For various reasons, I’m re-reading Anthony Crosland’s The Future of Socialism. This quote resonated:
[The British Conservative Party] lacks the essential attribute of a counter-revolutionary party – a faith, a dogma, even a theory. A passionate desire to restore the past must rest on a deep attachment – moral, ideological, or theoretical – to the virtues of that past. And this the British Conservative, typically pragmatic and empirical, seldom has. His attachment to the status quo, whatever the status quo may be; and his function is less to reinstate the past than to preserve the present.
I think this is a key reason why I consider myself to be Of The Left – The word ‘Conservative’ means resistance to change… and that’s not me. Indeed, the quote above looks like a slur to my eyes.
Interestingly, though, I sense that it does not look like a slur to anyone who does consider themselves Conservative, or just conservative. Last year’s Christmas reading, The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan, puts the reluctance to change things at the heart of the Conservative mindset.
Sullivan also rejects the need for a core ideology. He celebrates what Crosland condemns, calling the Conservative approach the politics of the doubter. Indeed, that is the distinction between the religious/social Conservatives and the fiscal/libertarian Conservatives, two groups who are becoming increasingly uneasy bedfellows within the US Republican Party (and I suspect the British Conservative Party too). The religious/social Conservatives do seem to wish for a return to an earlier time, which is what makes them so much more worrying than Conservatives of the fiscal/libertarian bent.
None of this, however, allies me with blogger Alex Hilton’s recent suggestion that Toryism is ‘evil’. There’s more subtlety to politics than that, which is why its so interesting, and challenging.