The liberal team has done better than our team over a long period of time. Therefore, we have to carefully consider where they have managed to get an advantage over us, so that we can learn to improve our game.
So how have liberals managed to do better? There are a range of answers that have been given to this question.
1. Class interests
It helps if your political philosophy serves the class interests of an influential and wealthy class of people in society.
Historically, liberalism had support from the Whig aristocracy (who wanted to contain royal power) and then from the rising commercial classes.
Traditionalists did have some support from the landed gentry, but the power of the landowning classes in general (in the UK) was broken by the early 1900s.
The situation now is that right-liberals tend to get support from business associations, whilst left-liberals get it from trade unions.
What could traditionalists have done to have preserved a base of support? One possible opportunity might have been to appeal to local manufacturers and manufacturing workers whose position was undermined by globalisation.
2. An institutional base
It was once the case that universities and the established churches were considered conservative institutions. But, as we know, they were captured by the left.
Without an institutional base it becomes much more difficult to assert influence in society. The lesson here is that institutions matter and have to be defended.
Traditionalists have to now consider either retaking existing institutions or building new ones.
3. The intellectual underlay
The way that Western intellectual history has developed has aided liberalism. Some of the commonly observed problems include:
i) Nominalism. A view that the world is made up of a collection of individual substances; there are no essences that give a common nature to classes of things.
ii) Scepticism. A view which doubts our capacity to obtain reliable knowledge of external reality.
iii) Scientism. The view that the methods employed in the natural sciences are the only authoritative way to gain knowledge of the world.
We have to take philosophy seriously and develop our own views in areas such as epistemology (theories of knowledge).
4. Moral persuasion
Liberals have learned to present their philosophy in highly moral terms, based on a certain understanding of freedom, equality and justice.
It has proved to be influential not just with those who are intellectual enough to wish to follow moral principles consistently, but also with those who wish emotionally to attach themselves to a moral cause.
What can we do? There are two ways of recovering ground here. The first is to criticise liberal morality, by bringing it back to its political starting points, by showing its internal inconsistencies and by demonstrating its destructive consequences. The second it to assert a morality of our own. We can do this by insisting on our own understanding of freedom, equality and justice and also by invoking other moral qualities, such as loyalty and patriotism.
We're not as good at this as we might be; we tend not to speak with moral conviction.
5. Creative spirit
Liberals often assume, as a starting point, a blank slate individual. So it's easy for us to think that we have a better understanding than liberals of human nature.
But what liberals have recognised about human nature is the existence of a core instinct to express a creative spirit in the world, for instance, by shaping the world around us and by making something of ourselves.
By attracting people in whom this creative spirit is strong, liberals have an advantage, as these are the kinds of people who are most likely to act in the world to bring about changes in society and within the human personality.
How can we make ground here? I think we have to emphasise our own understanding of a telos (a purpose or end) that individuals and communities seek to fulfil in life. We can't offer as open-ended a realm of creative spirit as liberals, but we can offer one that has greater depth and meaning, and that requires all our attributes of intellect, character, physique and spirit to carry through. We can return to an ideal of a public spirited man, one who seeks not only to defend what is best in his society and tradition, but to add to it creatively. We can make the term "progress" our own so that it has the sense of a creative effort to push forward and improve our own cultures and traditions.
Above all, we need to learn to speak and write in a way which expresses our own instinct to act creatively in the world. We must do this better than our liberal opponents.