Disclaimer and Statement of Principles

Not Sorry

Disclaimer and Statement of Principles

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Luther

Ok, not wholly accurate. Before I die I plan to publish an edition of retractions, the only reason I do not do so now is I do not want a set consisting of several volumes. I have gotten and do get things wrong. Retractions are coming!

I do not recant anything I have come to know as truth – principles, and universals. I have only been wrong in the application of those principles and universals.

I do not apologize…

  • for believing that tradition is the received wisdom of the ages, it should be relied upon until new ideas can be wholly proven superior and never replaced based upon emotions, feelings nor idealism.
  • nor hide my commitment to Christ and my Reformed, Calvinistic view of Christianity.
  • my firmly held view that progressivism is wrong and most of what we see in the public square, academia, and the media is flawed.

I am a traditional conservative or perhaps you might call me a paleoconservative – not a fan of the establishment GOP, Straussians, Gramscians, Fabians, etc., etc. et. al.

Presbyterianism is no religion for a gentleman.” – King Charles II

I think he meant to say Calvinism or anyone of the Reformed tradition, but yeah, we irritated the guy.

I believe in civil behavior, manners, decorum and I like nice things. However, my Reformed, Calvinist form of Christianity can be the very same thing that irritated Charles so much; radical, reactionary, unapologetic and firmly fixed in tradition and truth -I am #based, not sorry.

If you meet me in real life, there is a gun in my truck, despite my best efforts I probably have some dog hair on me somewhere, if you are a woman I will probably hold the door for you, if you are weird I will probably scowl at you, I don’t go around starting trouble nor do I have any tolerance for anyone that starts trouble with me – I am, therefore, a stereotypical example of what a regular guy ought to be like.

On the web and Twitter, RT, likes, comments are not endorsements. I do not agree with everyone I engage with – obviously. I make it clear in my writing who you might associate with me if I do not mention a person as an influence or compatriot the individual in question likely is not. I keep nothing of that nature secret, not embarrassed by any of my influences.

I have, as of late, decided to reach out and engage with some of the folks on the Alt-Right. Not that I agree with everything they say, I do not. However, If Strauss-Howe were correct, the Zoomer generation will be the ones to change the direction of the world, for better or worse. I and my generation were beneficiaries of knowing men much smarter than ourselves from previous generations. If Xers do not pass along some of that knowledge we received from the older generation to the Zoomers, these young Turks might end up as dangerous as some in the media portray. If there are reasonable voices on the left, of my age, I would hope they would engage with the radical young left to help guide them toward a better understanding of the principles behind emotion. This is my hope with the Alt-right.

The bottom line is, don’t assume because I am willing to get muddy and engage directly with folks that others avoid means I agree with everything they say. I simply think it is dangerous to abandon such fiery passion and energy to its own devices. There is an entire intellectual history of thought related to conservative philosophy that would help guide these young upstarts. I am merely trying to point a few of them toward that.

Somebody of my generation has to be brave enough to get in the mud with these folks while they find their way. I volunteer.

Standing against the tide of popular sentiment and bad ideology screaming “NO”!

and…not sorry

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Connect with Barry on Twitter, @onlyBarryLClark. Wondering who I am? See here.

Courageous Calvinism and Paleoconservatism

John Calvin

I attend a conservative, biblically-based, doctrinally sound (based upon received and tested tradition) Presbyterian church. Many of my Baptist friends might assume that there can be no such thing as an authentic Christian Presbyterian church. In the Baptist tradition, there was a time, in the late 1960s, when liberal elements expunged Reformed and Calvinist aspects. Some of this was restored in the conservative resurgence in the SBC in the late 1970s and 80s, but most Baptists are not fully aware of their Reformed and Calvinistic roots. It is understandable not to see the possibility that a conservative branch of Reformed cousins exists in at least one of the Presbyterian denominations. It does exist, honest; but I digress.

