Saturday, August 13, 2005


Leftists talk a lot of nonsense about conservatism being opposition to all change, when every conservative I know would like to see a HEAP of things about the world changed. So what IS the basic core of conservatism? Below is how Keith Feiling, an eminent historian of the British Conservative party, defined what he saw as the lasting core of British conservatism over a couple of hundred years:

"It is a scepticism, amounting to disbelief in any purely intellectual process as a means to explain rights and duties or to justify political obligation. They distrust general notions such as "the community" and would argue that the despotism of reason may cloak as much sinister self-interest and self-deception as any other tyranny. Burke made eloquent how he hated 'the very sound' of abstract rights, insisting that men do not act on metaphysical speculations. And even more. His teaching was that the rules of politics are but morality enlarged, and that all moral questions are mixed questions; not to be resolved by pushing some one abstract principle to its extremity which must end in force, open or concealed, but always by reference to relation and circumstance and moral effect......

And it is not hard to see how that caution flows through to distrusting government, distrusting theory-based "reforms" and advocating individual liberty etc. (if my link to Feiling's article gets overloaded, you can also find it here and here)


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