THE "CONSERVATIVE" TERMINOLOGY PROBLEM…EVEN IN A…

THE “CONSERVATIVE” TERMINOLOGY PROBLEM…EVEN IN AMERICA

It seems to be displayed in this quote from Catholic lay theologian David Tracy, who I’d think would know better:

“The neoconservative revival is a profound and, in many ways, a heartening phenomenon… For the neoconservative sees through the emptiness of the present and the poverty of the modern subject. The neoconservative knows that a present without past memory and tradition is self-illusory and finally self-destructive. The neoconservative knows that a subject without community and tradition is very soon little else tha{n} the modern possessive individual rendered passive and historyless. The neoconservative sees the folly of the Enlightenment’s wholesale attack on the very concept of tradition. She or he senses the unreality of the assumed universalism in Western liberal social-evolutionary schemas applied to history. The neoconservative notes the wasteful and complacent obstruction of the rich resources of the tradition. She or he knows the need to retrieve these resources anew in our parlous times if we are to maintain any truly Christian identity at all.”

Tracy is American, so unless he reads this blog or has unusual exposure to Canadian or European politics as they see themselves as opposed to how they are seen through most American sources, I don’t expect him to realize that the ‘conservatism’ he’s really praising here is virtually nonexistent in conscious or organized politics in the United States. (Though to paraphrase his friend and colleague Fr. Andrew Greeley, I think most Americans are ‘blissfully conservative’ in more or less the sense I outline!) What Americans call neoconservative, conservative, or liberal, the rest of the world recognizes as two shades of classical liberalism (or neoliberalism): hyperindividualist, business-corporate, anti-traditional, mostly-free-market, aristocratic-republican (sans noblesse oblige), “social contract,” violent-revolutionary, ideological/utopian, sectarian, technology-worshiping, etc., as I’ve discussed here. There’s nothing at all “profound” about Modern American Neoconservatism (so-called); it’s shallow, simplistic. It’s not “heartening,” it’s heartless. They don’t “[see] through the emptiness of the present and the poverty of the modern subject” – THEY INVENTED THEM! They have no “past memory and tradition” or “community” beyond 1950s Levittown….or Wheaton. THEY INVENTED “the Enlightenment’s wholesale attack on the very concept of tradition.” They’re applying “the assumed universalism in Western liberal social-evolutionary schemas” in Afghanistan and Iraq right now – and failing – and threatening it against Iran. And their sense of “Christian identity”…well….

Canadian Red Tory political philosopher George Parkin Grant surmised that in social democracy (not unlike Modern American “liberalism,” i.e., social liberalism; even in some Marxian thought) there were kernels of real old-fashioned ‘progressive conservatism,’ such as anti-militarism, concern for the Common Good, social justice, economic justice, etc.

In short, Real Conservatives Vote Monarchist!
AND: Real Liberals Vote Monarchist!

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