of the New Oxford Review and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.


le bourgeosie gentilhomme said...

Modernism has polluted political and cultural conservatism just as it has Catholicism. There is no neo-Catholicism and no neo-conservatism. There is no paleoconservatism -- only conservatism and its cobra-mongoose nemesis, socialism, sometimes euphemistically called liberalism. So in the Church there is no traditional Catholicism -- only Catholicism and its cobra-mongoose nemesis, heresy, sometimes euphemistically called post-V2 Catholicism.

It is a measure of modernism's success that we believe we cannot maintain cogency without referring to the prefixes it has manufactured for us. Or is its greater success that we have become too inhibited and cowardly and candy-assed to call a thing by its proper name for fear of "offending" some moron or other?

le bourgeosie gentilhomme said...

Haven't read the whole thing yet, too much going on what with celebrations of Cro-Magnon beer guzzlin' Americanism and all. So far my reaction is that we have here a brutal and therefore very good examination of the tribulations of the current butt-worshipping western rainbow pansy-culture in confronting the bullies of the global schoolyard. All well and good, although it must be said that Pat Buchanan has made the same points over and over again, and in simpler language and better organized paragraphs, in several of his books, particularly Where the Right Went Wrong, State of Emergency, The Death of the West, etc. Buchanan was a friend of the late Samuel Francis, whose career with the so-called conservative Washington Times was cut short by its so-called conservative editor, Wesley Prudden, almost immediately after the usual school of rainbow suckerfish began to bleat "racist" and "hater."

By the way, feel free to giggle at LBG's joke of the day: have you heard about the Trumpster's proposed vice-presidential choice, Newt Gingrich? The Great Paleoconservative Real Estate Mogul wants to run on a ticket with that sharp talkin' feller who, as Speaker of the House, guided the original NAFTA treaty through Congress, so that evvy one of those damn-blasted republican congressmen could "retire," mosey a few blocks over to K Street, and take a job helping the damn third world stick American manufacturing in a sack and carry it back to their monsoon-ridden paradises. And that includes Canada! Another Contract to Screw America?? Sign me up, Cool Papa!!

Never trust a man who willingly shares his name with a lizard.

If Trump were here I'd stick a commercial grade chrysanthemum rocket up his Lyin' Donald rear point of egress and see how far it could lift him off the ground before exploding his lyin' mop of fake hair all over the parade ground.

Happy Fourth of July to all you ridge runnin' manjacks and the wimmens what love them!!!

le bourgeosie gentilhomme said...

Well lookie here, three comments already!! I'm catchin' up to ya, Lionel. Time for you to blight another comment box!!