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Conservative masochism

Conservatives tend to walk into the traps that have been laid for them. For example, I once saw a debate between the writer Will Self and Mark Francois, a notable pro-Brexit Conservative politician. Self said that, effectively, Britain was just an invention; being British was an invention—time to do away with it and adopt the EU. The point is a common one and often includes the phrase “imagined communities”, a reference to an eponymous early-90s book that describes how the nation state formed; actually, the book’s contents—from what I remember, it has been well over a decade since I read it—does not exactly support the notion that nations are inventions or that they are, in the leftist derogatory framework, “made up”. Nonetheless, the phrase has stuck in that sense, so that leftists often resort to the “oh, it’s just an imagined community” jab; and this is delivered with smug superiority; unlike conservatives, leftists can see that all this nation business amounts to is a fairytale for children—just like religion.

In this debate, Francois sputtered in consternation but never landed a blow; he never even quite managed to say Britain went back many hundreds of years. The reason for this was that as a conservative he thought in terms of conscientious system preservation; the idea that the entire system could be changed was anathema to him and so he excluded it. However, at some level he also knew that Britain was created, as a constitutional entity, in the 1700s. So he felt stuck.

The correct response would be: Britain is an invention, and it is obviously a superior and time-tested invention that has produced (list lots of impressive British things)—what has the EU actually done in the half-century or so it has existed? Developed a new system to measure aubergines? No, Britain is the best invention in the world. An imagined community? Certainly so, it takes a vivid imagination to create a nation—what have you imagined recently? In Self’s case, a few novels—not so many of late, and a few appearances on panel game shows. In others words, not so much. But for Francois, Britain is a fact like Saturn is a fact—or the White Cliffs of Dover, for that matter. “Of course there’s always been a Britain, I’m not some looney lefty making things up.” Yet Britain is not a fact like Saturn is a fact; and if you do not acknowledge that then it is easy to be outmanoeuvred—and to look, as Self wished Francois to look, stupid.

Behind the situation lurked race because, in part, what Francois also meant was that there have always been Englishmen, Welshmen, Irishmen, and Scotsmen, and the EU project is designed to displace these groups through mass migration—yet I am not sure even a very right-wing MP, relative to current circumstances, fully allows themselves to articulate those thoughts in their own mind (perhaps they make resentful remarks about race in the pub, though). The reason is tactical; even though they are called racist anyway, they want to avoid the charge as much as possible—and so they will never go near race in a debate; and, actually, even in private much; people really are owned that much, even in their minds.

Self later taunted poor old Francois with the accusation that every racist and anti-Semite in the country voted for Brexit; Francois fell right into the swamp and pointed out that there was no way Self could know that—again, literal and concrete thought. I am sure not every person with an animus towards various races or the Jews voted for Brexit—technically true. Yet, really, racism does not exist; it is not real—it is a false concept; and until people liberate themselves from it then they will be owned, as Francois was owned.

Until someone like Francois can say, “There is no such thing as racism,” or shrugs and says, “You may believe in such a concept, but I do not. But I know those who hate the British and hate freedom opposed Brexit, though,” they will continue to be owned. Francois and men like him move in their enemy’s value system and try to conserve it. Partially this comes about, as I will discuss in another post, because when people discuss “racism” they either have no idea what they mean by it, or mean something entirely different to the other party.

Briefly, when a conservative like Francois uses the term he means something like: “To have a general arbitrary and unjustified animus or hostility towards any race—either through casual slurs or codified laws.” What Self has in mind would be more like: “A system that invented the concept ‘race’ itself that includes private property, traditional customs, nations, and religions and is used by ‘white people’ (effectively people who are biologically white, so to speak, although this concept says this category is not real) to oppress and exploit people.”

Oddly, the conservatives have the more democratic, if you like, take on “racism”; they think it can apply to any race; for the left it is the case that only white people can be racist—and the term just shifts so that it can condemn traditional Catholicism, the US Constitution, or Putin as leftist needs shift; and it is never applied consistently because it is just emotional blackmail. Long, long ago JFK made hearty jokes about “the niggers” in private and the liberal press just overlooked what he said, whereas any such similar off-guard remarks by his opponents were highlighted. “Racism” is meaningless moral manipulation; but it works because we live under nihilism and there is no stronger counter-value with which to meet it—previously very traditional Christianity could be used, but this has either been captured by the left or dribbled away to nothing.

As a general behavioural facet conservatives get owned in this way because they do not think one level up, so to speak; they live in a very concrete world—and that is why progressives often call conservatives stupid—the progressives define the terrain, the conservatives preserve the territory the progressives have already won. The conservative is a bit literal; and that also means they are afraid to concede that Britain is an invention; as a constitutional entity it very definitely is so—yet they are also afraid to get too primal and discuss race, since they are social conformists and are aware that this approach is “absolute evil”. As a result, the leftist, such as Self, can dance around the conservative and look sophisticated—even though there is very little depth to what they say. Really, it amounts to a sneer and empty rhetoric—often because the leftist is the master.

