Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Micklethwait and Wooldridge on American conservatism

The Economist’s blog Democracy in America notices us, and one of its commenters says:

To quote the distillation of Burke’s principles found in Mr [John] Micklethwait and Mr [Adrian] Wooldridge’s book on the subject [The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, 2004], conservatism consists of “a deep suspicion of the power of the state; a preference for liberty over equality; patriotism; a belief in established institutions and hierarchies; skepticism about the idea of progress; and elitism” – with American conservatism emphasizing the first three.

There appears to be room for secularists in this definition.

That description is a bit misleading, because in M&W’s view modern American conservatism not merely de-emphasizes but reverses the last three items on the list. The wider point, however, can still stand.

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1 comment

  • halifax · December 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I would certainly agree that there is not only room for secularists/secularism in the grand house of modern Conservatism. But the central conception is a certain kind of epistemological skepticism about the capacity of human beings to be trusted with absolute power or with the task of reconstructing the state according to some abstraction, and also with a rejection of the notion that there can be some sort of universal destination by which we could judge ‘progress’. There is, of course, nothing here that suggests that a faith in metaphysical veracity of modern science is an intrinsically important element of conservatism, however.



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