Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Conservatives Can't Govern

Great essay by Alan Wolfe from 2006:

Whether through the ideas of James Madison, Immanuel Kant, or John Stuart Mill, liberals have viewed violent conflict as regrettable and the use of political institutions as the best way to contain it. Conservatives, from the days of Machiavelli to such twentieth-century figures as Germany's Carl Schmitt, have, by contrast, viewed politics as an extension of war, complete with no-holds-barred treatment of the enemy, iron-clad discipline in the ranks, cries of treason against those who do not support the effort with full-throated vigor, and total control over any spoils won. From a conservative point of view, separation of powers is divisive, tolerance a luxury, fairness another word for weakness, and cooperation unnecessary. If conservatives will not use government to tame Hobbes' state of nature, they will use it to strengthen Hobbes' state of nature. Victory is the only thing that matters, and any tactic more likely to produce victory is justified.

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