Self is bona fide managerial state aristocracy, being born to a senior technocrat who engineered the Welfare State and raised in Hampstead—official compound for the managerial class. When Self meets someone like Francois—army reservist and history graduate—he is basically in a dispute with the gamekeeper, some smelly little man he has to keep around so that the estate ticks over but whose views are just ever so vulgar and uneducated. The gamekeeper has noticed that the policies his master pursues on the estate seem to cause the estate to go to rack and ruin, but he lacks the language to articulate why this is so—he has no access to the master’s library. So he tries to use the master’s language—racism and so on—to explain the problems. “Maybe I’m a bit simple see but it seems like this system is sort of like, how you might say, racism against British people, guv’nor.” “Ha, ha…but my dear sir, you cannot be serious…you are just too drôle.” That the exchange happened in a BBC studio, basically natural territory for people like Stephen Fry and Will Self, keeps the interchange on an even more unequal footing.

A similar event happened with Éric Zemmour, the somewhat controversial may-be French presidential candidate. He was asked a question along the lines: “What will you do about climate refugees?” He replied that he would not let them into France, if they drowned they drowned. Tant pis.

Okay. He looked really evil; and some people liked how evil he looked and received some psychic gratification from that. Yet the correct answer was: “There is no such thing as a ‘climate refugee’. That is a propaganda term invented by the left for the dependents they import to plug into our welfare system so as to raid the assets of French citizens.” To say that would be a revelation for many watchers; just as it would be a revelation if a conservative stood up and said: “Don’t give me this ‘racism’ nonsense, that’s manipulative rubbish for women and children. Nobody believes in it; it’s all about control and manipulation.”

Yet Zemmour accepted the premise and played the role “monster” with alacrity, as he was expected to do. There are definitely some people who get off on this idea: right-wing politics attracts them because they get to play the monster; but do you want to play the monster or do you want to win? Unfortunately, the answer is that in many cases the people who do this want to play the monster; they want to play the tough-minded man who would let people die due to supposed climate change rather than save them. Their enemies love these people; the left wants a monster and they have delivered a monster. Perhaps there are a few people who think that Zemmour is a really practical and tough guy when he says these things, yet I doubt it. Perhaps Zemmour did it for his mistress, perhaps she likes it when he says he will let the Somalis and Bangladeshis drown as—supposedly—the sea level rises. She twirls her fingers in his quasi-pubic chest hair, “Grrrrr, ma monsteur…” Perhaps.

Of course, Zemmour is not a practical and tough guy—practical and tough guys want to win, not demonstrate they are “real killers”. Zemmour is an essayist and a journalist; a man who in his own words was “raised by women who made me a man” Jesus Christ—in other words, Zemmour was raised by women who made him a narcissist. He is not a tough and practical man; he is an actor. The man who could stop France’s decline would have to be a canny and ruthless operator—someone like Putin—not an essayist who is not even French. Zemmour is a poseur; his whole life is a pose—Macron is more serious than Zemmour. When people look at Macron they see Bonaparte, yet it is Zemmour who writes articles where he says he is a Bonapartist—it cannot be written into reality, not like that; you are what you are.

As already mentioned many times, politics attracts narcissists. Conservative politics—which I have never liked—attracts people who like to play masochist or monster. They are either resentful people who snap: “Well that’s what I think, if you’re even allowed to say that these days.” (the remark is harmless and anodyne); “We’ll see how that works out for you, sonny.”; or “I didn’t work all my life for this.” Miserable gits, basically. The left resents the successful, while conservatives—really sub-variant leftists—particularly resent the young, for their health or beauty or naïve innocence. “Ah, so you found out can’t do what you want, missy? I said you’ll see and you have.” In such circumstances, it is a set-up; the parent indulges the child and then chastises them when reality throws them on their face. It is all resentment though, all poison.

Since they are detached from reality in a different way from the left they really want to engage in a maudlin act where they cry into a whisky or wear herringbone suits when nobody does anymore or post pictures of castles online—the point is never the castle itself; the conservative likes the idea of the castle, the forced “educational” visit on Sunday with parsimonious sandwiches made with bread from the economy section in the supermarket to be consumed in the damp in the car (parsimonious, self-lacerating; “We would have bought a tea but at 80p it was just too much. Inflation, you see. That’s socialism for you.”). The outlook is summed up by Roger Scruton, a man who invented himself as a country squire—in an act even he described as postmodern—and then sold an image to other people; the image being stoic but inevitable defeat thanks to the “intolerant left” (you can always listen to your Wagner records on the gramophone, though). “Kids today, eh?” “I know, what can you do?” “Inevitable heat-death of the universe, innit.” What can you do, indeed.

Perhaps this explains why, when I was growing up, so many Conservative MPs seemed to be caught out being flogged by Mistress Whiplash in some Soho cellar—and why they adored Thatcher—it was a desire to be punished, chastised, and dominated; and for all that to happen at the hands of a woman, whether Thatcher or some Soho tart. For a time, I thought the instinct was to do with transgressive boredom; as when someone pinches their own skin to feel something, or watches interracial pornography. Conservatives were powerful men used to giving orders, so they liked the reversal; they liked for a woman to be on top—boredom, reversal.