Does Calvinism hold more memories than promises? I suggest it is not a mere memory. Reactionary Calvinism, based upon the traditions and the truths from which those traditions derive is the key to solving our religious decline in the culture and to address our difficulty in defining what authentic conservatism ought to look like in the public square. The megachurch will not do it, dead Christianity will not, hopes placed in feckless and foundationless political parties will not. A return to the traditional principles and courageousness of our Calvinist roots might – God willing.

Jarod Longshore recently opined, “[a] cowardly Calvinist is an illogical thing. I don’t say that it is a thing that does not exist. Sadly, regrettably, shockingly, it does exist. But it shouldn’t.” Read his entire post.

We need a renewal of a sparse, sincere rebellion – against sin, against the compromise of the glory of God, against the status quo, against the ‘wisdom’ of the world and against the absurdity that is all around us. Confident, courageous and certain that the Word of God is our life, guide, and answer to the needs of this world. Our difficulties in the culture and our fecklessness in politics are the results of many things; true. However, if there is any hope to fix it we need to consider the words of Paul, as he departed the Ephesian elders:

18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Acts 20 (ESV)

Robert Godfrey spoke to this issue at the Reformed Bible College. Highlights from the talk in the video below include: Christianity no longer has the influence on the culture it once had; however, Christianity is not in decline; God is at work in the world; Americans are often fixed within; Catholicism abandoned tradition; Evangelicalism no better off. American needs a return to Courageous Calvinism.

  • Confident
  • Christ-centered
  • Comprehensive
  • Coherent
  • Caring

What does this have to do with paleoconservative, or traditional conservatism – that thing way on the fringe that sees the Republican party and mainstream ‘conservatives’ as useful idiots in the progressive agenda? Everything!

I think CJay Engel suggested recently in an article I cannot locate that at every step of the progressive advance, mainstream conservatives have been just a step behind, building nice roads and structures to support what the progressives have done. What we have come to know as ‘conservatism’ in America, the talking heads, the pundits, the massive organizations and think tanks; all of these are tragically flawed. None of them look back and ask real questions about what went wrong, what policies and programs have been adopted, no matter how long ago, that are damaging to culture, tradition, and families that we might actually fight to repeal. Their fight has been about the day to day, small things, rudderless and foundationless notions. They continually lose because they abandoned the foundations of conservatism.

If we are to save America, and perhaps this is not within God’s plan, we have but a duty to try, it will never happen with the current leadership, ideas, and programs of Conservative., Inc. There is little left of what was, nothing much left of the good. What are we conserving? Look about, it has almost all been burnt down.

In these times, our calling is to become courageous. Protestant Christianity was a permanent thing of American culture, we simply do not exist as Americans without that influence. Reformed Protestantism was the foundation of that Christianity.

It is perhaps time to stop calling ourselves conservatives, there is little left to conserve, and instead become courageous, radical reformists and reactionaries against the staus quo. We need to stop fighting the ridiculous daily battles of red/blue politics and stand and say “all of this, all of these programs, ideas, trends, policies and this direction is wrong, we want to restore was was good and true of tradition.” We need to stop entertaining the notion of further compromise, in our denominations (looking at you SBC with your current fight over complementarianism) and in the public square. As Godfrey says above, Confident, Christ-centered, Comprehensive, Coherent, Caring; Courageous.

Only God knows if this is a fight we are supposed to win, but just as Paul knew certain death awaited him as he departed Ephesus, he did his duty, he spoke the truth, all else was in God’s hands and plan.

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. -Luther

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Connect with Barry on Twitter, @onlyBarryLClark. Wondering who I am? See here.

To The American Conservative with Love

Herein, is a love letter to The American Conservative (TAC). We are of the same cloth; I walked a similar path of ideas as some of you. I engaged and dialogued with some of you as I wrote anonymously during the early 2000 anti-war days.  I disagreed with your position in 2006 on voting Democrat, and I believe that served in large part to make the traditional right irrelevant to the populist Tea Party, we were unable to guide them and lost them to others. I am writing this, in the open and on the Net because, I do not believe an email would sufficiently get through. Take this for what it is, love from a guy that wants to see the cause of right-reasoned traditional conservatism find a real place in the public square.

