The “troll” accusation is fair enough.
By Stuart Sudekum
One of the problems with the so called “alt right” is that it is founded on the “left/right” political paradigm and assumes an argumentative political stance as its starting point. Though conservatism as a worldview is ultimately tied to the subject of political philosophy, I would generally see the pet causes of conservative politicians and political “activists” (to use the term generously) as accidental rather than essential properties of the conservative ethos. The term conservatism—in the broadest sense of the word—can be used to encompass any social, cultural, or moral position that regards the truths which we live by as in some way fixed. If there is any unifying praxis that results from this viewpoint, it is criticism of the notion of progress, and thus modernism.
The Amish, followers of various monastic traditions, and traditional Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass could all be seen as people embodying this ideal in their religious life. People of First Nations ancestry who choose to live by their old customs in spite of the fact that modern options are now readily accessible to them would be a good example of how this ideology can extend to the way people prepare food, wear their clothes, or earn their living. In education, it might mean an adherence to a particular canon or method of teaching, a skepticism toward modern or post-modern critical approaches, and a general tendency to create an intellectual milieu that resists commenting on issues of the day in favor of perennial truths that stand outside of time.
Given that we acknowledge the “right” end of the political spectrum as synonymous with applying these kind of beliefs to social organization and civic involvement, the reason why modern people would feel the need to seek an alternative to today’s establishment “conservatism” is should be obvious. The conservative establishment has clearly become the vehicle of a self-interested oligarchy with little interest in preserving any of the social or moral standards upon which conservatives have historically founded their vision for good governance. In the United States especially, limitation of government power to intervene in the life of the average citizen (arguably the most basic expression of conservative governance, which seeks to maintain stability rather than create disruption) has been almost laughably flaunted by supposed “conservatives” who use the idea of moral rectitude to topple social orders and governments.
Though people in rural areas are generally more tied to traditional ways of living and therefore more conservative, the wealthy politicians that supposedly represent these people have utterly abused their trust by shifting the economy toward big business on the absurd premise that rampant consumer capitalism (which mass produces low-quality goods in terrible work conditions) is somehow an option which allows more “freedom” than the oppressive, slave-driving mentality of communism (which mass produces low-quality goods in terrible work conditions). Clearly, this is little more than clever wordplay by the ruling elite who would be in power in either economic system.
The conservative ideal of personal liberty extrapolated into an economic paradigm would obviously be better reflected by hyper-local economy that we see exemplified by people like Trappist monks who work for a living and produce high-quality goods that drive trade in the immediate area surrounding the place where they live. Clearly, people who want to pursue a conservative way of life in America are in desperate need of an alternative to the Republican Party. Unfortunately, wealthy globalist businessman and Republican Party member Donald Trump has convinced a great number of people that he is the only viable alternative to the conservative establishment in America.
What was once a small undercurrent of well-read, philosophically minded people who stayed outside of mainstream politics has been hi-jacked and rebranded as the “alt right,” because the correctness of its criticisms make it useful to anyone perceptive enough to notice that the establishment oligarchy is actually very weak, and power hungry enough to try to become the new ruling elite. For powerless people, the idea that they could have a slice of this pie when the new elite divides it up is very appealing. However, it is my opinion that they are very foolish to suppose that they will get a slice at all.
So what are the real alternatives? Besides Phalanx, Angel Millar also runs People of Shambhala, which is similarly great. Keith Preston, though he is a bit of a troll who has fun making sport of both the left and the right, runs a blog called Attack the System with a very real commitment to creating a dialog between people who have very little in common politically or philosophically except that they are outsiders willing to band together under a broadly anarchist banner against globalism and imperialism, with the goal of breaking down the United States and other large governments into small, regional micronations better aligned with the myriad ways of life of people who actually live there. First Things is—in my opinion—one of the only balanced sites on the internet dealing with the subject of actual religious conservatism in a spiritually and intellectually credible way. The Imaginative Conservative uses very much the same approach as First Things, but from a social and cultural direction, rather than a specifically religious one, and they are especially good at spotlighting guys like Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who made valuable creative contributions to the world that anyone, conservative or not, can understand and identify with.
Overall, the best thing about conservatism today is that it is not married to a terrible idea running rampant on the modern left: that there is a single valid moral approach, and that it must be enforced unquestioningly, even at the expense of shutting down discourse or otherwise restricting the liberty of people who do not share it. The worst thing is that the loss of cultural and ethnic identity created by globalization (largely the fault of the present conservative establishment!) has resulted in an unproductive spate of ethnic and religious fear mongering, which is only likely to result in the loss of more treasures of world heritage. It is common sense that diversity means that a multitude of ethnic and religious identities will be preserved in stable communities where they can flourish without interference. Integration in the sense of ethnic erasure is obviously founded on the faulty premise that ethnicity is a negative quality, and that we must be “all the same inside” because we cannot actually respect people who are fundamentally different from ourselves.
This is wrong, and I would argue that any belief system that does not accept these basic truths cannot be considered genuinely conservative, because it undermines the essential assumption that what was true yesterday is true today and will still be true tomorrow, and that the unique synthesis of inherited knowledge, kinship structures, and daily practices that makes up each individual people on this planet can still be valid on that people’s own terms today, as well as in the future. My all-time favorite book on this line of thought is Josef Pieper’s “Tradition: Concept and Claim.” I would also recommend the writings of René Guénon, whose followers are refreshingly free of anti-Muslim bias, because Guénon himself eventually converted to Islam. He also had an interest in Taoism with which I think you would personally identify.