In the July/August 2020 edition of The American Conservative, Matthew J. Peterson writes an article entitled, “America Needs a Re-Founding”. I resonate with most of it. Peterson calls out the failure of past (and contemporary) conservative attempts at fighting the culture wars. These failures have resulted in “Conservative, Inc.”, what he calls “quasi-official conservative institutions”. The election of Donald Trump, far from being a legit conservative, is a result of this. While conservatives repeatedly lick their freshly opened wounds, the Left shows no signs of backing down from its totalitarian takeover (and makeover) of the United States.
The Left, in conjunction with its own establishment, wishes to build on the radical changes it has already made, ushering in a governing philosophy of transhumanism, the further enforcement of identity politics, and government-sanctioned domination of all opposition. As in California, the Left explicitly hopes that its control over our institutions combined with immigration will lead to a one-party nation-state.
Whereas the Left promotes the abolition of man by redefining what it means to be human, and seeks to silence all nay-sayers, the conservative party must stand up and loudly proclaim truth contra the lie. They must go back to basics, even the basics of what it means to be a man and a woman, and that the difference between them cannot be trans-gressed. It means recovering the long-established notion of Natural Law. It means standing up for tradition — good tradition — which is rooted in nature and reason: “Good tradition is in accord with Nature and Reason, both understood properly in the Anglo-American tradition as compatible with Christianity and divine revelation.”
Perhaps the most documented and observable founding in human history, ours is a regime based on both the protection of natural rights–arising from the contours of human nature, not government sanction or positive law–and the promotion of the common good. It asserted that certain truths, the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, could be known by men of good will who understand Nature and Reason, and that these truths ought to shape our political structures and our political and cultural life.
We know of America’s founding as being that period of time between 1774 and 1789. What far fewer Americans know, however, is this was America’s first founding. In truth, America had a second founding that took place between 1890-1920. This period is known as the Progressive Era. The PE was rooted in a Hegelian philosophy of history, which promotes an evolutionary concept of man and history — man is progressing towards a perfect state, a sort of utopia. This was also embraced by President Woodrow Wilson and the philosopher John Dewey. These progressives held to a philosophy fundamentally different from that of our Founding Fathers. For instance, instead of viewing rights as being rooted in nature and nature’s God, they believed rights are the result of the collective endeavor. This is what Mary Follett, another progressive of this era, referred to as the “group principle” which defines the “group-rights” in her book, The New State. She explicitly said that our concern should not be with protecting rights, but with creating them. Of course, this begs the question: “Who should be entrusted with creating these rights?”. Her answer was, “the state is such a group.” The irony, of course, is in the dystopia they end up producing as they attempt their utopian vision. What else can you expect from an ideology fundamentally at odds with reality — nature and nature’s God?
Peterson notes the lack of honest education in this area of America’s founding, and of its resulting culture war:
But the understanding that formed America is no longer taught to Americans, and to the extent our ruling class is familiar with it at all, it rabidly opposes these ideas. Further, the founding generations did not think that republicanism could survive without Christianity and virtue. For too long, the ‘culture war’ was relegated to the ‘Religious Right.’ It is now an existential civic question.
The two things our Founders thought requisite for the survival of our nation — Christianity and virtue — are the very things being forced to the margins. It’s no wonder our nation is in such dire straits. Chip away at the foundation of a good society and the entire structure — institutions and all — starts to crumble.
Peterson remarks, “The Left re-founded America. We are in need of statesmanship of the highest order to re-found it again.” His solution for fixing the problem is summed up as follows:
Conservatism must not merely make arguments, and reshape a bold new platform of policy–it must act on them, wielding ‘regime-level’ power in the service of good political order to do so–or it will fail. We must lead a counter-revolution. Since this is not, by definition, ‘conservative,’ American conservatism may no longer be called ‘conservatism’ if it chooses to rise to the occasion.
These words obviously require elaboration. For instance, what exactly does he mean by “wielding ‘regime-level’ power in the service of good political order”? I’m not exactly sure. I may or may not agree with it, depending on what he has in mind. I am, however, troubled by his referring to this as a “counter-revolution”. Based on what he has said earlier in his article, especially the portions I have quoted, I don’t think this term properly represents his call to action. If by counter-revolution he simply means those conservatives in political power actually using their power within legal bounds to enact change for the good, then I don’t see this as a counter-revolution, but as a reformation of sorts — a political reformation. If what he’s doing is calling on conservatives to make a return to Natural Law and reason (or nature and nature’s God), not only at the household level, but especially at the governmental level, then I again don’t see this as a counter-revolution. First of all, it would be an endeavor to conserve the values upon which our nation was founded; but more than that, it would be a call for wisdom to penetrate all spheres of life.
What we need is a political reformation. We need conservative public officials to stand up and hold their counterparts accountable for their unnatural (against nature), ungodly, and unethical decisions. We need to stop allowing the secularists to define the terms. They no longer get to shame conservatives with slanderous tactics. While we must shame them, we must not utilize their devilish tactics. Instead, we must shame them with the truth, thereby exposing their lies (for all to see). We must raise up the next generation to be a godly generation, rooted in truth and wisdom. We must prepare some of them to take up offices so as to lead our nation in truth and wisdom. We must strive, as challenging as it may be, to take back our educational system from the grips of the Administrative State. We must remember, too, that education starts in the home. In other words, we must fight, and fight courageously, with the belt of truth about our waste. By definition, this is the conservative thing to do.