December 21, 2019
Author: Chilton Williamson
The events surrounding the British general election on December 12 and the impeachment of President Trump last week greatly clarify the political situation in the Western so-called democratic countries–the so-called Anglosphere most of all perhaps– at the end of the first two decades of the 21st century.
Just as the interior of the modern cruise ship and ocean liner has been inverted, the public rooms placed deep in the hull and the cabins above them, so what from the late 18th century down to the second half of the 20th was called conservatism, and its representatives conservatives, is now progressivism and its adherents global progressives. Liberals and liberalism continue to exist–in fact they are growing more powerful–but they have changed their name as well as their politics and adopted new interests and concerns. Or rather, it has been changed for them by the progressives to disguise what they themselves have actually become: the new conservative establishment determined to resist any change in the status quo. But their conservatism is partial to say the least, restricted to the economic and political spheres that enrich them and extend and consolidate their dominance. Socially speaking, they remain liberals–anti-Christians committed to an aggressive secularism, intellectual, social, and moral relativists, identitarians who contradictorily assert the sameness of the sexes while inventing new ones, of the races, and of the variety of human cultures, which, with equal dishonesty, they otherwise insist are the same. The progressives’ social, moral, and intellectual relativism gives them ground (in their own minds) to claim the mantel of liberalism of an updated and improved sort. Classical liberalism’s historical commitment to free trade gives this claim a superficial plausibility they try to exploit by sailing under the flag of “neoliberalism.” The truth is rather that as profound anti-democrats and elitists, enamored of their privilege and their money and hungry for more of it, contemptuous of “ordinary” citizens belonging to the classes beneath them, they are as profoundly illiberal (if not more so) as the traditional aristocracies they have displaced or suborned.
T.S. Eliot noted as early as the 1930s that a degree from an elite university was replacing the aristocratic title of centuries past, a social trend that has since become a fixed and immoveable reality. Progressives have exploited it relentlessly and with overwhelming success for themselves, at a cost of destroying traditional education that had previously aspired to something more than professional training in the high earning professions. The result is that a graduate from Harvard, Oxford, or the Sorbonne with a degree in economics, business, or law enjoys as much or more privilege and wealth as an English duke or marquis in 19th century England and wields it just as ruthlessly, and with equal disdain. These are the haughty, the intolerably superior people in Great Britain who tried to thwart the will of the British people who voted to leave the European Union in 2016 and those in the United States who for the last three years have been scheming to overturn the results of a democratic election that put a man into the White House whom they despise as much as they do the public that voted for him. For them, the 63 million voters who pulled the over for Trump and the 52 percent who wielded the tradition pencil on a string to make their mark in box beside Leave are the “deplorable” Mrs. Bill Clinton mocked during her incompetent run for the White House. Such stupid, ignorant, uneducated, untraveled, and bigoted people have no business getting their way–ever–in a democratic election. What do they know?
Here is what they know. So far as the political and social traditions of Britain and the United States since the late 18th century are liberal ones (which is by no means all the way), the votes for Leave in the UK and Trump for president were cast by people who are liberals in the best and most honorable sense of the word. They are people of good sense, and their good sense is of both the common and the historical sort. They recognized, earlier than almost anyone else, that post-modern liberals are illiberals, in the face of whom it is left to people like themselves to carry on what is best and most valuable in the classical liberal tradition. They are the people Chesterton honored, defended, and praised. And when the progressive globalists who are working, whether or not they know it (and whether or not they care), to replace essential human realities and loyalties with imaginary or ersatz ones try to dishonor and defame them by calling them “populists,” why should they care? Last week they defeated the panjandrums of Parliament and of the European Union, while 46 weeks from now they stand an increasingly good chance of reelecting the President who speaks in their name and, so far, has won solid victories on their behalf.
“Of whom, then, shall I be afraid?”