As I related in a post that answered ‘who is Barry Clark?’, in the 1990s I found kindred spirits among the solid traditionalists and paleoconservatives. Many of the relationships and connections formed then continue to encourage and sustain me. In the 2000s when paleo-conservatives and paleo-libertarians came together to form an anti-war coalition, I was right there. I was already anti-war (anti-those wars) after my first deployment with the Army. I blogged anonymously so I could keep my job, but I was right there, doing my duty in uniform and at home.

In the mid-2000s the proverbial torch was passed from the aging intellectuals of the movement (Gottfried, Fleming, Livingston, Wilson, and so many others) to 30-40-year-old ‘writers and journalists’. Some in this group were academic students of the masters. For example, Brion McClanahan to Clyde Wilson. Others, like the editors that took over The American Conservative, were accomplished writers that had developed relationships with the masters. The transition from the Silent Generation to Xers was not that of Kirk to Gottfried.

In 2006, TAC, one of only two major traditional conservative magazines, Chronicles being the other, advocated for true rightist to vote Democratic in the mid-term elections.  Any potential for relevance, any measured ability to make a difference was lost that day. Whether The American Conservative was right or wrong only time will tell. What is an indisputable fact is paleoconservatism and traditional conservatism and an organized, relevant, systematic and historically rooted intellectual endeavor ended that very day. The publication frequency of TAC fell from twice monthly to monthly and finally in 2013, every other month. I suspect these are not unrelated facts.

I took a strong exception to the stance of TAC in 2006, one that has not fundamentally changed since. I thought to abandon the only party that might stand in the way of the progressive wave that was about to wash over the country was strategically flawed. It seems there certainly was enough support in ordinary Americans for a revival of real conservative principles, the Tea party bore this out as truth. However, without an intellectual base of conservatism, that effort was bound to be, as it was, usurped by neocons, Straussians, and false-conservative. Paleoconservatives were no longer relevant, one of our major outlets had proposed voting for Democrats; how could our ideas be taken seriously by ordinary folks that wanted a conservative resurgence but lacked intellectual depth in the philosophy of conservatism? They could not see the nuance of that resistance.

I am with you but…

I dialogued and engaged with some of the current writers back in the 2000s when I was a small, inconsequential and anonymous blogger and they were just bigger known names in a relatively small blogshere. Now, I am not anonymous, the ‘blogshere’ does not exist, I am still inconsequential and they are blue-checked twittercrats. Perhaps it is personal, but the fact that these guys refuse to actually engage in discussion; they write stuff, post it to twitter several times a day and generally only respond to each other or perhaps someone else with a blue-check is discouraging. This was not my experience with Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Woods, William Lind and many, many others back in the early days; Clyde Wilson for instance, he went from being an inspiration to a friend and mentor of mine, because he engaged – folks that wrote and engaged in an effort to build a community around principles.

In a very real sense, I am calling out TAC, out of love. This is for you, the editorial staff and writers. You may not like all my ideas, I may not write in a professionally polished way, I may have but a handful of Twitter followers (I did just start two months ago), I may be passionate – but I am you, we are from the same philosophical cloth. If I feel that you are distant, irrelevant, disconnected and aloof, do you suppose I am alone among your potential readership? I suspect not.

We have two real publications that write from a traditional and paleoconservative perspective and one new fabulous new effort I discovered yesterday. Your Twitter engagement rate is pretty low, both in ‘followers’ engaging and TAC engaging back. Perhaps take some time away from repeat posting and actually engage with people that are probably on your side and think like you – act relationally as the mega-church folks like to say, build real community through dialogue.

