« Inflation: a political problem | Main | Fiscal conservatism, economic radicalism »

July 11, 2023



See the excellent paper by Gerry Cohen (a Marxist, of course) on why he is a conservative: https://academic.oup.com/book/4117/chapter-abstract/145857931?redirectedFrom=fulltext


I think there's also a vid of him giving the paper as a lecture on YouTube, which might be worth tracking down.

Jan Wiklund

The best book I have read about this is Craig Calhoun: Roots of radicalism. Studying radical movements he found that they were manned by conservatives - people whose life was dependent of tradition and found themselves in the clutch of annihilation when the old ways disappeared. So there we had the phenomenon of conservatives advocating complete revolution, so that nothing would change.

He also has a chapter about what this tradition is that they defended - the old ways of doing things where one could be in full control of things, instead of losing autonomy and being shuttled to and fro by e.g. despotic foremen.

This kind of conservatism gave rise to the Labour Movement, and to every peasant revolution of the 20th century. He didn't study environmental movements, but do look at the family farmer international of today, Vía Campesina, which is the strongest proponent today of biological food and a strategic partner of Friends of the Earth. They are true conservatives wanting to continue their traditional lifestyle. And at the same time political radicals.


"the opening up of English institutions to predators of all nations"

I'd say the opening up of Britain to predators of all nations is a pretty big loss.

"those areas that have actually experienced more immigration - and therefore one supposes more disruption of home - are more accepting of it; it was areas with low migration who were more likely to vote for Brexit, for example."

Does not compute. Doesn't it just mean that there are fewer natives left in those areas to vote for Brexit?

Not that it did us much good, Boris celebrated his win by handing out a million visas in the year to June 22. Instead of Poles we're getting Francophone Africans.

If we'd had our current bipartisan mass immigration policy in the early 18th century, we'd never have had an Industrial Revolution.

"The main textile-buying organisation has said Britain will be short of half a million hand-loom weavers by 1730, unless migration controls are relaxed"

"Young people are increasingly turning away from equine-related employment, the coal mine owners said this week. Without men to lead animals round the horse-gins, mines will be flooded. The owners are calling for up to 100,000 Turks to be allowed in to fill the posts"


"Katherine Birbalsingh recently tweeted something insightful:"
I guess there's a first time for everything.


Were the previous blog's comments closed prematurely? Can I respond to Blissex here? "those who win bets about "fictitious goods" can use their winnings to buy lots and lots of real goods." Why can't we give everyone a strong basic income so that they have access to a minimum decent standard of living, at least? Couldn't the rich still find expensive positional goods to buy? As people get richer, don't they satiate on real goods anyways and spend more and more of their earnings on financial goods, anyways?

Our blogger says in this blog: "Financialization has led to thousands of people in professional jobs being unable to buy a house"

Wasn't the outcome of mortgage-backed securities innovation that lots of people got houses, cheap? What if the Fed hadn't jacked up interest rates, provoking some mortgage defaults that got overblown into a panic about a looming default wave that never materialized but fear of which prompted fire sales? If the Fed had bailed out Lehman Brothers like it bailed out Silicon Valley Bank, would all those people still be in their houses provided by financial innovation?


«The conservative disposition, wrote (pdf) Michael Oakeshott, "is averse from change, which appears always, in the first place, as deprivation."»

Out blogger here seems to suggest that political conservativism is driven by the ideology of conservations but that to my seems a ridiculous idea, because:

* As obvious in this quote as "change" usually means less for some, usually insiders, but more more for others, usually outsiders.

* Political conservativism is all about protecting the interests of insiders, and resisting change is a tool to that.

Also "conservatives" usually become quite radical when a lot of change is required to protect the interests of insiders, as well summarized in the saying "tout changer pour rien changer" (change everything to change nothing).

«preferring the tried to the untried. Brexiters, however, were the opposite of this - fanatics for change»

That is one of the most ridiculous claims here, because the fantasy of many Brexiters was to *revert* change, and Make Britain Great Again by returning to "Splendid Isolation", as in several centuries before 1973.

One of the reasons why imagining that political conservativism is based on conservative ideology is ridiculous is evident here: if change is to be opposed, which change should be opposed? The entry into the EU or the exit from the EU? "the loss of music teaching in state schools" of the return to lower taxation this facilitates?

Conservative ideology is ridiculous because it is simply impossible to oppose all changes, and if one opposes changes selectively, that's not conservativism, it is simply protecting certain interests and not others.


«those areas that have actually experienced more immigration - and therefore one supposes more disruption of home - are more accepting of it; it was areas with low migration who were more likely to vote for Brexit, for example.»

That's seems to me a silly and superficial point because:

* Brexit was not synonymous with anti-immigration sentiment, but many brexiters truly and sincerely fantasized about "sovereignty" as if it were a matter of loud declamation and not material power.

* Areas with low immigration often are poor areas because immigrants target areas with many jobs, and vice-versa, and many lower income people voted for Brexit to protest against being screwed by decades of neoliberalism.

* Areas with low immigration are often areas of areas of high emigration to the areas with more jobs also targeted by foreign immigrants, and they voted Brexit because foreign immigrants outcompeted them in the job markets of high immigration areas and the housing market by being eager to accept low wages and more doubling up.

* Some areas of low immigration are such by being so affluent that they are unaffordable to foreign immigrants, and some affluent people voted for Brexit because while being very much in favour of foreign immigration they were outraged that EU immigrants were given the same civil rights as english citizens and even some political rights, including in practice the right of residence.


It seems to me that the Tories are given greater licence for radicalism because (1) they never refer to it as radical, and (2) the party name frames the radical as conservative.

By contrast, whenever something radical is proposed on the Left, its radicalism is touted as a key feature - thereby alienating a great many people who are small-c-conservative in the Oakshottian sense who might otherwise support it.

The simple lesson ought to be: always present the radical as the conservative, as common-sensical, and in tune with the romanticised national myth. Then you can have all the things.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad