Proper Western conservatism (commonly called “traditionalist conservatism”) is concerned with the social order, that is, the sum total of society’s laws, regulations, rules, customs and, more generally, the elements that give rise to society’s structure. Since America and the other Western societies are fundamentally disordered as a result of the victory of the Left in the culture war, proper conservatism tries to preserve the remaining vestiges of a properly-ordered society and to expand the properly-ordered realm. Conservatives, then, must understand how societies function.
The vast majority of people, including even the vast majority of the well-educated, believe that the continuing existence and basic functioning of any society is a cosmic given, as unchangeable as the rotation of the Earth. That’s one of the main reasons why liberal “social experiments” are carried out so frequently: John Q. Public thinks society will continue to have the basic character that it has right now regardless of how we tinker with it. In reality, however, societies preserve their existence and maintain their character only through continual deliberate action. And this action does not occur spontaneously. Its ultimate source is the system of ideas believed to be true by the society’s leadership class.
But ideas do not automatically translate themselves into concrete action. Effective action requires organization, both in the abstract sense of forming an order to the activities, and in the concrete sense of creating and maintaining organizations to carry on the work.
The concrete work of maintaining America’s current—liberal—order falls to the myriads of specific organizations dedicated to liberalism: the government bureaucracies, the colleges and universities, the news and entertainment media, the legal and bureaucratic organizations such as the ACLU, MALDEF and Greenpeace, and so on.
And observe that these organizations form a gigantic, de facto, church.
For what is a church other than an organization dedicated to three basic goals: promoting a body of doctrine, directing people to concrete action, and conducting worship? And do not the liberal organizations do all three?
Certainly liberal organizations are dedicated to promoting their doctrines; this is the most obvious manifestation of the “liberal bias” that conservatives are right to notice and warn about. And certainly liberal organizations such as the ACLU are dedicated to directing people to concrete action in support of liberalism: liberal advocacy groups are incessantly working to promote liberalism and to punish manifestations of conservatism.
But liberalism also involves worship, which is basically the public ascription of worth to that which is worshipped. What, for example is “celebrating diversity” if not the worship of the liberal god of diversity? In worship, man’s attention is drawn away from the immediate, the transient and the selfish, and toward the things that are honorable, permanent and holy. Worship lifts man by orienting him toward that which is most important and which he needs in order to live well. Worship also instills in man an emotional, not just intellectual, love for the good, a love that is necessary if he is to persevere in the good. It is by being fortified through regular worship that man can find the strength to live as he ought, and the liberals understand this, even if only intuitively. Thus liberal artists are constantly creating works of art that worship liberal persons, deeds and ideas, and liberal educators are incessantly catechizing their charges in the doctrines of liberalism and exhorting them to emulate the liberal saints.
All of this liberal religious activity is necessary in order to maintain the liberal society that America has become. The fact that this society is unsustainable in the long term because it is based on lies is relevant to this discussion only in the sense that we must prepare for the day when liberalism no longer rules. Right now, liberalism rules, and if not for the tireless efforts of the Church of Liberalism, the Left would lose its hold on America almost instantly. Even an illegitimate form of society requires great effort to maintain.
All of which raises an important question: Where is the Church of Conservatism? Certainly elements of it exist, and this church does significant work in ensuring that America still functions adequately. After all, we are not a “failed state:” In most areas the people are relatively safe and can maintain a reasonably comfortable existence. And there are still people and organizations teaching a proper doctrine of how society ought to be ordered, directing people to proper action, and worshipping the true and living God. But this conservatism is, de facto, an underground movement
If, then, we are serious about reestablishing a properly-ordered America, we must give serious thought to a “Church of Conservatism,” that is, concrete organizations that will teach doctrine, direct men’s actions, and properly worship not only God but also (in the sense of “ascribe worth to”) the properly-ordered society. How can we preserve (or restore) a properly-ordered America if we don’t understand and love her? And how can we understand and love her if we are not taught to? And how can we be taught if no organization exists to teach us?
The Christian churches do some of the work that will need to be done, but they are quite inadequate. Aside from the fact that many of them (possible a majority) are supporters of the liberal status quo, most churches focus on the spiritual order, and are content only to teach a few minor clichés about the secular social order. Someone, sooner or later, will have to do the work of properly ordering American society. The formation of organizations for this purpose, or at least for aiming men toward this purpose, should be one of our key goals as traditionalist conservatives.