Open thread: Up from leftism, revisited

Most of us started out leftists in some form — man is a social animal, after all, drinking up social and behavioral cues from the ambient culture. Whether through hard experience, careful inquiry, unmerited divine grace, or some combination of the three, most of us repented of those errors. Some of us have shared our stories before: Dr. Charlton here, Daniel from Out of Sleep (now tragically defunct) here, Bonald here; in the same thread at Out of Sleep, several more of us (including Kristor and myself) posted our own stories.

The common thread running through them seems to be that there was some fundamental personal incompatibility with leftism present in us apostates from the church of leftism. Dr. Charlton relates his constitutional inability to escape from the natural law, despite his formal disbelief in it; Bonald could never see leftism’s embrace of casual, loveless sex and divorce as anything but a desecration; Kristor was baffled by the B.S. fed him by his New Left friends and shocked at last out of his liberal pretensions by the divorce of his (“ultra-liberal”) parents; and I was deeply impressed, even from a young age, by the simultaneous liberalism of my own family and the deep, profound dysfunction of their lives, both individually and collectively. A secondary theme is that of the movement away from liberalism as a kind of awakening, a gradual stirring of the soul from its slumber. There are no lights-on-the-road-to-Damascus stories to be found here but, rather, stories of halting and incremental movements toward penance and conversion. A third theme, implicitly but unavoidably imbedded in all of them, is that liberalism works best for those who are intensely committed not to think about it too carefully.

But there are more than a few of us here at the Orthosphere, and most of us don’t have blogs. So, at the risk of turning into a “Liberals Anonymous” group-therapy session, what’s your story?

51 thoughts on “Open thread: Up from leftism, revisited

  1. The race thing of course. Since I was a teenager, I always thought ancestral identity mattered. Liberalism, by saying that race doesn’t matter, says that ancestry doesn’t matter.

  2. Fr. Neuhaus once described a Narrow Escape Syndrome where former protestant fundamentalists pride themselves on their open-minded evangelicalism having only narrowly escaped their narrow-minded, hidebound, and anti-intellectual roots. I narrowly escaped Narrow Escape Syndrome.

  3. I had a nihilist atheist friend who was convinced that no God meant no morality. He was quite convincing so I never fell for the “Good without God” nonsense that you hear all the time from atheists. I kept questioning why the secular left should do any of the nice things they say are good and the whole house of cards collapsed and I abandoned their principles entirely.

    I was Christian before hand but a wishy-washy megachurch evangelical. Who would have known that a bloody atheist would turn me into a reactionary.

  4. I never, even as a small child, was anything but psychologically reactionary. Part this stems from my romantic mind and boundless imagination which found modern life stifling, but I remember believing in more or less patriarchal relations between the sexes when I was in first grade. Lets just say, whenever “house” was played at recess, I alway had to be the Father. When I hit puberty at a young age it was right around the time I started studying History on my own and I became dangerously attracted to Fascism and Nazism. I worry about myself sometimes, as I’m so far right psychologically that sometimes I struggle with the more compassionate elements as Christianity. What can I say, I’m a mean person by nature, and I require constant struggle against the darker side of myself, the demons of cruelty and nihilism. I had my Christian conversion experience around age 20 and the closest I’ve ever come to liberalism was a brief late adolescent dabble in political libertarianism around this time. Even then, I remained socially conservative but was misguidedly convinced that the only way that America would ever be even remotely sane again was to do away with the state.
    I’m 24 now and more reactionary than ever, a monarchist, and a firm proponent of patriarchal authority and tradition. Most people I talk to (including my 49 year old uncle) tell me I sound like an 80 year old man. So be it. The New Left in the 60s had the slogan “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. My slogan is “Don’t trust anyone under 70”.

    • You are not alone in struggling with “the demons of cruelty and nihilism”. Sometimes I have to forgo reading anything remotely having to do with Nietzsche or Evola because the admiration of brutal strength, remorseless action for the achievement of one’s goal, and ‘struggle or die’ can cause me to seriously doubt the virtues of Christian charity and love. When times like that occur it is always good to have a copy of Joseph de Maistre’s ‘The Executioner’:

      “Thus, from the maggot up to man, the universal law of the violent destruction of living things is unceasingly fulfilled. The entire earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but an immense altar on which every living thing must be immolated without end, without restraint, without respite, until the consummation of the world….”.

