But we need to look at ourselves with a bit of honesty here. If you survey those who have been anti-liberal over the past 150 years, you find a mood of settled despair that has many of the hallmarks of nihilism. One of the signs of this nihilism is a determination to find excuses not to act to shape the future but to find reasons, often very creative reasons, not to do anything but to stand on the sidelines as passive critics. There are many who seem to prefer this role of embittered "down talker" and who react with panic to those who take a more positive view.
In the meantime it is the liberals who have acted with moral conviction and who have set out to shape the future.
Being a Christian does not give immunity from the kind of nihilism I am describing. There are plenty of Christians on the non-liberal right who have fallen into a passive, despairing, merely critical and negative role.
Things will change when we ourselves change. But that means being careful not to talk ourselves into a mood of nihilistic despair. I am going to be much stricter in the comment threads from now on in challenging those who are passive defeatists and who find pleasure in "criticising from the ruins."
It is unmanly to be weak. It is pointless for us to defend sex distinctions, i.e. the reality of the principles of masculinity and femininity, and then to rest content within an unmanly political culture. A man should have the courage of his convictions and be willing to act in a creative and positive way to shape society. A man should have the strength to act with faith in the future.
The left, which does not even believe in masculinity, has been more masculine, i,e., stronger as men, than our side of politics.
I am writing this post now because I can sense the tide turning a little. The lead has been taken in France where there has been a very positive challenge to the liberal elite. But even here in the Anglosphere there seems to be a regrouping taking place amongst the theorists, one that is much more positively oriented.
I am hoping that the reign of nihilism is coming to an end.
How can we encourage a less nihilistic political culture on the non-liberal right?
- We should not accept any theories which give the initiative to others. Most conspiracy theories do this. They give all the power to organise society to some other group, with the role of the non-liberal right being to howl about it from the sidelines. Theories which attribute change to large impersonal unstoppable forces do the same thing.
- There needs to be a level of conviction in what we are doing. A hundred years ago Yeats wrote about the best lacking all conviction and the worst being full of passionate intensity. That was very insightful. Until that turns around we lose.
- We need to defeat the defeatists. At the moment it seems to be about 2 defeatists for every 1 positivist. That ratio is sufficient to set a negative tone and also needs to be turned around.
- If we are opposed to nihilism, as we claim to be, then we have to challenge the nihilism within our own ranks. People don't need a group or a movement to be a nihilist, they can do that well enough on their own. It needs to be made clear that there is no room on the non-liberal right for those who counsel despair or passivity. Nor are we here merely to adopt a posture - that of the morally superior intellectual who looks at the rest of the world with tired and curmudgeonly disdain.
We do have the power to set the tone within our own political movement. Let's set about using that power wisely to create a much healthier, and more winning, political culture.