Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – I would like to draw the distinction between what basically today is entertainment that is labeled and branded as intellectual thought. It’s not intellectual thought. It is entertainment that may be amenable and may appeal to people who believe themselves to be conservative, but it is not an intellectual and well thought out and principled conservatism, not of the order of the Russell Kirks and this gentleman I was reading, of the great Mel Bradford, guys how just put enormous amounts of thought and research and reflection into it. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Abel is in Virginia next up. Abel, how you doing?
Caller Abel: Hey, how’s it going? Good morning. Two segments ago, the end of your segment, you were talking about people stamping conservatism on their products, their books, their media. It started to sound a little bit like you were, I don’t know, bitter. Let me preface this with I love your show. I love all you guys on Patriot. I listen to you morning to night. I used to work in the independent film business for a little while. It seemed like all the people that were staunchly independent only were bitter at bigger pictures. It just seems like that’s not a very good attitude to have. I’m not judging you for it, I just —
Mike: So in other words, I’m shallow and bitter and angry and seeking retribution through the airwaves by what I said.
Caller Abel: No, I don’t think —
Mike: You’re asking if there is a justification for what I said or am I just mean-spirited and hateful to those that have more money than I have in other words?
Caller Abel: That’s not what I said at all.
Mike: Oh, okay. What did you say?
Caller Abel: Quite frankly, I’d like you to clarify what you meant by it.
Mike: I’ve clarified it about 165 million times, but I’m happy to do so once again. I will refer to George Panichas and the piece that I alluded to earlier today. This is what I mean: “Conservatism and the Life of the Spirit.” I call them decepticons; he calls them sham conservatives. Bear in mind, this is written at the height of the Reagan revolution in 1986 and published in a great magazine that is no longer published called Modern Age. Here you go:
Far from being arrested or deterred, the “age of liberalism” has actually achieved an insidious triumph as its sophistic proclivities infiltrate every aspect of human thought and activity. This destructive process signals the advance of what Michael Polanyi calls a “positivistic empiricism,” that is, “[the] idea of unlimited progress, intensified to perfectionism, [which] has combined with our sharpened skepticism to produce the perilous state of the modern mind.” We can now discern a withering totalization of this advance as it absorbs and shapes both political and intellectual thought and opinion. Even traditionalist conservatism retreats in front of this peril, in fearful awe of its might. The paths of this retreat are strewn with surrenders, backslidings, defeats, and losses of unfathomable consequences. Not only a principled conservatism but also a spiritual conservatism has been debased. What we find in alarming amplitude is the gradual emergence of a conservatism susceptible to the centrifugal tendencies and aims that Polanyi designates.
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Sham conservatism is a symptom and portent of the spiritual desuetude that permeates American society and culture. A tinsel, opportunistic, and hedonistic conservatism, then, is what we see around us, unable to affirm the standards and certitudes that must be resolutely affirmed if an authentic ethos-centered conservatism is to survive. This survival will not occur whatever the immediate accomplishments of, say, the “moral majority” and the “new right,” which merely pursue “pragmatic significations” residing in the liberals’ standard baggage of “new deals” and “new frontiers.” A conservatism that lacks “ontological referents” is as spiritually barren as the liberalism it opposes. Endless “policy reviews” and “policy studies,” as these thrive and govern in some conservative quarters, in the end lack a basic apprehension of the “permanent things” and are responsive to the empirical ambitions that reflect the tastes and power-drives of a technologico-Benthamite world. A sham conservatism merely temporalizes and trivializes and dissimulates spiritual laws and truths. Such a conservatism belongs almost exclusively to the world and is impervious to the primacy of God as the measure of the soul. This primacy should constitute conservatism’s ground of being; should define and inform a true “metaphysical community”—at once covenantal and sacramental. That community is certainly not one that we observe in our body politic or in the realpolitik of contemporary conservative entelechies. A chic politicized conservatism, as we now view it, fails to acknowledge spiritual needs that coalesce in God and soul.
Mike: So, no, I may be bitter that the term conservative has been co-opted and is now used in such a vulgar, commercial manner. Yeah, I’m bitter about that; I don’t like it.
Caller Abel: Okay. I misunderstood you and I apologize for that.
Mike: I’m glad you called. If you thought it, I guarantee you that there were others that thought it and think it. My aim, Abel, is not to belittle or to undermine whatever it is that anyone else is doing in business. I wish them well and much continued success. I would like to draw the distinction between what basically today is entertainment that is labeled and branded as intellectual thought. It’s not intellectual thought. It is entertainment that may be amenable and may appeal to people who believe themselves to be conservative, but it is not an intellectual and well thought out and principled conservatism, not of the order of the Russell Kirks and this gentleman I was reading, of the great Mel Bradford, guys how just put enormous amounts of thought and research and reflection into it. When you hear me say that, I’m talking about how we now have a basic part of our survival that is now no longer a part of survival. It is now part of a commercial enterprise, and there are many people that are wildly successful at it. To me, it is just not right to have it labeled as something that’s going to — if you’re wondering whether or not this is going to produce the results you desire, all one has to do is look at the rise in the popularity of the term conservative, and then compare that to the size of the gargantuan State. Then come back and tell me whether or not the rise of the term conservatism and its use and its alleged adherence has stopped the State. It hasn’t. Not only has it not stopped the State, it’s gone along with it. It’s in bed with it now. That’s what I mean. How’s that?
Caller Abel: I’ve been having the same argument with my grandfather for quite some time while he was telling me about how good Romney was going to be for the country. It’s that kind of thing right there that I’ve been quite bitter towards myself. I didn’t realize what words you were using and how you were using them, I guess. You’re right. I’ve been having the same argument. Conservative doesn’t mean what people are using it as. If you’re calling Romney conservative, then I’m certainly not conservative in that sense.
Mike: Again, I think that conservative and conservatism is a way of life. It is a life lived. As Barbara Elliott, my dear friend Barbara, my buddy Winston’s wife, she has to be one of the most saintly and wonderful thinkers in the American canon today. She writes about it at The Imaginative Conservative. I think Winston posted this yesterday. It’s an older piece of hers. Without the spiritual part of it, the spiritual part being the creed and credo, there is no conservatism.
End Mike Church Show Transcript