Twenty years ago, I was working at The Weekly Standard with Scott Morris, who has since become a novelist (and was a budding one then). He had studied philosophy in two Oxfords — Mississippi and England — and was bursting with intellect. He asked me why I was a conservative. I gave him an answer. He wasn’t satisfied with it — not philosophically or intellectually interesting enough. I gave him another answer. He wasn’t satisfied with that either.
Finally, I said, “Look, Scott, I’m an anti-Communist. I hate the Reds. Hate, hate, hate them. They are vicious, cruel people who want to destroy everything that is good, and our Left makes excuses for them, when not in bed with them.”
He laughed and laughed — and let me off the hook, for the time being.
Today, I have a piece called “What Is Conservatism?” That is the question that a woman asked me at a public forum in Albuquerque last week. I say, as I said in New Mexico, that I decline to be a definer or an arbiter, and certainly to be a commissar, of conservatism. Still, I give (as I gave) an answer.
And then I quote Roger Scruton, the British philosopher, who is an exemplary conservative. In a podcast last summer, I said to him (approximately), “If I appointed anyone as commissar of conservatism, it would be you.” He said (exactly),
“I would be very lax in my duties. My view is that the most important thing for conservatives is to be in alliance with each other, not to have witch hunts over small points of doctrine, not to identify heresies and persecute them and so on.
“I think that, in the end, there is something that unites all conservatives, which is that they are pursuing something they love. My view is that the Left is united by hatred, but we are united by love: love of our country, love of institutions, love of the law, love of family, and so on. And what makes us conservatives is the desire to protect those things, and we’re up against people who want to destroy them, and it’s very simple.”
As moving as it is true. And as true as it is moving. We are united by love (though I still hate the Reds — is that okay, Roger?).