October 30, 2009

ERIC HOFFER WOULD NOT HAVE DEFINED HIMSELF AS A CONSERVATIVE...:

Looking for a True Conservative (Paul Johnson, 10/29/09, Forbes)

A true conservative today should stress construction, encouragement, moderation and understanding instead of destruction, prohibition, extremism and slogans. A conservative thinks in terms of countless minor corrections and improvements based on experience and experiment rather than in terms of a universal, uniform solution based on theory and enforced by inflexible law.

A conservative, in the best sense, sees the world and its inhabitants as an interdependent organism, comprising innumerable local communities and territories, each adapting to particular conditions. A conservative is someone who goes with the grain of humanity and the nature of the physical world, rather than trying to regiment and fashion a utopia through force of law. And, needless to say, an acceptable conservative is not one who thinks all the answers are obvious but is a modest person who admits that problems are not easily solved, that perfection is unattainable in this world and that it is often necessary to admit mistakes, change one's mind and start again.


...but he put the matter poetically in True Believer:
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, particularly their willingness to compromise with Democrats if it advanced conservative ends as well, were avatars of this ideal. Of course, the Right hated them for it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2009 6:36 AM
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