Society has changed over the course of my adult lifetime, while I haven’t changed all that much. As a result, I’ve gone from being a “liberal” on the “far left” to something that in some quarters today would be called a “conservative,” though I’d disagree with the label.
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One big reason for this difference is my position on activism. I don’t like it. I think that, in general terms, it tends toward blackmail and is difficult to separate from minor strains of terrorism.
I say this as someone that has done activism—I’ve tabled and worked crowds and even gone on large rock and roll tours representing nonprofit interest organizations.
I stopped doing it in my twenties. Why?
Because I was not ethically comfortable with what I was doing. It felt as though I was subverting political systems and society rather than participating in these. It felt as though I was engaged not in trying to shape governance and policy, but rather to do an end-run around it.
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I’ve long admired traditional English culture. Why? Because of restraint. There is an ethos of restraint and decorum—of doing things “by the book” in the social sense—that is sorely missing in society today.
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This post is all over the place, but that’s okay. What it’s all pointing to in a secret way is the fact that my pending divorce has much to do with the fact that my spouse and I have foundationally different values and understandings of the world and how it ought to be—of what the best interests of humanity are.
Interestingly enough, these differences have less to do with ends and more to do with means, but the fact is that means matter, as most would acknowledge.
We have always struggled over these questions, and in retrospect, they are some of the most difficult between us, things that will likely haunt us for years to come. I hope we can overcome them.
But the question of the right way as opposed to the right destination is one of the most salient questions in policy and culture today. It marks much of the debate in public culture on multiple continents.
What is the “right way” to arrive at a destination, even if we can all agree that the destination itself is right?
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I am a radical in terms of destinations.
But I am a conservative traditionalist in terms of the means that ought to be employed in attempts to arrive at them.