Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Power vs. authority. What do the Conservatives want?

Sound familiar?

[T]he Conservatives were in the process of […] looking around for a new philosophy — or rather any philosophy, having subsisted to that point without one.
Roger Scruton, conservative philosopher, foxhunter and author of The Meaning of Conservatism, is apparently no friend of Ayn Rand-style libertarians. In this interview with Right Reason, however, he might serve to remind Conservatives in this country of the values of many Canadians who are otherwise disinterested in their acquisition of power:
To describe an obligation as transcendent in my sense is not to endow it with some kind of oppressive force. On the contrary, it is to recognize the spontaneous disposition of people to acknowledge obligations that they never contracted. There are other words that might be used in this context: gratitude, piety, obedience — all of them virtues, and all of them naturally offered to the thing we love.

What I try to make clear in my writings is that, while the left-liberal view of politics is founded in antagonism towards existing things and resentment at power in the hands of others, conservatism is founded in the love of existing things, imperfections included, and a willing acceptance of authority, provided it is not blatantly illegitimate. Hence there is nothing oppressive in the conservative attitude to authority.

It is part of the blindness of the left-wing worldview that it cannot perceive authority but only power. People who think of conservatism as oppressive and dictatorial have some deviant example in mind, such as fascism, or Tsarist autocracy. I would offer in the place of such examples the ordinary life of European and American communities as described by 19th century novelists. In those communities all kinds of people had authority — teachers, pastors, judges, heads of local societies, and so on. But only some of them had power, and almost none of them were either able or willing to oppress their fellows.
Hat tip to ¡No Pasarán!.


Pietr said...

Ah,yes, but our authority is better!You only have to do as we tell you because you WANT to!

basil said...

Everyone knows the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives are necrophiliacs and liberals transsexuals.