Saturday, February 9, 2013

Andrew Bacevich Defines Conservativism

After blasting the type of conservatism found on the pages of The National Review and The Weekly Standard, Andrew Bacevich, writing in The American Conservative, offers a conservative alternative.  He calls it "Counterculture Conservatism."  Here are some its characteristics:
  • Counterculture conservatism is NOT the "conservatism" of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul, Robert Murdoch, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, or Grover Norquist.
  • Counterculture conservatism IS the "conservatism" of John Quincy Adams, Henry Adams, Randolph Bourne, Reinhold Niebuhr, Christopher Lasch, Flannery O'Connor, Wendell Berry, William Appleman Williams, and Frank Capra.
  • Counterculture conservatism protects things of lasting value.  It discriminates "between what is permanent and what is transient."
  • Counterculture conservatism is skeptical of utopianism.
  • Counterculture conservatism celebrates community and "little platoons" (Burke) over individualism, appetite, and ambition.
  • Counterculture conservatism upholds a belief in Original Sin.
  • Counterculture conservatism favors the "local" over the "distance."
  • Counterculture conservatism is patriotic, but does not "confuse country with state."  America is not the military.
  • Counterculture conservatism favors change through "incremental" and "thoughtful" action.
  • Counterculture conservatism knows that it will be virtually impossible to dismantle the welfare state, outlaw abortion and gay marriage, and stop the "sexual revolution."
  • Counterculture conservatism subordinates economic growth to the well-being of "planet Earth."  (Bacevich: "conservatives should make common cause with tree-hugging, granola-crunching liberals").  Sounds a lot like Rod Dreher here.
  • Counterculture conservatism opposes "the excesses of American militarism and the futility of neo-imperialistic impulses." No neo-conservatism here.
  • Counterculture conservatism preaches fiscal responsibility
  • Counterculture conservatism believes children should be raised by traditional families.
  • Counterculture conservatism defends the health of churches and religious freedom
There is a lot here that I can embrace, if not champion.  Does that mean I am a conservative?