Sunday, December 29, 2013

It won't do

English columnist Ed West wrote a piece recently about white flight. It was interesting as it highlighted research showing that liberals are just as likely to feel uncomfortable in diverse neighbourhoods as conservatives.

West then observed that liberals he knows seem to be conceding the point that mass immigration is not good for social cohesion. They are now basing their arguments for mass immigration on supposed economic benefits.

Did this rare victory make West feel glad? No, it unsettled him:
I’m conscious of the fact that the argument has shifted in the past 12-24 months, which as a conservative makes me uncomfortable because I prefer to be losing so I can complain about things

Now, I admire Ed West for being a journalist who has resisted the liberal mainstream. But this comment of his confirmed something I have long felt, namely that there are problems within the culture of conservatism that need to be overcome.

Liberals reject much of human nature, but one thing they do hold onto is the creative instinct (not an artistic instinct but a creative one) in which they wish to shape the society around them. This attracts people who are focused on trying to make things happen, rather than being the passively superior critic.

We should aim to try and take at least some of this ground from liberals - to at least contest it.

Ed West has announced that he will no longer write his Telegraph column. In his last piece he continued to promote the idea of conservatism as essentially a negative politics:
Of course we’re pessimists, we’re conservatives – that’s the whole point. Some see a glass half-full, some see a glass half-empty, we see the downfall of Western civilisation and the country going to the dogs.

It's my job as a conservative to depress you...Conservatism is depressive realism.

Conservatism may sound miserable, even misanthropic...

He is setting things up for conservatives to always lose. Liberals get to be optimists, conservatives have to make do with being miserable pessimists and depressives. Which side is going to attract the most dynamic people?

How does he justify this? He argues that the "creative thinkers" are liberals but that these thinkers in trying to create better societies are too optimistic about human nature and therefore there is a need for pessimistic conservatives to inject a dose of corrective realism:
There has always been a need for innovative, creative thinkers (and this is why the arts will always be dominated by liberals), but there will also forever be a place for the depressive realist.

Yes, he's partly right. Liberals want to apply the creative instinct in a way that is detached from most aspects of human nature, which inevitably has destructive consequences.

But it won't do to allow liberals to be the positive, creative ones who make the running, whilst conservatives are the negative, pessimistic realists who forever react to what liberals are doing.

And I am optimistic that this will change in the years ahead.


  1. That's ridiculous. For myself, I'm sick of complaining. I wish things would go our way for a change. I wish that liberals would lose and conservatives win more often than not. Ed West could be a plant by the liberals. Is that possible? Hmmm...

  2. For anyone to make light of these issues and make comments like that shows he does not grasp or believe how truly serious these issues are.

    Perhaps for him they really aren't. They're called paycheck conservatives. And they need to hang with the traitors too.

    1. I agree that his attitude is too light, but you're overly harsh at the end of your comment. I don't think the problem is that he is a paycheck conservative; it's a longstanding fault within the culture of the movement that the current generation has to overcome. And the key thing is not to cede the ground that Ed West clearly does cede in his Telegraph piece. He gives to liberals the positive, dynamic, creative role, not seeing that this is one legitimate aspect of our human nature that conservatives ought to also uphold. We would not apply this creativity in a way that is detached from the rest of human nature, as liberals so often do, but we do want to positively shape the society around us.

    2. I think you're being a little hard on West there cecilhenry. When he was blogging at The Telegraph he linked to Steve Sailer's blog on at least one occasion. It does take courage to do that in a MSM publication. Plus every time a mainstream writer does this it exposes the readership to a whole different universe of conservative thought.

  3. West seems to be channeling fellow Brit John Derbyshire's "We Are Doomed" book in that first quote.

    In any case as liberalism becomes more and more entrenched as the political status quo I believe it is natural that those with a truly creative mindset will search for an alternative as liberalism (and the political correctness that goes with it) is quite a mentally restrictive ideology.

    1. Good point. I suspect that is already happening on a small scale.

    2. The contribution of the creative class to leftist theorizing is now limited to putting a shiny gloss on the same old same platitudinous leftist cow-pats.

      "Creative people" like actors will willingly do that, because they'll willingly ply their trade for whoever can advance their careers and define what is fashionable in their favor.

      But this is work. It's got nothing to do with inspiration. Hollywood, which is the sun source of political correctness in mass culture, is rehashing and "creating" by rote. It has not been "inspired" since possibly The Lord of the Rings.

      One reason for that is, when someone does something interesting and outside the political limits, like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ nobody dares to imitate it, even for hundreds of millions of dollars. The fear is too strong. Nobody wants to be the next pariah with a dead career for even having raised the topic.

      So everybody just turns the handle of the sausage machine.

      When the radical, politically incorrect right, which is the only interesting and "sexy" right, does get some ideas off the ground, I think artists will be interested in working with them, provided they can figure out how to do so without being identified and punished. To cash in, sure, but mainly to make things fresh for once.

  4. I completely agree Mark. Your blog is a rare shining light in that you present a positive course of action, not just cursing the darkness.
    I often get frustrated with the Daily Mail, which is a powerful paper with huge reach. It spends a lot of time cursing left-liberal insanity but never launches campaigns to roll back bad stuff and effect positive change. Even the Daily Express is better, but it's far less influential. Meanwhile the Left media including the BBC campaigns constantly to push their agenda.

    1. Simon, thanks.

      The Daily Mail is going to set up an Australian online presence which will be interesting.

    2. Here's an article about the 2014 plans for The Daily Mail down under:

      Perhaps, if the newspaper is interested in Australian writers who can actually produce grammatical sentences and who could use adequate payment, Mr Richardson should consider submitting something of his own to the newspaper?

    3. Pius, thank you.

      I'm not sure the Australian version will be the same politically as the British one, as it is a joint partnership with a local media company. Still, if they're going to have a list of bloggers attached to the site as the British papers sometimes do I'd put my hand up.