XXXIX. on cultural isolationism

A short plugging of the American Conservative University Podcast, first, which is a fountain of knowledge. It is rarely “fair”, as “both sides of the argument” are not considered on much of the excerpts that the podcast publishes, but if you have an interest in truth and justice (and parenting. I am 24 and I’ve got a number of years before raising children, but I have listened to probably ten hours of parenting tips over the past few months just because they are so radical and intriguing), you should listen to the podcast.

Anyway, cultural isolationism in all forms is harmful to a people, a society, and ultimately all of civilisation. All cultures nowadays are amalgamations of a traditional essence of a people (of which there are many forms) and a massive number of borrowed traits. Most of the time these traits can be mixed up and switched out depending on their effectiveness. For example, if an immigrant to another country can swallow his pride enough to learn the language and culturally appropriate the mannerisms of that country, while also keeping his own culture in his heart, he is more likely to succeed in that new home (look at the Jews, the Chinese or the Lebanese). This is not to say that one culture in essence is better than another, just that there are more preferable and less preferable traits within those cultures, an understanding which is ignored or intentionally suppressed in modern society.

The data is out there—for anyone interested, please read Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective by Thomas Sowell—but I will give just one obvious example of cultural isolation: Spain translates more books into Spanish in one year than the sum of all the Arabic nations have translated books into Arabic in the last thousand years. This wide dispersion of culture teaches tolerance within western society over the past two hundred years has brought overwhelming equality, respect and insurmountable progress, things which a number of Arabic nations do not have, and even vehemently oppose. Nowhere is this clearer than in America, where positive cultural traits were adopted by all and negative traits were forgotten, in the Melting Pot, that experiment which has led to human prosperity, well-being and freedom the like of which no one on the Earth ever thought possible just one hundred years ago. The trick, which America (and all of humanity) is still learning, is how to know which cultural traits are good and which cultural traits are bad. The fact that there are drawbacks with this system (lost culture, diffusive minorities) does not always mean there is a better option.

XXXVIII. on changing conservatism

This post was conceived to be mainly about British politics, but really applies to conservatism everywhere. In short: America has saved the world.

At a medium length: the explosion of positive, fact-based conservatism that has arisen from America’s classic liberalism has created in the world a widespread revolution in conservative thinking. Conservatism in most places, Britain being my firsthand example, until very recently in history, meant royalism, elitism, and a return to class systems—the latter arising from the others; social mobility was very difficult if not impossible for most.

Then came liberalism, and the American way, and the Great Experiment, and individualism, and self-rule, and the world’s first modern republic arose. There were inalienable rights that were universal for all men (eventually). For a long time, rights were understood to be given to you by the king, or by the law, or by your keepers, but rarely by a creator (take from that what you will, of course). And then over the next two centuries, America, through agriculture and industry, became the greatest nation to have ever existed (in terms of economy, welfare, culture and militaristic benevolence).

Then Marxism gripped the world, or tried to, three or four times (1890s, 1930s, 60s, and now), and anti-historicity became the way of the world; what was old was unjust, and tried, and there must be something better. There was no individual, only community; no individual rights, only the welfare of the society. And this new idea was not conservative. In fact, somehow, it became liberal.

Over the years, then, classic liberalism became known in America as conservatism, and socialism became known as liberalism. American conservatism, in its best incarnations, is still as radical and moral as it was almost two hundred and fifty years ago; perhaps more properly seen as constitutionalism. And this conservatism, perhaps because of its historical context and economic validity, or perhaps because of its compatibility with other historical, economically valid principles: free market capitalism and freedom of the press, has gradually seeped into worldwide culture.

The royalism of old conservatism has receded into arguments about tourism, the elitism has become solidarity, and the class warfare has become class-blindness. At least in the modern strains of conservatism, those newer parties or those smarter leaders, those following the American brand, politics is being saved. My point becomes clear when we compare that to modern liberalism, where there are a number of truths that are not true: all royals are inbred and ancient: evil and corrupt, all elites are right-wing: they control the media, all the upper class are pigs: eat the rich. By these mantras and a few others, socialism is once again rearing its ugly head, but it seems that American values have safeguarded us to some extent, and may still yet save us.