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Let’s acknowledge an unpopular but important truth. Liberals are – on average – more successful, more pleasant and more intelligent people than Conservatives. They ordinarily have better careers, better cars, better manners and more sophisticated philosophies than those on the political right. Though I can’t speak for you, I would much rather share an apartment with a liberal than with a conservative. Indeed, I have always shared properties with liberals, consciously and deliberately. They make for friendlier and less judgemental associates. They are also more likely to lend a helping hand than conservatives, to bail a friend out of trouble, to offer a patient ear etc… Why is this?
There is a well-referenced body of evidence to suggest Liberalism becomes more attractive the better off one is in society; that once a person is liberated from the brutish concerns of bread and shelter, they become more willing to turn their caring eye away from themselves and towards society as a whole. Liberalism in this sense is a luxury, an indulgence. It is not available to the majority, but can only be afforded by the privileged few.
This does (or should) count as a mark of illegitimacy for liberals, but despite it, despite knowing it, I still fundamentally prefer them as human beings. I can’t help it. There must be a reason they have scaled higher peaks than the majority, and that reason, since it usually precedes their liberalism, must be independent of it.
We are trained by our culture of egalitarianism not to speak of ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ human beings. To do so is the intellectual equivalent of swearing. By polite convention, all people are strictly equal, and all perceived ‘difference’ is a merely a dancing variation on a single, immovable baseline – a baseline from which we all begin and to which we all return.
Science is unfriendly to this theory and clashes with it frequently. Indeed, society only manages to prop it up with the same primitive tactics one uses to make any common lie seem true. Social thinkers simply ignore the findings of the laboratory, the G-test and the brain scan, offering in their place the produce of their own private goodwill. Let’s not do that here.
Let’s ask the question straight – Why are superior people more liberal? I don’t think the mystery is unsolvable. In fact, I think the solution is rather simple.
Conservatism has for a long time dallied in both great and stupid ideas – and the bad ones, being very bad, have obscured and discredited the good. When the idea that private property undergirds a democratic society is promoted in the same manifesto as the idea that Africans have no place in civilised society, or that homosexuals are trying to convert the young, or that scientists are lying to the public, it will be rejected. As it should be.
This idiot-conservative coalition was never inevitable. It is rather an unfortunate development of history; a quirk of fate. And since its basis is so flimsy, it can be undone.
How might we separate conservative logic from right-wing drivel? How might we attract intelligent people away from left-liberalism and back to the cause of freedom? For a start I would suggest ruthlessly cutting loose the crazies, pushing them to form their own political clan away from the mainstream. Cultural conservative leaders and intellectuals must publically reject (denounce) homophobia, colour-racism and the belittlement of women. They must cease fighting popular culture and embrace it (in order to attract dissenting elements in Western youth). Even if it exists, the influence of religious eschatology must be undetectable in policy and never endorsed by a candidate for office. More compassion should be displayed towards the poor. Arguments against abortion and gay marriage should be secularised. Candidates from urban environments should be sought over those from rural areas. And finally, perhaps most importantly, the right must rediscover its respect for worldliness and the intellect, no longer prioritising folksiness and the limited, small-town worldview.
In an age when liberalism has gone astray and allied itself to the enemies of freedom, conservatives must fill the void they have left. To do that successfully requires adapting to new realities and discarding unnecessary burdens. The defence of Western civilisation should be a friendly, positive and vibrant cause, not a moth-eaten and eccentric one.