In the Corner on National Review, Iain Murray writes of his correspondence with a leading Brit Conservative, who has posted a short list of what he believes modern Conservatism is. I have reprinted it below, with some comments following.
1. No insignificant person has ever been born.
2. Economic liberalism needs social conservatism (and, 5pm addition, Iain Murray emails me to say and vice versa)
3. The presumption should always be in favour of life
4. Government should be as small as possible but as large as necessary
5. Multilateral organisations transfer power from people to politicians
6. Private choices have public consequences/ Policymakers have an interest in 'private choices', at least so long as they have consequences for taxpayers
7. Conservatism is a creative coalition between security, economic and cultural conservatives
8. A welfare state that feeds-and-forgets isn't compassionate
9. Politics is less important than ideas, culture and religion
10. Free enterprise and big business are not the same
11. Taxation has dynamic effects
12. Pre-emption is the best response to many of today's security threats
13. There is such thing as society, it's just not the state
14. Man is a fallen creature
15. Decision-making powers should be as close as possible to those affected by those decisions
16. Private ownership is nearly always preferable to common ownership
17. A strong society is built upon the vigorous virtues of courage, ambition, creativity, self-sufficiency and enterprise.
18. Love of country is fundamental to all conservatism.
19. Social liberalism can be destructive of social justice.
20. Conservative reform is usually preferable to radical revolution. Conservatism must deal with its own enemies within.
I'll take them in order, where I have something to say:
7. Right on. This means that over time, one or more element of the coalition will be ascendant. For a while, it was cultural conservatives. I hope that day is now over.
10. Absolutely! Unholy alliances between state and business are fascism, and when they are wrapped in the mantle of "free enterprise", they are particularly pernicious.
17. Perfect. This doesn't mean there is no room for "compassion, justice"--you just don't build a strong society on them.