November 5, 2013


Michael Oakeshott and Modern Conservatism (Peter Wehner, 11.05.2013 , Commentary)

In her 1975 essay (which is reprinted in this collection) on Oakeshott-one of the most respected intellectual spokesmen for 20th century British conservatism-the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb said the key word describing the conservative disposition was "enjoyment."

"The 'conservative disposition,'" Himmelfarb wrote, "the disposition to enjoy what is rather than pining for what might be, to appreciate the givens and the goods of life without wanting to subject them to social or political validation - that is a perfect description of his own temperament... Oakeshott's conservatism, like his temperament, is something of a rarity these days."

That is perhaps truer now than it has been in the past.

My impression is that among some on the right there is an increasing sense of around-the-clock agitation and desperation, which translates into shrillness and brittleness. One can sense, at least here and there, a spirit of ressentiment, or a "narrative of injury." It's the feeling that conservatives are a persecuted minority, combined with a growing rage and weariness with what they perceive to be the multiplying failures all around us.

Posted by at November 5, 2013 2:46 PM

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