Here is a fact for you. Anyone that ‘Twitters’ and is inclined to think, read and ponder philosophical questions is not a consumer of information, they are not ‘followers’. If they are on the platform they are there to engage. My experience, my observation over the last couple of months tells me you do not want to engage, to debate subtle difference of opinion, to shine the light on the strengths of an argument or to take on the view that there may be other approaches to an authentic approach to the Right. I do not perceive that you want to build a community around our principles or highlight others within the movement that share core beliefs. If it is just me, well, then it is just me. However, I suspect there are many more folks like me out there.

My Advice

Hire someone to manage social media with the task and purpose to engage, not simply repost information at ideally selected times during the day. I am not suggesting your current folks are not doing what you have told them, I am simply sharing that the task and purpose need to be expanded.

Build community – through the efforts above, and in other way. Ideas alone are not enough right now. Words are not enough. Our cause needs a more relational approach.

Instruct your writers to actually engage. Don’t delete comments on the site that call someone to task for an article. Principled debate is not trolling. Don’t ignore reasonable questions or comments on Twitter posts only to move on to reposting content. That comes off to folks just as it sounds.  

Stop throwing so many rocks. I get it, I find Trump abhorrent also. Yet, I cannot imagine what a world where Trump had lost would have looked like. He is a very useful speed-bump. Use the advice our grandmas gave, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. Write an article that talks at a high level about principles without dunking him directly when you are upset at him. Look at the world we live in! Be realist! Be more Burkean in our pragmatism! Most of those folks out there screaming MAGA will never listen to a single point of principled discussion from anyone that disses herr Trump.  If we want to remain irrelevant, throwing rocks is a strategy. If we want to truly help revitalize an authentic right, we have to be able to be heard by those people.

With love and affection, a disgruntled traditional right reader.

Sincerely,

Barry

@onlyBarryLClark

It is Time To Reconsider President Trump

I will state upfront, I have never been a cheerleader for President Trump. I have also never been an unmovable critic. I acknowledge he is perhaps best termed a realistic pragmatic populist. I also find him ill-mannered. But here is the thing, he might be just what American conservatism needed; not to right the ship, but to buy time.

To the folks in a certain circle of conservatives that moan and complain about the man, I would say – I can also quote Burke, Kirk, and others. Yes, there is a crisis of principles in American conservatism, the Straussians did great damage. Many came to see conservatism to mean big government, war, and corporations combined with a ‘fringe’ element that advocated for moral issues. That ‘fringe’ that I am part of has often felt unheard and confused by what is happening. I agree with those that argue that conservatism in America lost its way because it left the principles that define true conservatism. We lost our way and allowed a strange coalition of fringe ideas to rise against us.

I ask you then?  What would you see done?  Retrench into Benedictine enclaves because the culture is lost? Post on Twitter about how much you disagree with Trump until another Kirk or Benedict comes along to put us back on the right path? Here is the thing fellows, there is great value in continually and consistently articulating true conservative principles. There is also great value in being realistic and pragmatic. Talking, throwing rocks and complaining will not change anything.

It is time that all the “blue checked principled conservative ‘intellectuals’ and ‘journalist’’ see President Trump for what he is and what he represents. It is time to stop throwing rocks. Keep up the good work of reminding the world of what true conservative principles look like, but realize, if we are going to get back to those principles in action, we will have to get there in small steps.

Consider if you will, the events of the last month or so

  • Soleimani killed. Iran allowed to ‘save face’ while the U.S. demonstrated the resolve to escalate if necessary. You may say the killing of this man was unnecessary, I would ask were you ever there? Have you ever seen actual intelligence reports related to his activities? I was and did, my knowledge is dated at this point, but he was a valid target just based upon my knowledge. Trump’s handling of the situation was perhaps geopolitical genius. It would have been the easy answer to retaliate against Iran after their ‘for show’ rocket attack. Instead, take a real look at what he did. Unprecedented and perhaps genius.
  • National Right for Life March.  So many of us ‘principled conservatives’ talk about the moral decay that results from a culture that murders the unborn. President Trump was the first US president to speak at this march, go back and watch the speech, perhaps the best of his career.
  • State of the Union.  Religious liberty, Pro-gun rights, Pro-life, Pro-capitalism. Argue with that. (also, tacky and non-traditional, I agree)

