1 thought on “Squaring the circle”

  1. Time slice
    Clarifying review.

    It sounds like Mahoney has taken a time slice during which his favoured blend of conservatism and liberalism was optimal – and asked that this balance be made permanent.

    Yet this blend was merely a transitional phase between a mostly conservative and a mostly liberal society – and there is nothing to suggest that it could ever be held in check, sustained or prevented from changing into one or other of the more extreme positions.

    I think you make a good point about the feebleness of pessimistic, eclectic conservatism – it is essentially a self-gratifying pose (and a way of making a living).

    Since Montaigne there has always been a niche for cultured, pessimistic conservatives who make barbed commments on the decline of civilization while listening to chamber music and sipping a glass of good wine. Anthony Daniels/ Theodore Dalrymple is a premier current example, and the British Spectator Magazine and Telegraph newspapers are full of others.

    Actually to make a stand would mean descending to the vulgarity of religious commitment, and – in essence – siding with the rednecks against the intelligentsia. Implicitly, the pessimistic conservatives prefer their wine and music, their witty conversation, their good books – and quietistic defeatism.


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