Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Judging Policies by the Calendar

"The Conservative has exactly the same error as the Progressive. It consists in the fact that each of them allows truth to be determined by time. That is to say, he judges a thing by whether it is of yesterday or to-day or to-morrow, and not by what it is in eternity."

Chesterton, The Illustrated London News, October 30 1920

Exactly! I have often thought that being "conservative" or "liberal" is as silly as being in favour of always turning to the left or always turning to the right. The question is; where do you want to go? What do you want to conserve? What do you want to liberate?

It seems to me that anybody who is strongly in favour of anything must be willing to be a conservative, a radical, a revolutionary, a restorationist, a liberal, a diehard, or a moderate, depending on the circumstances they find themselves in.

Of course, there is such a thing as the conservative temperament, which is a preference for small steps and caution. But to mistake a temperament for a philosophy is grievous error.

(I love my bound volumes of Chesterton's Illustrated London News column. If anyone ever wanted to make me an extravagant gift, the complete collection would be just the ticket!)

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