Intellectually Responsible Politics: Read Imprimis
Many people who know that liberals by and large have more education than conservatives, are under the impression that conservatism is an unintellectual movement, or even the unintellectual side of American political life. It doesn’t help that crazy stupid conservatives have attention drawn to them in the news, while crazy stupid liberals are shielded from the public.
I’ve argued here before, and will do so again, that the reason liberals have more education is because liberal beliefs require more sophistication – not the good kind – to swallow. In other words, people have to be educated out of their basic human instincts in order to embrace modern-day liberalism. (Either that, or they must already be separated from those instincts because of a mental condition.)
I think most liberals would actually agree with some version of this argument. After all, “evolved” was for at least a decade their favorite adjective to describe people whose thought they approved of. Most liberals believe that basic human instincts comprise simply the basest urges of the physical animal: sex, hunting, dominance.
(Of course, the liberals at the top are extremely powerful, sexually indulgent, and careless with human life. But these people are not really liberals; they do not believe anything.)
What I mean by ‘basic human instincts’, by contrast, is the natural starting place of the human mind, shaped by the reality in which we have been placed and which we cannot willfully exchange for another: The reliability of the senses, the reasonable coherence of reality, the desirability of stable and prosperous living, the right to protect one’s own property, the enduring nature of the family, the inescapable and ultimately beneficial character of hierarchy, the persistent character of good and evil, and the rightness of piety.
At any rate, if you think that conservatism is inherently unintellectual, then you haven’t read the great conservative thinkers yet. From Plato to Adam Smith, from William Buckley to Phyllis Schlafly, these lights shine so brilliantly that there are simply no parallels in the ranks of liberal academic jobbers.
When you do begin to read some of these conservative intellectuals, you will instantly notice a difference between them and liberal thinkers you may be used to reading. Originality, for one thing. Conservatives widely disagree with one another, with the status quo, and with established wisdom; it’s exhilarating.
For another, conservatives use direct language in which the words they choose point quite simply and unequivocally to the thing they are talking about. If you are used to the liberal style of writing, where the most roundabout, euphemistic (or dysphemistic) equivocal and jargony words are always chosen, this can be startling. It may even feel somehow rude. Because most academics are liberals and therefore most academic writing jargony, conservative writing may feel as if it lacks some kind of intellectual bona fides.
At the same time you may feel as if you’ve just surfaced after drowning in nonsense for years.
Why do liberals use indirect language and ignore the basic laws of logical argumentation? Partly this phenomenon comes from the cultural conviction liberals feel, that language doesn’t really mean anything – they are all Humpty Dumpty from Alice Through the Looking Glass. But partly it comes from the fact that modern-day liberalism (unlike the historic liberalism of, say, a Voltaire) cannot be defend or explained in rational and philosophical terms. It is essentially a preference, not a position. Because ordinary people still believe in logic, this fact must be disguised by raw witch-hunting slogans.
For instance, I recently saw a a review of an article (which appeared, actually, in a liberal journal) arguing that transgenderism is a delusion and shouldn’t be treated as a preference, like homosexuality is. Rather than engage the arguments, the title of this review piece shouted, “Hate Speech, not Free Speech!” Of course, hate speech could be a crime so if this kind of “discourse” gains enough traction, people who try to argue rationally could soon face prison time for “hate crimes” – as they already do in Canada, England, and elsewhere.
Modern-day liberals have “moved past” so much that is foundational to rational human thought that they no longer have a philosophical basis for Reason. To the average liberal, all that surrounds us is inherently irrational, meaningless, random… and we are responsible for any order, meaning, and reason we experience. Therefore, we are responsible to endlessly reshape it into more preferred forms, as long as that reshaping can be seen as progressive.
For a liberal, reality is endlessly malleable and so no necessary, permanent conclusions can ever be arrived at. Conclusions are just illusions – as our consciousness itself probably is.
Conservatives are left to employ the rational virtues, and be ignored as backwards for doing so.
Of course, when you leave aside for a moment the question of whether reality is reasonable or not (if it isn’t, we will never know) and simply read the work of brilliantly rational people, the sanity of it all becomes instantly clear. This is the way we were made, and our minds respond to it. And it is God who has made us, not we ourselves.
That’s why everyone who wants to ease into intellectual conservatism should read Imprimis, ‘A Publication of Hillsdale College.’
Every story is relatively brief, is rational, well-informed, well-argued, and understandable. Euphemisms, dysphemisms, and equivocation are nowhere to be found. You will find out documented facts that no commercial news journal will ever put together. And you will find out just how intellectually sound conservatism can be.
My favorite stories are these:
The Left’s War on Free Speech (How people are now being semi-officially threatened, harassed, and intimidated for conservative speech.)
The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement (How the movement has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of black people since it began.)
Who Was Ty Cobb? The History We Know That’s Wrong (How a drunk, irresponsible journalist made up a story about a famous baseball player and ruined his reputation forever.)
If you don’t read this then you have no excuse ever again for portraying conservatives as stupid and conservatism as unintellectual.