Part One of Two

by Steve Kropelnicki

Conservatives today would do well to remember a lesson learned from our fifth grade math teacher.  When we find we have not solved the problem, we ought to go back to the beginning to identify the first error in our calculations.

"Conservatism" is a politics based upon respect for tradition and traditional values.  R. J. White wrote:  ". . . conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living.”  America's political heritage is based on a relationship between state and citizen which had been worked out in England over hundreds of years before our revolution.  It is not just a matter of abstract propositions like "liberty, equality, fraternity."   Experience is a better guide than reason.  Conservatism is not just lower taxes or less regulation of big business or prayer in public schools. 

Conservatism accepts the theological concept of original sin.  Man is a flawed creature who cannot build a utopia.  The purpose of government is but to protect life, liberty and property from the base instincts of our fellows and thereby to allow us an opportunity to live according to the dictates of our consciences.  Building a better world is in the province of faith, not government.

Government necessarily concentrates power in the hands of a few politicians, and therefore is an inherently dangerous institution.  "Government is at best a necessary evil, at worst, an intolerable one" is a statement of conservative political faith, and not just a slogan.

Many conservatives who came of age politically during the past fifty years accepted a myth:  if we look deep into the soul of the Republican Party, we will find a core of conservatism.  It is not obvious how this myth came to be accepted.  It has no basis in fact.

The roots of the party go back to Hamilton and Clay--proponents of a powerful national government backed up by national banks, national currency, federal spending and high taxes.

The party was born of an unholy union of Puritan-turned-Unitarian radical abolitionists with Whig nationalists.

Lincoln destroyed the republic which was embodied in the constitution and substituted a national government with no limits to its power except its own self-restraint.  Under radical republicans the term "union" came to have religious meaning and at his death Lincoln became the first martyr to the emerging American empire.  His Republican successors soon sank to a level of political corruption which would become a model for the future.

Republican subservience to big business unleashed an unrestrained capitalism which threatened to devour the emerging monolith.  Teddy Roosevelt responded with an even more powerful federal government to confront monopolies and business trusts.  At the same time he accelerated our rise as a colonial empire.

The myth began with Barry Goldwater -- a libertarian whose politics barely overlapped conservatism, but whose failed presidential campaign was seized upon by conservatives desperate for a spokesman.

Harry Dent taught Richard Nixon that the myth is the foundation of the Southern Strategy.  They lured traditional Southern Democrats and blue collar voters away from a party which rejected them as it embraced social welfare programs and affirmative action while it sent their sons to die in Viet Nam and allowed near anarchy in our cities.  

Ronald Reagan contributed to the myth while he built on the Southern Strategy.  He appealed to conservatives with a zealous anti-Communism.  They listened to his rhetoric while they ignored the fact that government, government spending, and government debt grew during every year of his administration.  He is an idol to the Republican right, but he had absolutely no lasting impact on the direction of the party.

History and experience reveal a frightening truth -- Goldwater and Reagan are, at best, aberrations in an otherwise unbroken line of support for oppressive government and rejection of the first principles of conservatism.

More recently we have seen the party come under the control of "neo-conservatism", a misnamed philosophy which is the product of disgruntled Trotskyites and has nothing in common with conservatism.  It proceeds from faith that big government can solve all of our problems if we just don't tax the rich and expand the American empire on borrowed money.  

Under the leadership of neo-cons Bush, Cheney, and company, we saw the largest expansion of welfare since Franklin Roosevelt, the largest expansion of federal control over education in history,  and the erosion of our civil liberties under the Patriot Act.  Bush's final act as President was to enact a massive bailout of the failed financial industry, putting into the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury money and power that Franklin Roosevelt never dreamed of.

The recent spectacle of Cheney and Powell fighting like dogs over the remains of the Republican Party recalls the Biblical story of Jezebel.  Like Jezebel, the party has no principles except the exercise of power. 

Republicans do not care how corrupt or how incompetent government becomes so long as they get to run it. 

Conservatives have been to the Republican Party what Blacks have been to the Democrats.  Throw out a few scraps to fiscal conservatives and the religious right and they will remain loyal lackeys… after all, what choice do they have?

If we continue to believe the myth, conservatives will be nothing more than observers of America's plunge into fascism or anarchy.


                                                              CREATIVE DESTRUCTION AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA

In part one of this article we demonstrated that conservative support for the Republican Party has been based on a myth that a party founded to promote radical expansion of the federal government somehow became conservative at heart.  Conservatives will have no voice in determining the future of this country until they recognize that error and abandon a party which at best offers the lesser of two evils.

We have to accept another reality:  conservatism never will command an electoral majority in America.  We have reached a critical mass.  Voters dependant on the Federal government outnumber those taxed support it.  The core values of conservatism cannot be protected by elections when a majority of the electorate has rejected those values.

We must look outside the arena of traditional politics if conservatism is to survive. 

