For several years, I’ve been wondering what conservatism is as a political philosophy, how an adherent of that philosophy would define himself now, after 2016.
I have a firm idea about what it means to be a liberal. That’s easy. I am one. I could describe what goes on in my guts, heart and head and announce: this is a liberal!
But conservatism? I used to be able to define it. Not anymore.
What I have seen is that conservative journalists and columnists seem to be falling apart intellectually, morally, politically, because of Trump. Those who think of themselves as intelligent have been publicly severing their ties, but have not really come up with a new definition, or even any definition of their current beliefs.
They are flailing. If I didn’t dislike them so much, I’d feel bad for them.
Here’s how the article begins:
LONDON — Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of Britain’s House of Commons and a prominent ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, suggested this week that victims of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire lacked the common sense to defy firefighters’ orders and flee the building, costing them their lives.
The comments, appearing to lay some blame for the 72 deaths on the people trapped in the flames, angered other lawmakers and shocked even critics who have grown used to Mr. Rees-Mogg’s flashes of aristocratic obliviousness. They also threatened to undercut the Conservative Party’s main election pitch — that it’s a party for working-class voters alienated from the Labour Party over Brexit — just as campaigning for the Dec. 12 vote gets underway.
Here is what Rees-Mogg said:
“If you just ignore what you’re told and leave, you are so much safer,” Mr. Rees-Mogg said on Monday in an interview with Nick Ferrari, the host of a show on LBC, a radio station. “And I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that didn’t happen.”
That is a conservative. He is without empathy, without comprehension of or human respect for anyone who is not in his class.
And he is so removed from reality, he is effectively so stupid, he is casual in letting all of us know how indifferent he is to us, people who are not him.
“If you just ignore what you’re told and leave, you are so much safer…And I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that didn’t happen.”
This is what conservatism is.