I think anyone who calls themselves a conservative and is serious about it in America is finding it harder and harder to support capitalism. We see time and time again how modern global capitalism has eroded things like the family, community, the small business, traditional religion, identity, and the nation state. The modern capitalist world promotes chaos instead of order whether it be creating racial unrest or supporting wars that only benefit corporate interest. Furthermore, this modern capitalist system has become authoritarian with censorship, forced vaccination and goon squads to harass or kill political opponents in some cases.
It’s not only the conservatives who find it more difficult to support this system but also the working class. The class divides have deepened in the last couple of years. The outsourcing of jobs, automation, and mass immigration has also negatively affected the working class. And let’s not forget the cutthroat competition by corporations and lobbying against small businesses which too has deeply affected the working class.
It is clear from recent events that both the conservatives and the working class are starting to feel alienated from modern liberal society. Both are treated like dirt and seen as backwards by the capitalist ruling class. Both see the importance of family and community which gives them meaning, a place to belong and a stake hold in society. By the day more and more are becoming disillusioned with the modern Neoliberal Capitalist project. Conservatives who were once the top defenders of capitalism are now becoming more critical of it like Tucker Carlson, Lauren Southern, Pedro Gonzalez, Vincent James, and Nick Fuentes. All of them are critical of capitalism and corporations for its social progressivism, outsourcing, mass immigration and free trade. Some of them have called for the breaking up of corporations and more regulation on businesses while simultaneously giving more benefits for workers and families.
Even some Marxist journalist and Political commentators are adopting more socially conservative views like Caleb Maupin, Haz and Angela Nagle. While this right-wing anti-capitalism sounds like right wing social democracy there has been more radical conservative anti-capitalists in the past like Christopher Lasch, Juan Peron, GK Chesterton, the Southern Agrarians, and the intellectuals in the Conservative Revolution in Germany. Conservatism even in America was not always fond of neoliberal capitalism like it is today in the mainstream. American Conservative intellectuals like Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk were equally concerned with the rise of big government and big businesses seeing both as destructive to tradition and even property.
However, with this article I don’t just want to talk about anti-capitalist conservativism but instead show how social conservatism and class struggle, which is the idea of workers fighting against the capitalist, go hand and hand along with both historical examples and relevance in today’s world. And to do this, we first need to understand the liberal notion of progress.
Liberal Capitalism and the Idea of Progress
What is the Liberal notion of progress? Progress in its simplest definition is that society is always improving when it comes to systems, material wealth, technology, and rights. With new technologies and rights our lives according to liberals become more easier and we become freer as individuals. Liberal rights destroy the restrictions and barriers that were once in place. Some examples of liberal rights that remove restrictions include the legalization of abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and pornography. With new technologies that are in devolvement under capitalism our lives are set to become easier, and every day tasks become more convenient when it comes to communication and getting places. New technologies also make it easier for the capitalist to sell their goods because of the internet which makes it easier for people to find their products along with things like ships and planes that allow these products to get to the consumer really quick.
While all of this sounds good to the progressives at first glance but when the rest of us delve deeper into it, we start to see problems and begin to ask ourselves if these new technologies, along with material wealth and of course more rights, are really helping our lives are getting better? If we answer no to that then we must ask ourselves is our system of government and management improving? If we answer no again then we must ask ourselves the main question “Are our are lives improving?” Allow me to show what I mean.
In the modern global liberal capitalist society, we see that many people feel more isolated and without meaning than ever before. “Why is that?” one may ask? In previous generations and times people had a strong sense of identity and community thanks to strong family ties, religion and a community that was homogenous in one form or another. These institutions not only gave people a sense of belonging and meaning but they also have served as the building blocks of a society that connects people into a common moral view, which is to say, a common set of standards and organizational structure where people would do their best live up to. Institutions like Churches also gave people a way to meet people inside their own community and discuss important matters. Other institutions like the local bar and other small enterprises also served this purpose albeit not with religious overtones.
