Milo, the Right, and Reclaiming the True Meaning of Conservatism

Tyler McNally | February 21, 2017
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With the American Conservative Union's initial invitation to have Milo Yiannopoulos keynote their annual CPAC conference, the conservative world at large was officially introduced to a dangerous ideology. In the name of identity politics, the conservative world embraced a narcissistic firebrand with values seemingly antithetical to the ideology so many on the Right claim to hold near and dear.

Milo has a penchant love for chaos. By saying almost anything to garner a reaction, Yiannopoulos leaves no sacred cows undisturbed. He has aligned himself with the Alt-Right and, arguably, even anti-Semites (the debate on the relationship between the two can be held another time).

And it is this no-holds-barred mentality that has given Yiannopoulos his popularity.

Much has been said of Milo's personality and character, but that is not the aim of this piece. Instead of treating popularity as the main vehicle for credibility and acceptance, the beliefs and practices of conservatism should be the driving forces of those who speak on behalf of this ideology.

Though they get less press and popularity due to their drier writings and old-school theories, it is important to look to the political theorists of the past to help us understand the political realities of the present. The 20th Century political theorist Russell Kirk had much to say during the increasing post-modernism of the post-World War II era. His views and writings on conservatism help fuel later generations of conservatives leading up to the modern time.

To quote Kirk: "The twentieth-century conservative is concerned, first of all, for the regeneration of the spirit and character -- with the perennial problem of the inner order of the soul, the restoration of the ethical understanding, and the religious sanction upon which any life worth living is founded. This is conservatism at its highest."

Kirk hits on an important point. Conservatism is a beautiful ideology for the simple reason that it attempts to protect the valuable and important aspects of a shared society. When conservatism seeks to protect, for example, the traditional role of marriage and the lives of the unborn, it also seeks to preserve the dignity of our culture.

Writer and philosopher G. K. Chesterton once wrote, "There are two kinds of revolutionists, as of most things – a good kind and a bad. The bad revolutionists destroy conventions by appealing to fads – fashions that are newer than conventions. The good do it by appealing to facts that are older than conventions."

For far too long, many who claim to be conservatives seem to have missed out on these essential points. Placing faith in people and policies which Kirk describes as an "merciless" in an effort to "[transform] society and even [transform] human nature," this ideologue is not limited to a political side.

Kirk writes, "I am a conservative. Quite possibly I am on the losing side; often I think so. Yet, out of a curious perversity I had rather lose with Socrates, let us say, than with Lenin."

In this current political climate, it is an important watershed moment. Would the Right rather lose certain political battles, like that of the culture war, in the name of true conservatism? Or would they rather win at any cost, but with attached consequences?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the political Right, both on the Continent and in the United States, would rather make famous and empower a man of Yiannopoulos's stature than stand firm on conservative values, simply for the sake of "winning."

There is a place in the political world for men and women who support Yiannopoulos, but they should not call themselves conservatives. In all of Milo's methods, there is nothing historically conservative about creating chaos. It is important that the ACU disinvited him from keynoting their crown jewel; but by inviting him to speak in the first place, they have harmed conservatism -- especially within the collegiate world.