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In Defense of Sphere Sovereignty: A Classical response to the NatCon manifesto | Ugo Silva

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

NOTE: The following response was drafted by Ugo Stornaiolo S. and reviewed by many prominent conservatives outside of the Anglo-American conservative sphere, in an attempt to truly reflect a distinctly pan-Western perspective.

As such, this response is not an outright rejection of the National Conservatism Statement of Principles, but a mindful critique of it, and an extension of its signatories’ interest to partake in future discourse and collaboration with the National Conservative movement, while promoting the viewpoints from our own distinct national traditions into the larger conservative discussion, nowadays dominated by Anglo-American doctrine.

Signatories’ institutional affiliations are included for identification purposes only, and do not imply an endorsement on the part of any institution.  

We, citizens of countries that could and should also be considered as Western, have long studied the “National Conservatism: A Statement of Principles,” published by The European Conservative and the American Conservative in June and signed by several prominent public figures and intellectuals, mostly American and a few other European.

We certainly agree with its goal as a practical manifesto for the global Right, particularly praising its points on God and Public Religion, and on the protection of Family and Children, as well as its rejection of Imperialism and Globalism.

However, we also accept as valid the points made in many of its critiques, such as its excessive reliance over its “national” element over its theological one, its clauses inconsistencies on religion and race and the principle of equality under the rule of law, rightly understood, its contradictions in its defense of an enterprise economy while condemning crony capitalism and embracing a sort of state capitalism, and the irony of rejecting the universalism of globalist ideologies using an equally universalist Anglo-American understanding of national traditions.

In that sense, we consider the NatCon manifesto more as a statement of principles for Anglo-American nationalism, and as such, we cannot support it as a representation of Western conservatism, for the West is larger than the Atlantist project leaded by the United States, following the example of their British ancestors.

In return, we offer an alternate statement, one based on common principles shared by a more diverse set of conservatives from all Western countries, not only from the Anglosphere, which could represent better what Classical Conservatism is and can be in the West.

First of all, we consider our civilization not as one of nations, but one of societies, arranged and governed in various spheres that follow a certain order. These spheres include states, countries, nations, peoples, races, localities, associations, guilds, enterprises, churches, and families, with no sphere interfering in the realm of the others, as derived from the ideas of both Juan Vasquez de Mella and Abraham Kuyper.

It is the sphere, the little platoon, as Edmund Burke called it, or the intermediate body, as named by both Robert Nisbet and Plinio Correa de Oliveira, the foundation of a truly self-governing Tocqueville-ian civil society, not the nation, and certainly not the State as it currently is governed.

Patriotism, honor, loyalty, reverence, they all begin in the smallest sphere, and as their extension grows, incorporating more and more members, so does its responsibility to act according to the moral freedom of its individual and collective parts, interfering the least possible so they can develop and prosper peacefully by their own.

As such, we are conservatives because we see these spheres as sovereign, where the virtues to sustain our civilization are promoted and taught in each generation, building a tradition based on moral principles and institutions meant to preserve the historical common good for future generations.

We are also classical, for we firmly believe each of these spheres as a different class to which each individual human person belongs, fulfilling different roles and exercising different rights in each of them, a set of mutually inclusive allegiances that allow us to freely develop the best in our human nature, both individually and socially.

For a very long time, our sacred spheres have been under constant attack by all sides, with ideologies and doctrine misrepresenting the extension of the influence of one, and misrepresenting the tenets of human nature, using economic, cultural, and state power to break into the sovereignty of the person, of all intermediate bodies and of countries, nations and peoples.

Intermediate bodies and their sovereignty have been lost yet, for they still exist, even if their importance seems to have diminished under the attacks of bad faith actors in power and with the resources to pursue their destructive agenda.

But given that conservatism is a doctrine based on “the sentiment that all mature people can readily share […] that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created”, as stated by the late Roger Scruton, we don’t see our role as one of restorers of a lost order, but preservers of the eternal flame of tradition, of the useful knowledge to govern society and civilization that was given to us by our ancestors.

That does not mean we can let our guard down, for our duty is to protect these institutions and their freedom against the enemies who want to take away our security, and prosperityand replace it with the grey and lifeless rule of global homogeneity.

For that, our fight must be founded on the following set of principles, what we therefore affirm and must uphold as our Western tradition.

