Sunday, December 13, 2009

Guest editorial: talk-radio ‘conservatism’
From a friend:
Due to the amount of driving I have to do, I’ve been listening to entirely too much talk radio. Therefore I would like to thank Hannity and Limbaugh for helping me realize that the bogus “conservatism” they promulgate is worse than an empty suit, and is actually a parody of liberalism and a fairly dangerous one.

Conservatism, properly understood, is not a source of values or morals or even a definite worldview. That’s what liberalism is: a substitute religion. That’s also what American “conservatism” has tragically become. But classic, Kirkian conservatism merely seeks to preserve those things — religion, culture, tradition, family — that ARE sources of values, morals, and ways of understanding the world. It does not seek to replace them.

That is both the strength and weakness of conservatism. True conservatism is humble: it exalts and promotes that which is beyond itself; and it is strong because it doesn’t need to rely on its own resources. But conservatism is also vulnerable because, when those other resources collapse, it cannot replace them and stand alone as a political or social movement.

Furthermore — and this is important — it cannot tell you which religion is true, which code of morality is correct, which laws are just, which wars are legitimate, or anything else of great importance. At most, conservatism suggests that you give that which is long established the benefit of the doubt, or at least serious consideration. Otherwise conservatism tells you to look elsewhere for answers to those questions.

Liberalism, on the other hand, boldly exalts itself as a total system of values, a new morality, a comprehensive worldview. It poses a threat to every authoritative religion, tradition, and custom that has long guided the lives of men.

But in our day the institutions conservatism would conserve are weak and ineffective. Liberalism is therefore dominant and unchallenged. The mistake made by many who disagree with the reigning liberalism is to craft a “conservatism” that is actually a competing ideology, a totally self-contained worldview and belief system. And so we have Hannity and Limbaugh, men who have created a dangerous and false alternative to liberalism which is really nothing but another Godless ideology and gets us absolutely nowhere. Their “conservatism” is more appropriately labeled *Americanism* (which ought not be confused with genuine American patriotism, or love for the fatherland) and, in my opinion, should be publicly repudiated by Catholics.

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