The Lost Cause: Conservative Individualism In A Multi-Tribal Society

The American conservative movement, as the guardian of a liberal revolution, asserts that the individual should be sovereign and that the government be as limited as possible (except when conservatives invent a reason to expand it). At the same time, it adopts most of the paradigms of the American Left—such as pluralism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism—because to oppose them would be to oppose contemporary American society itself.

To take on such a task, in addition to being politically incorrect, is not deemed conservative.

A conservative does not want to unmake the existing order.

But at the same time, the existing order wants to unmake the American conservative.

The overbearing attachment to individualism is a penalty willingly accepted by him, and endorsed by enemies all too happy to let him subdivide, so that they may conquer. Championing the individual in American politics does not particularly stand out from other traditions—rhetorically at least; it is a tradition across the political spectrum. For instance, the Left uses similar language about individuals and their rights to make the case for homosexual marriage and immigration amnesty. Note that the LGBT community and immigrants have both been made into identity-based, political voting blocs of the Left. Failure to account for other interpersonal loyalties (and obligations) is what makes conservative brand of individualism so weak in the face of the left, which leverages tribal affiliations to execute its platform (and of course, enlarge the government in the process).

If one truly believes in an individualistic conservatism, why go on to endorse the management-intensive pluralism, multiculturalism, and egalitarianism of the Left? How is playing the game as an individualist or libertarian against what are explicitly tribal opponents—all the while accepting their validity and that of the government bureaucracies needed to bolster them—going to work?

Pluralism celebrates the existence of multiple identity groups within a society as ideal. Multiculturalism promotes those groups as not just an ideal configuration but as a means of governing: power is grasped through an ethnic spoils system and by playing off tribes to unmake a homogeneous political, ethnic, racial, or religious majority for the benefit of one or several minorities. Egalitarianism benchmarks “unequal” groups against that majority control group and then tries to artificially raise the former against the latter.

In all these cases, you didn’t opt into the group that you were assigned. No one set you aside and asked whether you wanted to declare individual or tribal identification; they sorted you into a tribe. Since conservatives are mostly heterosexual, native-born whites in the United States, they are part of that tribe that the Left targets as its political enemy. Individualistic conservatives attempt to sidestep this conflict altogether by declaring they don’t believe in race or that all people are equal or any number of mythological constructs. But the Left doesn’t believe that this is the case. Rather, the Left wants to make “equality” so, and the conservative is saying it is already so.

Wrong answer.

American pluralism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism, and other related paradigms are really best lumped together as multi-tribalism. You cannot pick and choose which of these conditions you want. You get all of them inside the American Empire, which is currently a sprawling multi-ethnic state where political affiliations mostly boil down to tribe–a state of affairs fueled by the demo-bureaucratic superstructure. When conservatives say they support diversity and affirmative action (or aren’t opposed to them), but that they think the individual is sovereign, they are being logically incoherent. They are giving in to tribal demands, demands which in theory ought to be invalid if the individual is sovereign.

If you concede that tribe rules in America, you do not rule. The individual is finished. Either stop endorsing the Left’s multi-tribal society, or stop clinging to individualism. You cannot accept the multi-tribal paradigm of competing interest groups based on racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual criteria, while claiming to be in favor of the individual as sovereign. You must reject them; you must have the power to reject in order to be sovereign. But most conservatives will not give up the opportunity to signal how progressive they are, which is why they have been steadily pulled left and are now losing some of their right-leaning supporters to nationalists and proto-fascists.

Individualism could only be considered conservative by the conservatives of a liberal revolution. While the Left has been incentivized by democratic systems to weaponize minority identity groups in Western society for the purpose of breaking down the majority, generally, the Left often holds the end goal of abolishing all classes and castes. In the long-run, the policies of the Left could ultimately bring about an individualistic society, where all local, familial, and tribal ties have been destroyed, and there are no longer meaningful social differences between groups of Americans–assuming their policies worked, of course, or that their goal was to create that society.

It’s actually about looting and slowly liquidating the kulaks who vote Republican, not singing kumbaya.

