Mensch tracht, und Gott lacht

Friday, February 12, 2016

Has conservatism lost its meaning?

When conservatives become politically obsessed and lose faith in the future because of the fears of the day, we lose any attractiveness we might have. Our charm, even if we are curmudgeonly, is our love of gifts greater than politics and economics, what T.S. Eliot called the Permanent Things of family, hearth, poetry, art, music, literature, history, language, philosophy, and theology, not merely in an abstract sense (or high brow), but in common sense of not letting systems make us rigid, uncaring, and inhuman. It is the radical ideologue (of any stripe) who tries to force the universe into his tiny box of truth, e.g., Pol Pot, Robespierre, or Osama bin Laden. When a utilitarian calls himself conservative, he doesn't know that the conservative is the anti-utilitarian. In other words, a conservative mind should be accompanied by a liberality of spirit. If the conservative appears to be disconnected from urgent modern tyrannies, it is because he or she is connected with beauties which trascend the centuries. I'd rather that "conservative" be dropped as a political term because, like that great word "liberal," it has become caricatured to the point of meaninglessness.
-- James B. Griffin. Mr. Griffin is an attorney licensed in Alabma and Georgia, a former Wilbur Fellow, and former assistant to Russell Kirk. His law firm website can be found here.

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