Tuesday, March 15, 2022

On Medium: The Red Herring of Michael Oakeshott’s “Conservative Character”

Read on about how Oakeshott confuses instinctive conservatism or inductive reasoning with a distinctive politically conservative disposition, and about how the true conservative character affects politics.


  1. The main strategy of these theorists of conservatism is to reduce it to the lowest common denominator.

    So it is easy to say that whatever execrable conservatives do,and they do in characteristic way, is nothing more than a deviation from the pure and simple path of the conservative character...

    ''What this means, then, is that this elementary prudence, caution, or resistance to radical change isn’t so relevant to political conservatism. If we all have that disposition to some degree, why are only some people politically conservative?''


    Historically, conservatism is directly related, as the causative agent, of unnecessary wars, religious/supernatural beliefs, invasions of other territories, slavery, feudalism, capitalism...

    I know that none of this is related to caution and thoughtfulness.

    The disposition to the left is related to the perception that we live in a parasitic society, that is, within a system of parasitism/oppression of one class over another [poor in relation to the rich; women in relation to men; LGBT in relation to heterosexual; black versus white].

    It is as if a parasite-infested caterpillar woke up from the trance it was induced and began to fight it.

    1. That suggestion that conservatism is more dangerous than liberalism or that conservativism is bound up more with war, dogmatism, and oppression will come up in my article on pragmatic conservatism. Liberalism is pretty dangerous too, especially to the natural environment and thus indirectly to all life.

    2. Ah yes, I agree if the concept of liberalism also relates to the economic part. Even cultural liberalism, excessive as it has been promoted, can also be dangerous.

  2. It is even misogynically funny to think that if conservatism was really about ''systematic prudence'' then it would be more feminine than masculine.

  3. ''Thus, Oakeshott is saying that the so-called conservative disposition should be in favour of the classically liberal style of government, not of monarchies or theocracies (entrenched, oppressive hierarchies), but of limited governments that act only as umpires and that allow the society of free individuals to work itself out through capitalism, democracy, and civilized exchanges of ideas.''

    He seems a supporter of the new variant, oops, I mean, a new skin of conservatism that privileges, for a change, the ruling class which, in our days, is the bourgeois class.

    He wants individual freedom... for the bourgeois class to exploit us.

    He no longer wants to oppress.

    Oppression is old-fashioned.

    ''To exploit'' is the new verb of the supposed freedom that these types of people defend.

    1. The question is whether conservatism is mainly about a set of policies or a personality type. Oakeshott and Russell Kirk (upcoming) say it's the latter.

  4. ''Both conservatism and liberalism are saturated with irrationality in that they begin as leaps of faith and as reactions of fear, disgust, visionary idealism, or social dominance or submission.''

    Because while the former completely despises the fact that we are all the same, in essence, the other despises the opposite reality, that we are also unequal, on the surface.

    So the first supernaturalizes inequalities and denaturalizes equality, turning the hierarchy into its absolute ideal.

    The second supernaturalizes equality while denaturalizing inequalities, not just in a sense of individual difference, but of groups, transforming equality into its absolute ideal.

    1. That's roughly how I see it too. I think of it as a divide between humanists and animalists. The former view us as people with equal human rights, while the latter think of us as animals that are naturally divided. That's the crucial, effective difference between so-called liberals and conservatives, the rhetorical red herrings notwithstanding.