Is a modest conservatism possible today?

The appeal of secular conservatism, like the appeal of laying off cultural conservatism, is that it tells us we can have a minimal politics.

From a conservative standpoint, that’s generally a good thing. As many have pointed out, the conservative tendency is to work within what exists and favor intelligent minor adjustments. If you go that way you won’t often raise big issues or appeal to grand principles.

The problem though is that such a conservatism is content-free and lacking in vision. It makes sense in a generally conservative polity, but it can’t respond to fundamental criticisms and in other settings can make Raul Castro and for that matter Kim Jong Il conservatives.

Above all, it can’t tell us what to do if the principles publicly established are at odds with what conservatives at bottom care about. The understandings of freedom and equality now enshrined as rights in domestic law and international conventions demand suppression of traditional connections and understandings, and their forcible replacement by something supposedly more rational and just but in fact inhuman and destructive.

What is our response? Modest conservatism can’t tell us.

1 thought on “Is a modest conservatism possible today?”

  1. Two responses
    1. A long march through the institutions.

    2. Sit back and watch it all fall apart while enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that we were right.


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