The Corner

Derb On Metrocons

Let’s just get one thing straight. Some people (no names, no pack drill) seem to think I have tried to describe yet another type of conservative, to add to the neocons, paleocons, crunchy cons, etc. Nothing could have been

further from my mind. As a matter of fact, that whole pond-life side of

conservatism is deeply unappealing to me. It reminds my of my student days

when I hung out with Trotskyists–or tried to, as I could never keep up with

their ideological quarrels. Hardly was a Trot group established than some

minority of members would decide that it was insufficeintly pure for them,

and secede to form a separate group… some minority of whose members would

soon decide… etc. etc. That’s what ideologues are like. My vision of

conservatism is that it is, or should be, an un-ideology, or an

anti-ideology–it should be the enemy of all ideologies. From time to time I

am at some conservative gathering and some grim-visaged keeper of this or

that flame demands to know what kind of conservative I am–Burkean, Kirkian,

Straussian, Randian… I personally think that people like that should be

rounded up and dumped on some island at the further extremity of the Aleutian

chain, to survive as best they can on walrus blubber and seagull eggs. (I

tried, a couple of times, replying jovially: “I’m a Rodney King

conservative–can’t we all just get along?” However, I found that this got a

frosty reception.) Here is a quote I like very much. It is from Theodore

Dalrymple’s piece in the May 2003 issue of The New Criterion, page 35.

“Anti-communism was not an ideology–it was merely an anti-ideology–but it

drew a great deal of strength from the self-evidently formidable nature of

the foe, and thus came to appear almost an ideology in itself. But the

anti-ideologist now has to fight on a hundred fronts at once; it is more like

a guerilla than a conventional war. And since, almost by definition, the

anti-ideologist is not as obsessed with any given subject as his many

opponents are, who each derive the meaning of their lives from their

ideologised grievances, he is at a permanent disadvantage. In the absence of

a strong communist enemy, ideology makes inroads in our society as easily as

a hot knife through butter.” I am absolutely with TD on this–an

anti-ideologist…. Although, if anyone wants to give me a $10m grant to

open a MetroCon think tank, I can be reached through National Review.

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