Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A paragraph to ponder.

Anthony Daniels, otherwise known by his pen name, Theodore Dalrymple, is perhaps one of the best conservative writers out there. Should it interest anyone to know why I started blogging it is because of him. It's not that his work inspired me, rather, I wanted to also confirm what he wrote about in his articles, as an independent blogger. My writing is no where in his league and I never expected to get the audience that I have but it was my intention to second the observations that he made whilst working with the underclass and social services as a physician.  I had analogous experiences here in Australia and I felt almost duty bound to give support to his views. I imagine that there are doctors in the U.S. who could report the same.

Daniels regularly writes for the Salisbury Review, which purports to be the Quarterly Journal of the Conservative Anglosphere (it too, seems to be soliciting writers, so arid in thought is Conservative Britain) and his writing is generally quite perceptive and well reasoned.  But imagine my surprise when I saw this paragraph in a recent work of his;
The other question to which I have found no satisfactory answer, despite having been asked it many times, is what is a conservative. My reply is that a conservative has no fixed doctrine to which he must subscribe. He has, rather, a general attitude [Ed], namely that man is fallible, that regress is as much to be feared as progress is to be hoped, that human action always has unforeseen consequences so that prudence is a virtue, that ignorance is always greater than knowledge, that those who came before us were as intelligent as we, that tradition contains wisdom as well as irrationality, that life cannot be lived according to a preconceived plan, that wickedness lies in wait for all of us, that man is imperfectible.
Strange, how one of the best conservative writers out there has a difficulty with understanding the nature of conservatism. I don't think Daniels is alone in his view of conservatism. I have a lot of respect for Daniels, and his understanding of conservatism as consisting of tradition, caution and the preference of the familiar seem to be the predominant themes in contemporary understandings of itself and itself reflects the Burkean tradition of thought.  Personally, I think that this is conservatism's fatal flaw.

The problem with this temperamental view of conservatism is that it is bound to no fixed principles, rather, this type of conservatism exists to act as social retardant to innovation, regardless of whether this innovation is good or bad. A temperamental does not have fixed prinicples but rather a fixed attitude. So while a temperamental conservative may oppose moral relativism initially, if enough people come on board, if it is implemented slowly and if it appears to work, he'll slowly come around to the idea and then, he will be resistant to having the principle changed. This type of conservatism does not really afford any protection against the slouch towards Gomorrah. The Conservative impotence at events in Rotherham is a case in point. As I've said before, modern conservatism is simply the Right wing branch of the Left.