Almost 70 years ago in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Joseph Shumpeter, a brilliant Austrian economist, applied to capitalism a concept called “creative destruction”.  A business becomes successful as aggressive entrepreneurs take risks, innovate, and plow profits back into the company.  Management then becomes complacent, the business becomes inefficient and unable to adapt.  The enterprise dies and is replaced by a new venture which often incorporates the best features of the old.

Capitalism is going through the same process.  It contains the seeds of its own destruction, and ultimately will die as a result of the consequences of its success.  Creative destruction also applies to governments.

We are watching American die as a result of freedom degenerated into license,  economic success decayed into sloth and greed, public service replaced by lust for power.              

Human endeavors tend to corruption; our nation is no exception.

Like the children of Israel in the Old Testament we have forgotten the God of our fathers and gone whoring after Baal.  Our economy is in shambles.  Our borders are open to invasion by  hungry hoards who hate our culture and seek to destroy our way of life.  Government grows daily more corrupt and incompetent.  Our nation is divided against itself as it has not been since 1860.    We enjoy only that liberty government allows.  We permit ourselves to be threatened by a cruel, medieval religion which uses children and pregnant women as weapons and defies the most formidable military in history.

All great societies rise Stoic and die Epicurean.  This is not the result of our taking the wrong turn at some point.  It is an inevitable result of the process of creative destruction.

Conservatives are the guardians of our political and cultural heritage. Those traditions and values are permanent, God-given.  The federal government which once embodied them is man’s creation.  As much as we have loved her, the America of our forefathers is dead.  

And so conservatives must abandon the Republican party.  Far more important, we must abandon loyalty to the  federal government. That government is our enemy.  It is corrupt beyond hope of redemption, bloated, powerless to accomplish good.  It is a malignancy which first destroyed the constitution and soon will destroy itself.

The process of creative destruction is nearing the end of its first phase.  Conservatives must protect our fundamental values as the government collapses.   We must shape the nation which will rise from the ashes of old regime.   To do this we must first disavow that regime.

We have few bonds to the majority which has given us Washington. We have different ideals, different first principles.  They mock what we hold dear; we see the folly of their faith in government.

I am not advocating armed resistance or violent revolution.  The old order is dying but its agents will not fight and die to protect it.  Politicians send our sons and daughters out to die in their wars, but few of them are willing to put their lives on the line.  How many in the Clinton, Bush or Obama administrations ever wore a uniform? 

Our goal must be to separate ourselves from the old regime peacefully when it collapses.  To attain that goal, we must first establish ourselves as its foes.  We must never again be bought off with crumbs from the Republican table.

An electoral majority is not necessary.  The founding fathers never had majority support during the American Revolution.  A dedicated, informed, well-led minority is more powerful than a majority of the brain dead masses begging the federal government for its favor.

Fortunately, support for freedom is concentrated geographically.  Look at the results of the last election displayed by counties on a map.  The red areas are largely rural, Southern and Western.  This is the remnant of the republic.  This is the native soil of conservatism.

The blue areas are mostly cities, the sites of industries which have become so big that we are told we cannot let them fail.   They produce a permanent underclass ridden with crime and violence. They are the breeding grounds of an arrogant, self-appointed aristocracy and of citizen/subjects dependent on  government for their survival.  Our current economic crisis is a product of a few square miles of condensed greed and incompetence in Washington and New York.  How many trillions of dollars have these people cost us?

This geographic concentration allows us to focus our efforts in areas where we have potential for building local majorities—a revised and truly conservative “southern strategy”.

We must organize and support a third party, not to win elections to federal office, but to drain off support from the traditional parties.   We must contest state and local elections and provide a forum for educating Americans who are still capable of self-government. 

Conservatives must organize locally to influence local and state politics.  Conservatives in city and county government can resist the regime and bring converts to our cause.  A handful of state legislators have given us state sovereignty resolutions and other acts of defiance which can be the start of real resistance to Washington.  We must add fuel to these fires  

We must harass and disrupt the federal government.  We must demonstrate and remonstrate, broadcast its failures, boycott its schools and reject its welfare programs.  Above all we must oppose its wars.

Its agents are not entitled to respect. We should shun them and hold them personally responsible for crimes instigated by their bosses in Washington.

We must adopt the tactic of non-violent resistance, just as Martin Luther King resisted segregation in the 1960’s.

Washington will fail.  It will collapse as dramatically and perhaps as quickly as the Soviet Union.  After the collapse of the communist empire Russia degenerated into fascism because there was in Russia no organized support for an alternative, no party with a record of resistance to Communism, and no historic basis for self government.

Washington will fail.  Conservatives must revoke their allegiance, before the deluge.  Then we can form the organization, provide the leadership, and garner the support which will be required to draw in the remnant and build a new constitutional republic.

Steve Kropelnicki is an attorney who lives in Asheville, NC