      • I have bad tendencies as well. My family line has all had some tendencies towards abusiveness and rage filled cruelty. Not safe or healthy.

        I have also had people comment that I sound like someone a few decades older. A classmate once commented that I sound like a 60 year old man.

      • Cruelty is not necessarily bad. Consider that many young boys have found excitement in the torturing or even killing small creatures. Unlike how the Leftists paint it, they do not all turn out sociopaths. Cruelty is what allows a people to be triumphant in war. But at the same time it is the sign of virtue to know how and when to use that cruelty.

        As for the comment that you sound like a 60 year-old, you are not alone. People have been telling me that for a while; partly because of my rigid social conservatism and partly because of my reading.

      • I feel like Archie Bunker. I’m 32. My liberal sister (27, single, mom’s basement) might even move in soon! The other day I really upset her when i told her she’s running out of time for babies and marriage and she needs to pick her path. Meathead!

      • The other day I really upset her when i told her she’s running out of time for babies and marriage and she needs to pick her path.

        Heh! I guess it wouldn’t have been upsetting if it hadn’t been true.

    • My slogan is “Don’t trust anyone under 70″.

      The sixties didn’t spring from nothing. That over 70 crowd is mighty fond of getting you to pay for their “free” stuff…

      I say don’t trust anyone unless they’re already dead.

  5. Logical inconsistency.

    Grew up thinking that peace, love, equal dignity, harmony with nature were all good and therefore progressive liberalism was the right approach, because progressive liberals say they are for these things. I was an atheist, communist, pro-feminist, environmentalist progressive liberal statist.

    Figured out progressive liberals have a horrible track record at achieving said social goods. That those who actually achieved good were those who more practically pursued peace (with those who would be peaceful), love (specific, not abstract – love _of_), equal dignity (but not equality of result), harmony with nature (in the responsible, human-centric manner necessary given that “nature” has no concept of “harmony”). I dabbled with nihilist libertarianism (“no objective ideal good can be achieved so what’s the point, let’s just have fun,”). Then I discovered that giving up was not something I could accept and I determined not to let inability to achieve perfection (in this life) become the enemy of the good.

    During the same time period I switched, purely on a logical basis and with no “faith” involved in the conversion process, from a militant atheist to an agnostic to a questionable pagan to a Christian with some pagan sympathies. I now find atheism to require far too much suspension of disbelief and outright faith than does mere Christianity. I figured out that the cause of what makes all good things “good” is God and His divine plan. Now I see progressive liberals as brainwashed worshipers of meaninglessly abstract subjective concepts: “peace” but not peace in which to live a noble life; “love” but not love of something or someone. Whereas I desire the peace of knowing that I am in harmony with God’s plan for me, and I love God in echo of His love for me and because I love God I know what it is to love those people and things close to me which are His beautiful creations.

    Just to be clear: I was never unsuccessful. I always made a decent living, I was successful with women, my family loved me, my friends appreciated me, my accomplishments were acknowledged and appreciated by those whose approval I sought. There was nothing lacking from my life – except that I was unsatisfied because I felt something deeply fundamental was missing.

    My conversion was made entirely in the absence of any personal encouragement. No one in my family, my close circle of friends, or anyone else with whom I interact regularly is anything but a moderately-agnostic or atheist progressive liberal; none of these people made the intellectual journey with me and all think I am somewhat crazy to have done so.

    No one has ever offered me any support, encouragement, comfort, or advice. Well, except Him.

    • My conversion from lefty agnosticism was also a solitary experience. Actually, more and more solitary as time went by. I was never strident or intent on converting others, but I did speak my mind and once people understood that I was serious, old friends began to drift away. Sociologists say that we take on beliefs in order to win acceptance in an attractive group, but that was certainly not the case when I became a reactionary.

