Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Failure of Conservatism

Doug Wilson has posted another brilliant piece on education, but the best part of the piece is the introduction. He condemns conservatives for conserving progressive institutions--in this case, state universities. Read at least what is below, though I recommend reading the entire post:

The perennial temptation of ersatz conservatives is to tell the progressives that what they are proposing cannot possibly work, and that if implemented it will ruin us all. And then, when the progressives (so called because they are progressing toward the Abyss) succeed in driving their proposals through, conservatives line up for the next election cycle with their proposals on how to make this whole thing work. I think that the psychologists call this co-dependence.

This means, to take one example, that we ought not to trust any ostensible conservative in a post-health-care-reform election who does not promise to labor night and day to repeal (not "fix") the whole thing. To reapply Mark Twain's comment about Jane Austen, putting it to a more edifying use, conservatives need to promise that the body of this reform, now peacefully buried in the mausoleum of signed legislation, will be exhumed, and they will all beat it over the head with its own shin bone.

The reason this is necessary is that conservatives, when they are thoughtlessly shaped by precedent, are often just the preserving agent that keeps radicalism alive. Radicals always want to run headlong, and their radicalism is often preserved from utter destruction by the conservatives who tag along behind them, grumbling. Dabney put it this way:

"American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves torwards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards its, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom."

And this kind of pointed statement from our honored past can stir us up -- until we get into the current particulars. The particulars that I want to get into here have to do with the acquiesence of Christian conservatives in the radical system of higher education. We have not yet come to grips with the historical anomaly represented by Behemoth State U or Leviathan State.

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