American conservatives struggle with the fact that their political sensibilities consist of both the sentiments of conservatism and the remnants of aristocratic european philosophy – and that because they neither understand aristocratic philosophy, or understand conservatism, they cannot separate these two bodies of thought into their constituent parts. As constituent parts they can easily be defended against radical progressives who would continue to undermine the system of rule of law, and innovative individualism that we have inherited from our ancestors, and which is the source of our prosperity.
Conservatism is a sentiment and a philosophy. Aristocracy is a philosophy and a system of government. Conservatism has a skeptical view of man’s abilities. Aristocracy has an aspirational view of man’s abilities. But both conservatism and Aristocratic philosophy acknowledge the difference in ability between humans and that inequality is persistent, permanent, and obvious.
Both support the meritocratic rotation of elites, as long as that rotation is accomplished in the market or in defense of the realm – in the service of others. And both hold disdain for political ambitions that are not accomplished through the market or defense of the realm.
There is nothing inherently conservative about Aristocratic philosophy. But there is everything meritocratic about it.
4 responses to “Conservatism Isn’t Always Aristocratic, And Aristocracy Needn’t Be Conservative”
An aristocracy who loves the masses, and who just takes political power to fill an otherwise dangerous political vacuum? I’ve heard somewhere that nothing correlates so well with GDP per capita as the average IQ of the top 5%. Something to think about.
On the other hand, modern conservatism disappoints me in their glibness in accepting outsourcing as a net good while ignoring the unemployment uncompensated for the sacrosanct lowering of prices.
What’s the point of having such a competent and talented pool of elites when they simply “betray” the country for bigger profits. The free market can be an extremely potent corrosive of valid traditions.
RE: “modern conservatism disappoints me in their glibness in accepting outsourcing”
The chicago school has made a number of serious mistakes, and that is one of them. I am not sure it’s necessarily ‘conservative’ though. It’s more that the Chicago school pushed a program in which outsourcing was a component, as self defense argument against socialism. Labor arbitrage that creates externalities like capital flight, is still a hotly debated topic. In general, the idiotic side of the house says that any decrease in prices for consumers (which is what free trade will yield) is good for the citizenry. Unfortunately that’s a very short-term way of looking at an economy. Skills and Knowledge are a nation’s most important form of capital. And free trade arguably decreases that capital in favor of lower prices. The reason that they make that mistake, is that they treat humans as equal, rather than vastly different in ability.
So you’re right about free trade, but I don’t think there is anything conservative or aristocratic about free trade. There is absolutely NOTHING aristocratic about it.
It’s a shame such an erudite and informative site is largely devoid of comments, but I guess the more complex content is, the less able it is to attract willingly participants. It begs for the reader to put some effort.
Pleasure reading you.
Thank you for the kind words.
I don’t publicize my work. Maybe someday. But as you say, it’s not for general consumption.