The Corner

Re: Hart’s Conservatism

Ramesh – I found that bit weird too. I think one can make the case — from a standpoint of enlightened elitism — that the shift to the South and West hurt traditional European culture (classical music, painting etc). But the other seemingly invidious adjectives struck a sour chord with me as well. Also, since the East Coast is a disproportionate producer of our most degrading cultural wares, even my friendly reading is hard to sustain.

There are other puzzling tidbits as well. Is it really “Jacobinism” to find a right to life in the Declaration? If conservatives are wrong to do this, maybe it’s because they’re simply wrong. Besides, how many pro-lifers are against abortion because of this “Jacobin” reading of the Declaration? Surely, vastly larger numbers of people are pro-lifers first and natural law jurists a very distant second, if at all.

Tellingly, Hart also writes: “Any political position is only as important as the thought by which it is derived.” Really? This sounds like an awfully theoretical way to look at the world and one hard to reconcile with his kind words for realism a few paragraphs later. Also, why does he invoke William James of all people as a guide for the conservative mind? James was an admirable fellow, but the patron of much that is not conservative. If Hart’s point is to disparage dogmatism and utopianism in praise of “muddling through” in the British sense, one can think of quite a few better authorities to conjure than James.

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