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John Derbyshire's speech at the 2012 CofCC National Conference


John Derbyshire has published the speech he delivered at the 2012 CofCC National Conference. The entire speech can be read at Vdare.com. Derbyshire, who worked for National Review magazine for twelve years, talked about “mainstream conservatism.” What it is, what is good about it, and what it’s shortcomings are.

I began by offering a list of eleven current American magazines of opinion that I’ve written for, and that, according to me, define Mainstream Conservatism. If you look into those magazines, what do you find?

Well, you do find oppositional talk. I don’t believe it is the case, as Larry Auster has said, that Mainstream Conservatism “is now . . . dead.”

The principal elements of American Conservatism have always been:

mistrust of government power, especially the federal power;
respect for traditional social arrangements centered on the biological family and the free association of citizens;
property rights and the encouragement of free commerce;
patriotism;
demographic integrity and continuity;
religion—or at least, in the case of the temperamentally irreligious, respect for religion; and
individual liberty, with a willingness to accept a price in inequality.

Conservatism stands in opposition to an establishment that favors federal power, mocks traditional arrangements, infringes property rights when it can and cumbers commerce with taxes and regulations, disdains patriotism as uncouth and defers to international organizations, seeks demographic replacement, wars against popular religion, and always, always privileges equality over liberty.

In their promotion of those elements I just listed, Mainstream-Conservative publications do a good job overall; but they do better on some of my bullet points than on others, and are fatally weak on the fifth, on demographic integrity and continuity.

This weakness exists in part because Mainstream Conservatism is yoked to the Republican Party and its business sponsors. The dire effect of this relationship on demographic integrity was clearly seen following the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, when the Act’s punitive and protective (i.e. of American workers) clauses soon went unenforced as businesses dependent on illegal labor made angry phone calls to their GOP congressmen.

Because of their bonds with the GOP-business axis, Mainstream Conservatives are shy of demographic issues. Their shyness is compounded by the atmosphere of cultural Marxism we all live in, with its insistence on the perfect interchangeability of all human groups.

So I say that Mainstream Conservatism is doing valuable and useful work, acting at least as a brake on the relentless downhill slide into globalism, socialism, mass dependency, and enforced uniformity of thought. I hope I was able to make some small contribution to that work via the words I published in those periodicals.

It’s uphill work, of course. The American public, just like the public in any advanced country, wants incremental socialism, and does not see where socialism inevitably leads.

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