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Inclusion isn’t a dirty word

Conservatism is the really inclusive worldview, because it offers us rules to live by

Artillery Row

Inclusivity has understandably become a dirty word among conservatives. 

The term is today at the heart of progressive thinking. It is most often used as a battering-ram, aimed at the destruction of anything built upon supposedly antiquated notions such as “merit” or “tradition”. 

Conservatives love these things and desire their continued existence. Progressives see them as discriminatory hurdles to those outside of a given system, and reject them, in the name of inclusion. Hence, the conservative instinct to recoil at the concept.

Even the Church of England has affirmed a commitment to racial quotas

Within the progressive framework, inclusivity is seen not only as the means of preventing evil, but as a valuable end in itself. Something which brings us closer to a utopian state of statistically flawless proportional representation in all the places that matter. 

It is believed that this representation, this modern day philosopher’s stone, (commonly conceived along the immutable lines of gender, race and class) will by its own power usher in a better world. 

This sort of thinking has proliferated in our society and is deeply embedded in many institutions. From religion, to politics, to education, it seems that almost wherever you turn today this ideology can be found, occupying a privileged place.

Even the Church of England has affirmed a commitment to racial quotas, with the stated aim of combatting what it calls “systemic and institutional racism”. 

Anglican seminarian and political commentator Calvin Robinson had the temerity to question the Christian content and veracity of these positions. He subsequently had his ordination blocked. Recently published internal emails show the alarm with which the Bishop of Edmonton reacted to Calvin’s denial of the progressive dogma of inclusion. 

Or take Oxbridge. The Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope has said the elite universities intend, in the name of inclusion, “to reduce over time the number of people who are coming from independent school backgrounds”. Toope wants us to believe admitting students based on the type of school they attended, rather than on their individual merit, will ensure true “meritocracy”. A real-life example of 1984’s two plus two equals five. 

Finally, consider the Conservative Party, whose main appeal currently is not quite being Labour. The institutional response to the scandal of the porn-watching MP Neil Parish was, predictably, not to denounce pornography as an unmitigated evil, and to call for the return of traditional norms surrounding sex. It was — you guessed it — to pledge a 50-50 gender-split quota for future candidates, in the name of inclusion. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said at the time: “I always thought that if we get more women, then things will get better.” As if women are not also capable of committing acts of perversion, or other evils. 

Conservatives will know that the problem with these leftist versions of inclusivity is that they uncritically accept identity politics, the idea that unchangeable characteristics are relevant criteria of judgement. 

Additionally, they ideologically place this principle above competence. The inevitable consequence is that the standard of these institutions (and indeed the country) will be lowered over time, as the most deserving do not take their rightful places. 

As Edmund Burke said: “Woe to the country which would madly and impiously reject the service of the talents and virtues, civil, military or religious, that are given to grace and to serve it; and would condemn to obscurity every thing formed to diffuse lustre and glory around a state.” We have truly gone mad.

Given all of the above, you might think inclusivity is something conservatives ought to oppose at every turn. But what if this idea, so terribly mis-used by the Left, is the key to unlocking victory for conservative ideas? 

The reason progressive inclusion is so ubiquitous is because it is a heretical version of true inclusion, something that human beings are by nature hungry for. In the words of the twentieth century Anglo-French Catholic politician and man of letters Hilaire Belloc, heresies “survive by the truths they retain”. 

Conservatives should trust that they have the better values

So what is this true inclusion? As Roger Scruton pointed out, conservatives often find it difficult to articulate their ideas, so I will use a story to illustrate it. 

When I first moved to London aged eleven, I was a foreigner on two counts. I was born and bred in sleepy, suburban California, which was far removed from the metropolis I arrived in. My family is also Iraqi Christian, and our warm, loud Assyrian culture too was unsurprisingly very different from the reserved English disposition. 

It was not long though before I began to feel British. This is not because I was greeted by a society that prioritised my minority status, and lowered standards to accommodate me. Quite the opposite. 

At the brilliant private primary school I attended, Hill House (a school which Professor Toope would presumably like to see send fewer students to Oxbridge), many teachers genuinely terrified me. 

They held me to the exact same standards as everyone else who had grown up here, and were far stricter than the teachers I had encountered in America. The fact that I was not treated differently based on my background, however, made me feel like I belonged. 

I also remember our Wednesday assemblies, where we would sing traditional British songs such as “God Save the Queen” and “Jerusalem”. I distinctly recall feeling comforted and included during these assemblies, that I was becoming a part of something I was only beginning to understand.

This provides a blueprint of how conservatives should seek to include others in the magnificent treasure of this country’s tradition: by telling every person here that they can be part of it. 

There are, of course, values people must accept to be included in this framework. Conservatives should trust that they have the better values, and make the case that these lead to a better personal and social life. 

There is no room for snobbishness or an unwillingness to kindly communicate our beliefs to a world becoming increasingly alien to them. Conservatives must also understand that our manner is at least as important as the truth of our statements. If Tony Blair taught us one thing, it’s that PR is important.

The left has learned this lesson well. How else could they have managed to convince so many people to believe in absurdities, such as their fake version of inclusion?

For too long the right has indulged petty infighting on the one hand and stereotypical meanness to the uninitiated on the other. This cannot continue if we wish to preserve civilisation from the progressive heresies that would overturn our way of life.

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