One doesn’t have to be an astute political observer to notice that the Left end of the spectrum is easier to figure out than the Right.
Leftwing politicians and pundits differ in the accents they put on various points, but the compendium of the points hardly ever varies.
The rhetoric does vary from time to time, but, when one cuts through it, one finds the same longings underneath. These can be profitably united under one all-encompassing rubric: destruction.
Whenever queried about the kind of society they wish to create, lefties always sound hazy. That is quite understandable: every time a society has tried to configure itself in accordance with socialist ideas, what followed was either mass destitution or mass murder, often both.
Hence, instead of specific steps, a leftie prefers to express his programme in terms of abstract ideals.
For example, he’ll seldom advocate the state confiscating most of what people earn. Instead he’ll extol the virtues of ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice’, and he’ll never let the conversation become specific enough for him to acknowledge that confiscation is what he really sees in his mind’s eye.
However, a leftie will become more forthcoming when talking about things he’d like to destroy. This doesn’t mean he’ll spell them out with any precision, but his interlocutor (or reader) will be left in no doubt of the leftie’s pet hates.
These are numerous, but they all have the same target – what’s left of Christendom, with all its aspects: the religion itself, family, self-reliance, limited state power, freedom of conscience and speech, traditional institutions, education that educates rather than brainwashes, fiscal prudence – you name it.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are supposed to be united in their quest to preserve the key aspects of Christendom, using them as building blocks of any innovation.
This is the main thrust, which has to be accompanied by vigorous rearguard action against the destructive leftwing encroachments. In practice this means joining every fight for which the Left are spoiling, be it a battle or a skirmish.
One would think that this commonality of purpose would act as a windscreen defogger, clearing the line of conservative vision enough to see every bend on the road. That, however, is hardly ever the case.
Witness two consecutive paragraphs written yesterday by the Daily Mail columnist Peter Hitchens.
I’ve often taken exception to his adulation of Col. Putin, in which I’m sure he hasn’t wavered despite all the evidence showing the manifestly evil nature of Russia’s kleptofascist regime.
However, lately Hitchens has refrained from venting his innermost feelings on this subject, sensing unerringly that his readers won’t wear it.
At first believers in Putin as the embodiment of conservative values came across as merely ill-informed. Yet after a few choice peccadilloes in the Ukraine, such Western sycophants began to sound first silly, then idiotic, then deranged.
Being ill-informed on Russia is par for the course among our journalists, and even silliness can be overlooked by the grateful public. But no pundit can get away with displaying either idiocy or madness, and Hitchens is well aware of it.
Consequently Russia has been expunged from his mental map for the time being, and he has turned his attention to the Church. This brings me to the two paragraphs reinforcing my feeling that the Right are terribly confused.
Paragraph 1: Have you noticed that the people most excited about women bishops in the Church of England are those who don’t believe in God and never go near a church?
Actually, no, I haven’t noticed that. I know many church-going Anglicans who are ecstatic about the female episcopate, but then again, I don’t number many atheists among my acquaintances.
For that reason I’m prepared to accept that Hitchens’s observation is more accurate than mine, especially since it stands to reason.
Consecration of women bishops is an act of ecclesiastical, theological and doctrinal vandalism the Anglican Church has perpetrated on itself.
Thereby the Church surrendered its soul to pernicious secular fads yet again. This has predictably led, at least in the West, to an exodus of orthodox Christians to other confessions, both Western and Eastern.
The resulting tectonic tremors have far-reaching ramifications not just for the Church itself, but also for our constitutional arrangement, of which our established Church is an integral part.
Since a sturdy Church is the cornerstone of the tradition the Left yearn to destroy, its gradual conversion from a Christian institution to a socialist chat club must give much joy to lefties.
So one can understand their excitement – and commend Hitchens for sounding impeccably conservative.
Paragraph 2: Personally, I couldn’t care less what sex a bishop is. I’d like it if they believed in God, preferred poetry and beauty to banality, and didn’t mix up Christianity with socialism.
Proceeding from small to big, no literate conservative would follow the singular antecedent ‘bishop’ with the plural possessive pronoun ‘they’.
The issue isn’t just grammatical but also political or, even broader, civilisational. After all, for the thousand-odd years that the English language has existed, its convention has stated that a man embraces a woman.
Hence, if the sex of the antecedent is unclear, it must be treated as male. Thus a sentence like ‘Everyone must do his duty’ leaves the option of either men or women to be understood by ‘everyone’.
This convention, among uncountable others, fell under the onslaught of the Left offensive, specifically its feminist wing. This is all part of the same destructive urge I mentioned earlier, something against which conservatives are duty-bound to fight rearguard action.
Since this particular linguistic perversion has been elevated to orthodoxy, newspaper editors and subs enforce it even in supposedly conservative publications. But there are always ways around it.
For example, instead of ‘a bishop is’, Hitchens could have written ‘bishops are’, avoiding the trap set by socialist activists bent on destroying what’s left of our civilisation. Yet he let his side down by ceding his position abjectly.
Still, this is a minor matter compared to his main point. For, by saying he doesn’t care about a bishop’s sex (at least, thank God, he didn’t say ‘gender’), Hitchens effectively says he doesn’t mind the Church perpetrating on itself the aforementioned act of ecclesiastical, theological and doctrinal vandalism.
If he doesn’t realise that’s what it is, he’s stupid. If he really doesn’t mind it, he’s a leftie. If he thinks that Christianity is all about faith and presumably poetic sense, and the ecclesiastical and theological tradition doesn’t matter, he’s both.
Hitchens only interests me here because he is indicative of the confusion on the right of our politics. More and more windscreens fog up, blurring people’s vision of what lies ahead, where they wish to get and how to get there.
No wonder true conservatism has been reduced to a quaint personal eccentricity, devoid of whatever unifying potential it ever had. In other words, we are losing.