August 04, 2011
The Pity of Conservatives

Few American conservatives would be as honest in public about their true beliefs as Macaulay, quoted here in A.N. Wilson’s history, The Victorians. Most of them, no doubt, wouldn’t be this honest to themselves. They would hide behind trickle-down economics and Laffer curves and the Chicago Boys and “job creation” and survival of the fittest and so on. But at the end of the day, they’re not Gentle Jesus. They’re just Gordon Gekko.

In the mind of Macaulay, the great Whig historian, for whom the Whig Revolution of 1689 was the high point and defining moment of British history, Chartism was a disastrous idea. He saw the notion of giving the vote to the uneducated and unpropertied classes as a recipe for national suicide.

“Have I any unkind feeling towards these poor people? No more than I have to a sick friend who implores me to give him a glass of water which the physician has forbidden. No more than a humane collector in India has to those poor peasants who in a season of scarcity crowd round the granaries and beg with tears and piteous gestures that the doors may be opened and the rice distributed. I would not give the draught of water, because I know it would be poison. I would not give up the keys of the granary, because I know that, by doing so, I should turn a scarcity into a famine. And in the same way I should not yield to the importunity of multitudes who, exasperated by suffering and blinded by ignorance, demand witlh wild vehemence the liberty to destroy themselves.”


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at August 04, 2011 06:44 PM
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The modern conservative's mantra: Take, and ye shall receive.

Posted by: Peter on August 6, 2011 4:33 AM
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