Overthrowing Liberal Democracy and Restoring Conservative Democracy
The Drudge Report featured a blaring headline Sunday morning: Christian Nationalism on Rise. Yes. It is. It is on the rise because Christians have realized that nationalism is the best system for World Order because it limits power. Does anyone want unelected bureaucrats in Brussels or Washington making decisions for all peoples? Even worse would be the World Economic Forums sycophants ruling over supranational empires. Yes, nation-states are better. It is good that we know it. Combine this with Woke ideologues undermining the very nature of male-female and there is reason to return to what Made America Great—what Made the West Great.
We are all Christian Nationalists now.
We are all counterrevolutionaries.
We are all reactionaries.
We serve our neighbors by putting government right through overturning the Woke Order. But how do we do it? Yoram Hazony’s new book Conservatism: A Rediscovery maps out a path away from Liberal Democracy and toward reestablishing the Anglo-American tradition of Conservative Democracy. One way we can do this is by knowing our history and embracing Christian Nationalism.
Hazony writes, “Today, many avoid the term ‘Christian nationalist’ as if it were in some way dishonorable. But before the Second World War, that is what most Americans still were: Christian nationalists. Nor was such Christian nationalism restricted to the decades of Republican Party political dominance that ended with the Great Depression. The Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt became famous for describing himself politically as ‘a Christian and a democrat,’ and in 1942, FDR was still counting the United States among those ‘nations which still hold to the old ideals of Christianity and democracy,’” (p. 285).
And those were good ideals. Those ideals spread liberty by overcoming slavery in England and the United States (not without bloodshed) and defeated the great totalitarian threat in World War II.
Ronald Reagan was on board with this vision of America as a Christian nation.
Hazony explains, “He (Reagan) embraced the rise of a revived Christian nationalism, introduced a constitutional amendment to allow prayer to be restored to America’s public schools, and fought passionately against the liberal enthusiasm for making narcotics, pornography, and abortions available to all. In these and many other matters, Reagan reminded us of the spirit of the old Protestant republicanism,” (pp. 333-334).
This is the tradition of the West. It helped the US defeat communism through a reliance on its biblical ideals.
Hazony writes of this Western inheritance, “God and Scripture thus provide the political and moral framework that directs individuals and families, tribes and nations, toward what is true and right, while providing an overarching vision of a world of independent nations, all of them God-fearing,” (p. 219).
The Idol of Liberty
Hazony’s work illustrates the danger of making individual liberty into an idol. This is where individuals neglect other good things to pursue personal pleasures. One highlight of this is in family life. More and more people eschew getting married and having children.
Hazony writes, “At every level of society, people no longer feel a sense of responsibility to marry and raise up a new generation of the family, tribe, and nation. Marriage and children are regarded as nothing more than one possible choice within the sphere of individual freedom. Many public figures refuse even to discuss the need for marriage and children, out of fear that they will be regarded as insufficiently solicitous of the perfect freedom with which every individual is supposedly endowed,” (p. 119).
Individual liberty can turn into an idol if it becomes the sole end of government—something that Hazony highlights by quoting Irving Kristol.
“The regime that cares not at all whether the people choose evil or good is one that ‘anyone of intelligence and spirit’ will no longer find reason to support,” (p. 400). And again, “There is no inherent right to self-government if it means that such government is vicious, mean, squalid, and debased,” (p. 400).
Theologically, there are lessons here. When governments become vicious, mean, squalid, and debased they have invited foreign invaders at the least or the active intervention of God’s judgment: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.
In a real sense, a society with elites and average citizens who refuse to get married and have children is already experiencing God’s passive judgment.
Yet, some conservatives are just fine with this.
Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys of Evangelicalism
Hazony provides an overview of American Conservatism combined with all its failures. Many of its failures involve leaders. Leaders who are always willing to accept the losses in the Culture War and accommodate liberal elites.
Hazony explains, “This shocking destruction of the Anglo-American cultural inheritance has involved the suppression or stigmatization of many of the most important ideas and institutions around which life in Britain and America had been built, including God and Scripture, nation and congregation, marriage and family, man and woman, honor and loyalty, the sabbath and the sacred, among others. This has been possible, in no small part, because with each new step in this ongoing cultural revolution, self-proclaimed ‘conservatives’ have been found who were willing quickly to pronounce the battle lost and to encourage their colleagues to accept the new order and move on,” (p. 9).
Hazony is right. This is a trend we’ve noticed and warned about within evangelical Christianity. While conservative rank-and-file Christians continue fighting the Culture War, our elites retreat and urge accommodation or surrender.
What should we do?
