Paleo-Conservativism, Why We are Not Paleo-Conservatives
I am a Traditional Conservative and I write about Traditional Conservatism, but a major strain of Conservativism is Paleo-Conservatism and it's worth while pointing out what we agree on and what we do not agree on.
On most issues we are in agreement. Both agree that Tradition and custom are important, that we owe a great deal to our Western heritage, which includes both it's Pagan and Christian past. Greek/Roman and North European combined with Christian Civilization. That family is at the centre of life and that without the family being strong only tyranny can rule in it's place. We share a distrust of "big", business, Government, political parties, ideas and non-government organisations. In other words everything should be human sized, not "big" and impersonal or simply by it's size be in danger of crushing us.
We jointly oppose the "isms", Feminism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism. All of these are impersonal forces that seek to crush the little and the big. We share a belief that people are different, both as individuals and as groups, that race, ethnicity and nationality are real and they can and do make people different, maybe better, maybe worse, but different. Just as men and women are different. That religion is not something old and worn out, but something that is needed and when it vanishes people do not become rational they instead find a new "religion". One now based not on tradition and custom but on the fashion of today, no matter how silly or destructive.
We agree on a lot.
What we disagree on is Foreign policy.
Paleo-Conservatism is an American philosophy, once called isolationism. Once upon a time it made sense, America was in a real sense isolated from the realities of the outside world. But that isolation ended, for better or worse it does not exist any more. America was lucky that it ever existed. The only reason it existed was that even after the Revolution, Britain was her main trading partner and what a very jealous partner she was. The Royal Navy as much as the United States Navy keep America isolated from the political realities in the rest of the world. That wouldn't last forever and it didn't. America it'self ended it's isolation by becoming a large trading nation. Big business ended isolation before the Spanish-American war, before WWI and well before Pearl Harbor. Trade involved America in the affairs of other nations and other people. Trade still involves America in the affairs of other nations and people. Of course America is not alone in that, most countries are so involved, but America has the worlds largest economy, it's has Wall Street, it has Hollywood, it is the birthplace of Jazz, Country and Western, Rock and Roll and Hip Hop as well as producing enormous amounts of Television. It is often forgotten, but shouldn't be, that American culture leaves a very big imprint, I would argue even bigger than it's economic, political or military imprint, upon the world. The idea that America can step out of the world is very strange indeed.
Now two other countries also have a Paleo-Conservative tradition, Canada and the United Kingdom. Because Canada is so close to the United States it often picks up things that others might not notice simply because they are further away. Paleo-Conservatism is one of these things, I don't know enough about Canadian politics to say too much but I have noticed how different Canada's response to international crises are compared to Australia or New Zealand. Canada has much more of a hands off approach.
The United Kingdom also has a tradition, but it's known as "Little Englander", a little Englander was a term of contempt for British (normally English) Conservatives who didn't really like the Empire and thought Britain should have as little to do with Europe as possible. Trade if need be but apart from that keep out. To see a modern version of a little Englander you can read the newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens.
The problem with all of this is that it ignores the practical realities that exist. It is not possible to live in a world were our enemies, and everyone has enemies, just ignore you and don't trouble you. The question is when you are challenged when do you respond. Do you do it when the Nazi's come to power? Or wait until they break the Treaty of Versailles? Or the Ruhr? Or Austria? Or the Sudetenland? Or the rest of Czechoslovakia? Or Poland? Or Denmark and Norway? Or France and the Low Countries? Or Britain? Or Pearl Harbor?
Either you do something at some point or you capitulate. There is no third option, not really. Doing nothing is capitulation.
Far too often I see the option do nothing, at least it's consistent I guess. But the consequences are not mentioned because it is always supposed to be someone else's problem. There is no responsibility and little concern for outside issues. If your only opinion is, get out we should never have been there, you shouldn't be surprised that you have no influence upon events or opinions. And thats a real problem.
Traditional Conservatives believe that Foreign Affairs continue and that we should be a part of it. That Foreign relations, trade, diplomacy and military intervention all have their place. War is part of human existence and we must be prepared for it and it is nearly always better to fight in someone else's country than in our own if we have a choice about it. That we should have Allies and friends and that we should stick by them just as we expect them to stick by us. That we should have principles and that we should be prepared to defend them, even fight for them and that sometimes a situation is simply wrong and that we should be part of righting it. Even if that means war.
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