Many of these institutions that have for so long served as the bedrock of our society and sense of community have now have rapidly declined and hollowed out. Divorces and single parent houses have been on the rise for several decades, making it impossible for children to live up to the same positive result found in 2-parent households. Religion, which once provided a strong sense of moral standards, has also declined and has been extremely hollowed out to a few superficial points like “Jesus loves everyone” while ignoring the strong moral standards and commitments that bible has instructed its believers to follow. This moral vacuum, it should be mentioned, is next to impossible to fill as no other idea, religion or moral system has enough influence to replace void with their own moral standards. Finally, the small business while still in existence has been on major decline and is now being replaced by centralized corporations who cannot produce the same commitment to the community or a better product for that matter.
The progressive liberal and capitalist worldview is that nothing is permeant. Old things will be replaced by new and better things. Now while this has some truth to it, in fact, many things don’t stay the same, however, in regards to being replaced by “better” things, the importance of identity, standards, community, family, religion, and grand narratives have not been replaced for the better. All societies are built on these concepts and when these concepts are errored so does society.
This is the main problem with modern liberalism it doesn’t value any of these other than a grand narrative, but its narrative is purely one of liberty of the individual not of morals or standards. Liberals see individualism, rights, and liberty from standards as the highest value in society. With this in mind we can now see why the liberal system has been unable and unwilling to preserve these civic institutions since they see individual as the highest value.
These same liberal individual values are what governs the capitalist economy and the usage of technology – the Individuals pursuit of wealth above all and against all else. Capitalism as a system has been known to erode the social fabric in society for its pursuit of wealth and this has been discussed by progressive thinkers like Karl Marx, Ayn Rand and Milton Freedmen and non-progressive thinkers like Christopher Lasch, Richard Weaver, Brooks Adams, Jose Antonio and Ernst Niekisch.
Capitalism like all systems ended up centralizing wealth and power. While this created immense amount of wealth and material goods. This came at the cost of the family farm at first and now modern family-owned businesses which once allowed families to flourish and have a stake hold in society are gone as well. This has caused the family struggle to survive.
While capitalist technologies have benefited many people materially, they have also been used in many negative ways that have only been beneficial to the corporate class who gain more. Things like automation and outsourcing have cost many workers their jobs. Abortion which has become more easy due advancements and the hegemony of hyper individualism has made it easier for many to walk out on raising children. Technologies like the internet which are great ways to connect with people and gain knowledge have also been instead abused with things like social media and pornography that have created whole sections of society, especially young people, to have mental health problems. And speaking of pornography, the fact of the matter is that many of the actors in the industry are forced into it and are abused along the way. Other technologies like medicines, vaccines and opioid that big pharma has produced has also caused many people inside the working class to have major health problems and even death. And in every one of these examples, the corporations were aware of these issues and yet have done very little about it.
Global corporations and capitalism also caused the erosion of nation and identity. In the 19th century and where it still exists now rural life and the small family farm provides a connection to the land along with self-reliance, community, stability of the family and a stake hold in society. This was destroyed when banks started to withhold credits from small farms that lead to many of them going out of businesses. Forcing many to migrate to the big cities. As corporations grew to be international national borders began to break down and the need for cheaper migrate labor was needed. Mass migration not only caused more competition in the work force but also greater social mistrust and alienation due to the differences between everyone.
While capitalism may have broken down many core parts that make identity like family and religion, it has also created more instability between different identities. This has often been through corporations promoting race hustlers, out of contexts stories and Critical Race Theory to steer up racial tensions around election time to serve one section of the corporate bureaucracy interest over another section. This creates even more social isolation between everyone.
