sabato, dicembre 19, 2015

How I Didn't Become A Conservative

Some time ago I saw an amusing description of the gathering known as the Philadelphia Society, a meeting that takes place every year in that Pennsylvania city. The writer called it a place for anyone who considers himself a conservative, from those who want to sell off public parks to the highest bidder to those who yearn for a restoration of the Hapsburg monarchy. But I have a question about this: What unites those who attend this meeting? Obviously it could be hostility toward those who call themselves liberals. After all, are not liberals those who favor abortion, same-sex unions, a government that grows annually bigger like a cancer? Perhaps, but some libertarians (who also attend the Society’s meeting) have nothing against abortion or same-sex unions, and some of those who call themselves liberals hold positions similar or identical with some attendees at the Philadelphia Society, e.g., on the American invasion of Iraq or the need of some kind of restraint on private economic activity to orient it toward the common good. These sorts of reflections produce one conclusion in me: the term “conservative” is so meaningless that we would do well to abandon it altogether. It is not a helpful shorthand to simplify our thinking, but a sure way to muddle our thoughts.