Sunday, February 18, 2024

The best summing up of Conservatism I know, but who wrote it?

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There is a quotation that gives the best summing up of the Conservative view of the world I have ever come across. I think I saw it first in a tweet or blog post by James Graham,

It runs:

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

That encapsulates the instinctive approach of both our current government and of the small-town Tories I tangled with in my days as a councillor.

An article on Slate from 2022 gives its history.

This quotation is sometimes called Wihoit's Law and because of that it's sometimes attributed to the American political scientist Frank Wilhoit. Known for his book 1973 book The Politics of Massive Resistance, which chronicled Southern segregationists' efforts to resist Civil Rights-era court rulings, died in 2010.

The only problem with that attribution is that the quotation dates from 2018

It turns out that it was left that year as a comment on the blog Crooked Timber by a different Frank Wilhoit, a classical composer from Ohio.

Crooked Timber is a political blog written by academics and has a liberal and philosophical slant. I should read it more often.

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