Wednesday, June 27, 2007
CaptainB's characteristically in depth comment on my Dick Cheney post reminds me of a question I have been meaning to ask you to ponder for some time. The Captain speaks of the Republican Fred Thompson as a 'true conservative' as opposed to those currently in charge. This is an important point. The two right wing movements of the last thirty years have both been anti-conservative. Neo-liberalism's glorification of the market subverted community, locality, custom and tradition. Neo-conservatism's rabid idealism is an affront to the anti-idealistic pragmatism of old conservatism. Thus 'right wing' and 'conservative' can no longer be regarded as synonyms. In fact, they never should have been. It was commonplace for late Victorians and Edwardians to regard socialism as a conservative movement. And G.K.Chesterton defined his own high Toryism as the support of the working man against vested interests. It was probably when the Russian revolution polarised political debate that the idea of conservatism as an anti-working class movement was born. Conservatism is not a matter of any specific policies, but rather it is an attitude defined by realism and a reverence for custom and tradition. Both of these can be pursued through policies that might, in the sloppy terminology of contemporary political coverage, be called either 'left-wing' or 'right wing'. So the ponder is: where are the true conservatives now that we really need them? I'm guessing Gordon Brown, marinated as he is in neocon moral thought, is not the answer.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 11:52 am