I wanted to add a word onto last night’s post re: conservatism ‘cuz I don’t think I fleshed what I was trying to say.
Lind’s analysis is helpful I think insofar as it is describing periods when conservatism has become a ruling platform/party. I think it’s accurate in that regard. The struggle of the right from Reagan (at least) on has been how to be actually implement the idea of limited government while running the big government. Nixon and Bush II at least understood that this strategy long-term wasn’t workable and tried to create a third conservative way if you will. Their attempts and failures are covered cogently in Douthat and Salam’s Grand New Party.
The questions on the right are now of a more first principles order, since the Stock Market Crash and Global Recession has scrambled all else. Lind’s analysis again correctly notes that in terms of governing ideology the history tends to work by the federal-increase side pushing and driving the initial formation and the right (qua governing ideology) tends to then reassess in that new republic (paradigm) and eventually find a way to power and a way to halt (but not stop) the momentum.
Where Lind’s analysis is not helpful is in discussing conservatism as a personal political philosophy. That is why I like Poulos’ attack on conservatism as an ideology–i.e. the kind of conservatism that came to buttress the second half of the third republic and is now obsolete (think the descent into mania on the e-pages of The Corner recently).
Conservative philosophy is in my mind a kind of un-philosophy. It is the rejection in some ways of what passes for politics. The untying of the knot that is contracted in the heart of the body politic. That is why I find myself spending most of my time studying conservative thinkers, reading heterodox conservative bloggers, and the like. And yet not really ever being a big fan of conservative governing philosophy and more specifically the GOP.
That’s why I tend towards a reform or moderate conservatism as a governing platform but read the others and am more attuned generally to what they describe–until the moment some go off that knife’s edge and politicize it. Or rather ideologize it. Particularly in its current incarnation, like Schwenkler, it was the Iraq War that turned me off to Bush more than anything. It was the politicizing of the War on Terror that I found so disgusting.
In sum, I’m all mixed up. My general tendency is to enter a kind of loyal opposition and align myself more with the party out of power (since I distrust power and political vision generally in whatever direction it comes from). During the recent Bush run, I was seen to be more left, but now that Obama and crew are about to take power, I’m shifting back right. Which is natural for me. It will give me freedom to critique Obama where necessary (and yes I voted for him and yes I think my criticisms aside he will be far better than McCain would have been, particularly on the economy).
It will shift me back to my natural position as a socially liberal/moderate conservative on domestic policy. And in terms of personal philosophy and practice, liberal in relationships and more conservative in my own personal life (I’m pretty boring actually come to think of it). Now that that variant of conservative ideology has been de-fanged and The Corner has been reduced to conspiracy theory mongering about Obama’s birth certificate, I can in my own identity play more with the conservative label. It has a nice kind feel to it without all that baggage.
In the short-medium term, it doesn’t really matter because with the economic downturn, Keynesian econ. appears ready for a revival (stimulus spending, green infrastructure, etc.).
Moreover I’m never altogether comfortable in these discussions because my real focus politically is on foreign policy and there the discussions are between realists, liberal internationalists, neocons, who can cross what are typically considered left and right political parties (humanitarian hawks from the left, realists on the right). The left/right discussions on the level of philosophy generally have much more to do with domestic policy and governance. On the FP front, I’m basically a republican security thinker.
And I won’t even go into how I work out the politics-religion thing in my head. I’m confused enough, I don’t think I could ever communicate it clearly to all of you.