Capitalism not only makes it difficult for vital institutions of society to function but it also attacks them on a social level. Capitalism like what was stated earlier puts the profit above all else which is not only a sin in many religions but it is also something that has deeply affected American culture. Greed, lust, gluttony, and other vices that were once seen as private vices are now public virtues. Those who are opposed to these vices are shamed, fired and outcasted by the capitalists and their followers. Money and the hyper sex life we now idealize in capitalist society in movies, music etc. Modern capitalism not only runs off selling necessary goods but of the selling of vices that makes them billions. The commodification of sex via porn and now prostitution in some areas have helped to destabilize the family, religion, and relations between the sexes. These things along with drugs and alcohol become things to give enough pleasure to keep people in line in global capitalist society.
While material wealth and technology has become more and more available to us, at the same time it is clear that this wealth and technology is been extremely misused by those in our capitalist and modern liberal society. We may still have more basic necessities than we had previously but due to covid 19 restrictions and the economic downturn which has caused supply chains to become disrupted, this has created labor shortages along with mass unemployment, and the small business community to be destroyed. Along with things like housing becoming harder to own and afford due to rising prices and corporations like Black Rock buying out the housing market. Many of these problems were here way before the pandemic due to many things like market crashes but Covid had managed to accelerate these problems.
I think it’s very clear that we are not progressing as a society or at least progress has not created true happiness or meaning. On one final note before I close this section off, we often hear that liberal democracy is the best system that represents the people but does it really? We see how time and time again how corporations influence the government to enact laws that only benefit corporations whether it be more immigration or keeping the war machine going. And let’s not even get started on the fact how the 2 main parties are almost the same other than one being more progressive. Both represent different sides of the corporate bureaucracy that manipulates information for their own benefits to create chaos, mistrust and manipulate the people into blaming each other and not the corporate class. While the rich get to own more and more the middle class shrinks, and poor becomes poorer.
The Class Struggle
With the international capitalist system being inherently antagonistic towards the working class, conservative values, the struggle between the corporations and everyone else is intensifying with strikes and riots for better wages and against vaccine mandates only increasing. The corporate elites have more in common with other corporate elites around the world than people in their own countries because the corporate elite are inherently rootless due to the internationalism of modern corporations and being segregated from the rest of the world in their gated communities or private islands.
The class struggle is the only outcome of this alienation, for the corporate class has proven to only care about themselves and not the people. What comes after liberalism will be from the working class who removes the corporate class from power and build their own system. The working man’s struggle and conservative struggle has once again realigned.
The Conservative Workers Struggle in the Past
This isn’t the first time the conservative and the worker’s struggle has aligned with one another. In the United States during the 1870s to the 1890s groups like the Populist Party, Knights of Labor, Greenback party, Labor Union Party, American Federation of Labor and Farmers Alliance rose in defense of the family farm, industrial workers, and other small producer against those of the banks, big businesses, and speculators. Engaging in strikes and uniting small family farms resources. all the groups called for land reform, breaking up of corporations, restrictions on immigration and currency reform. Along with advocating for populism, religion, temperance cooperatives, agrarianism, and in some cases racial solidarity between European and African workers. While many historians consider these movement to be progressive, the reality is that they were revolting against the process of capitalism centralizing not just out of their economic interest but also in the protection of their families and communities as Christopher Lasch points out in his book The True and Only Heaven.
While many of these groups were crushed by banks due to them withholding credits to them to keep their farms, they still achieved some reforms to the economy. While these groups didn’t achieve their main goals, they aren’t the only groups that resist capitalism with a socially conservative bent. In fact, other examples are the Guild Socialists of GDH Cole, the followers of French Syndicalist George Sorel, the Old Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Black Front of Germany, the National Salvation Front of Russia, the National Bolshevik Party of Russia and some like the Green Army, Narodnik’s of Russia, and the Sandinistas of Nicaragua started or participated in revolutions in their countries. While these groups have their differences what unites them is their anti-capitalism and social conservatism.
