The term ‘conservatism is the new punk’ has been thrown around a lot recently. Some have embraced the notion; happy to celebrate the fact conservatism is making a noisy counter-cultural comeback. Others rally against it, determined that traditionalist conservatism is the one true doctrine of the Right.
Fellow millennial conservative (and good friend) Michael Davis has put up a rather brilliant defence of traditionalist conservatism. He asserts the ‘punk rock Right’ are not counter-cultural, or even conservative. He’s likened us to the ‘progressivism of the nineties’, and wonders why conservatives would want to be the new counter-culture anyway. According to Michael, conservatism means ‘fidelity to mainstream values, traditional institutions, and the natural order. It’s about preserving Western culture, not creating a new one’.
In many ways, he’s absolutely right. Conservatism is about protecting traditional institutions, and the perceived natural order. Assuming this, of course conservatism couldn’t be counter-cultural. The punk rock Right would be merely ‘a speed bump on the left’s eventual road to victory’. But while conservative and centrist viewpoints are held by (arguably) the majority of the Western world, that doesn’t mean conservatism is a mainstream doctrine.
The Left has a stranglehold on mainstream culture. Every institution that influences the way people think has been hijacked by the so-called ‘progressive’ establishment, from universities to Hollywood. This is in large part thanks to the traditionalist Right remaining silent in the face of a decades-long cultural onslaught, assuming eventually, the masses would come around. Sadly, this did not happen, and conservative culture was relegated to quiet corners, off the record dinner parties, and Fox News.
Therefore, it is evident that Michael, and other traditionalists who are clutching their pearls, have missed the point. Conservatism hasn’t consciously tried to be the new counter-culture. It’s just necessarily become that way, as a retaliation to the leftist cultural juggernaut. And much as traditionalists refuse to admit it, the rebellion is not restricted to the punk rock Right. It relates to all factions of conservatism. Including, dare I say it, Michael’s.
The vehement adherence to the image of the restrained, Christian, social conservative is actually the ultimate act of rebellion in the face of the degenerate, largely atheist Left. Michael, while I may be punk, you’re actually screamer heavy metal, because of your (very admirable) refusal to capitulate to the social libertarianism of modern times. The more tweed-suiting, Bible-reading, family-touting, and church-going the traditionalists do, the more counter-cultural they become. So much as I hate to admit it, Michael’s even more badass than I am.
As for being more akin to Keatingism; no, the punk rock faction bears too many similarities to classical conservatives. Small government? Yes. Freedom of speech? Of course. Low taxes? Absolutely, and so on. As for our ‘love of capitalism’; well, it’s the incentive it provides us with that we love, not necessarily the consumerism it’s found its grounding in. Therefore, the only things we really disagree on are our social attitudes, and means of communication.
Our ‘social libertarianism’ traditionalists loathe and mistrust is not the same as the hedonism the so-called ‘progressives’ advocate for. As such, perhaps the punk rock right should call themselves socially ‘centrist’. Rather than pushing for a total absence of restraint, we simply don’t think it’s our place to regulate what people choose to do with their private lives. To be honest, we simply don’t care.
The punk rock right believes in a process of trial and error; allowing human beings to learn from their actions, good or bad. So fear not, Michael; your cherished conservative ideals of ‘beauty, compassion, order, love, intimacy, sacrifice’ will be reinstated, but not if you shove them down unsuspecting throats. That was the mistake the Christian Right made in the nineties, and look at the vast progressive mess it has left us in.
As for our means of communication; humiliation and ridicule? That tends to be in the Milo Yiannopoulos school of thought. But I would never seek to outright humiliate people. I simply reserve the right to call out bad behaviour when I see it, usually through satire and hyperbole. And the reason we have abandoned the complacent rhetoric of traditionalist conservatives? Well, the restrained, stoic, ‘born to rule’ approach simply hasn’t worked.
The traditionalist obsession with maintaining dignified silence in the face of the riff-raff has been a disaster. The Right lost the mainstream through a process of cultural neglect. As such, the only solution is to bite back; to make the left realise buzzwords like “racist, sexist, bigot” won’t win them the argument anymore. In the words of General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
Of course, Michael, you could argue that the ‘identity’ of the Christian west will eventually and necessarily triumph, and remove this need for a conservative counterpunch. However, this simply isn’t true. While it may appeal to some, you cannot sell classical, traditionalist, and social conservatism to the centrist, mainstream, Facebooking, movie-going, atheist, pro-LGBT millennial masses. The cultural landscape of the world has simply changed too much. Centrist millennials need to see themselves as having an identity within the conservative movement. That, for the most part, simply isn’t you.
Traditionalist conservatives need to accept the punk rock right as a legitimate faction of the conservative movement. If they don’t, they’re doomed. Remember, we’re not running in opposition; we want to help. If classical conservatism tries to survive without a healthy dose of punk, you can kiss the cultural mainstream goodbye. You see, it’s the punk rock right fighting the culture war, not traditionalists. We’re frantically fending off hordes of blue-haired, piercing-ridden social justice warriors in Antifa headscarves. For that, we expect a little gratitude. We are the ones who will reclaim the West. Traditionalists will simply bring up the rear and reap the benefits.
I’ll only say this in closing, Michael. Your armies may be “decked with majesty and excellency”, but mine are dolled up in True Religion and Kitten D’Amour. Like it or not, we’re all riding in the same back carriage of the Trump Train. The only difference is while you’re sitting quietly in the middle, we’re sitting a few rows behind, tossing paper planes at the backs of your heads, scrawled with rude messages and the odd phallic drawing. You and your bevvy of Traditionalists will indeed claim your well-deserved place in the cultural revolution. But it’ll be me, in my pencil skirt and push up bra, accompanied by a posse of giggling Deplorables in MAGA hats, who will actually plant the flag.
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