In Part I of this discussion I did a small review of the book "The Reactionary Mind". In Part II I developed the ideas that the book engendered in me. In this part I sum it up.
First the term “Conservatism” is meaningless when we consider that many who use it for themselves are Radical Idealists, willing to use force in the pursuit of an ideal. It is also meaningless as it obfuscates a natural and social fact, that most people have a conservative temperament, with a political fact, that some people like Hierarchy.
Instead I believe that a better term would be “Hierarchism” a term used to denote the hierarchical principle in church affairs, and one that harkens back to the first institutionalized hierarchies that were religious. It is also better if we dispense with the term “Left” and use the more correct “Egalitarianism”.
Second, this means that we should add to our extant political ideology map the three axes I mentioned above:
One not need to use the terms I have coined, doubtless inspired or stolen from something I read. But the principles behind that three fundamental divides are important I think for understanding our political world.
Third, I know might have a better handle on my own politics. I wish to believe I am somewhere in the middle on the Hierarchism-Egalitarianism divide. I really do not think all hierarchies are good, nor that all of them should be institutionalized, but the Egalitarian belief in a world with hierarchy sounds hallow to me. I once read a Radical Feminist who wrote, and I am paraphrasing, “All societies have their excluded and dispossessed”. What surprised me was that this was not a declaration of the past, but declaration including all past, present and future. Including thus even a society created on feminist principles.
So I do not think we can escape some hierarchy as long as we are social begins in a world of scarcity. How we manage its institutionalization is a question, and in my opinion social institutions should temper and limit it as much as possible, without the goal of eradicating it. On the Idealist-Pragmatist divide I wish to think that I am a pragmatist. I dislike absolutism in ideas, believe politics is a net good for society, and accept that compromise is the rule of the day.
Of course I have my ideal views of a perfect society, but I do not believe I can create it. Indeed I believe that even if I had the political power to pursue it the end result would not satisfy me. Finally I wish to believe I am not a Radical. Violence and the language of Violence distress me, and the thought of killing for an idea does not seem liberating or uplifting to me. I have a Machiavellian view of violence in politics and even then prefer to avoid it.
So what does that make me? A moderate? That seems like a meaningless term to a point. I am most certainly not a moderate when it comes to the Idealism-Pragmatism and Radicalism-Instrumentalism divide. I also cannot be seen as a moderate from those who are at the poles of the Hierarchism-Egalitarianism divide. From their vantage point I am as much a partisan as the people at the opposite pole. My own preference is the term politique which referred to that faction of French politics during the French Wars of Religion that wished to ensure the survival and stability of society and the state and an end to violence. Their intellectual heir was Cardinal Richelieu.
Anyway, if you survived until now, Bravo to you! Did this writing help you clarify your own politics? Or did it muddle everything more (beyond the atrocious language)? Maybe someone has already covered all of this and better than me(well actually I am sure they did, I just cannot remember their name). If you know of it do tell me.