Conservatism is not a comfortable political creed. In its world-view, politicians are like policemen – they would be unnecessary if people behaved as they ought. We ought to look out each for the other; we ought to give of our charity to others; we ought not to hoard wealth; the list could stretch on to the crack of doom; we do not do those things we ought to do, and we do those which we know we ought not to do: there is no health in us.
At the heart of conservatism is a deep pessimism about the human condition. There is nothing so ghastly that someone somewhere will not do it; nothing so depraved that mankind will not have tried it; nothing so abhorrent to commonsense that some fool will not argue for it. Those who believe that politics can ameliorate the human condition will despair – or resort to wishful thinking.
Liberals think every problem was born into the world with a twin called solution, and that the job of politicians is to bring the missing twins back together. I think this a delusion; many problems have no human solution. You are not going to stop greed, violence, adultery, lying and murder this side of the Last Trump. All revolutions change is the identity of the oppressed and the oppressor. Orwell was right – all animals are equal and some are more equal than others.
I do not understand advanced economics; I am in good company, economists, despite their claims to the contrary, do not understand it either. Few, if any, predicted the crash of 2008. I did, and I took my money out of the stock market in 2007 and sold my second home. That was not because I understand economics, it was because I am an historian. Whenever the stock market becomes the subject of water-cooler gossip it is time to get out. Joe Public is the last resort of the fraudulent stock dealer. If it looks to good to be true, it is.
Jess quoted Kipling on the Gods of the Copybook Headings. It is a favourite text of mine:
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Kipling was a conservative. Whatever man says, there are eternal verities this side of Judgement.
Does that make me gloomy? No. It makes me unsurprised at the crimes, follies and wickedness of mankind. It also reminds me why the King of Glory hung on that Cross on Calvary. By no other means could we be saved from our sins. No Christian is a pessimist. All shall be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, in a moment. At that point there will be no conservatives save those sinners so attached to their sins they refuse to leave them for Glory.