March, 8th 2009

Why conservatives are conservative

– Liz Mair

Andrew Sullivan posts:

"What attracted me to conservatism as a young person in the early 1980s was its challenge to engage and understand some real thinkers -- Hayek, von Mises, Kirk, Buckley, Friedman, Chambers. You didn't have to be an intellectual, but you needed to understand them. Reagan did. Now, instead of intellectuals, we have clowns like Joe the Plumber and Limbaugh getting all the attention. Conservatism is overopinionated and undereducated, proudly intolerant and insular -- populated by the type of Americans who (this happened) would spit on Darwin's tomb in Westminster Abbey," - David Frum, in a must-read.

My own evolution as a young conservative was more fueled by Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Amalryk, Hayek, Lewis, Bernard Levin, and eventually, as I grew old enough to understand them, Oakeshott and Strauss. My own bastardized version of conservatism was always fueled by a sense that it was more intellectually rigorous than liberalism. And because it had to find the intellectual resources to counter the suffocating left-liberal elite consensus of the 1970s, it was often more in shape than its chief rival, liberalism.

I don't call myself a conservative.  And I can't say that I was led to my political philosophy in any substantial way by reading anything or anyone (my views on international relations are another matter).  I'd say I was more drawn to my political philosophy by virtue of living in places where policies had been enacted that really were demonstrably ineffective (and sometimes, on the flip side, where particular policies, usually in seriously weird areas, were quite effective).  I was drawn to my political affiliation based on which party had more people in it who seemed to be on the same page as me (or close) and were generally likeable (a much smaller number than I'd like in both parties, it should be said).  My experience, in terms of how I've come to affiliate with a general philosophy and a particular party, isn't the same as Frum's or Sullivan's.  But like them, I'm not a Rush or a Joe the Plumber fan, and I'd like to have some other figures more publicly identified with a philosophy that is close to mine in many ways, and which tends to be associated with a party I affiliate with. [intro]



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