2Blowhards is shutting up shop. Which is a shame since it was one of the best culture blogs out there. I must of been one of the last to know but Michael Blowhard's real name is Ray Sawhill. I think he has a great blog and recommend that you visit it. I don't agree with all of his views but his opinions are intelligent and informed unlike 99% of the blogosphere.
Whilst browsing his blog I stumbled upon a piece by Michael Oakeshott entitled, "On Being Conservative". I had briefly skimmed upon some of Oakeshott's writings in the past but they failed to capture my imagination, but I put in the effort on this piece and sadly, it was wanting.
Oakeshott's contention is that Conservatism is a disposition, a resistance to change. Valuing things for the way things are and and as such not wanting to meddle with them. Basically Oakeshott's reiterates the view of the Progressives, that conservatives are people who unthinkingly resist change by virtue of their temperament. They are the treacle in societies progress; the dead weight inhibiting change. Timidity and anxiety their virtues.
And this is all the more depressing that this opinion comes from a man who was professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics. If conservatism is "Intellectually light" its because of rubbish such as this.
Oakeshott's conservatism is by nature "value light", in that man can have a conservative disposition in all sorts of social political circumstances and by his definition called a conservative. According to Oakeshott's view, an elderly British colonel tending his roses and Russian bureaucrat in the Brezhnev Soviet union (a time when the communists were loathe to change anything) could both be considered " Conservative". Nazi's who resisted policy changes by the party could also be considered " Conservative". What matters is not what you believe in, but on how prepared you are to change. Stupid people, who take a long while grasping new Ideas could then be considered de-facto conservatives.
Who's side is he on?
Firstly and foremostly, Conservatism is not a disposition: it is a weltanschauung, a world view, a metaphysical system. Conservatism is not a resistive disposition, rather it is a metaphysical system which believes that there is a reality, truth or good which man bases his life on. Be that Shiva, Jesus, Allah, Science etc.
Conservatives of all stripes have ideas on what constitutes the good. And in the words of an Australian commercial, "When your on a good thing, stick to it". We don't resist change for the sake of it, rather change is resisted when thing are changed for the worse. And frankly over the last 100 years or so a lot of the social changes have not been for the best.
Conservative are right to resist change when it is from good to bad, but they're moronic if they resist change which is an improvement on the bad, something people disposed to reject change are liable to do. In a sick or corrupt society, it's the Conservatives which are the radicals agitating for change, wanting to change the way things are to the way things should be.
Sometimes I really despair.