PostHeaderIcon Secular Right

I have enjoyed participating on a new blog the last few days, which is worth sharing. It is called Secular Right, and the level of discourse there is outstanding. All comments are moderated, and they regularly bat away even articulate proponents of the Piously Correct Christian Right, when they try to turn interesting secular political discussions into religious arguments. Creationists comments are perfunctorily rejected by the moderators. Thus, they earn their subtitle, “Reality & Reason.” I have added the site to my blogroll, which I intend to keep short and relevant to my own activities.

A new post there this morning sparked my interest; because of a debate I have been having with Orrin at First Principles, over the definition of “conservative.” It included a link to a document called The Sharon Statement, which was meant to be a set of conservative principles hammered out by young conservatives in 1960 at Bill Buckley’s estate. It contains none of the “social issues” considered so important by the the Religious Right today, and even the inclusion of the phrase “God-given free will” barely passed (44-40). I made the following reply to the thread:

I had not seen the Sharon Statement before. Although I am personally godless, and therefore consider it superfluous, the inclusion of “God-given” does not offend me; anymore than the religious flourishes in our founding documents do. If the one word “Communism” could be replaced with “Marxism,” to subsume all of its derivatives, I would sign it today.

Were it universally agreed to be definitional of a “conservative,” I would happily stop resisting the label, and insisting that I am instead a small (L) libertarian. This is precisely what I mean when I say the litmus tests of the Politically or Piously Correct moralists have nothing to do with good government, and those of us who value individual Liberty need to hijack one of the Parties to represent our worldview.

I didn’t leave the Democrat Party in the late ’60s; they left me. I didn’t leave the Republican Party in the late ’80s; they left me. I never joined the Libertarian Party; because they are hopeless purists arguing over minutia, and the game is rigged against third parties. Color me homeless. ◄Dave►

I reckon a lot of small (L) libertarians wish the conservative movement as defined by these folks had survived. Now, I need to make sure Orrin sees this. The whole purpose of his blog is to try to come up with a unifying principle for conservatism. ◄Dave►

3 Responses to “Secular Right”

  • orrinjohnson says:

    When I was in college, I lives in a house with 4 Evangelical Christians and an observant Jew fast on his way to becoming fully Orthodox. I was the house heathen, and while I’ve always felt there was something out there, could never get into the religion thing. I was even a little self-righteous about it. I got into endless (but fascinating) debates on the subject. They worried about me going to hell, I couldn’t understand why otherwise smart people “fell” for the superstition thing. Both of us were badly mistaken.

    In the last few years I’ve re-visited the issue of faith. I’m still not particularly doctrinally religious, but I think religion in general and the Judeo-Christian tradition in particular are critical to both the philosophy of Conservatism and the selling of it to Americans.

    I think there is something greater than myself that impacts my life. And I think that Conservatism isn’t anything special without that.

    Fascism and Communism both rely on the exorcism of Western religious traditions, because without them, there is nothing sacred or special about individual liberty. Nothing. What’s special about one human life? What’s wrong with genocide if it leads to more stability and prosperity for others? What’s wrong with eugenics, forced sterilization, or giving more rights to certain people who, say, score a certain number on an IQ test?

    Without something underlying what I consider the First Principle of conservatism (that is, the inherent sovereignty of the individual), it is nothing more than a preference, like one might prefer Captain Crunch over Lucky Charms.

  • ◄Dave► says:

    Did you read The Sharon Statement, Orrin? What did you think of it in regards to your quest? ◄Dave►

  • I did. I agree with it. But I don’t know that it’s necessarily secular. Certainly WFB was not. But here’s my problem with something like the Sharon Statement, and why it doesn’t quite jive with my quest.

    Conservatism, in my view, isn’t a set of preferences or policies or values. That’s a party platform. There’s a time and a place for that, but that’s not what a unifying theory is all about.

    In physics, the formulas for gravity, the nuclear weak force, nuclear strong force, and electromagnetism are all similar. Physicists have boiled down all forces in the universe to these four fundamentals. But the real prize it to determine HOW they are related, for almost no one doubts that they are. That’s the “unified theory” I’m riffing off of in my blog’s subtitle.

    Religious people, traditionalists, national security hawks, and free marketeers are all drawn in some way to the more conservative American political party. Why? What part of the attraction do they share? What core principle do they all have in common?

    Most importantly, how do we recognize and then utilize that common denominator to strengthen that bond, and more harmoniously align the interests of these factions who (generally) seem to be on the same side of a the political fence? In other words, how do we bring the religious right and libertarians together to effectuate their seemingly disparate goals, while minimizing the conservative compromises each feel they have to make?

    The best legal arguments are ones which apply facts to a previously determined principle or rule, as opposed to ones which take an outcome desired in the “gut” and then justify it ex post. It’s all about the “why”.

    (BTW, sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been up to my eyeballs at work, and then all the holiday prep.)

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