The Problem with Traditionalist Conservativism
Traditionalist conservatives like the Southern Agrarians, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and Roger Scruton are very different from the Irving Kristol and Charlie Kirk style conservatives and don’t get enough credit where its due. Many saw the importance’s of order, religion, family, property, hierarchy, community, and tradition. All of them were not only skeptical of revolution, radical change, and big government but also of corporations and big business seeing them not only a threat to property but also a threat to tradition itself. At the end of Russell Kirk’s book, The Conservative Mind, Kirk warned against the dangers of consumerism and international liberalism seeing them as a destructive force not only in America but all over the world.
Kirk like most traditionalist conservatives favored a form of agrarian localism where property is in as many hands as possible as writer for the Imaginary Conservative Allen Carlson points out. While the traditionalist Conservatives ideas are understandable and respectable, the problem with traditionalist Conservatives is that the agrarian world that they envisioned is long gone and the world that Kirk warned against is here. If we were to go back somehow, we would only start the process all over again and would contradict the traditionalist conservative’s idea against revolution or radical change. The time that Kirk, Weaver, and the others lived in was a time when it was still possible for them to return to that, but that option is now out the window due to how much of our society uses and needs technology. The traditionalist conservative lacks imagination and innovation. We cannot abandon technology rather we need to find ways for technology to be beneficial to the nation and the people rather than just corporations and bureaucrats.
The key to building the conservative workers society is to have a synthesis of technology and conservatism in the benefit of the nation. To be fair, Kirk did state in Ten Conservative Principles that conservatives should accept change, but these changes should be in step with point one of Kirks doctrine that “human nature is a constant and moral truths are permanent”, which is to say that change should be in step with the moral truths of society.
This leads into another major problem which is decentralization. Many traditionalists are for decentralized government and economy. While this would work if we were still an agrarian society, it would only be functional for a limited time because power always centralizes in all civilizations as political theorist Brooks Adams points out. I agree with traditionalist conservatives that corporate bureaucracy is a problem, but we need to have a strong state to combat this and a state that’s willing intervene in the economy when needed. If the State is small, then another power structure will eventually become more powerful than the state and control the state.
One final critique of traditionalist conservatism is its stanch opposition to radical change or revolution. As stated earlier the world Kirk and others feared is here which is destructive to all thing’s conservatives hold dear. Are we supposed to not do anything and accept defeat? Radical change is necessary as standing by will only lead to further chaos and destruction of society. We need a Revolutionary Conservative that can lead the way for the people, and not a reactionary conservative that sticks by the system or does nothing.
The Errors of Marxism
Marxism like Liberalism has the same problem with progress. Marxism believes that in a Marxist society that they will be able to overcome institutions like the family, religion, national identities, classes, private property, the past and even the state and hierarchy itself. This did not happen however, the Soviet Union at first tried to overcome all these things seeing them as backwards but as time went on these views started to change first with the family. At first soviet only saw the family as temporary, a capitalist idea and would eventually be dissolved. This idea ended up leading to the soviets making divorce and abortion to become easy but in 1926 the Soviet government started to change its position due to many of the problems at the time like unmanageable number of orphans, massive unemployment, low birth rates and lack of protection of women. The government was unable to solve these problems on its own, so they decided to reinforce the family to help provide for women and children. By 1936 the Soviet Union had completely moved away from the Marxist conception of the family encouraging people get married and have kids along with restricting abortion and divorce.
This conservative sway did not end at the family, by the 1940s during second world war the restrictions on Religion were loosened and Soviet nationalism was encouraged. The International anthem was replaced with a more national orientated anthem. Statues of pre soviet heroes and symbols where erected. Along with the Russian Language being mandatory in school outside of Russia and encouraging Russians to move outside of Russia into other non-Russian parts of the Soviet Union.
While some of this was reversed under Khrushchev after Stalin’s death, it was still not to the same extent as before the war and according to Alexander Dugin article on The Russian Conservative Revolution, many of Khrushchev policies were reversed as well under Brezhnev who even encouraged more nationalistic sentiments in the Soviet Union.
