Conservatism, by definition, is unprincipled, anti-ideological pose that relies on rhetoric rather than dialectic. It was literally defined that way by the man who articulated American conservatism, Russell Kirk:
Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries. After some introductory remarks on this general theme, I will proceed to list ten such conservative principles.
Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.
The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.
Translation: Conservatism is FEELZ.
Doesn’t that explain a great deal about both the conservative failure of the last 60 years as well as their inept, rhetorical, fainting-couch responses to the rise of the Alt-Right?
The amusing thing is that they consider themselves “the hard-headed realists”, but they don’t even have an ideological foundation. Their intellectual movement isn’t even built on sand! It’s built on “a state of mind”, something that is intrinsically malleable and subject to emotional manipulation.
Say what you will about National Socialism, but at least it was an ethos! Conservatism is intellectual nihilism, it is an ideological void.
If you are of the Right, stop calling yourself a conservative. It’s absurd. Not only has conservatism failed to conserve anything, it was as doomed from the start as the atheists attempting to fight a religious war without a religion.
One can’t win a gunfight without a gun, and one can’t win a cultural war without an ideology.
Jerry Pournelle, for one, understands this.
Conservatism isn’t an ideology; Russell Kirk called his book “The Conservative Mind”, and when specifics were demanded he wrote a book for his times, A Program For Conservatives; not an ideology.