More of the Late, Great Joseph Sobran on Conservatism and Peace
"Being the most devastating of human activities, war would seem to be at the opposite pole from conserving anything," he wrote in 2006, calling it "a grotesque accident of history that it should have acquired even a verbal association with the philosophy of conservatism" — Glorious War! He continues:
- Just what is that philosophy? Is it a philosophy at all, or just a natural disposition to reject radical change? These questions have been debated for centuries, and I can only suggest an answer.
Briefly, conservatism is a more or less articulate sense of normality, whereas liberalism has been described (by G.K. Chesterton) as “the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal.” Conservatism can tolerate many abnormal things that can’t be eliminated from human society, but it doesn’t call them “rights” or confuse them with normal things. And, after all, few things are more abnormal than war.
So today’s alleged conservatives (and especially the misnamed “neoconservatives”) are aberrations. They delight in destruction; they are full of enthusiasm for violent and radical action; they lack the ironic and skeptical attitude of real conservatives, the prudent sense that precipitate acts bring “unintended consequences.”