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Minnesota Normal | Eruditorum Press

But the thing is… I don’t think competence, good sense, politeness, etc, are inherently conservative virtues. In fact, if you know anything about the Right, the idea that they have more than their fair share of such things - let alone a monopoly - is patently ludicrous. The Right like to harp on about such things and, in their patronising and hypocritical way, to thus appropriate the presumed values of ‘ordinary people’. This kind of populism is a standard conservative tactic, as is the accompanying tendency to sneer at ‘liberal elites’ who look down on the presumed values of red-state America, or ‘middle England’ for that matter, or whatever. It’s one of the fundamental paradoxes of modern conservative thought: they push the idea of people as essentially selfish and competitive, all pursuing rational self-interest at the expense of everyone else, all striving to maximise marginal utility all over the place… and yet they also want to mythologise the great mass of the population (upon whom, of course, the maintenance and continuance and reproduction of society depends) as folksy heroes possessed of lashings of downhome wisdom, etc There is a fundamental incoherence in modern conservative discourse… (fuck, what am I saying? - there’s barely any coherence to be found anywhere in any of it!) …to do with the performative and rhetorical lip-service paid to admiration for the values of ‘ordinary people’, which clashes with the basic and foundational assumption of modern conservatism that the natural state of humanity is competition and predation, for man to feed upon man like monsters of the deep. This incoherence is not a problem for them (if they worried about consistency they wouldn’t be who they are), and is an unavoidable product of the tactical syncresis of populism and neoliberalism which is constitutive of modern conservatism… which is itself only the latest form of a paradigm for conservative thought going back centuries, possibly even millenia: the combination of appeals to the fears and self-interests of a moderately privileged layer of society in order to create a sufficient mandate for the protection of the system of privilege itself, and thus protect the people at the very apex of the hierarchy.