Who Gets to Be a Critic?
by Adam Naphta
Why We Should be Pessimists
Why is the right so reluctant to be pessimistic? Anyone following contemporary politics must have noticed the odd distribution of pessimism and optimism between left-liberals and right-liberals (TPUSA and their bedfellows). It is quite odd to think that conservatives of our day often defend the status quo in the face of detractors. Conservatives should not be defenders of the status quo. To steal an example from G.K. Chesterton: if our fence is in a state of disrepair, the conservative should not merely wish to conserve its present state of decay. He should fight to repaint it white over and over. It should befuddle anyone with a true conservative sensibility that the contemporary right expends so much of its energy on defense of the status quo: a blind and consumerist capitalism.
Responding to Liberal Critiques
When liberal-leftists continually attack the status quo, we should not blindly and dogmatically profess our faith to a system that is inherently anti-conservative. Anyone on the right worth their salt has internalized, and seen the legitimacy of, the leftist critique of the status quo capitalist political economy. A system which, as I mentioned before, is openly hostile to the conservative project (tradition, family, marriage, etc). A good rightist should see Marx as his greatest ally.
But that is slightly the scope of this article. I am merely proposing that the right should sometimes agree with the leftist critiques but respond that their positive project is in the wrong. Of course we know that sometimes their critiques are indeed incorrect (wage gap comes to mind) but let us not pretend they have not brought up good points against the corrosive effects of consumerist capitalism.
What then am I proposing? I propose that rightists should pivot their position in arguing. We should not blindly defend the current system against leftist attacks, we are defenders of what is eternal not what is current. However, we should not assume that just by offering good critique that the left has any say in what to change. We should respond: your critique is well and all, but what do you suppose we do and why? We should then continue by asking: what lets you be our critic?
It is easy to point to the failures of the positive project of the left. We could argue about why the egalitarian sexual utopia of the liberal left will i) fail in its own right internally, and ii) be massacred in the oncoming Chinese-Islamic onslaught. We should instead ask them why do they get to voice their critiques at all? (even if they have good critiques) If we can answer by saying they don’t, much of their legitimacy as reformers should be dissolved. He who brings the critique has, at some level, right to a voice in the reform. In the case of the liberal leftist we must prove that his ideas will not only be wrong, but that he doesn’t even have a seat at the table.
Who Has a Seat at the Table?
I will steal another example from Chesterton. Only a man’s wife can voice the criticisms that should and can change him. A random woman might find him annoying in his mannerisms, but she is not committed to him. Therefore she has no reason to provide a critique, even one that is right. The married woman is the one most lucid of her husband’s failure and will be the only one supposed to change it.
The central dis-qualifier of liberal critique is that it is not committed to America or the American project. Inherent in every critique is the assumption that a certain act has failed to live up to a standard. In our critiques we might say America has failed to be America. But in the liberal left critique, America has failed to be their envisioned utopia. They are not true patriots, and therefore do not deserve or have a voice at the table. They are women looking for a potential mate, and have made a criticism (objectively right or wrong) and must now leave the table. They are then not critics in our sense, they are merely picky.
We should be pessimists. We critique the United States because it has failed to be the United States we envision, we indeed are pessimistic about its future in the world. But we do not leave it. We are not looking for a new country. We married this one and therefore we may be as woefully pessimistic and bitter as we please. If America fails to be America, we should point it out and criticize it like a acrid married woman. If another criticizes America we should heed what she said, if it is true, but then kindly ask her to mind her own business.