Conservative? Still disheartened by the election? This column is for you. More specifically, it’s for you if you are the more serious kind, and were already upset about Romney getting the nomination. The kind who still agrees with Barry Goldwater that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
My aim is simple. I wish to convince you that your values are not best advanced by caring about whether or not some establishment Republican presenting himself as a conservative wins an election. In fact, it’s best that you forget both conservatism and elections altogether. Your core values are best advanced by converting to and promoting anarchism, thereby situating yourself as a part of the radical left.
This no doubt sounds absurd. Yet it is exactly the transition many have made. Among them is Karl Hess, the man who wrote that legendary Goldwater speech and whose words still burn in the hearts of many dedicated conservatives. When making the shift from author of the 1960 and 1964 Republican Party platforms to author of anarchist texts with titles like “Neighborhood Power” and “The Death of Politics,” Hess found that the first push came from “the familiar ring of what was being said there. Decentralization. The return to the people of real political power — of all power.”
As a former conservative, I know that your concerns about states’ rights and local governance are genuine, and not thinly-veiled covers for bigotry. You know better than some bureaucrat in Washington what’s best for your community. The problem is not in your zeal on these issues, but in not taking it further.
Why states’ rights instead of no states at all? Bureaucrats in Anchorage, Oklahoma City, Montgomery, or wherever your state government operates might know your community better than ones in Washington, but they don’t know it as well as you do. The need for self-determination goes all the way down.
Whatever good your state and local governments can do, your community can do better all on its own. If you need speed bumps on your street, install them. You shouldn’t have to waste time groveling before city council.
If you’re worried about how that might play out with large-scale problems, I recommend reading about the Common Ground Collective’s efforts after Hurricane Katrina. More recently the same resolve is being shown by Occupy Sandy in New York.
Some of you might think that’s all well and good, but still feel uncomfortable about the “thereby situating yourself as a part of the radical left” part. After all, you believe in free markets. Yet as odd as it may sound, that’s exactly why you ought to find common cause with the radical left.
Someone like you, who might have participated in the original anti-bailout Tea Parties, or at least sympathized with them, probably doesn’t have to be told that big government tends to help big business at the expense of everyone else.
Imagine what a world where we actually had a free market might be like. It seems at least reasonable to consider the idea that corporate power would completely collapse without the active support it gets from government.
Limousine liberals aren’t just talking down to everyone about how much we need more government out of some messiah complex (though there’s also that). They want to stay in a position where they can talk down to people.
If you really want to scare that intersection of the liberal and business elite, by the way, try supporting a local unionizing campaign like those conducted by Industrial Workers of the World. Well-to-do Democratic politicians might have an interest in pandering to rigidly bureaucratic unions that waste their members’ funds on campaign contributions. However, they probably won’t be too excited about a fighting union that sees the government as categorically opposed to its goals and gives out a pamphlet called “How to Fire Your Boss” [PDF].
I don’t expect you to go from Vice Chair of your local GOP committee to hoisting the black flag overnight because of this column. All the same, I do hope it interests you enough to start looking for more information about whatever’s keeping you from making that move.
Translations for this article:
- Spanish, Querido Conservador Estadounidense.