These more conservative and nationalist notions were not just learned by Marxists after coming to power but in fact way before such a takeover. For instance, when they were still going through their revolution, many Marxists relied on rural peasants and not industrial workers like Karl Marx thought. It is important to note that these peasants had more Nationalist and conservative sentiments with them, and this favoring of the peasantry and Nationalism also occurred in China, Vietnam, Cuba, Yugoslavia, and North Korea. In some cases, even religion played a role like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Nicolae Ceausescu Romania. Even if in other ways these revolutions where anti conservative most of these countries with the exception of Cuba has become more conservative and nationalistic over time and all of them have used Nationalism to help gain power.
This section isn’t to glorify these countries or movements who still have many problems like massive uncontrolled bureaucracy and extreme forms of authoritarianism but to point out that the Marxist conceptions of progress and doing away with the older institutions just doesn’t hold up. Even when it comes to things like private property and hierarchy the Marxist states where still not able to overcome and many ended up reinstating private property just with state supervision. According to political theorists James Burnham and Leon Trotsky the Soviet Union’s leadership controlled around 50 percent of the national wealth. Burnham even went farther by stating that it was not the workers who controlled the economy but bureaucrats or state managers which does have some truth to it. Some like Italian theorist Sergio Panunizio shared similar views by stating that the Soviet state was a “dictatorship over the proletarian not of the proletarian.” This doesn’t mean that the Soviet Union was capitalist and not socialist like some Marxist will say but to say that the Marxist dogmatic views of hierarchy and property doesn’t hold up either. Not all was horrible under these systems as living and working standards did improve compared to before and national identity and social norms were protected against liberal capitalism.
We should not abandon everything that Marx and Marxists have to offer. There are some good critiques of capitalism and some of their historical analyses are correct, but we need to abandon the notion of progress and their tendency to abandon the past. Finding a way past bureaucratic socialism while looking at class struggle as not a progress or purely an international force but a revolutionary nationalist and conservative force is what we need. We need a struggle that seeks to not just improve the life of working class but to protect the things we hold dear like the nation and family. Marxism needs class struggle, but class struggle does not need Marxism. It seems like the remaining Marxist states and movements are starting to realize this and have therefore gone lengths to revise Marxism if not abandoning it altogether. Sandinistas for example have moved away from Marxism towards a form of Christian Socialism and others like China are starting to become more influenced by Carl Schmitt and Confucianism.
The Problem with Fascism
Fascism has some of the same problems as communism does when it comes to progress. In its beginning many of the fascist leaders including Filippio Marinetti, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Benito Mussolini, Alceste De Ambris and others were anti-rural, anti-clerical, and anti-family. Even the actual idealism of Giovani Gentile at the time was relativist believing that the individual created his own world rather than being born into a world. What separated Fascism from Marxism is that Fascism was idealist and put greater importance on the nation rather than class.
By the 1920s, after the fascists got into power, Fascism took a complete 180 on most of its social views became more sympathetic to Catholicism and eventually signing a treaty with the Catholic Church. Along with promoting people to have families. They even went as far as allying with the monarchy. The last one being a part of their downfall. Fascism made too many compromises with the monarchy and caused its eventual downfall.
This is not the major problem of fascism however, for the main problem is that it’s outdated. The proletarian nation is an idea that’s often downplayed by modern fascist despite playing a crucial role in forming fascist ideology. The concept was invented by Italian Nationalist and Fascist theorist Enrico Corradini. The basic idea of the proletarian nation is that with its capitalist being small and mostly made up of small businesses, Italy was a poor nation that was subordinated and oppressed by Plutocratic or capitalist imperialist nations such as Britain and France. Corradini believed the only way for Italy to become a great power was to see Italy as one class that needed to unify so it can industrialize and fight against the plutocratic nations so it can become an imperial power once again. This is why Fascism adopted class collaboration, and imperialism.