  6. After reading your story Proph it seems our conversions were pretty much the same. The only difference being that I underwent it entirely in High School compared to High School through College, perhaps that could be due to me having been homeschooled in High School. Even as a self-described “Social Democrat” I listened to Pat Buchanan’s ‘Culture Wars’ speech; there was something about it that moved me yet I kept telling myself, “he makes some good economic points but other than that he is just a racist.” But that was hypocrisy, I was a hypocrite. In arguments I always took the Leftist position on race, always defending the “victim” when there were none around. At the same time, if Blacks or Hispanics were around I got very uneasy.

    One thing which seems strange to me is during the days when I was a Leftist; I suffered from pretty bad general and social anxiety along with depression. This slowly changed at about the same time as my introduction to true Reactionary politics, not just the Libertarian or Paleocon stuff. If someone were to ask me how one really makes the conversion or why, there is no good answer I could give. When trying to explain my views to a Leftist it was very frustrating because at first I thought it was a failure of communication that he/she could not comprehend it. As time went on it became clearer that we are working from two completely different points of view. Not like the difference between a Libertarian, Neocon, and Liberal, because they could at least somewhat understand what the other was saying. It was almost as though we were from different times or completely different cultures. And then it hit me – conversion to Reaction is so deep, so profound, and so transformative that to do so is to completely separate oneself from the modern world in all philosophical ways. Even watching a movie we would see it in two very different ways. Therefore, as Daniel from Out of Sleep stated, the conversion could only come from within; nothing from without save the most tragic could change a person in such a way.

  7. I guess the process started when my parents told me about Communism, and why it was bad (with my age in single digits, the theory of it looked appealing). Then, decades later, when I sought to know more about world politics so I would have something to talk about at parties, a friend of mine showed me Unqualified Reservations.

  8. Even though I am Christian, I have some “New Age” beliefs (in which I follow some leading-edge scientists and which, in my view, do not contradict Christianity – but you might see it differently). The following is my set of beliefs. I believe that matter is conscious. I believe in the existence of information fields to which we are connected. I believe in the spiritual “Law of Attraction” (like attracts like). And I am highly skeptical of the universal validity of the limiting laws of thermodynamics (considering the vast amount of dark matter about the properties of which we know nothing). I believe that the universe expands in an unlimited way and on all levels. I also believe that the universe is self-organizing and constantly increasing in complexity and that we participate in this expansion and ordering by our creative acts. Finally, I believe that the universe is participatory. This amounts to a “practical” understanding of faith – the faith that “God will provide” in some sense. In other words, I need to get my fishing rod and tackle box in order and walk to the bank of the river, and the fish will be there.

    My conversion from leftism came as a result of my embrace of the belief, stated above, namely that the universe functions as an organic, participatory entity. The only tenable attitude in the face of it is one of radical responsibility in relation to myself and respect for another person’s choices. It is, in fact, completely incompatible with socialist principles of any kind because of their patronizing and totalizing nature. It is arrogant and presumptious of me to decide what another person needs or wants, which does not preclude me from helping someone who asks for my help. If I forcefully intervene in another person’s welfare, I demonstrate a lack of practical “faith” and engage in the sin of pride.

  9. The trope of the movement “from left to right” is a natural one. I would not presume to correct my comrades at The Orthosphere in respect of it. I would nevertheless present my own story somewhat differently as the movement “from left to truth” or from “left to reality,” the two concepts of truth and reality having an obvious relation. How did it happen? I went to graduate school in Comparative Literature at UCLA in 1984 and collided with the full panoply of left-liberal falsehood and unreality, including perpetually outraged, man-hating, feminist professors, various lunatics in the English Department and elsewhere completely besotted by Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, a book so wrong in its basic assumptions about the relation of spoken and written language that one could only gape at those who took it seriously, and the predictable sampling of dogmatic Marxists. I collided with the arrogance of the professoriate and the sense of entitlement of the ensconced university-bureaucracy. I collided with the coercive conformism of the milieu. I had hitherto been largely apolitical while amorphously liberal in general outlook, but in that stew of rancor and vehemence, neutrality was impossible: I swiftly saw that I had to be for them or against them and I knew just as swiftly that I was against them. A young woman whom I began dating in 1986 (she became my wife) introduced me to the two things that gave my dissidence its form: The writings of René Girard and the seminars of Eric Gans (also his books, which like those of Girard I read assiduously). Unanimously, everyone in this setting except Girard and Gans argued that (among other things) the very notion of human nature was (yawn) an oppressive “construction” (hence the necessity of “deconstruction”); whereas Girard and Gans, admitting human nature, could also speak to the rationality of revelation and of inherited institutions. It was not quite a “Road to Damascus” event, but it was close.

