Sunday, February 11, 2007

"I just love your accent"


"My conservatism is aristocratic in spirit, anti-populist and rooted in the Northeast. It is Burke brought up to date. A ‘social conservative’ in my view is not a moral authoritarian Evangelical who wants to push people around, but an American gentleman, conservative in a social sense. He has gone to a good school, maybe shops at J. Press, maybe plays tennis or golf, and drinks either Bombay or Beefeater martinis, or maybe Dewar's on the rocks, or both.

Say what you will about the European tradition of aristocratic conservatism, but it had the decency to be associated with an actual aristocratic tradition. The American variety, though, is perpetually poised on the brink of phoniness: As a friend once remarked, of a conservative acquaintance who affected the airs of a character out of Brideshead - "he might as well be pretending to be a pirate.""

The European aristocrats are largely either wiped out by revolution or, worse, have become environmentalists. While once brilliant they are now hardly worthy of imitation. Hart is correct to note that the old fashioned North Eastern conservatives might have a fair amount to fear from the less polished evangelicals who are replacing them. However, creating imaginary social classes isn't exactly the way to revitalise old fashioned Republican politics. The aristocrats' glory days in Europe are long gone and they have never existed in America.


Anonymous said...

there's also an enormous amount of confusion in Hart's article-I think it comes down to snobbery/ fear of liberals in large part. What threat to freedom could evanglic pose that wasn't posed by the old supposed "north eastern conservatives" after all it was the latter who were among the most important instigators of Prohibition and/or contraception bans (depending partly on religion)

Matthew Sinclair said...

I would guess the main threat he is getting at is populism. This certainly seems plausible in economic policy as with the discussion on trade with China.