Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Pact with the Devil?

Irving Kristol was important enough that he got to be the obituary in The Economist last week. You'd expect The Economist to damn him with faint praise, and you wouldn't be disappointed.

But there is one egregious swipe that needs careful analysis.

[Neoconservatism had given conservatism an impulse,] a moral and philosophical dimension (expressed, in the early 1980s, in an alarming Faustian alliance with evangelicals), for conservatism without religion was “thin gruel”.

The writer is saying here that the inclusion of the Christian Right into the Republican tent is a pact with the Devil. Let us be clear here. Liberals really believe this.

If liberals believe this then they profoundly misunderstand the relationship between the more secular parts of the conservative movement and the more religious parts. Nobody is making a pact here, unless the compromises in any political party are necessarily demonic. The secular Rush Limbaugh, for instance, seems to regard God-fearing conservatives as people to be honored for their moral witness, especially since liberals go out of their way to insult them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

When the economic conservatives joined up with the social conservatives in the 1970s it was not because anyone was trying to sell their soul for political, but because both sides were thrown together by the aggressive secular agenda of liberals. Liberals had written all conservatives out of respectable society, so they really can't be shocked that the folks they revile got to like each other.

Then there's the Kissinger Effect. Henry Kissinger was an expert of foreign policy had had original things to say about it. But the rest of his political opinions were off-the-shelf, basically Rockefeller Republican. This applies to political parties. People bring an agenda into the party, and after a time, the rest of the party takes it up. Thus economic conservatives start to pick up the opinions of their religious conservative allies, and the religious conservatives start to see the point of supply-side economics. There's nothing diabolical about this. It arises out of the nature of humans as social animals.

In a way liberals do us a favor by misunderstanding the relations within the conservative movement. There's nothing better in war than when your opponents don't take the trouble to understand you and your culture.

And with the Obama administration it looks like liberals have failed to understand about 60 percent of the American people. They will pay for this in the only coin they know: political power.

If there is a Faustian bargain in the modern era, it can only be the disastrous bargain that the working class made with the socialists. They sold their soul to the liberals, and for what? They got piddling pensions and benefits, but lost their families and their robust working-class culture and their self-respect.

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