    • I had a similar experience beginning graduate school at Syracuse University, just down the road from you, in 1984. We were reading the same books in our seminars, although I was studying geography (go figure), and I was doing my best to believe them. (Imagine trying to convince yourself that Roland Barthes is a profound thinker, and that he is relevant to geography!) I’m afraid no angel appeared to hand me volumes by Girard or Gans, so the literary contribution to my conversion was less lofty than yours. I just happened to read Girl Twenty by Kingsley Amis, and the rest, as they say, is history.

  10. For may years I thought I was liberal. This wasn’t based on examination of my beliefs (which were fairly fuzzy), but on the fact that everyone I knew said that good people voted Democrat and bad people voted Republican. In fact, I don’t recall hearing a conservative opinion openly articulated until the 1980s, when I was in my late twenties.

    Although I thought I was a liberal, I really wasn’t. Whenever the talk turned political, the liberals in the room (=N-1) would compete to show the most compassion for some “downtrodden” class of humanity: the poor, minorities, women, homosexuals, whatever. At some point I would object or begin to laugh, because I had actually spent a good deal of time among these downtrodden classes and my compassion was highly qualified. Unlike my liberal friends, I had worked with poor people, lived in minority neighborhoods, and had more than a glimpse of the gay scene thanks to a homosexual roommate. I didn’t hate any of these groups, but I had way too much experience to think they were lovely.

    So my natural pessimism about human nature was reinforced by observation of the world around me. I wasn’t thinking in these terms yet, but I saw that most human behavior was an expression of the seven deadly sins. People could act virtuously, but they did so rather rarely, and most of the time they acted out of pride, envy, sloth, gluttony, lust, wrath, and I’ve forgotten the seventh.

    At some point in my thirties, I came to see that I was no exception, and that I was just as much of an original sinner as everyone else. I’d never been particularly self-righteous, but I hadn’t been especially self-critical either. This made me more charitable, and saved me from misanthropy.

    What I needed was a theory that explained human sin and folly, and a politics that assumed that humans are sinful and foolish. Reactionary politics within a Christian metaphysics was the only viable option.

    • Yes. I find that the highly-educated liberals with whom I interact regularly are of two types. One displays a profound contempt for those less fortunate, paired with a belief that such people are incapable of being responsible for their own actions. These are universally atheists (though they may go to church anyways.)

      The other group advocates for and behaves in an essentially traditional, conservative, communitarian, family-oriented, distributist manner – and believes that this is the essence of liberalism. However, they are incapable of taking a rational stand regarding moral action. They feel that there is a higher virtue which they are meant to serve, but they can’t bring themselves to declare that “right is right and God is God”. These are the “abortion is wrong but we can’t pass a law against it because it is none of our business even though I wish it was” crowd. They have been so indoctrinated with the individualist ideas of liberalism that while they intrinsically understand that these are wrong and refuse to adhere to them in their own lives, they are aghast at any rational argument which concretely expresses such ideas.

      This latter is the type of liberal I was and I suspect they are the most likely to “convert”. However, such that I know become almost physically ill at the thought of carrying to conclusion a rational argument regarding the fundamental dichotomy between their personal moral convictions and the individualist liberalism they adhere to as a secular religion. My own conversion came through rational exploration since I am incapable of leaving a rational thread of argument alone without following it to the conclusion. For those who fear such introspection of their own prior beliefs – usually, I think, because of a social need to be “accepted” by liberal society – I think a faith-based conversion is necessary. The best thing would be to reform our culture so that such people feel the opportunity to be included in traditional communities. Thus I do not agree with the opposition to “cafeteria Christians” that is expressed by some in the orthosphere. I think we would do better to welcome any who wish to take a seat at God’s table, no matter how misguided. As traditionalists, we understand that human identity is a construct of one’s place in society, the community, the nation, and ultimately as a special creature of God’s creation. By including those who are at least willing to sit down and listen to the conversation, we help them along the path to conversion.