You wanted ‘less government’ thrown in there too?  I heard some of that, but here is the thing, what is conservatism really?  To preserve the permanent things. All the permanent things are under assault. One real way to reverse that trend is to change the narrative. To show that conservative principles are not hatred, but rather kindness. A strong economy with less regulation lifts everyone up. For a ‘populist’ president to do that while speaking truth about other conservative issues has real value. Contrasting the conservative vision directly against the socialist view speaks to a large segment of the coalition that supports the left.

Such as;

Black Americans, for instance, have never been completely on board with many aspects of the liberal agenda. They went along because the narrative said evil conservatives are filled with hate. It is hard to make that argument when conservatives are increasing opportunity, incomes and prosperity. It is the economy stupid! That might just be the ticket that breaks up the liberal coalition.

Mexican Americans, we assume, because the left says it is so, that all Latinos are exactly the same, all one block. I am not so certain. I suspect many, those that have been here working for a few years, legally and illegally, view new migrate waves from Central America with suspicion. They know those folks will compete with them for jobs. Trump’s stance on the border will perhaps have a different long-term impact on how many of these folks view conservatives than the liberal narrative paints.

Regular Joes. Factory workers, union men, blue color guys that vote for the liberal ticket because they are supposed to, even though they disagree with many of the social and cultural aspects of the liberal agenda. The economy and jobs is a real way to bring these folks over and break them away from blind support of politicians that harm them and their families.

I get it, and agree, the free-market is not a sacrament. We can all argue internally for decades about how unbridled vulture capitalism has ruined families, rural America, and the country. These are important conversations, we need to eventually expunge the idea that one can separate economic and social conservatism into public and private. However, right now, the real fight is about survival. If we retrench, argue internally over ideas that are alien at best, and heterodoxy at worst (in the minds of ordinary ‘conservatives’) what will we gain? Either Conservative. Inc will cement control of the opportunity of Trump’s populism, or the liberal socialist will take control. In both cases, the cause of conservatism will be killed. We have one chance, to become relevant. If Trump can crack the left’s coalition through economics while talking about real conservative issues, we need to try and get behind that- it is our only option that may actually help restore real conservatism. Throwing rocks, in the face of all the money and influence behind Conservitive, Inc. will simply ensure were are left on outside the circle.

Here is the crux of the matter. Talking about principles is important. High-minded rock-throwing, however, will not fix anything. Believing yourself too educated in the mystical traditions of conservatism to support a populist president that does not speak all the right conservative orthodoxy is not productive, not for the culture. It may garner you followers and book sales, but, you are not in the game. You will not help fix things.

President Trump represents a real opportunity to break the back of the hodge-podge coalition that makes up the power-base of the liberal establishment. Those people have never been more vulnerable. They look pathetic, weak, feckless and wrong at this point. Once that coalition is broken, perhaps then we might turn our guns on the false conservatives and reform conservatism in a real and practical way in America. If we fail to put down this abomination that has become of the left, all of our ideas and theories will be nothing more than academic pursuits and talk.

It is time for the fence-sitting rock-throwers to come to the conclusion I have, President Trump is good for conservatism because he represents a real opportunity to crush the liberal coalition and break it apart. It is time for real conservatives to turn away from ‘never Trumpers’ that cannot recognize this as the reality we live in – those people if they cannot come to understand the reality we live in should never be listened to again. We have an opportunity.

Y’all think about it!  Keep up the good work of articulating the principles of conservatism, however, look around at reality – we have a real opportunity to crush the biggest threat to conservatism and break apart its powerbase. Let’s do that, then we can expunge the Straussians and Neocons.

Unhinged and Triggered
They are unhinged and vulnerable now!

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. -Luther

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Connect with Barry on Twitter, @onlyBarryLClark. Wondering who I am? See here.