Conservatism as an ideology isn’t real. To be conservative is to want a current status of society to be continued. The content of said fixed point is laid out in political context of said society. A conservative in 1940s Russia would be a Stalinist and a conservative in 2020 America should be a socially left, economically right, welfare capitalist. In America at least, this group is known as liberals or progressives and your average American conservative is likely not going to identify with the usual ideas supported by liberals or progressives. This is because, in reality, the term conservative is a gross “big tent” label that does more to hurt the causes inside of it than help.
If conservatism isn’t conservative, then what are conservatives?
Proper ideologies are real, that is, definable statuses of what is desired. Someone who describes themselves as a conservative is likely not advocating for a raising of minimum wages, in support of the right to an abortion, or raising taxes to fund medicare, they’re likely some form of libertarian, christian democrat (not party, but ideology), populist, or traditionalist. That is to say, a conservative is more than likely a counter-progressive , neo-traditionalist , or a reactionary point of view than a properly conservative one that advocates for the status quo.
Because of this breakdown and recategorization of the conservative big-tent concept, we can start reorganizing and re-tooling these ideologies in more intelligent and honed ways. Namely, populists and elitists should swiftly break off from one another as they share almost nothing in common than a strong dislike of the progressive front. We can also split off the globalistic capitalists from the nationalists too. From there, we’ve already done quite a splitting. To give some examples of the results, we may find that Elitist Libertarians, Southern Aristocrats, and The Mormon and The Catholics clergy now may find themselves on common ground about an elite being necessary while the populists may find themselves at home with the Jacksonian roots of the agrarianists. The anti-technological righties may also find themselves at home with the nationalists who wish to demolish the international trade, while the globalist libertarians and techno-capitalists find new friends among the business conservative. Rather my predictions on how these groups would split or not is irrelevant, the only thing that matters is that any type of splitting at all is likely more in line with the fundamental ideals that these groups hold rather than the big tents, but, there is one important question that has been neglected through this paragraph:
But why should these ideas split?
Simply put, most of these righty ideals under the same banner are incompatible. You can’t have the techno-libertarian, free market capitalists play nice with the anti-technology, Agrarian, southern aristocrats. So too you can’t have the populist, Trumpist faction of the conservative play nice with the more globalistic business conservative. These groups are opposed in fundamental ways. These groups are better off among their own in terms of ideology as to further refine themselves, the more energy that’s spent doing fruitless cooperation with those they are opposed to is time not spent refining a groups ideas to answer the questions of modernity in properly thought out ways.
Also, with a lack of an ideological identity, these groups are bad at identifying themselves. Only those groups that exist outside of political identity (such as the religions) have any hope at organizing in a way that matters; If everyone from the libertarian to the theocrat is a “conservative”, then the label means nothing and no real progress can be made in terms of getting like minded people together, thus making the label very counter-productive outside of defining itself against progressivism.
A small aside into the progressive wing
So, the term conservative as a political group is a worthless, counter-productive, unintuitive term that means nothing. How about the term progressive, is it equally worthless? The answer to that is firmly yes. The progressive wing contains environmentalists, social progressives, bleeding-heart libertarians, communists, anarchists, labor activists, and other anti-liberal/neo liberal groups too. This means that they are too, in their own way, ideologies that may be mixed in with one another, maybe even limitedly with some more right-wing ideologies. However, the difference between these groups and the big tent “conservative” faction is due to various strong disagreements on morality, reality, and action that make identification with other right-wingers, even very different right wingers, easier than identifying with any progressive.
While this may be the case, limited cooperation is still possible, and may be encouraged for mutual benefit. The environmentalists could easily be taken back if their issues are taken seriously by factions of the right-wing. Similarly, it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see Catholic Distributists and labor activists working side by side on common issues of fair labor. Neither would it be shocking to see some libertarians shake hands with anarchists for anti-authoritarian goals. However, I believe that in some cases the differences may be too great to justify full cooperation and see it more likely that righties work with righties while lefties work with lefties.
What is this more than divide and conquer?
Back to the main article, it would not be shocking to see anti-progressives against this sort of ideological splitting. After all, divide and conquer is one of the most favorite strategies of any belligerent. To this, yes, you’re correct. Divide and conquer does work and this would be advocating for a form of divide, especially a divide in identity, however, by keeping the current form, no proper identification of the next big ideology is happening at all either. If all are flying the “conservative” banner and doing things that are only reacting to the progressive regimes, then nothing will come of conservatism in terms of positive assertions. You can’t build a society on “pwning the libs”, especially if there’s no more libs to pwn. If the general right-wing political coalition came to power as one being, there would be almost immediate failure as nobody would have developed robust theories to run society. Worse yet, the groups within likely wouldn’t have enough legitimacy alone to simply overtake the party to enact such, but all would try. It’ll be an all out bloodbath with each group vying for power while each ideology is also in a very unrefined and weak state. The libertarians would not have conglomerated in a way to agree on solutions to technological issues. Similarly, I doubt the “America First"ers will have answers to the questions of state and territorial autonomy or the issues of fiat currency. No form of right wing ideology would win in such a scenario and people would be begging for the liberals or progressives to come in to return stability.
So, it seems there’s an impasse. Either be divided and conquered or be a rotten and undefined organization. Neither idea seems good, so the third option is merely to submit to the progressive tides as they’re the ones with power and can at least guarantee survival, after all, might makes right, right? Right indeed, but that might does not need to exist only in the hands of progressives. There are other options in the form of confederated cooperation. While the groups in question are all different, and that fact must be recognized above all else, there is room for togetherness on the common issues. While Populists and Aristocrats are far from getting along, they both do recognize that neither of them like being highly taxed or told what to do. Catholics may not like Mormons, but both can find commonality in survival. These groups recognize each other as independent, however recognize each other as heterodoxical. It’s far from solid, but it would at least keep everyone alive.
However, have we not arrived back at our starting position? Are we not just back into the big-tentedness of before? To some extent, yes, we have re-entered the big-tent, but the big-tent is less of a big-tent and more of a collection of tents that house varying ideas that bind themselves together through commonality, it’s a much more honest recognition of the current state of affairs: righties are only bounded together due to a need for survival and nothing more. All that’s changed is the linguistic recognition of this fact and an allowance for those within these groups to defined themselves accordingly. The Catholics, Populists, America Firsters, and Libertarians should never be categorized under the same labels together for their own sakes. All these groups should introduce their ideas ideology first, tent second as to locate one another and refine themselves. Even if the world goes wacky and the winning conservatism is a form of wacky African-American National Socialism, we all best hope it is the most refined and nuanced form of African-American National Socialism so that the next era is, at the very minimum, stable, well defined, and not riddled with societal problems such as genocide or governmental collapse.