The Corner

Conservatives, Then and Now

From a reader re my post about culture:

Dear Mr. Goldberg

[Goldberg writes] “Marty Lipset wrote stacks of books on how Canadian and Americans have different forms of government because the Royalist, throne-kissing, swine left America for Canada during the Revolutionary War…”

You mean the *real* conservatives left, as opposed to those who put

airy ideas of liberty and equality ahead of their rights and duties as

English subjects. Classical liberals are better than the modern kind,

but Jefferson was a liberal nonetheless.

Me: Yup: The American revolution was a radical event. Today’s conservatives are defenders of that radical tradition. Not every conservative is right simply because he or she is labeled a “conservative.” It all depends on what you want to conserve. Conservatives in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia are not American-style conservatives and should not be confused as such. Modern conservatism isn’t merely classical liberalism, but if you take the classical liberalism out of American conservatism, it isn’t American conservative anymore and I for one would stop calling myself a conservative if that were to happen.

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