      I’ve never met anyone uneducated who was at all liberal in outlook. All such people whom I have met have been either basically traditionalist and conservative, or traditionalist and tribal in outlook. I suspect that because individualist liberalism is a false religion which is so obviously observed to be at odds with reality, it must be acquired through modern education. No sane person arrives there on their own. However, while I support home schooling, I fear that the dramatic increase of home schooling among traditionalist Christians will produce young adults who are not innoculated against the liberal disease. I wonder to what extend such children will be able to resist the liberal cultural onslaught once they leave the traditional home environment and interact with the world. In order to restore a traditionalist society it is imperative that traditionalists not secede from a liberalized culture, but that we re-capture the cultural venues of our society from liberal thought and restore traditional truths to their proper place as the normative basis of a moral society.

  11. For me, it started with hanging out on seduction websites and learning Game. The desire for sex gave me one point at which there was a terrifically strong motivation to truly test ideology against reality.

    The sequence was learn game -> witness first-hand that everything feminism taught me was lies -> wait, everything *liberalism* taught me was lies -> hmm, maybe Christianity really is responsible for all the truth, virtue, and beauty in Western civilization -> if Christianity could do that much good, maybe there’s some truth to it; I’d better find out.

    It took years, but the paradigm shift began with one tiny chink in the armor, and then the hole grew unexpectedly bigger and bigger, piece by connected piece, until it was all hole and transcendence came streaming in.

    On the downside, seeing the world in newly sacred terms sure takes some of the steam out of sexual conquest.

  12. In high school I read Nietzsche and was full of anger and resentment at my parents and everyone, who were too conformist and didn’t care about deep stuff like I did. I thought that I will be lead to deep wisdom once I leave my small town and go to the big city to study philosophy. There I realised that everyone was just wasting their time, there was no wisdom to be found.

    I switched to law school to have money and power, and learned to be conformist in my opinions to be more succesful with women and to help my career. It didn’t really help, I felt that I was cheating and wasn’t really succesful either.

    My great conversion was from conformism to radical libertarianism: Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek and their economic theory were for me the proof that the ruling elite in the West is not even trying, that there is a correct theory for economic growth that politicians ignore.

    At first I became interested in Christianity because I thought it was beneficial for society. But quickly, I found the kind of deep wisdom I originally sought in “contemporary” German thinkers like Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Panajotis Kondylis and Carl Schmitt who tought that being a reactionary is sensible even from a secular perspective.

    The Christians I’ve met or read are always careful not be “judgmental”, so they would have never lead me to reactionism.

  13. I encountered Jim Kalb on Usenet News and he made me actually think about the foundational premises of our political religion, and realize that it was self-contradictory. A discussion with a mathematician/logician made me realize that self-contradictory ideologies are more empowering (on the sense of “will to power) than consistent thought: because self contradiction can produce any result we want, as long as our reasoning has enough structure to it nobody will notice, and modern people clearly do go through tremendous effort not to think things through too far. The fact that for years I could win any political argument with anyone, no matter which side I took, was suddenly clearly explained, and it wasn’t because I was the smarty pants I thought I was: it was because I was too blind and stupid to follow things to their rational conclusions, and so was everybody else.

  14. Tom Bertonneau: “…Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, a book so wrong in its basic assumptions about the relation of spoken and written language that one could only gape at those who took it seriously…”

    Sorry about going off on a tangent, but I am just curious as to what you meant by Derrida’s wrong assumption about “the relation of spoken and written language.” Do you mind explaining? Just very briefly. I am asking because I don’t see how Gans’s theory of language cancels Derrida’s insights. I see it rather that it adds to them. Sort of like Einstein’s theory of relativity added to the Newtonian theory. But maybe we are thinking about different things.

