If the UK is to make any progress in emerging from the cultural swamp in which we are drowning, conservatives have to be realistic. There are three truths which, however uncomfortable they may be, we must grasp.
- Britain has had its culture war and conservatives lost, big time.
- It is possible to fight back.
- The struggle, although difficult, is important.
Progressives hold the commanding heights in every area that has power to shape society: politics, business, press, law, the entertainment industry, and education from kindergarten to post-graduate. Conservatives have been routed and the one organisation we normally look to politically, the Conservative Party, should be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act for false advertising.
This leaves the social, political and economic conservative in a quandary. Point these things out and the automatic response is: ‘But what can we do, who can we vote for?’ And we sit and grumble and bemoan lost glories, and wish for some organisation or leader to magically appear who will lead us to victory. The unavoidable truth is that the responsibility does not belong to organisations or leaders, it rests with us. Our response as individuals is what is vital.
The strategic situation determines the tactical responses. There is a way forward. To grasp how this can happen it helps to look a few continents and centuries away. In 1519 Hernando Cortez, with a group of 500 men, landed in what is now known as Mexico. He was confronted with an advanced, complex and centralised gold-rich Aztec civilisation of more than 15 million people. Two years later Cortez controlled a civilisation dating back centuries before Christ.
Not only the Aztecs. Just over ten years later in 1532 Pizarro and his army invaded Inca territory and captured their leader Atahuallpa. A year later with all the Inca gold secured, Atahuallpa was executed and replaced with a puppet ruler. Again in two years an entire advanced civilisation was brought low by a small determined group of less than 200.
Fast forward 150 years to the 1680s and the Spaniards, full of confidence, in order to extend their empire headed north into what is now New Mexico in the USA. There they encountered a seemingly primitive people without cities, paved roads, pyramids or vast aqueducts. Some of these people accepted the agrarian and Catholic lifestyle imposed by the Spanish. Most resisted.
For more than two centuries these people, the Apaches, held off the Spanish and beat them. Spain, which had adopted centralised control and administration, lost domination of Sonora and Chihuahua provinces to the Apaches. Northern Mexico was effectively in the control of the Apaches. This was no fluke, the Apaches continued to hold off the Spaniards as long as they remained in Mexico.
Why the differing fortunes of the Aztecs and Incas compared to the Apaches? The Aztecs and Incas had highly centralised authoritarian leadership and social structures, once the head was cut off the body died. The Apaches’ resistance survived and persevered because they were decentralised, there was no head to cut off.
Apache leaders, known as Nant’an, led by example. Their most well-known and successful leader Geronimo was not appointed by any tribal council; he simply started fighting and those around him joined in. If you wanted to follow Geronimo you followed, if you didn’t want to then you didn’t follow. There was no coercive authoritarian structure which could be pinned down and destroyed or subverted. The characteristics of flexibility, ambiguity and shared power found in a decentralised system made the Apache immune to the attacks that destroyed the Aztecs and Incas. We can see the Apache spirit today in the conservative resistance movement.
There are dangers in such freedom from the centre. But there are also vital strengths. As we look around we see the same dynamic played out again and again.
The Aztecs gave us the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ); the Apaches give us The Conservative Woman.
The Aztecs gave us the European Union; the Apaches gave us Brexit.
The Aztecs gave us turgid, unreadable party manifestos; the Apaches give us mocking and irreverent social media.
The Aztecs gave us ‘Strong and stable leadership’; the Apaches give us conservative resistance activism.
The Aztecs gave us a top heavy organisation shedding members like leaves in autumn winds; the Apaches give us a growing number of conservative resistance blogs, YouTube channels and websites which ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’.
We live in a social and technological environment built for guerrilla tactics. Vitality demands freedom and it is when resistance conservatives become willing to develop their own life and witness within their own communities and organisations without reliance on central authority that we will find the energy and innovation to penetrate the dark places in our own society.
It is from this emerging activism by the base that the leadership and organisations will surface that will turn the culture around. The struggle is hard but important. This is much more than grumbling about ‘PC gone mad’. What we are dealing with is the shape of the society we will leave to our children and grandchildren. When we think of the changes which have taken place in our lifetimes and the direction in which the culture is moving, can we afford to be accepting, however reluctantly, about where we will be in another generation or two?
From Sir William Wallace in 13th century Scotland to Mahatma Gandhi in 20th century India real change has not been led by the elites; they have too much invested in the status quo. Instead genuine change has occurred when resistance to the established order has emerged from below. It is the powerless who change things, the awkward squads who throw sand in the gears of the Establishment. The only questions is: Are you an Aztec or an Apache?
(Image: Morgan Davies)