America’s anthropological battle | The American Conservative
“Conservatism, Unmasked” is what at first glance you might call the Philadelphia Society’s annual national meeting and festival in Fort Worth, which is traditionally held to define conservative challenges while renewing friendships and vows of common Purpose and commitment.
I did not discover a face mask in the great ballroom of the Worthington Renaissance Hotel late in March weekend, filled with conservative personalities (including) The American ConservativeHelen Andrews, new print editor, the main attraction at a TAC sponsored dinner). Bare noses and mouths, unknown in the dark days of the pandemic, were part of the happy response to Governor Greg Abbott’s recent decision to emancipate Texas from most COVID protocols. Perhaps the nakedness of the face also reflected the deep American longing for free choice. A good time to reaffirm freedom. No sooner had the Philly Soc pitched his tent and left town than Joe Biden unleashed his $ 2.3 trillion plan for American transformation, largely funded by all of us, without excluding the unborn.
The non-partisan but democratically skeptical Philly Soc, founded in 1964 by William F. Buckley Jr., Milton Friedman and the like, is not a freedom-oriented company run by the National Committee for the Abolition of Income Taxes. The members have mastered conservative thinking and only exclude the really, really, really way out of the representation. (And even these can occasionally appear. A way out by whose definition ?!)
Conservative politics based on reasoned philosophy, including the sacred wisdom of the past, is the Philadelphia Society’s commodity: the legacy of the men who met in Philadelphia in 1787 to give a civilized hand to the aspirations of the young nation. Members – of whom I’ve been a member since the Carter era – are neither conspicuously Trumpian nor grateful for the former president’s many conservative initiatives, including many successful efforts to put young conservatives on the Bundesbank.
Joe Biden, as it turned out in the spring of 2021, isn’t exactly what he said during the late campaign. The Great Healer is indeed the Great Buttinski, here, there and everywhere, working to use federal power and influence. He seems to advocate the transformation of a foot-dragging (by his or Liz Warren’s standards) America in the same way that LBJ and Franklin Roosevelt performed the same trick: through legislation and arm wrestling.
The well-known arguments among conservatives this time around will not focus on questions that some make seem abstract, such as how freedom considerations can be refined in the light of tradition. The Way Bigger government under Biden and Nancy Pelosi is taking our breath away. “We are not defenders of the status quo,” said University of Texas-Austin philosopher Rob Koons. “We are very much the disloyal opposition” to “the current totalitarian regime”.
How do you like this for the wailing submissiveness sometimes attributed to the supposedly elite class of conservatism who went to Bowties and Ph.D. Degree? With remarkable rigor, the members of Philly Soc in Fort Worth publicized: 1) their concern about the dangers America is now facing, and 2) their appetite for resistance.
“Experts cannot live our lives for us,” said the Society’s new president, historian-author Wilfred McClay Jr., who is about to move his franchise from the University of Oklahoma to Hillsdale College, one of which he is Conservative Redoute hopes to engage the control freaks, the “equity” faction and the cancel crowd.
Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars reiterated the thrust of Biden’s “Transformations” rhetoric and the thirst of progressive believers – perhaps especially at Wood’s own venue, the Academy – to “punish those who disagree.” According to Philip Magness of the American Institute for Economic Research, the left seeks “the elimination of competition [American] narrative and undisputed control of the political system. “
I pause to see how different all of this sounds from the Klaxon warnings heard when Barack Obama took the oath of president. Who would have thought the last few years would get us to this point? Also, I think Sen. Warren and like-minded colleagues.
In any case, an effective resistance presupposes the adoption of resistance and replacement strategies. So far, such strategies, as expressed in the speeches of Philly Soc, have to be formulated and implemented. However, there are special outlines.
There is Rob Koons’ outrageous strategy of accepting an “underground” identity for those who, perhaps particularly in the occupied academy, rely on free speech and debate as a prerequisite for the responsible conduct of academic activities – e. B. Education – would exist. Koons praised amongst other things, private education and the creation of an “Amazon-like underground”.
Prof. Elizabeth Corey of Baylor University made a down-to-earth point: “The most important things in life are not political.” Michael Matheson Miller of the Acton Institute addressed the same thesis and blossomed: “We have lost culture. How are we [conservatives] Unlike any other? “
Miller’s question served as something of a rhetorical Bill Dookie – the long-leaved tool gardeners use to examine and uncover, even sever, deep roots. More and more, he said, “we find ourselves in an anthropological struggle.” What we want is “a real unity of different people”. That’s “real”, not enforced or just the kind of thing that New York Times seems intent on achieving something through incessant preaching. Anthropology, Miller explained, provides “a vision of the world” and how life should be lived. “It’s just not just about economics,” making money or redistributing it.
At that time McClay introduced the term “an incoherence that plagues us”, a divergence between “what we think” as civilization “and what we do”. What are we all about? What is our purpose What insights and assumptions underlie our efforts and give them life – or not? “Political life,” said McClay, “is only part of our life,” which captivates the political class more than the less possessed power.
“Where do we come from?” asked American-sized Christopher Buskirk. “We were too quick to ideologize our values. What do they mean to us? Are lives getting better or worse? … How do our principles apply to the real world? “Are they actually making our people’s lives better? In addition: “We should put ideas into concrete terms.” Wouldn’t that be an interesting task: Connect idea A with result B? For example, in relation to the free trade dispute, Buskirk said: “How do we enrich our country?” Should be the main idea, but often enough not, among both Democrats and Republicans.
This “anthropology” thing to investigate the various mysteries of human life found its own life in being mentioned after Miller’s Sally. “Ontology” would have served as well, but it probably has too theological occupation. Everyone understands what it means to study people and to ask the question my wife taught me to always ask when it comes to weighing the generality of human actions: “What are we trying to do here?” Throwing around some government money ? Score points with voters? But for what purpose – for what useful purpose? And – the question despised by politicians – which measures, which initiatives could just as well, if not better, serve to expand justice and virtue?
What role does the federal government play in determining the goals of freedom? Is is there such a role? And let’s say there really is such a role: To what extent can the government adequately hinder or encourage individual people in the exercise of their freedom? And for what intellectual reasons?
The overarching value of the Philadelphia Society as an organization (aside from its ability to rub its elbows) is to provide and ponder adequate answers to those questions which, as they must, relate to America’s navigational problems in political hurricane season . Katherine Gorka of the Heritage Foundation summed up from the crow’s nest: “We cannot be afraid; We can’t sit on the sidelines. “Same story, same attitude, by editor Andrews im American conservative Dinner: “There is no place to go back. We will not restore the previous status quo.”
William Murchison is a writer and author, most recently by The Cost of Freedom: The Life of John Dickinson.