I was wrong; conservatives enjoy female chastisement because they are losers. Conservatives want to be told they are wrong and naughty and dirty (by mommy) and this is why they never step outside the racism dynamic; they want to be punished, they want to be told they are dirty. If they said, “Look, I’m free. I don’t believe in that. It’s emotional manipulation,” they would escape the masochistic game—and that would be too bad for them; they like the game. For the most part, everyone agrees the left is more feminine; so the left shames and chastises the conservatives for their dirty thoughts about sex and race as a mother shames her children—after sufficient nagging, the conservative rolls over and complies. “I’ll have to check with the wife first, mate.”

The problem is in the name itself; a conservative person has a constitutional desire to conserve, often in a thoughtless way—they will conserve Islam, Communism, or Christianity with indifference; and, be assured, if everything stays on the road for another decade, we will see conservatives defend “responsible transsexualism” against people who wish to legalise sex with children or with dogs (hard to say which will come first, except that the demand is coming). Politics is for actors and not for effective people: conservatives like to act the masochist who cannot win (because, unlike the intolerant left, I have principles); and so they live to be steamrollered—just as men like Francois are slightly awed by men like Self. Conservatives, for example, are aware that universities are against them and yet cannot mobilise against universities because they are conscientious people for whom “education” is a given good—got to get on, you know!

To mobilise against education—against priests—is almost impossible for a formal conservative; their narcissistic investment in conservatism will remind you, in maudlin and sentimental terms, that the Oxford crest is still the same as ever (“a thousand years of history”) and Hilary term still exists (for now)—even as everything taught under the crest and in the term is calculated to liquidate what conservatives purport to defend. Conservatives are often rather like studious schoolboys—google Michael Gove or William Hague to see what I mean—and they know the right answers on the exam paper. In the British constitution, where does sovereignty reside? (2 marks) “Oh, that’s Parliament, sir.” (smug smile); they know much more trivia besides, about an election in 1968 or what G.K. Chesterton said at lunch one day in 1898. And yet Parliament is not sovereign, not really.

A conservative sub-section wants to be perceived to be actively evil whether or not they win; and these people sometimes bleed into the radical right—Hitler, Hitler, Hitler (tee-hee, mommy is so angry this time—no really angry); and this melds into anarchic Pepe energy, insofar as Pepe is like an autistic infant that has smeared his shit around the living room walls in a way that is both naïve and malevolent at the same time.

To return to Putin; why is he different? I am not here to worship him or to say he is nice, but he is effective: Russia was a basket case when he took over, the majority of the electorate wanted to return to Communism it was so bad—thousands of men committed suicide directly, thousands more did so indirectly by drinking themselves to death. Rather as with Trump, conservatives are not very keen on Putin. Of course not! As already established, conservatives want to lose; they live to lose—this is their act. Men like Putin and Trump win; they are effective. They have no principles! So wails a man who is about to concede that the state has a right to remove children from their parents and chop their balls off. Principles are for moralists and miserable people. Putin and Trump know about effective action; and that is why they are opposed by conservatives.

Obviously, when we watch Putin’s actions they come across as rightist; yet this is because Putin generally acts in accord with reality, not because he founded a think tank to develop “Neo-Tsarist Conservo-Orthodoxy” or some such confection—or because he has strong sentimental feelings about St. Basil’s Cathedral (perhaps he does; but this is not his main motivation). Putin is the type to genuinely save a country: a ruthless and canny operator who is icily realistic in what he seeks to attain and whose main priority is to win. Even Trump cannot compare to him, because although he knew how to win—wing bigly, unlike his flaccid conservative opponents—he did not know how to govern; for all the demonisation Trump is basically a nice guy—a Leo, like me—a warm businessman and showman, not a stone-cold killer.

On January 6th he could have provoked a genuine revolt and a bloodbath; but what he did was push the limits and then back down to pursue a futile legal route—nice guy, you see. He basically thinks the system works, albeit imperfectly; he has not accepted that it is totally corrupted; in such a situation to really drain the swamp you need someone schooled by the deep state—as Putin was—because you have to play rougher than they do. Trump was allowed to win once by mistake and was never allowed to govern—Putin governs. Again, this is not to say that everything Putin does is perfect; however, he raises the hackles on the right people and that is a good enough signal for me; of course, there is no guarantee that there is an “American Putin”—sometimes the right man is there, sometimes nobody is there.

When a country really is in an existential crisis, as Russia was in the mid-90s, then you need a man like Putin who is extremely Machiavellian and effective. This is the difference between a rightist and a conservative—rightism is effective action in accordance with reality and it comes under many different superficial banners, whereas conservatism is an ineffective sentimental-masochistic response to the left that wants to lose and does so.


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1 Comment

Oct 26, 2021

One of the peculiarities of self-identified conservatives in the US is that they like living in post-WWII tract homes in the suburbs and are uninterested in preserving historical buildings – especially in cities which they seem to hate altogether. On the other hand, self-identifying liberals and progressives are very keen on conserving historical architecture.

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