Find new leaders. Yet, there is more that must be done. And at this point we face the choice between attempting to repair Enlightenment Liberalism or rediscover conservative democracy.
There are reasons that a conservative might pick repairing Enlightenment Liberalism—after all conservatives tend to prefer what they know to the unknown. Often the status quo is preferrable to turmoil and disorder of constitutional reforms. One of the best arguments for this comes from Francis Fukuyama.
Can Liberalism be repaired? Should it be repaired?
Fukuyama and moderating liberalism
Francis Fukuyama’s new book Liberalism and Its Discontents makes a strong case for minor tweaks to our system. This can appeal to conservatives because there is a conservative sense that big changes are dangerous. And Fukuyama trots out the statistics showing the benefits of the Enlightenment liberal project. However, he admits there are threats to liberalism from right and left.
Fukuyama writes, “Liberalism has seen its core principles pushed to extremes by advocates on both its right and left wings, to the point where those principles themselves were undermined,” (Liberalism, p. 17).
The problem is that Fukuyama is unable to grapple with the extent of the threat from the political left. He views the threat from the political right as more dangerous.
Yet even Fukuyama is a counterrevolutionary in calling for moderation of extremes to save liberalism from itself. The problem is that he fails to grapple with the challenge of Woke hegemony throughout our institutions—this hegemony includes education K-grad school, the bureaucracy, and corporations.
Is there one element of life not overrun by the Woke? Perhaps conservative churches are not yet victims; however, these institutions too are lurching toward the precipice and falling to Woke Marxism. Even the conservative Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution approving the use of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as Analytical Tools.
Are these the inevitable consequences of liberalism as Patrick Deneen details in his book? Deneen argues that liberalism is a kind of anti-culture that tears down tradition and results in an environment where people attempt to maximize their own pleasure through exercising personal liberty.
Hazony notes the decline of everything conservatives value accelerated post-World War 2. Some of this no doubt comes from the acceptance of some elements of liberalism into the synthesis necessary to fight communism—something Hazony ably analyzes in Conservatism: A Rediscovery.
It is hard to dispute the rapid decline of family and morals in the post-WW2 era. As the nuclear family replaced more traditional social connections and workers moved into suburbs—social isolation increased. (See Bowling Alone.)
Fukuyama’s extensive research into his two volumes on The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay illustrate the dangers of low trust in society. Are we witnessing the decay of trust in the US? We see decline in trust of our institutions and even the first responder heroes are now targets for questions from the left (defund the police) and from the right (questions over the failed response to the recent school shooting in Texas). Combine this with the breakdown in voluntary associations and one begins to wonder if Americans even trust their neighbors.
This type of social isolation sets the stage for all sorts of political disorders including what Fukuyama in Identity examines as the source of totalitarianism in Germany.
It might be time to ask, if all of this is the result of unrestrained liberalism—why moderate it? Why not scrap it and return to something else?
Yoram Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery is one of the most important books of our time because it forces us to face the excesses of America on a political and personal level. We must rediscover limits—reestablish constraints.
Hazony explains, “Constraint is, in fact, the key to everything productive or good that can be accomplished in life. Moreover, there can be no freedom of any kind without constraint. In fact, what we call freedoms or rights always turn out, on inspection, to be forms of disciplined constraint to which others conform so that I can possess a certain measure of freedom,” (Conservatism, p. 187).
For society to function it must impose some limits on personal freedom. This means the Woke impulse to redefine male and female must be constrained.
And isn’t this the purpose of government anyway? To foster order in a civil society by restraining excesses that arise out of the wicked thoughts of man (Romans 13, I Timothy 2:2, I Peter 2:14).
For conservatism to work, government must at some level rest upon the foundation of something certain—and what worked in the Anglo-American tradition was Scripture as a foundation.
Hazony explains why this is necessary. He writes, “Every government will uphold traditional religions such as Christianity and Judaism, or else it will substitute for them an atheistic framework such as Marxism or Enlightenment liberalism. And since we do know these things, I believe the time has come to regard the encouragement of the traditional religion (or religions) of the nation as having a place of especial importance among the responsibilities of national government. We should, in other words, regard the encouragement of religion as a distinct purpose of national government,” (pp. 276-277).
As the US has spent its time since the 1960s undermining religion and promoting every godless expression of personal liberty, who can doubt that liberalism has failed to provide us a healthy society? Since it has failed, we have two approaches available: moderating liberalism or overthrowing it and rebuilding the ancient traditions of our Republic.
Hazony’s path seems the safer and better choice than Fukuyama—if for no other reason that Fukuyama would leave the Woke in charge of everything.
At this point—it is time to embrace being called Christian Nationalists. After all, that was what all Americans were until very recently in our history.