|India, China, and the Disciplinary Society||Conservative Off-site: Mission Statement|
by Christopher Chantrill
December 11, 2008 at 4:12 am
FOR THE next month our Democratic friends will be focusing on the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Its a good opportunity for conservatives to have an off-site.
You all know what that is. You take off a day or two from work and go to a convention facility where, facilitated by an expensive consultant, you and your co-workers figure out what it is you are supposed to be doing.
I know. You are asking: Do we have to? Hey, its an opportunity to clear our minds and think Big Ideas.
The first thing to do at an off-site is to develop a Vision Statement. Thats a blue-sky definition of what your organization does, a statement of its values. It is not a nuts-and-bolts thing about what you are going to do next week. For instance, if President Reagan had ever gone on an off-site, he would probably have created a Vision Statement something like this:
I will lead America towards that shining city on a hill, because America is still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom whose best years are yet to come.
Good old Ronnie. There was a man who never needed to go on an off-site and figure out what life was all about.
But Ronald Reagan is gone now. It falls to us to devise a Vision Statement for a post-Reagan era. How hard can it be?
First of all, the Vision Statement must cover all the bases of Michael Novaks three sectors: economic, political, and cultural. This is just common sense. All Novak is saying with his three sectors is that our modern society is best understood as three centers of power, three ways in which we all interact with society.
(If you want to be sophisticated about it, you can rumble on about Eric Voegelins notion of the leap in being from compact to differentiated knowledge. Simple minds think in terms of society but we sophisticated conservatives have made the leap in being to a higher, nobler understanding of society where we differentiate society into three parts.)
In the economic sector, conservatives believe in the fundamental community of interests. We believe, unlike many others in our society, that Americans can offer their labor in the marketplace and themselves into marriage, and their children into the world, and trust that everything will turn out all right. But we dont want to talk merely about the free and competitive marketplace. Conservatism must not just appeal to men, who believe in competition, but belong also to women, who major in cooperation.
When it comes to the political sector, we believe in freedom. That means we believe in law, which is the sophisticated way of resolving conflict, and we believe in limited government, because you cannot have freedom unless you limit the powers of government. We do not, by the way, believe in pure or, as our lefty friends say, genuine democracy. Our US Constitution was designed as a blend of the democratic principle in the legislature, the monarchical principle in the presidency, and the aristocratic principle in the judiciary. And a good thing too.
When it comes to the moral/cultural sector, we conservatives believe in transcendence. We do not believe that the answer to life, the universe, and everything can be captured or achieved in this material, mortal life alone. We believe that meaning, as a fundamental mystery, must transcend mortal life. There is a word for this ultimate mystery. It is God.
I think we are ready to put our Vision Statement down on paper. Here it is:
We believe in an America that lives and works together, with limited government, under God.
Everything in this terse statement is pregnant with conservative meaning. When we talk about an America where we live and work together we are evoking the system of voluntary cooperation under law that we call capitalism. But we also include the girl side of voluntary cooperation, the community of women working and relating together, sharing and caring. The conservative economy is not just guys battling all the other guys for market share, but gals trying to make the whole world into a relationship.
When we talk about an America with limited government we are talking about an America where the government doesnt get its fingers into every pie as it does today. That would be an America that wasnt spending 20 percent of GDP on government pensions, government healthcare, government education, and government welfare.
When we talk about an America under God we are talking about an America where the dominant belief system is transcendent religion not secular religion.
But what do you think? What do you think our Vision Statement should be? Feel free to comment and help develop a vision for the future of conservatism.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America