Finding real answers

The inspiring promise of national conservatism

This article is taken from the May 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

May in Westminster sees Spring, blossom and the National Conservatism Conference. This movement has its origins in the work of, among others, the philosophers Yoram Hazony and, here in the UK, James Orr. It raises the most fundamental questions of our time: who are we? How are we to be governed and by whom? And to what end?

These questions might have seemed too laughably obvious to our ancestors even to be posed, never mind to require systematic answering. But our posterity is what modernity and our liberal ancestors have bequeathed to us. And as the Cambridge historian — never philosopher — Maurice Cowling taught, liberalism doesn’t like to be named, never mind questioned.

This conference of thinkers can do much good in challenging the received opinion which hides behind a pretence of neutrality and rational common sense, not least by naming it. And its name is liberal modernity.

The supplanting, in the West, of religion by an all-encompassing moral philosophy trading under the name of liberalism needs to be clearly perceived. It might well command the institutions and administer the state, but beyond occupying that place to the great benefit of its clerisy, it supplies precious few answers for the lives it commands and the societies it orders.

Bonds of legitimacy and loyalty have been dissolved to crown liberalism as the ruling spirit of our time, and none can stand in its way: not the churches, nor subordinate private institutions, the family or even the human body. All have had to give way to a universal liberal idea of the good.

The work done by the National Conservatism Conference is an essential reaction to the world as it is, and should not be, and it is good and right that such realism is on offer. We commend its efforts as they set a most necessary example. 

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