    • Derrida’s first chapter makes the startling claim that literacy is a pernicious form of ethnocentrism, and he uses the word ethnocentrism with the full value of its left-wing connotation; Derrida also claims that literacy, especially alphabetic literacy, fosters the delusion (as he sees it), of the “phone,” or “proper voice,” i.e., identity. How wrong Derrida is can be gleaned from a single sentence by Heraclitus: “Listen not me but to my word.” Literacy is the liberation, not the establishment, of naive egocentricity. Beyond being an attack on literacy, which never once mentions Walter Ong or Eric Havelock, De la Grammatology is an attack on Scripture. The “deconstruction” of “logocentrism” is an agenda for the annihilation of Christianity. Eric Gans’ Generative Anthropology is an affirmation of scripture (Old and New Testament) in that it affirms a Biblical anthropology.

  15. I was libertarian leaning in my teens out of a desire to find a form of liberalism that was sensible and pure. Also, reading Thomas Sowell pushed me in that direction. His arguments against modern liberalism are argued so well anyone should be pushed away from it by reading him.

    Next I started to see the very low birth rates around me (I myself am an only child), and I looked at a map of fertility rates around the world. I saw how unsustainable the modern life plans that so many people have are over long periods of time. And that is what really pushed me to the right, and made me a Traditionalist. I had only to read Auster, Kalb, Bertonneau, Wood, and others to advance my understanding.

  16. There was never a time when I was not conservative — or ‘reactionary’, as leftists would call it (*).

    There may be some question as to the origin of my conservatism. Is it inborn/innate? Is it from having grown up in poverty (**)? Is it from having been raised a “protestant fundamentalist”, as certain persons here like to denegrate?

    (*) While still not being the sort of ‘reactionary’ that you lot advocate: I oppose monarchism and its trappings.

    (**) Isn’t it remarkable how often that strongly principled conservatives grew up poor, while strongly principled “liberals” (I mean, to the extent that they have any) frequently grew up comfortably?

    • I have said it on my blog before and will say it again – the main problem is the bourgeois. Socialism, when co-opted by the bourgeois, became Cultural Marxism. Proletariat Marxism was a nightmare but the Soviet Union did not attack our civilization in the way Cultural Marxism has. A lot of those stupid White Liberals tell me “you must have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you do not know suffering”. Sometimes I just smile and move on, other times I tell them the truth about having been raised in a poor family with a drunkard father and emotionally unstable mother. That typically shuts them up.

  17. Five reasons, in no particular order:

    1) Christianity: as I began reading Christian writers, it became obvious to me that 1+1 = 2 no matter what anyone says, and that likewise Christianity mandates a reactionary worldview no matter what anyone says.

    2) The race thing: I have looked askance at Leftism ever since attending a high school that was 25% black, an experience that taught me that *obviously* there are racial differences.

    3) Much more than the race thing (which merely made me sort of question whether Leftism was being completely honest), the tradition-and-British-heritage thing. I have always, ever since being raised on British literature and British history, felt a deep ancestral connection to the British Empire and its descendants. I have never connected, emotionally, with a worldview that says, “No, no, all that nasty stuff belongs in the past.”

    4) Sense of duty: I have a personality type that feels a keen sense of duty (which trait solidifed when I became an adult), and thus I cannot understand a worldview (Leftism) which denies that there *is* such a thing as “duty”.

    “Do your duty in all things. You can never do more. You should never wish to do less.” – Robert E. Lee

    5) Family: unlike a lot of commenters, I guess, I had an extremely happy childhood, growing up in a wonderful family with an admirable father, a stay-at-home mother… I have always viewed what I grew up with as the ideal that any family should aim for, and hence I have always, always distrusted a society that says that my experience of family growing up is not, in fact, desirable or exemplary in any way.

    • “The race thing”– would be the graveyard of the Reaction.
      The Reaction must be properly grounded in Christian principles otherwise it would turn out to be worse than Leftism.

      The proper reaction, which is the natural traditional politics the world over, follows from Aristotle.
      1) Man is a Political Animal.
      2) The City is Prior to the Individual and the Family.