This cannot be adopted in America for several reasons. America is not a small or poor country that’s dominated by other countries but a superpower that dominates other countries. The American capitalist class is not small and national but international and finally, America isn’t rural or an industrial society but a post-industrial society. The problems that Italy faced in the 1920s are not the problems America faces in the 2020s. Despite Mussolini and other fascist claiming Fascism is universal, when we look closer its very clear that it is indeed not. Fascism could not have take power in plutocratic nations like Britain and America because the material and social conditions were completely different then and even more different now.
We cannot collaborate with the ruling capitalist class because they have no interest in preserving the nation or traditions or unity because it’s not beneficial to them. Not to mention they’re just too big for even the state to control. America is not dominated by other countries but by the international capitalist class who have their headquarters here. For America to be free it must remove its current economic ruling class. The new America doesn’t have to prove itself to other countries but prove itself to its people that their jobs and communities will be preserved and improved not thrown away like it is today. The only way for Americans to get this back is to take back their country from international capitalism so that the workers and producers are in control of the economy.
There is one major similarity between the situations of United States and Italy is that they lack unity and Identity but even then, the differences still outweigh the similarities. The people of Italy had a common history, language and had institutions like the Catholic church that Italians could unify around. Not to mention Italy was becoming more united even before fascism due to ideas like Pan Italianism and Nationalists like Giuseppe Mazzini. Meanwhile America is going in the opposite direction. The Conservative workers movement in America must rebuild or construct these things for the first time. We also must remember that America is not just a multi-ethnic country like Italy but is a multi-racial country with peoples who have many different histories and don’t have a common religion or even language. The Conservative workers movement must bridge these gaps and not widen them like the modern America capitalists do today with race hustling and mass immigration or like what Fascist Italy did in 1938 when it passed the race laws which not only fractured Italy but the National Fascist Party itself.
What is to be done?
With the economic downturn, the attacks on the conservative working-class values occurs both on an economic and social level. Along with now forced vaccine mandates and attacks on parents by the FBI, this makes the conservative working class more class conscious and increasingly antagonistic towards the corporate managerial oligarchy. Like what was stated earlier in this article. We have seen a rise in the populist right in the Republican party who are now taking on more anti-capitalist stances however these are merely reformers who want to win by election. Electoral politics is a dead end that only leads to compromise with the capitalist as George Sorel points out. With this in mind terrorism is also off the table because it has always alienated the masses and cause crack down that only strengthen the system not hindering it. The class struggle must be populist and intertwined with national struggle because we are ruled by an international capitalist class that has no borders.
What needs to be done is the creating and organizing of institutions and communities that aren’t connected with capitalist or the 2-party system. These community organizations should be things like trade unions, small businesses, churches, education organizations and other community-based organizations. The objectives of these organizations are to unify the national working class into one organism and to marginalize the ruling class to point where they must concede power.
When this is achieved these institutions should reorganize the government and cast out the liberal notions of the previous society. Nationalize all major industries like natural resources, banks, and media. Then redistribute all other formerly corporate owned land back to local communities. With the nationalized industries workers should be allowed to elect mangers and representatives to help run their industry. Other major duties should be the rebuilding and protection of the community, family, and national identity. In other words, no laws should be passed that will disrupt these institutions. These will be rights not of liberties but duties that will make the nation thrive and have cohesion. This will help to achieve a sense of order in society on a social level. The class struggle is not only a struggle for worker power and national liberation but a struggle that will lead to higher society of order in life itself.
Sources and Inspirations for this post
The True and Only Heaven Progress and its Critics by Christopher Lasch
Decomposition of Marxism by George Sorel
The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham
A Problem in Civilization by Brooks Adams
The Russian Conservative Revolution by Alexander Dugin
Mussolini’s Intellectuals by James Gregor
The Conservative mind by Russell Kirk
Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk
Class Struggle by Ernst Niekisch
Technology the Devourer of Man by Ernst Niekisch