Culture

The Outrage Over The Climate Strike Proves Conservatism Will Never Be The New Punk Rock

Arguing with children isn't some deviation from modern conservatism's current path. It is that path's logical endpoint.

Daisy Cousens and Andrew Bolt are among conservative commentators that have rallied against the climate strike

For years now, the conservative movement in this country and abroad has pretended to be above the culture wars.

According to talking heads like Daisy Cousens, Mark Latham and Andrew Bolt, sensible proponents of the Liberal party’s rightmost wing would never deign to lower themselves to the level of leftists, who allegedly spend their time pushing Marxism in schools, and desperately fighting to cancel each other. Conservatives are too busy reflecting the will of the people apparently, and quietly putting PC culture to rights.

This is, of course, a bold lie. Conservatives are guilty of exactly the kind of cultural issue-mobbing that they accuse the far-left of — they frequently conflate a range of unconnected socio-political issues, expanding the reach of opinion-based discourse into places that it should never go.

After all, despite their repeated claims that “facts don’t care about your feelings”, leading conservatives certainly like to spurn the facts offered up by the scientific consensus — a consensus that they try vainly to appeal to when it comes to matters of gender identity and race.

There is, for example, nothing about denying climate change that fits with the rest of the conservative worldview. More than that, it flies directly in the fact of the picture pundits like Latham and Bolt draw of themselves for the sake of the media. No calm, wise, fact-based political sage gets to deny the scientific method only when it produces a result that doesn’t neatly slot under an artificial umbrella of disparate issues.

There is simply no reason why staunch Liberals need to differ from staunch socialists on the matter of rising levels of CO2, or the endpoint of our rapidly-heating Earth. How to deal with such problems when they have been diagnosed is, of course, a different matter — but the bare facts of climate change don’t alter depending on which name you put a check next to in an election.

And yet even more boldly, conservatives have spent the months since the Trump election convincing the world — and each other — that they represent the truly radical political discipline.

Following the lead of rapidly-deflating far-right gasbags like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Watson, Cousens and Latham, in particular, have taken up the battle cry that “conservatism is the new punk rock”.  While leftists concoct moral outrages and ban books, such conservative pundits claim that they are out there resisting the thought police, shaking the foundations of the system, and speaking truth to power.

But this too is a lie, one that is tearing itself to shreds over the right’s hyperbolic reaction to tomorrow’s Climate Strike. Conservatives, these supposedly bold new enemies of double-think and state-sanctioned control, are in a furore that students would dare to rebel against their teachers and parents.

Never mind that said teachers and parents have almost universally consented to the strike, with some schools organising school trips to show solidarity. And never mind that the right champions its own for far more disruptive and damaging displays of dissent. As far as conservatives are concerned, such a protest is a symptom of the left’s obsession with pointless displays of vulgar power.

Of course, it is laughable that conservatives would attempt to position themselves as mohawked rebels while getting in a tizz over the mildest form of protest possible. But it is fundamentally unsurprising that they have. This is modern conservatism in a nutshell — a bastardisation of true Liberal values that preaches change while espousing regression; that denies hard facts in an attempt to prop up a confused agenda that stands for nothing and against everything.

Arguing with children isn’t some deviation from modern conservatism’s current path. It is that path’s logical endpoint.