But, having spent 3 years reading and writing about fascism, I will say I have become more libertarian and vastly more sympathetic to the freedom side of the freedom-virtue fusionist coin (though few would have ever confused me for a virtucrat). What may sound libertarian in my response to things Crunchy is my opposition the what scholars of fascism refer to as the sacralization of politics (note: students of Voegelin (like Caleb) will understand this doesn’t merely refer to theocratic enterprises, but Progressive enterprises generally). ~Jonah “Lie for a Just Cause” Goldberg, Crunchy Cons
Maistre famously said: “If there you wish to conserve all, consecrate all.” Does this mean that Maistre and conservatives who tend to agree with this statement want to “replace” religion with politics, as Goldberg suggests is the danger with crunchy conservatism? Obviously not. Maistre’s consecrated order has nothing to do with the created, political transcendence championed by fascists with their political liturgy and secular religion, and everything to do with joining all of man’s life to a sacred order (literally, a hierarchy) that connects God and man and shapes the life of men in the broader world. The ecclesiastical hierarchy, obviously, is the central and tremendously more important hierarchy that join God and man, but that God has a claim on our entire life is a complement to this.
Consecrated order presupposes that, far from politics replacing religion, the claims of the Transcendent should take primacy in the affairs of the world. But the Transcendent in no way “replaces” the immanent, nor does it “substitute” for the world. To use theological language, the Uncreated does not replace the created, but will raise the created up to itself by God’s grace and energy to its perfection, but only if the creature turns back to the Uncreated. In our lives, we may freely open ourselves to God’s drawing us to Himself, and if we do this God will transform us and how we live. Conservatives should oppose man-made metastasis, not divinely-gifted metamorphosis.
If the two “spheres” interact, as Goldberg allows, one of two things will happen: either the City of God will increase, or the City of Man will. Without any presumption or expectation that here below the City of Man will ever be completely transformed, which is a heretical fantasy, it seems patently obvious that a conservative who “emphasises” the transcendent should want the eternal verities of the City of God to advance and transform as many people as possible. The distinction between the two Cities was intended as a means to explain where the ultimate and proper loyalty of Christians lay. It is not, as it seems to be as it is used here, an excuse for people to focus most of their attention on the affairs of the City of Man and have religion do as relatively little “informing” of values as humanly possible.
Maistre wanted to exalt established institutions and shore up their authority against the damage inflicted by the Revolution, and we could argue over whether that was the right way to apply this idea of consecrated order, but what does not pass muster is any claim that this idea–which I think is reflected everywhere in Rod’s book in his references to the sacramentality in daily life–has something to do with either exalting something merely immanent to the level of transcendence (as in fascism) or in simply replacing any concept of transcendence with the chiliastic hope of realising complete perfection here below (as in most modern forms of gnosticism as Voegelin described it). Immanentist ideologies are as far removed from the crunchies as East is from West. But this is Goldberg’s none-too-subtle attempt to align cruncy conservatism with the f-word.
The whole of Rod’s book is filled with examples of exactly what Goldberg pretends (and I do mean pretends) to accept: that religion should inform “values” and “values” should inform politics. Nowhere does a single person in the book, so far as I noticed, make his politics the priority, and almost all of them “inform” their “values” and politics with their religion. That’s part of the larger point: a crunchy would probably be the first to say that making politics a priority over religious convictions and a more sane way of life is exactly where conservatism, as a whole, has gone off the rails.
The “politics” of the people in the book is, if anything, tertiary behind their religion and their daily way of life (which, strictly speaking, is part of politics, but in the broader, Aristotelian sense). Their sense of vocation and their sensibility and way of life take such pride of place in the book that conventional politics as we understand them, and as the fascists would have understood it, almost disappear from view. Instead of the political program defining all of life, the political program has instead practically been overcome and set aside. This is practising politics in the sense that it is done with the good of the polis in mind, but it is serving the political community by first tending to their own business according to the eternal verities they embrace.