One thing I greatly appreciate about Andrew — though he disagrees with Grand New Party on a lot of fundamental questions, he is extremely gracious and kind. One prime example is his column on the new Atlantic right. There is a sense in which everything I write is in dialogue with Andrew’s skeptical vision, which has definitely informed my own politics in a lot of ways that aren’t always easy to disentangle. He ends the column on an important note.
Conservatism, after all, has always been a strange mixture of dismay at social loss and pragmatism in helping to ameliorate it. It is not an ideology; it’s a flexible, pragmatic, modest approach to the necessary evil of government. In one era, big tax cuts, deregulation and a much smaller state may be appropriate. In another time, a different emphasis may be more fitting. This is the Tory genius – and it’s encouraging to see conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic grope gradually towards reinvention.
This is in striking contrast to Corey Robin’s view, of conservatism as a defense of hierarchy and privilege. It comes as no surprise that Andrew’s characterizations sounds right to my ears and Robin’s does not. But I wonder what Andrew would make of Robin’s argument.
I’m interested in the complex ways in which inequality and hierarchy are related, but also in the ways they cut against each or are orthogonal to each other. Will Wilkinson and Clay Shirky have written about this in their own ways, and so has Daniel A. Bell in the context of “the new Confucianism.” I hope to write more about this soon.