1. Sphere Sovereignty. We wish to see a world of self-governing, superposing and autonomous intermediate institutions, each acting with full sovereignty in its particular sphere, organizing an organic network in the civil society and in the state, freely providing for their own peaceful prosperity and the protection of the common good for all its individual and collective members.

2. Hierarchy and subsidiarity. We believe that in the organization of sovereign spheres in society, there must be a hierarchy to order their subsidiary relations, from the bottom up according to their extension, with the higher bodies interfering the least in the actions of the smaller platoons, and with each sphere governing itself and its members with autonomous rules that do not enter conflict with the rules of any other institution.

3. Equal dignity, class harmony and natural elites. We firmly stand with a view that promotes the equal dignity of all human beings as created in the image of God. He recognize that no human is identical to his peers, and as such, these differences create a natural harmony of inequalities that can and has to be organically ordered towards the common good, meaning that all humans must be treated with the same respect and dignity, and that there must be free opportunity for each to fulfil the social role for he or she has to most talent in his respective social spheres. This will allow for the rise of a truly virtuous natural elite to bring the best in his trade and activity for the rest of society, promoting true class cooperation betweendifferent collective bodies and institutions and individual persons.

4. Political organization. Sphere sovereignty means that not only intermediate bodies must be self-governing in civil society, but also that any larger political organization of peoples and institutions must respect the organic autonomy of their components. As such, we believe that countries can and should be internally organized in the way their local traditions demand, meaning that nations, peoples, races should be able to arrange their own political relations in ways that allow their development and their prosperity without the interference of other spheres of sovereignty or of external interests.

5. On states and countries. The country is the larger sphere of sovereignty in any given society, at least on a local level. The state is his most usual form of organization, but after the failure of the managerial experiment to uphold the common good, it must be reformed to incorporate in an organic way the organization of free and autonomous intermediate bodies. The country must take the political form the traditions of their internal components call for and has the duty to promote subsidiarity in its relations with its smaller platoons and equal dignity of its members so they can develop class harmony and allow for natural elites to thrive for the common good.

6. Foreign policy and Defense. Countries, as the larger sovereign sphere of any locally organized society, must be freeand independent to pursue their own foreign policy, being able to associate themselves with others into unions and organizations under the same values, principles, and virtues and with the same peaceful goals that will benefit their peoples. Countries must also be able to protect themselves from external aggression, with alliances between them to be organized under the means of common defense of their existences and local traditions.

7. Law and Justice. We believe that fair laws, created within each self-governing intermediate body and within the boundaries of the country, are the best way to organize societies so that they upheld justice and civic friendship, with each sovereign sphere governing its internal organization under clear rules, and legislating and judging its members within the extension of their relations, rights, and duties. Laws are also the best way to rule relations between countries, and they must take the form of treaties, to define the terms of mutual trade, common defense, and cultural exchange. Spontaneous aggression, internal or external, is never legitimate nor fair.

8. A Humane Economy. We consider that a truly humaneeconomy is based on private property, markets, free association, saving and entrepreneurship. Such an economy, which could be classified as a market economy, is the best suited to promote individual and collective material prosperity. Markets are tools for the common good, and they must be organized according to the spontaneousness of human relations, but also kept in check by moral principles and a common business ethic. This also means that the economy cannot and should not be directed by state plans under a socialist principle, which historically has only brought misery and poverty.

9. Family, Children, and Our Duty to Future Generations. We put the traditional family as the first and foremost of all intermediate bodies, the first sovereign sphere and the institutional source of society’s virtues. As such, traditional family must be protected and its sovereign extension respected, for its basis, the lifelong bond between a man and a woman in marriage, and then the lifelong bond between parents and children, continues to transmit the tradition that makes civilization possible. For that, we embrace the institution of traditional marriage as a societal good, childbearing and child raising by both their mother and father as social rights and social duties towards future generations, and we wholeheartedly reject the disintegration of the family by the means of sexual license and experimentation. We thus agree that the economic and cultural conditions that foster stable family and congregational life and child-raising are social and political priorities of the highest order.

Therefore, we the undersigned upheld that these principles truly represent the tradition of Western civilization that we wish to conserve, as they are the eternal natural law, understandable by all reasonable men and women in all our countries, tied together under a long-shared cultural and historical bond.

All writings reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the views of CYOE.

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