Sunday 8 May 2022

Why I am not a Conservative

 I know that many people who read this blog would regard themselves as on the right but I don't think of myself in those terms. I am certainly not on the left and never have been, not even in my youth when that approach is generally fashionable, but I don't see myself as a conservative (even with a small 'c') either. There are many things from the past that I would wish to conserve and I do see leftism, for want of a better word, as the main source through which evil and spiritual destruction have been brought into the world and continue to be brought into the world, but that does not mean that we should return to a time before the leftist monster reared its ugly head. For one thing, the past was very imperfect which is why the spirit of reform was justified, but more significantly, human consciousness evolves and what was right at one time ceases to be right at another.

I am reading a book by Nikolai Berdyaev about Dostoyevsky who was my favourite author back in the days when I read fiction. Him and Tolkien anyway, a strange couple if ever there was one! Berdyaev says of Dostoyevsky that he should "not be regarded as a conservative or reactionary in the current sense. He was revolutionary-minded in a deeper way. He saw no possibility of a return to the conception of life, a static and immovable form, that existed before the arising of the revolutionary spirit. He was the first to notice how movements gain impetus in the world, the whole tending towards an end. "The end of the world is coming," he wrote in his notebook. This is not the attitude of a conservative. His hostility against revolution was not that of a man with a stale mind who takes some interest or other in the old social order, but the hostility of an apocalyptic being who takes the side of Christ in his supreme struggle with Antichrist. Now he who marches with Christ with his face towards the last great battle at the end of time is a man of the future and not of the past, every bit as much as him who marches with Antichrist. The conflict between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries is a superficial affair between the has-beens who have been supplanted and the supplanters who now have the first places at feasts. Dostoyevsky stood aside from that contest and was ranged among those for whom revolution of  the spirit opposes the spirit of revolution."

There is more in this vein but the point I wish to make is this. The past has gone. Much that was good has been destroyed but it cannot be restored in the form in which it existed any more than we can bring back the glories of ancient Egypt. What we need to do is reestablish the spirit that built the form of the past but find new ways in which to express it. And that spirit will also be different because we are different. Human consciousness has changed. It is more self-aware and that is a necessary development. It is why the past cannot be brought back.

Conservatives favour a return to or preservation of the form of the past. Whilst agreeing that much has been jettisoned that was noble and beautiful we must make a clear distinction between form and spirit. What really matters is that the connection to spirit is maintained or, in our case, restored. If and when that happens a new form will arise that grows out of the new spiritual awareness but, at the same time, will obviously be built on the same principles as the structures of the past. Materialistic revolutionaries destroy in order to completely remake but spiritual evolutionists seek to fulfil the law and the prophets not to overturn them.

The battle is not between right and left and those that think it is will find themselves in one way or another on the side of the left. The battle is between the forces of Christ and those of the Antichrist, between divine creation and that which attempts to undermine, reframe or destroy divine creation. We have to keep our eyes fixed on the spiritual ball and not be led astray by what are ultimately only worldly things. It's because conservatives often are so led astray, and also because they don't properly appreciate the evolutionary nature of human consciousness and unfoldment, that I am not a conservative.


Francis Berger said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more. I'm going to link this to my blog.

You of course know of my deep appreciation of Berdyaev, and I consider Dostoevsky to be in the first rank of novelists. Most people focus on Dostoevsky as a prophetic, counter-revolutionary writer, but Berdyaev was one of the very few who truly understood Dostoevsky's Christian-revolutionary spirit, which makes B's book on D a must read.

On a side note, I like how you place Tolkien next to Dostoevsky in the post. The placement could perhaps inspire Bruce to wade into Berdyaev a little . . .

William Wildblood said...

Thanks Frank. The more I read Berdyaev the more I appreciate that he was one of the great spiritual writers of the last century. Tolkien and Dostoyevsky are very different but in a way each fills in the gaps of the other.

