Saturday, May 18, 2013

While I have been accused of being a contrarian and even (absurdly) a neocon, I have never identified as a conservative. At one time, I confess, I profited from reading the writings of Leo Strauss, Michael Oakeshott, and Milton Friedman and a few others of that caliber. 
For some time, though, there have been no new major conservative thinkers. In fact no conservative thinkers at all, apart from columnists like the odious Charles Krauthammer and the clapped-out George Will. 
What happened? The proximate cause was the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. Surrounded by "National Greatness" loons, he sought to extend US domination throughout the world by bluster, intimidation, and military invasions. Regrettably, that behavior was in accord with one strand of conservative thinking, which seeks simply to clobber opponents. What was not in such accord was his fiscal profligacy, saddling us with an enormous debt that still looms ominously over everything, despite the fatuous assurances of the "deficits don't matter" crowd. 
Yet more fatally damaging to the coherence of the conservative cause was a basic antinomy. The unfettered operations of the market have been ruthlessly eroding the social-conservative imperatives of religion and "family values." Since I have never rallied to those latter causes, I see no grounds for lament. Yet the contradiction between the two impulses has made the link between social conservatism and economic conservatism untenable. Honest observers from that camp have detected this disconnect, which explains why so many have fallen silent--and why above all there is no new intellectual product of this kind coming off the assembly line.


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