Actual rightists would not want to dissolve all communities and identities in the name of liberating the individual. What is being sought at the CPACs and RNCs is the completion of the French Revolution, modified to meet the post-war criteria that all minorities must be protected. However, minorities are not protected by individualism, but by their own tribalism. Which brings us back to the original problem, namely that American conservatives are blabbering about the individual as sovereign, while having nothing to say about the political reality that if anything is sovereign within the American system, it’s tribes.

And Republicans are refusing to acknowledge they have a tribe.

Minorities are probably not going to give up their tribe, for a variety of historical and economic reasons. So, why voluntarily abdicate yours? Tribes are powerful and tribes matter.

Oh, and another thing; sovereigns don’t pay taxes to a government. So much for this nonsense about being a sovereign individual. Maybe you are thinking of The Sovereign (who isn’t you).

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  1. It’s basic architecture. You have two primary concepts in architecture, form and material.

    Not all forms are suited for the same material, and certain forms fail to take advantage of a particular material’s merits. Men are the material, the system is the form. We are living in the tottering ruin of a form designed with steel in mind, whose repairs and additions have been affected with mud and thatching, and thus been allowed to descend into a DIS-repair.

    The Republic, as conceived in 1789 and again in 1865, was not designed to be built with the poor materials we have on hand today.

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

    But try telling that to an American Conservative and watch them squirm and weasel their way out of the truth staring them right in the eye.

    1. “…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams…”

      A certainty which is anathema to any and all democrats.

  2. Flavius Stilicho February 28, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

    –Precisely. Limited government requires a functioning hieracrhcical society that is self-regulating according to a common set of religious beliefs–a higher power that restricts human action. Once you tear down hierarchy, destroy social cohesiveness, and remove society’s ability to self-regulate aberrant behavior, you are left with either anarchy or a police state.

    1. We don’t really go for the idea of “limited” government around here. What do you mean by that?

      1. Flavius Stilicho March 1, 2017 at 10:45 am

        I was responding to the quote from Adams. I was simply pointing out that the system of government our founders designed cannot function in an immoral society. I do not necessarily agree in “limited government,” but if one is to have one, it needs to be supported by a strong society hierarchy that self-regulates.

        But, we are past that point. Society has degraded. It is hollow. We need to rebuild from the bottom up, which is going to require strong governmental action.

  3. The late conservative leader Paul Weyrich declared sometime in the 1990s that the culture war was over and that conservatives had lost. By that time, what was left to conserve of the old, traditional America?

    He was right – the cultural Marxists had completed their long march through America’s institutions, and one by one, and had planted their flag. The elevation of Barack Obama to the Oval Office was the exclamation point at the end of that declaration.

    Writing with coauthor William Lind just before his death in their book, “The Next Conservatism,” Weyrich and Lind imagine what a reborn and re-tasked “conservatism” might look like. They also stated flatly that no traditional conservative worthy of the name would want to preserve much of anything in present-day America.

    An inversion had occurred: the counter-culture of the 1960s – the far-left which eventually came to dominate the Democrat Party, grew up as outsiders taking on “the man,” but now they had become the man, and the former conservatives, now without a political or ideological home, had become the counter-culture.

    Weyrich and Lind then went on to note that today’s “conservatives,” so-called, are counter-revolutionaries in the sense that they are trying to roll back the damage done by a century of relentless advances by cultural Marxism. They even coined a term for the culture in which such outcasts and counter-revolutionaries would live – “retroculture” – which would seek to return to those aspects of the past worth saving or reviving, while taking advantage of worthwhile new ideas and practices.

  4. Green Eyed Jinn March 3, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    It’s not that hard: Tribes with similar goals can become allies.
    I’m fine with my tribe. I’m fine with most others’. And I’m fine with allying with those who’s interests coincides with mine; and opposing those who don’t.

  5. I still struggle with the religious theme. I am not religious, but I seem to believe in the tenets of Christianity. The first half of the 10 Commandments are not of my beliefs, but the next 5 are. I do what I believe is right because I know it is right and not what others tell me is right.

    My tribe is like minded. We will fight the good fight against those who would force us to believe that their way is the only way.

    Truth in social matters lays somewhere in between the extremes.
    Good luck and health to us that believe in freedom.

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