Or, as he writes elsewhere, in an essay I will probably also post / link to here,
“There is no political cause more amenable to the conservative vision than that of the environment. For it touches on the three foundational ideas of our movement: trans-generational loyalty, the priority of the local and the search for home.”
There are many reasons I love the late Sir Roger Scruton, but this is certainly a big one: he was not only one of the greatest conservative thinkers of our time – arguably the greatest – but he was also a dedicated conservationist.
In this essay, as its title suggests, he is saying something I have been saying, myself, for many years now (at least as far back as the late-1980s, early-1990s, while I was still in undergraduate college): that conservatives and conservationists should be natural allies, as the root of both – not only linguistically but philosophically – is to conserve. And I have continued in that belief ever since.
But of course, being Sir Roger, he says it much better than I ever have, or could! As he wisely notes,
“the cause of the environment is not, in itself, a left-wing cause at all. It is not about ‘liberating’ or empowering the victim, but about safeguarding resources. It is not about ‘progress’ or ‘equality’ but about conservation and equilibrium. Its following may be young and dishevelled; but that is largely because people in suits have failed to realize where their real interests, and their real values, lie… Indeed, environmentalism is the quintessential conservative cause, the most vivid instance in the world as we know it of that partnership between the dead, the living and the unborn, which Burke defended as the conservative archetype.”
Thank you, Sir Roger! And to those who see this post, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Especially any who may incorrectly believe that being conservative means rejecting our ethical and theological imperative to care for this good earth God has given us. Sir Roger shows that this is neither necessary, nor is it wise.
It is time – indeed, it is more than past time – for conservatives to re-take conservation and care for the natural environment from its captivity by the Left.
“[William] Faulkner at the time of his death was preparing a book to be called ‘The American Dream—What Happened to It?’ He had written some parts of it and it is a pure expression of the Southern and Jeffersonian tradition, more so than he probably realized. In a speech a year after the Nobel speech, Faulkner said that the noble American principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had become nothing more than an excuse for materialistic ease. The early Americans did not mean just the chance to chase happiness. By happiness they meant ‘not just pleasure [and] idleness, but peace, dignity, independence and self respect,’ things that had to be worked for and earned. ‘We knew it once, had it once … only something happened to us.’ We no longer ‘believed in liberty and freedom and independence as the old fathers in the old strong, dangerous times had meant it.'”
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and more than 600 published articles, essays and reviews.
Wilson is best known for his expertise on the life and writings of John C. Calhoun, having compiled all his papers in twenty-eight volumes. He has been the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair of the Abbeville Institute, and an adjunct faculty member of the paleo-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute.
The governor of West Virginia has invited the disaffected counties of Virginia to leave the Old Dominion and become a part of the mountain state. The loss of these counties and their “deplorables” would mark an end to what little is left of the Old Dominion’s influence in the counsels of the nation.
To be honest, I have historically had mixed feelings about the very existence of West Virginia (despite my great love for John Denver’s splendid song about her) – no offense whatsoever intended to the good people living there!
But it is, to say the least, deeply ironic that the same Federal government which refused to allow the Southern States to secede from the Union – launching a horrific, bloody war to bring them back by force – was perfectly okay with allowing a separatist rump legislature to secede what is now West Virginia from the Old Dominion.
But that’s history. And history, important (indeed, vital) as it is, is sometimes taken over by current events! Given the present situation, in which (as this essay notes)
“Governor Northam and the leadership of the misnamed Democratic Party [believe] they [are] in a position to issue diktats expanding abortion, curtailing the second amendment, and punishing those who dare to criticize them,”
I am now more than half-tempted to believe that West Virginia was actually saved by an act of Divine Providence to be – potentially – a safe haven for conservative counties now part of the Old Dominion (and perhaps my home State of Maryland, too).
Whether or not this will prove possible remains to be seen, but even the prospect is encouraging. And if it does (as, again, this essay points out),
“Virginia, which is now a microcosm of the country’s culture wars, could lead a new secession movement that could go a long way to relieving the considerable pressures along the fault lines of conflict in America.”
It is true that, as author John Devanny comments,
“West Virginia may not be acting from pure motives in encouraging the secession of Virginia counties from the Richmond Junta and into a union with West Virginia. Tax revenue, economic development, and congressional representation are at stake here. But so too are the important cultural issues.”
As he also accurately notes, America is a nation built on secession. “Secession” of settlers from their native lands, the great secession of the United Colonies from Great Britain – led to military victory by General, later President, George Washington (whose birthday today, February 22nd, is) – in the American War of Independence, and of course the attempted secession of the Confederacy from the Union, in the War Between the States (which this essay also discusses, as background).
In the mid-19th century, the great divide in this country was between North and South, and although slavery played a role, it was by no means the only factor, as Davenny recounts. Nor did the divide begin in the 19th century, nor was the South the first to consider secession – points which the dominant narrative conveniently ignores.
