[Originally published on June 16, 2009]
Over at Taki’s Magazine, Charles Coulombe playfully takes readers on a fast-paced romp through the unfamiliar (for most people) political spectrum of what is called “Paleoconservatism.” His article, The Old Paleos and the New, seeks to explain the contrasts and often bizarre alliances within this recently-coined label.
Kirkians, Burkeans, the descendants of the Old Right, Monarchists, Strict-Constructionists (like Birchers), devotees of Richard M. Weaver, and even certain Libertarians — all these find a home under the Paleo umbrella. Many of the leading thinkers within Paleoconservatism are Catholics, and their commitment to the Catholic-influenced political traditions of the West underlies their paleoconnery. (For a glimpse of Paleoconservatives in action, take a look at Chronicles Magazine, which has many Catholic contributors.)
As Coulombe points out, this alliance can be defined largely by what its constituents oppose: the big government, jingoism, globe-trotting war mongering, globalism, and multiculturalism embraced by the neocon. Beyond that, there is a lot of diversity within the very loose movement. Sad to say it, many who lay hold to the name appear to be craving for an identity — just as they are obsessed with labels — and are willing to embrace the most bankrupt of philosophies and call it “conservative.” I’ve even heard of some in the movement who profess to be Nietzscheans, which begs the question: what on earth are they “conserving”?
In fact, that is the big question for all “conservatives.”
Catholics should want to conserve a society which honors the rights of God first, protects the family, reflects the heavenly hierarchy that the rest of creation mirrors, and makes its citizens’ salvation more attainable than it would otherwise be. In short, the Catholic wants to preserve the rights of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, wherever and however those might be preserved. Some of the authors and movements I’ve mentioned here (and others, like the Southern Agrarians, and, more explicitly, the Distributists) share certain ideals which are conducive to the Social Reign of Our Lord. Those ideals ought to be promoted.
If we wish to conserve America, we must give her the Kingship of Christ. Only He saves: not political parties, not constitutions, not movements based on merely human wisdom — no, not even the human wisdom of the Founding Fathers. But since politics — the art and science of governing society — is necessary, let the apostle of Christ the King embrace whatever is good and noble in these various schools of thought, and scuttle whatever lacks conformity to the Church’s social teaching.
After all, we are not ideologues, but disciples.