Something I would like to add to the post is that where Christ and Antichrist are concerned, you don't have to recognise Antichrist to be on his side but you do have to recognise Christ to be on his though I would add that there are people moving towards that recognition who have not got there yet (as was my case at one time) so it's not as black and white as that statement might appear

JMSmith said...

I have read how men at the turn of the eighteenth century would declare their political allegiance by the color of the cockade they wore in their hatbands. Radicals wore a red cockade, Reactionaries wore a black. There are those who disagree, but this probably stands behind the title of Stendhal's The Red and the Black. The division is extremely crude, of course, and many individuals will transcend or transgress the dividing line. I, for instance, am normally "Black," but I still have my "Red" days. And I have many, many days when my mind is elsewhere and I am not really one or the other. But if the Reds start shooting the Blacks they are going to shoot me because, so far as they are concerned, I wear the black cockade.

I've often heard people say that you must "decide what side you're on." This may be true, but it may be more important to know what side other people say you're on, and also to understand that other people don't care that you in some ways transgress, and at some times transcend, the division between the two sides. Other people are busy with and they need to put you into one of two boxes.

We are all idiosyncratic to ourselves, our closest friends, and God. To everyone else we are stereotypes. I, my closest friends, and (I hope) God knows that I am a bundle of idiosyncrasies subject to inconsistencies and periodic madness and caprice. Everyone else just sees a black cockade.

William Wildblood said...

True. I would probably wear a black cockade most of the time but a red one occasionally or perhaps a purple one. Luckily I am saved from that dilemma by only wearing a hat when it's either very hot or very cold.

Bruce Charlton said...

Good post. I regard mainstream conservatives as being just a type of leftist, playing a role in the advance of leftism; as can be seen by the way they focus upon current affairs, and talking points; and by their support for socio-political figures within the mainstream of success and influence.

Self-styled reactionaries (out of the mainstream and hostile to it) are a more interesting and heterogeneous group; but they are being severely challenged by the degree of corruption in the churches - which means that they are compelled to make personal discernments all the time, picking and choosing within their chosen church; while denying that that is what they are doing - an unstable (and dishonest) position to try and hold.

@Frank - I don't feel much inclined to read B - partly because the Russian soul seems too qualitatively different from mine for me to learn from or identify with. I feel very differently about the German (Central European) soul - but the East is too big a stretch.

You, of course, start from a Central European mindset and can therefor look in both directions - which is probably the proper destiny of the Men of that region (according to Steiner and nowadays his disciple Terry Boardman) - it has been (in significant degree) to prevent that potentially constructive engagement of Germany to the East, as well as West, that the Global Establishment has engineered the current crisis - but the post-war Germans are (like all Western nations) too deeply materialist and mind-controlled to have anything but an economic perspective on these matters.

The Germans (and associated countries within their natural sphere, such as Hungary, Poland Czech and the Baltic-Hanseatic ports) are still a Western-occupied nation, mentally - as well as militarily - but don't even realize it.

Anonymous said...

"Good post. I regard mainstream conservatives as being just a type of leftist, playing a role in the advance of leftism"----their minds have been captured just like the institutions have been capltured

Francis Berger said...

@ Bruce - The Berdyaev remark aimed at you was just playful prodding on my part. I understand and respect your disinclination to read Berdyaev. In fact, I find it hard to relate to his "Russo-centrism" whenever it clicks into high gear.

Besides, I don't think you -- specifically -- really need Berdyaev. You have a firm, intuitive grasp of many of the theme's B explored: freedom, creativity, the true self, mysticism. Moreover, your views often mirror B's. In this sense, reading B would be akin to reading about stuff you already know and have thought about extensively.

I enjoy B because it helps to confirm many of the thoughts I have.

On the subject of nations/regions -- I have come to the conclusion that Central European countries are totally lost. They have relinquished whatever spiritual learning they may have accrued during twentieth-century communism. Or, they neglected to learn the lessons that were on offer during that time. Either way, the populations here are no better or not much better than the populations in any other European country. And the leadership of these countries are just as bad as anywhere -- they just pretend not to be in order to pander.