Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Conservative Mind

Jeffery Hart's essay in Opinion Journal is worth reading (especially by liberals) if only to remind people that there is an intellectual basis to conservatism. I don't have the ability to critique most of it, but there are a couple of points that I have some disagreement with.

On abortion, he contends that the Roe v. Wade decision was a libertarian one. With all due respect, it cannot be considered a libertarian decision if the child in the womb is considered to be human since the child's rights are not considered. If the fetus is not considered to be a child, there is still the question of ownership. Half the genetic material comes from another person who surely has an interest of some kind in the fetus, also not considered by Roe.

On foreign policy, he considers the GOP to be a party of Wilsonian utopianism, because George W. Bush has decided embrace democracy in the Middle East. I don't think Bush's policy has been chosen out of utopian impluse but out of pragmatism. The other types of 'realistic' foreign policy implemented in the past haven't improved (and maybe helped create) the mess the region is in now, so why not try democracy? It isn't utopian to look at a situation, and decide that trying the same failed solutions over and over again probably won't get us a better outcome this time.

I would like to unreservedly endorse his remarks about the environment. It is my belief that conservatives have not lived up to their ideals on this concern. Private propery rights and the free market by themselves are not a guarantee that the wild will be preserved or our environment will not be poisoned. Both can be useful tools but they rely on the goodness of human nature, which conservatives know to be flawed. Thus a need for some government intervention.

Overall, a fine essay well worth the read. For more debate over the contents there's plenty at The Corner. (Just keep scrolling).

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