Perhaps religiously-inspired, family-focused conservatism and civic nationalism no longer form a majority stake in American cultural and political opinion. Perhaps, at least, neither holds the political and cultural sway they once did as part of an Establishment.
Perhaps the passing, or at least, a similar weakening, of the old WASP establishment has been going on for generations now.
Both are possibilities in my opinion, and Donald Trump’s identification of a significant voting bloc of under-represented and under-served Americans interested in jobs, borders and national security can help explain why conservatism has split into competing factions and groups.
From my limited view, I see a base loyal to Trump (jobs and borders especially, anti-PC and anti-establishment sentiment), while others have been repulsed by Trump’s vulgarity, personal failures, character issues and antipathy to trade.
Across a fair divide, too, I also see many liberal political idealists, progressives and activists currently out of political power making anti-Trumpism into a very personal project, indeed.
Such variables are probably influencing some of what we are witnessing more broadly: Bloated and weakened American institutions (for many more reasons yet), the rise of political extremism and the harder-to-find political center; a serious lack of civility.
Perhaps these variables can even help explain the global, or at least Anglospheric, factionalism on display this past weekend: Donald Trump’s economic nationalism clashing with the diversity and multicultural idealism expressed by the mayor of London over the issues of Brexit and terrorism.
We shouldn’t forget that political leaders can’t be seen as too far removed from the interests and opinions of the people they serve.
I often return to the below seeking a quieter place to reflect:
‘The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.’
-Madison, James. The Federalist Papers: No 10. The Avalon Project.
On the many dangers of political idealism, and using political theory as the limits of your field of vision:
‘We may sum this up by saying that the more the style of what used to be called politics becomes theorized, the more political problems come to be reintrepreted as managerial. Working out the least oppressive laws under which different and sometimes conflicting groups may live peaceably together is being replaced by manipulation and management of the attitudes different groups take towards each other, with the hope that this will ultimately bring harmony. In other words, in the new form of society, human beings are becoming the matter which is to be shaped according to the latest moral idea.’
-Minogue, Kenneth. Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. (Pg 111).
The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.… Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”
Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”
One way out of multiculturalism and cultural relativism: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’