What is ‘Ethical Conservatism’?

You know you’ve hit a nerve when what you write brings a barrage of criticism from people who never should have noticed it. That’s what’s happened since The American Conservative posted my manifesto of Ethical Conservatism.

In less than a week, the post has earned over 220 shares, 50 tweets, and a couple dozen irate comments from people who really shouldn’t be reading The American Conservative if it upsets them so.

Not all of the comments are con. The erudite Christopher Manion points out that my dig at Robert F. Kennedy is “right on target,” adding something I didn’t know:  RFK’s famous boast that he “dreams things that have never been” was actually stolen from George Bernard Shaw, who put those words in the mouth of Satan in his play “Back to Methuselah.” I can’t tell it better than Chris can, so here’s his whole comment:

Humility and patience are at the core of this story, and they are hard to teach intellectually: they are habits – ethike. Learned and lived from the ground up, not imposed from the top down.

By the way, the author’s cite of that Robert Kennedy line is right on target.

Writ large on a poster on the dorm room wall of my Democrat classmate at Notre Dame in 1968, it was actually uttered by Satan – to Eve, in George Bernard Shaw’s “Back to Methuselah.”

Undoubtedly, Bobby was never told. But his PR guys must have winked at you-know-who while they peddled it as original wisdom, instead of original sin.

Just so. Where would the Kennedys have been without their speechwriters? Even Ted gave the best speeches at every Democratic convention.

Humility and patience are indeed at the core of the story, and neither is much in evidence among the critics of ethical conservatism. But grievance and rebellion are.

This entry was posted in Life, State. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply