Book counsels ‘judicious retreat’ by conservatives as Left confiscates America

by WorldTribune Staff, March 4, 2018

The American Left “believes it has the right, duty, and power to force universal adherence to its dictates’ utmost details,” an analyst wrote.

In 2016, Americans “voted for protection against government, big business, the media, the educational and even the religious establishments, which wage a cold civil war to push them and their ‘deplorable’ way of life to society’s margins,” Angelo M. Codevilla wrote for on Feb. 28.

Yet, “at least half of Americans sense that their country has been taken from them,” Codevilla, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, wrote.

The Left, Codevilla wrote, is “less about what is being imposed on America than about inflicting righteous punishment on inferiors – the appetite and power for which increase with every success.”

“That is why the prescriptions of ‘conservative reformers’ – for example, Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic – deny reality. They suppose that economics, ever the ground of compromise, is the dividing line between Right and Left. Hence they posit that the American Left is amenable to retreat from confrontation, to live-and-let-live.”

But, Codevilla noted, “money has never been the point. America’s Left already has the bulk of the nation’s wealth. Residents of places such as Weston, Massachusetts, the suburbs of D.C. and of Silicon Valley, vote for the nation’s farthest-Left candidates with higher percentages than do those of zip-codes along the country’s Martin Luther King avenues. Power is what the Left wants, endlessly to replace the insufficiently faithful with the more faithful in ever more positions of power, from whence they ensure its causes’ triumph and its foes’ abasement.

“For Americans for whom money is a means rather than an end, the Left’s hegemony over American society’s commanding heights is an existential problem. Over the past two decades, increasingly, we have begun to learn to live defensively in a world controlled by people who hate us, and whose ways we do not want ourselves or our families to imitate.”

In this regard, Codevilla noted, Rod Dreher’s 2017 book, The Benedict Option, “is valuable. The book’s title is its primary problem for us. At the turn of the sixth century A.D., the young nobleman Benedict of Nursia chose retreat to monastic life less as an intrinsically desirable option than as a way of dealing with Rome’s rot. The degree of rot around him imposed the degree and modalities of retreat. We, along with Dreher, have all too little trouble envisaging the persecution of Christians that our ruling class may inflict on us.”

Codevilla continued: “Judicious retreat is not an option, but a rational reaction to our predicament. We have already learned that with rare exceptions, the higher reaches of life in the corporate world, the media, academe, the major bureaucracies are now inaccessible to Christians – or, indeed to anyone who does not celebrate the ruling class’s cause du jour, or who voices sympathy with ‘mere Christianity.’ ”

“Rather than counseling retreat for its own sake, Dreher urges such involvement in the public square as may continue to be possible, always keeping in mind that the goal is not to reform any other community, much less of the United States of America. Regrettably, that has ceased to be in our power as much as it had ceased to be in Benedict of Nursia’s power to save Rome. Rather the purpose of political activity must be to save what can be saved of one’s own family and community’s commitment to the good life as orthodox Christians and (and orthodox Jews) have always understood it.”

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