I think it was Leo Strauss who once asked how a word–’virtue’–that used to mean the manliness of men, came to signify the chastity of women. Along those lines I’m bemused by how a word–’conservative’–that used to mean a person who defended the status quo came to refer to people who advocate revolution. Moreover, how did ‘progressive’ come to refer–as it does nowadays–to counterrevolutionaries, defenders of the status quo?
Kinsley, with the cleverness for which he is justly known, creates a straw woman–Jeane Kirkpatrick–and then accuses all those who are calling for revolution of hypocrisy. Very boring. Quite a number of us have been calling for revolution all along, fighting tyranny (of various sorts, communist, fascist, islamist, militaristic…) for decades in fact, and we have wondered why we have been called “conservatives,” neo or otherwise. I rather suspect that it was because the old liberals, having lost all the major arguments, devoted their energy to calling us names, and “conservative” was, in their view, a bad name.
That there are differences among serious thinkers is not a legitimate cause for criticism; quite the opposite. It shows that people are thinking, not blindly embracing some dogma or other. Kinsley suggests that Rich Lowry finds those who support democratic revolution excessively utopian, but doesn’t tell us what he thinks. It’s clear he doesn’t like us–oh dear–but why? Is he opposed to the spread of freedom? Or does he just think it’s silly to believe it can succeed? Or what?