The chattering classes at this moment are declaring the rebirth of conservatism in the energy on the Republican ideological right, the likelihood of major Democratic losses this fall, the success of the Republican party in defining the essentially pragmatic, centrist healthcare reform bill as a product of some left-liberal social engineering project, and on and on. The op-ed pages think in terms of this rubric; cable "news" seems incapable of seeing anything but this rubric. And the creation of a cocooned, conservative, religio-political subculture, complete with a massively lucrative publishing/broadcasting/blogging service industry, reinforces this with a cultural sledge-hammer.
Republicans like Bill Kristol see "victory" ahead, have already seen "victory" in
, and urge the intense and constant rallying cry of "Toujours l'audace!" […] Iraq
Conservatism, if it means anything, is a resistance to ideology and the world of ideas ideology represents, whether that ideology is a function of the left or the right.
In the mid-twentieth century conservatism revived itself by a profound critique of liberal hubris and rationalism, of liberals' belief that they really could transform the world through better government, of the new left's critique that the personal is political, and of the stifling of human nature, individualism and freedom that socialism and communism had wrought.
Today, Conservatism is dead.
What has taken its place is a right wing revolutionary movement to engineer a utopian society based upon bullets, bibles, banjos and big business - a Wingnutopia on Earth if you will. Wingnutopians often agitate under the guise of Conservatism. However, make no mistake about it, Wingnutopians are right wing, reactionary and (counter)revolutionary first and conservative only by convenience. As Sullivan notes, Conservatism is not a revolutionary ideology according to its founders in the Modern Period. It is the anti-thesis of revolutionary ideology. Therein lays the conflict between those who seek revolutionary change and those who seek to preserve the established order both under the banner of Conservatism.
As an example, take the near Economic Collapse of 2008. One would think taking measures to prevent economic collapse would be desirable. This would seem especially true for conservatives who are trying to preserve as much of the existing order as is possible. However to a Wingnutopian this is not true. In order to save the free market and Wingnutopian would let the market fail and be purified for its excesses – damn the consequences.
Sullivan is also correct when noticing the revolutionary similarities between the Neoconservative Bill Kristol, of the present period and Jacobin Georges Danton of the French Revolution. Both are/were leaders of their movements although Kristol has yet to face the guillotine (figuratively) even after his dalliances promoting Dan Quayle and George W Bush along with his shameless promotion of Sarah Palin.
The take away is this. Though there may still be conservatives in our midst, any conservative governing coalition has become extinct. What has replaced the former conservative governing coalition is a right wing revolutionary movement bent on re-ordering and perfecting Society. This is not a markedly conservative goal.
You have been warned.