Thought of the day – on conservatism. How it should be.

‘Now, the disposition to be conservative in respect of politics reflects a quite different view of the activity of governing. The man of this disposition understands it to be the business of a government not to inflame passion and give it new objects to feed upon, but to inject into the activities of already too passionate men an ingredient of moderation; to restrain, to deflate, to pacify and to reconcile; not to stoke the fires of desire, but to damp them down. And all this, not because passion is vice and moderation virtue, but because moderation is indispensable if passionate men are to escape being locked in an encounter of mutual frustration.’

– Michael Oakeshott, from ‘On Being Conservative’. An important reminder for true conservatives, in today’s environment.

Just what conservatism is meant to be – an approach to political management and government which is focused on the calm solution of the inevitable difficulties and tensions of life – not of deliberately inflaming those difficulties and tensions for short term political advantage.

Thought for the day – on political unintended consequences

‘It was, after all, Greeks who pioneered the writing of history as what it has so largely remained, an exercise in political ironics—an intelligible story of how men’s actions produce results other than those they intended.’ – J G A Pocock

Pocock was a New Zealander. Not born here, but brought up here and the first ever head of the Canterbury University political science department.

I don’t normally link to Wikipedia, but just this once: there’s more on him here.

I came across this line in a book on the Kennedys, but it seems apt right now. Sadly and worryingly apt.

What ho, Marxism!

Lots of people in the New Zild social media vortex got very excited about Marxism this week.

I suppose it keeps them off the streets.

Over at Dimpost, Danyl has had a go at the limits of 21st Century Marxists, still proclaiming the destruction of capitalism will solve everything.

His main point is that it won’t, I think. And, all things considered, it’s probably  not a view I’d disagree with.

He’s had a response from Gio, who backs Marxism, as  anyone familiar with Gio’s work might expect,  although it isn’t all that clear what he is exactly backing Marxism to do except make things, and people, nicer.

Which has to be the ultimate triumph of hope over experience, I suppose.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve read enough Marx to conclude I’m not a big fan.The verbosity, the moral superiority, the perpetual anger, the body count in the millions, etc etc etc…it’s just not me, really.

To be fair, Gio is a charming chap in real life, and as unlikely to cart anyone off to any gulag as I am to lecture you on dialectical materialism.

I’ve written before about the style of thought, of which Marxism is but a subset,  before, here – again, in response to something Danyl had written.

The only thing I’d add, perhaps, is to put a bit more emphaisis on the danger of all encompassing systems of political thought – and the way in which they have come to replace religion, or at least the least attractive aspects of organised religion.

English poet T E Hulme, writing in the first decade of the 2oth century, called Romanticism ‘spilt religion’ and it seems to me this style of thought has often spilled over into politics, mostly with unfortunate results.

Still, as a conservative interested in political ideas, I find all this stuff diverting. It is fruitless at best and dangerous at worst, though, to take it all too seriously.

 

So, finally…Monty Python, in a kind of of Unspeakable Secrets of Aro Valley Goes to the Gulag (and if you haven’t read Danyl’s latest novel, Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley, then do so: it’s hilariously brilliant):

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Day….

Mason is a Marxist of the school that in the 1980s was writing about “late capitalism”….The Marxists have never quite got over the fact that the 1980s actually turned out to be the period of late socialism.

– Paul Collier, writing in the Times Literary Supplement last week.

For the full, immensely thought provoking article, it’s here.  Collier  poses some awkward questions for most of us who think about these things.