But now, the great divide is between the urban, mostly coastal, “elites” – what Democratic presidential hopeful and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg has openly, arrogantly, and largely erroneously called the “intelligentsia” (with its implication that all who oppose this new quasi-aristocracy are unintelligent and uneducated, the “unwashed masses” his ilk were born to dominate), and the so-called “deplorables” (e.g., those still “bitterly clinging” to God and guns – my people, in other words) in what used to be called “America’s Heartland,” but is now disparaged by the “elite” as mere “flyover country.”
The divide seems to be growing and hardening, and if something doesn’t happen to change, could end up as bitter as the divide over States’ rights, the tariff, and slavery was in the mid-1800s. And if that happens, a similarly bloody outcome is not, unfortunately, entirely inconceivable. Are we seeing a glimmer of a way out, in which States and counties realign themselves into more amenable configurations? A rebirth of authentic Federalism?
It is too early to be sure, of course. The idea that whole counties might “vote with their feet” (as well as the ballot-box) and actually switch States would have been unthinkable even a few years ago; but with the Governor of West Virginia actively inviting it, and some Virginia counties apparently considering the option, it just might be the safety value we need to keep the pressure-cooker from exploding.
Speaking personally, as much as I love Maryland, I would be very happy to join a West Virginia that protected my Second Amendment rights, did not consider that killing unborn children right up to delivery (and in the case of some radicals, possibly even after) was somehow virtuous, and in general respected those of us the “elites” deplore.
“The real way to leverage your time and make a lasting difference is exponential and generational: get married, have children, practice your faith, raise liberty-minded children, be active in the community, serve your family, homeschool your children, give them a real education, and teach them to be self-sufficient, well-read, healthy, and wise.“
The quote above is an excerpt (I’d say, the key excerpt) from a friend and fellow Christian clergyman’s Facebook post this morning. Here’s the whole thing:
“What’s the best way for young people to fight for human liberty in the west? A podcast? A blog? Go on a speaking tour? Run for office?
“But the real way to leverage your time and make a lasting difference is exponential and generational: get married, have children, practice your faith, raise liberty-minded children, be active in the community, serve your family, homeschool your children, give them a real education, and teach them to be self-sufficient, well-read, healthy, and wise.
“And raise each of your children to do the same thing and create strong families of their own.
“Living the swinging single libertarian life and/or having a biologically unfruitful relationship simply neutralizes and nullifies any long-term influence you might have had, and surrenders the field to others who are doing the hard, generational work of raising their own children to promulgate their values. The cultures that reproduce will push all the others out. And if that culture is oppressive and tyrannical, you don’t want them in the majority.
“This is akin to Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare – only in this version, the rabbit is sterile while the turtle is prolific.
“The west is dying because most young people don’t have the long view in mind, and also because young women do not understand the old adage about ‘the hand that rocks the cradle [rules the world]’ and are thus clueless about what it means to be truly empowered and strong.”
As our Eastern Orthodox brethren would say,
Now, if I could just find someone to raise a family with…! *wry smile*
Whether or not one agrees with every point in this essay (and I agree with most of them) or all the views of its author (she seems pretty based to me), it seems to me that this critique is square on, and one which our “woke” and “progressive” world (which, having largely abandoned the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has set up instead an idol of left-wing sociopolitical ideologies – the “Golden Calf” of the 21st century) needs to hear:
“Feminism can never put a stop to sex trafficking, because it cannot stop greed, loneliness, and depravity.
“Feminism can never eradicate domestic violence, because it cannot instill in men a passion to love and lead their families well.
“Feminism can never put an end to pornography, because it cannot satiate lust, addiction, and emptiness.
“Feminism can never cut down the divorce rate and improve marriages, because marriage is not about “equality,” fairness, or sameness; and all the role reversal in the world cannot change the fact that we are daughters of Eve and sons of Adam.
“Feminism can never bring women fulfillment, because true fulfillment is only found in Jesus Christ.
“Feminism can never force men to genuinely respect women by removing sexual distinction…
“Feminism exalts women but can never truly empower them; promotes women, but can never pacify the innate desire to control. It insults women and men alike by insisting that the only real difference between the sexes is physical.”
This is not to say that all women should do nothing but stay at home and raise children; some are not suited to that vocation, and some do indeed have gifts that can benefit society most effectively if expressed in the worlds of industry or academia. Furthermore, few traditional women – throughout the centuries and millennia of human history – did nothing but stay a home: they were always active in their local communities.
But that does not change the fact that motherhood is the first and greatest vocation of womankind as a whole; nor that, in the words of the great G.K. Chesterton,
N.B. The videos alluded to in the tags are found at the link, so please click through. Thank you!