UPDATED: John Derbyshire: “Dissidents and Doom”
John Derbyshire, writer for National Review and author of We Are Doomed spoke last night to the Providence College Republicans, displaying his erudition and low-key humor on the topic of the dissident personality.
The upshot of Mr. Derbyshire’s lecture had a relevance that I didn’t expect to Rhode Island’s current predicament. He spoke of “a dissident scene full of petty squabbles,” which has certainly applied to Rhode Island’s center-right reform movement at times over the past few years.
One question that would be worth further exploration arises from his very conservative suggestion that dissidents should have a due respect for the gods and pieties of the tribe, so to speak. That strikes me as applying a bit askew to Rhode Island and to the United States generally. Broadly speaking, our society is pretty sharply divided between two tribes, which has the effect of giving both a reasonable claim to dissidence (although conservatives have the better). The pieties of one are the blasphemes of the other.
Readers won’t be surprised that my opinion is that dissidents of the Left are mainly conforming to a carefully woven groupthink that presumes itself to be the default truth for the culture. Still, resolving the conflict of opposing factions that each believes itself to be the righteous revolution founded in the original principles of our society will be quite a project… assuming the United States can survive it.
The title of Mr. Derbyshire’s book gives some indication of what his opinion might be on that last count.
Mr. Derbyshire has provided the text of his speech on his personal Web site.
I would disagree that the Left believes it is “founded in the original principles of our society”. On the contrary, they have proclaimed since Woodrow Wilson that what they have is better than the obsolete, evil principles of the original American society. Both Wilson and T. Roosevelt blatantly described their contempt for the Constitution.
Therein lies part of the moral measurement. The Left is a nihilist movement that wants our society to commit suicide, while the Right wants to restore the carefully reasoned, enlightened principles that made this country so successful.
“I would disagree that the Left believes it is “founded in the original principles of our society”.”
I suppose any factoid can be stretched to be an “original principle”, it seems hard to detect any thought toward Left/Socialism among the founding fathers. I think the original idea was to protect “The Rights of Man”, creating new ones was certainly at some distant remove.
I am not sure the idea was truly encapsulated prior to Marx/Lenin. 50, or so, years after the founding there arose some “utopian” idealism, such as the Oneida Colony. I think the closest thing the founders could have imagined was the “benevolent monarchy”, although parliamentary government had gained substantial ground.
Conservatives are dissidents? Wow……just wow.