Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Conservatives: Whigs vs. Republicans

Based on John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's The Right Nation , NRO's John Derbyshire lists six fundamentals of traditional Whiggish, Burkean, conservatism:
  1. a deep suspicion of the power of the state.

  2. a preference for liberty over equality.

  3. patriotism.

  4. a belief in established institutions and hierarchies.

  5. skepticism about the idea of progress.

  6. elitism.
Even more interesting, Derbyshire reprints Micklethwait and Wooldridge's comparison with America: "The exceptionalism of modern American conservatism lies in its exaggeration of the first three of Burke's principles and contradiction of the last three." I like it!

By the way, Derbyshire's analysis might interest anyone still debating secularism:
American conservatives have not, historically, been very religious. The great 20th-century conservative presidents were Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan. Neither was an atheist, but neither was much of a church-goer either. Their expressions of religious belief did not venture far beyond the requirements of "ceremonial deism." The more you look at the link between American conservatism and American religiosity, in fact, the more tenuous the link appears.

1 comment:

NotClauswitz said...

And I would add that American religiosity has not been very conservative either.
The Liberal and Progressive voices have a much stronger hold (and campfire-guitar) among Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, American Baptists (very different from Southern Baptists), Episcopalians, Unitarians, and many others who see themselves as intellectually Religious Sophisticates, as opposed to simple-minded Evangelical/Pentacostal type hicks and hillbillies.