June 8, 2003


WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CONSERVATISM?: Jose Ortega y Gasset has been seen by many as Spain's revolutionary thinker. Six years after being fired from Edinburgh University - after being a victim of a smear campaign by the News of the World - Chris Brand looks at his seminal work and finds in him a first class conservative, in tune with the European Convention - but with no answer to modern issues of sexual and personal freedom. (Chris Brand, The Sprout)
Instead of being as realistic about eros as they are about thanatos, conservatives in the West have opted to be parties of frumpish women and 'family values' drawn from the wilder shores of religious mania. Instead of being known to delight in Donatello's 'David' and Canova's 'The Three Graces', conservatives have preferred to associate themselves even with dismal churches that were increasingly pursuing socialist, homosexualist and feminist agendas. The twentieth century saw a magnificent eruption of love songs, oral sex, increasingly beautiful and wasp-waisted women, and fashions to die for. Yet, hostile to eugenics (forever trying to distance themselves from anything supposedly 'tainted' by Nazism), American conservatives positively raced to imprison even dull women who declined to continue with unwanted and disastrous pregnancies. While twelve-year-olds experimented with sex (usually most responsibly when IQ was adequate), conservatives insisted on trying to control under-age sexuality by such crude methods as withdrawing free contraception, banning sex education and consigning even the most affectionate and harmless lovers of adoring girls under sixteen to long jail sentences. Ortega y Gasset was not perhaps the right man to break the dreary association between conservatism and prohibitionistic prudery - for he was small, finely strung and intensely private. Yet it is strange that he could not see the need for a range of entirely new marital and family contracts and sex practices to harness awakened Western sensuality and love of beauty and provide the backbone of a seriously anti-statist and thriving Europe based on viable and wanted families having realistic marriage contracts. Ortega could see that fascistic nationalism was the wrong path and that unvarnished individualism would not be enough; but his preference for a dynamic European superstate shows too little respect for the more basic human social energies that come from intelligent love and sex. Given his
own intelligence, idealism and special concern for the West, Ortega's defence can only be that later conservatives have done no better.

Given the nature of the magazine--anti-EU humor--one assumes this is parody. If not it's self-parody. Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2003 7:33 PM
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