      The liberalism essentially denies the Political Nature of man whereby man forms particular self-ruling moral and legal communities and entails a distinction between a Neighbor and a Stranger.

      Thus Liberalism denies particularity and is always Universalistic.
      The Libertarian branch of liberalism denies that man forms self-ruling communities. He denies (2) and for a libertarian The Individual is sovereign and not the Community.

      The Dark Enlightenment of Mencius et al accept Liberalism. They are in fact Libertarians.

      • The left is adamantly wrong about a lot of things. One of these things is race. It is perfectly natural for some people to first question the left after realizing that they are simultaneously totally wrong and totally assured of their rightness on race.

        Race can’t be the cornerstone of any sensible right, but why should it not be the thing which turns some people rightward?

  18. From being born in a Catholic area (Chicago), to becoming an atheist 17 year old, to a nihilist US Marine, to a 9/11 truther, to a father, to an ethical consideration of just warfare as a Marine, to a wife’s awakening faith, to helping her find a church after my honorable discharge, to witnessing the tangible power of Christ in our new church, to submission to Christ, and through living in rural Oregon, I realized that i had never been or acted like a leftist or liberal all along! So it must’ve been genetic.

  19. What converted me from leftism was a simple realization: its policies don’t work, and even worse, they create disaster which resembles a lynch mob.

    After finding American politics ran in circles, and then seeing how Europe was almost worse off if not decidedly so, I went back to the origins of politics in the Greeks and the French Revolution.

    At that point it became clear that liberalism is wishful thinking, not reality, and that it creates an unhealthy mindset. That mirrored the behavior I saw in liberals around me.

    I don’t think there’s much of a difference between political systems, only a question of how far we think things through. If you think to the vast ends of the universe, you end up a Traditionalist or Platonist or other elemental belief adherent.

  20. I had never been “liberal” really the closest thing which I was would be a neocon having been raised in a very republican and conservative atmosphere I was raised a Christian along the Baptist line but after having dabbled in paganism I was severely convicted in spirit by God and accepted Christ and became more polically minded after that as much of the issues of the day in regards to the Faith had much to do with politics and about a year and a half ago I began to move from republican to a more monarchist outlook as I began to read more about reactionary politics coming upon an article on the Brussels Journal about the Orthosphere it simply struck me very deeply and the more I read about the reactionary worldview the more it made so much sense that and I also have been for some time now doing alot learning about genealogy and ancestry I found I was descended from most of the monarchies in Europe in the middle ages that personalized it a little more for me and heightened my interest in the tradionalist paradigm.

  21. While I was never a leftist, I would have described myself as a classical liberal until a year ago or so. I was a big fan of Ron Paul in 2008, so I had libertarian leanings.

    The thing that made me start questioning my assumptions was the push for ‘gay marriage’ in New York. I started wondering if my classical liberal principles inevitably led to hard leftism. Around the same time, I accidentally chanced upon Bonald’s “Throne and Altar” site (through a google search for something different), read his “In Defense of Monarchy” essay, and was nearly persuaded to be a monarchist on the spot. Bonald’s site provided a mature working-out of my inchoate thoughts that had been prompted by the “gay marriage” push. His site led me to other good traditionalist sites and I was a good reactionary in no time :).

  22. I think all right-thinking conservatives can agree that a *real* monarchy is the way to go! For, after all, when Charles is King — and were he able to be a Real King — then the English/British would no longer need fear that either “gay” “marriage” or Islam or national-suicide would be imposed upon them by The Wise Men.

    • I’m not sure what counts as leftist for this question. In my teens, I moved from liberalism to libertarianism, largely out of horror at the American left’s disturbing affection for Communism during the Cold War — an affection, interestingly enough, which was promptly stuffed down the memory hole when the Wall fell. Today, I would describe myself then as still a leftist, but back then, I would have said I was on the right.

      I moved from libertarianism to wing-nuttery a little while after converting from atheism to Catholicism. It’s as obvious that you can’t be a libertarian Catholic as it is that you can’t be a Communist Catholic. After flailing about for a while, I became Pat Buchanan, with extra added Monarchist goodness.

