What Happened in the Sixties?


Point 5 of Nydwracu’s Priority Research Areas for Neoreaction is:
“What happened in the ‘60s?”
My guess would be: the death of conservatism. Except that that
probably happened in the 1950s, and the sixties were a delayed reaction
to the fact that progressivism no longer had any organised opposition.
The familiar neoreactionary story is that progressives have long had
the upper hand, certainly since the death of Queen Anne in England,
and from the very beginning in the American colonies. Modern leftism
is simply descended from the whigs.
However, though they were dominant throughout the period 1714 – 1960,
they were never entirely unchallenged. There were still Tories in
positions of influence who maintained a coherent traditionalist
political philosophy, and who (in the later period) accomodated with
the age of democracy without ever accepting its assumptions.
That political force was dying in England by 1945. It was routed and
destroyed by 1957. After two hundred years of advance by overcoming
conservative opposition, progressivism was left completely
unconstrained. Scattered discontents remained, but, without a living
conservative movement or philosophy to draw from, they were not able
to make arguments that would satisfy anyone.
Progressives responded by driving out potential rebels — first from
academia, always a centre of progressivism but soon owned by them
exclusively, and then from organised religion.
What we think of as “the sixties” was the gradual realisation by
progressives that they could get away with anything. Every door they
pushed on swung open, and there was a decade of exuberant pillage.
The end came as they gradually adapted to the fact that they were now
the establishment, and needed to produce some measure of moderation
from within. They started to address their contradictions among
themselves: many of today’s basic political and cultural assumptions
were decided somewhat arbitrarily in that 1970s settlement. (That, for
instance, is where paedophiles failed to make the cut as a protected
victim group). The recessions of the 1970s injected a note of realism
into economic policy, and the enfeebled Conservative Party reenergised
itelf, but basing its new opposing philosophy on classical liberalism
rather than conservatism.
It was hard for me to understand the process, because, being born
after the sixties, an actual conservative movement is something I have
never seen. It was on its last legs in the first half of the century,
but it really existed. This
biography of Anthony Eden
gives some clues as to what it looked like: patrician, honourable,
suspicious of America, and doomed. There were presumably others like
Eden, but today there are none.
This has obviously been a very anglocentric account. I would guess
that the story for France would be fairly similar, though I don’t
know, but that America was a bit different. The outcome seems to have
been much the same in all three.




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