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February 19, 2021

John Hayward On Conservative Principles – Play Fair And Lose, Or Bend Your Principles To Defend Liberty
[Buck Throckmorton]

John Hayward (aka “Doc Zero”) tweeted out an excellent essay a few days ago, pointing out that with free speech and liberty almost extinguished, conservatives will have to fight for our rights in a manner that is in conflict with our “peacetime principles.” With the left using Alinskyite tactics to make us submit to repression - because not doing so would violate our principles -- Hayward articulates that the survival of liberty requires that we “accept the sad necessity of bending those principles until the day they are no longer fatal weaknesses.”

A very important principle of mine is that my principles will never require me to sacrifice my liberty.

Is it possible to fight against totalitarian statists without ever compromising conservative "principles?" Is it better to play "fair," and constantly lose? Can you grapple with monsters without becoming a monster? That's the question at the heart of the schism on the Right.

Many works of passive, academic conservatism make for stimulating reading, and they'd be great stuff to bring along if you were leading a band of refugees onto an island to build a new society from scratch. But they have little relevance to the desperate battle we're actually in.

We're up against a totalitarian ideology that has already corrupted every single institution of American society. We're not beginning a high-minded constitutional debate with the Left - we're fighting a desperate last-ditch battle to preserve what little remains of FREE SPEECH.

How do you fight back against cancel culture? Do you refuse to participate, living by your principles and giving high-minded free passes to left-wingers who commit speech crimes? Or do you insist THEY get canceled and ruined too, forcing them to play by their own rules?


During the Tea Party years, its activists were sometimes attacked as hypocrites if they used any benefits of the Leviathan State they claimed to oppose. Collect a single dollar of government benefits, and you supposedly lost the moral stature to rail against deficit spending.

From these examples and many others, conservatives must learn that we are not criticizing the system from the outside - we are within it, and must fight on the very hostile economic and political battlefield that has been created for us.

We are not at the beginning of a great drama about the relationship between people and the State - we're well past curtain call on the third act, and things are looking very grim for those who value liberty and tradition. The Right played no role in writing the script.

We are not having a spirited discussion with the Left about how to steer the ship of the State. The ship's crew is entirely against us, most of the compartments are locked, and you'll be thrown overboard if you say anything about the rapidly approaching iceberg.

We have already watched totalitarianism consume a thoroughly demoralized and destabilized American society. Now we are watching totalitarianism slide inexorably into authoritarianism, and you know what comes after that. We cannot stop that process by politely objecting to it.

It's not easy to fight a battle on those terms without losing sight of peacetime principles. For generations now, the American people have been bludgeoned into submission by Alinsky tactics that turn their lofty principles and beloved traditions against them.

The barbarians camped outside the gates sneered and said, "If you were so civilized, you wouldn't need walls and gates to keep us out." And so the gates were opened and the walls torn down... to be replaced by higher, uglier prison walls built by the victorious invaders.

We're at the point where people on the Right must think hard about both grand strategy and short-term tactics. We must change the momentum of history before it sweeps this country - and all of the civilized world - into a darkness it cannot escape without fire and bloodshed.

There is no place left for the Gentleman Losers, the directors of Failure Theater, the grifters, the arrogant "remnant" smugly convinced they can emerge from their bunkers one day to thunderous applause for having been right all along.

But there is also no room for fighting blindly, for angrily lashing out to no good purpose, for energy wasted on pointless fights, for vulgar displays that alienate the public and make our situation even worse. The Angry Loser is no more effective than the Gentleman Loser.

We're not in anything close to a fair ideological fight, and we haven't been for 30 years or more. It is beyond pointless to keep waiting for nonexistent referees to throw flags on the Left's ugly plays. Dig in, push back, and gain some yards.

But we have to move in the right direction. We have to run plays that score points. We DO have plenty of opportunities - the American people know something is hideously wrong with the world the Left has made. Even the pandemic has not completely subdued them.

How do you speak to a people desperate for brave leadership, when half the words you would use to reach them have been forbidden? How do you sell liberty to people terrorized into hating each other and believing they can't get through a single day without help from the State?

It certainly is difficult. It's hard to fight an utterly unprincipled adversary without compromising a few of your own. If your end goal is liberty, it's not easy to plan ruthlessly effective strategies for gaining and using power. The State doesn't want YOU to control it.

Various elements of the Right have a lot of off-ramps for opting out of that difficult struggle - from GOP Establishment types making profitable accommodations with the Left, to preppers and revolution fantasists who assume all is lost and plan for the day after utter collapse.

If you're still in the game, if you really still believe it can be won, you must be prepared to get dirty, get roughed up, pick battles worth fighting, and accept the sad necessity of bending those principles until the day they are no longer fatal weaknesses.

But also you must not become lost in corruption. You must not become what you fight against. Never believe the instruments of utter darkness can be used for good ends in righteous hands - that's the delusion that swallowed the Left whole. It's not easy, but it's necessary. /end


(buck.throckmorton at protonmail.com)

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