  23. For me, it was easy: I went to a public school in Prince George’s County.

    I tried to become a libertarian, but I can’t stand that much abstraction: it may work in the long term, but in the long term we’re all dead, and besides, people aren’t economically rational anyway. But I kept speaking their language and reading American Thinker and AmCon until I read Christopher Lasch. (I got lucky there: I was never bitten by the NR bug.) Somewhere in there, I started reading distributists–the first political book I ever read from cover to cover was by John Medaille. (Atlas Shrugged doesn’t count; I, like seemingly everyone else on the face of the earth, skipped the 60-page speech.) Then I got linked to Mencius Moldbug (by someone who was a communist then but now likes Enoch Powell) and it got really interesting.

    Before all that, I read Robert Anton Wilson because one of his books was mentioned in Cliff Stoll’s book about those German hackers. (I have family in network security. I think I first read that book when I was eight.) I went from there to Principia Discordia, and from there to East Asian philosophy. I haven’t read Mencius yet, but it seems fitting that the Sith Lord of reaction would use the name of a prominent Confucian. I’ve held to all that more consistently than the rest; it fits well enough with some flavors of reaction that, in my less cynical moments, I wonder how Wilson managed to be a hippie. (In my more cynical moments, I write it off as a product of the time. I probably would’ve been one back then too, and if he’d lived ten more years, he’d probably have become a reactionary, albeit of the techno-Rationalist or pan-nationalist sort–I suspect he would like “all exit, no voice”, considering his lines about democracy and his other lines about space colonization–not the Christian or Sailer-and-Linkola sort.)

  24. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Post-Election Edition « Patriactionary

  25. Pingback: The Results Are In: Nader Won | Catholic Complementarian

  26. For me, it started when I realized how intellectually vacuous modern atheism and liberalism really are. As far as politics is concerned, this happened when I encountered Bonald (my Orthosphere colleague, that is, not the Vicomte) and Roger Scruton, especially the latter’s lecture “Harming Oneself and Harming Others,” which showed me that consequentialism, particularly its take on sex and the family, is not the only game in town. As far as religion is concerned, Ed Feser and William Lane Craig are key figures; they revealed to me how silly the standard atheist talking points are, and disabused me of any respect I had for Dawkins, Hitchens, and the rest. I had been a conservative-leaning libertarian for a few years before that—a far-right nutjob by Scandinavian standards even then, but pretty run-of-the-mill by American ones. To repeat something that has already been said a couple of times, I would have described myself as right-wing then and there, but in retrospect, I really wasn’t.

    Unlike some of the rest of you, I can’t really point to any personal events that influenced my development. That said, I do have a contrarian streak, and that may help explain why I was even willing to consider as unpopular a worldview as traditionalism in the first place. Also, I was, like Bonald, an instinctual fan of monogamy and complementarianism long before I was a reactionary.

  27. I don’t see any topic-less “Open Thread”, so I will hijack this one slightly with a request for some information about souls, and perhaps an Open Thread for all other minutiae. I’ve recoiled at the “soul as ghostly puppeteer” view and found the decree of the Council of Vienne stating: the soul is the form of the human body. Exactly what this means is a little vague to me. What else should I read?

    And I suppose I owe you some topical material…
    There were two component paths: One was posting on the Civilization Fanatics Center forum for a computer game, when another Christian poster linked me to the blog Overcoming Bias. From there I stumbled over to Mencius Moldbug, and Moldbug’s blogroll is full of interesting things.
    The other was being born to Christian parents and raised in a liberal age. I found myself defending Christianity in terms of its liberal utility, and had a mild crisis of faith: intellectual honesty demanded I either give up Christianity or liberal utilitarianism, and eventually I gave up the latter.

      • I was about to make just this suggestion. I recommend “Aquinas.”

        I haven’t read too much on it because the topic doesn’t overly interest me. My understanding is that the soul is in fact the form of the human person, but that when we talk about the soul leaving the body, what we mean are those operations of the soul which are immaterial, i.e., reason and will. The departed exist only as disembodied reason and will in the mind of God, in much the same way that a yet-unbuilt house exists only in the mind of the architect, awaiting their construction (i.e., Resurrection).


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