The New Look: Compassionate Conservatism Trumps Creative Destruction
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The editorial in the New York Times of May 9th by David Brooks, entitled “The Conservative Revival,” suggests that perhaps what some people call “fascism” has had its day in America, thanks in part to British leadership but especially to the bankruptcy of the NeoCons, whose standard bearer in the Year 2000 and Year 2008 elections was John McCain. We are still waiting, however, for the traditionalists, who briefly had their day with Ronald Reagan a quarter century ago, to reform the Republican Party based on the roots of the American Republic in the Scottish Renaissance and in the Whig Party led by Edmund Burke in 18th-century England, who was the mentor of America’s Founders.
It would be odd if the Democrats in the next administration would turn out to be the truest followers of Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. It was a tragedy when the NeoCons hijacked Bush Junior and then ran off with the Republican Party, but it would be a cause for celebration if Obama can hijack the Democrat Party from the NeoCon look-alikes.
David Brooks writes, “The British Conservative Party enjoyed a series of stunning victories in local elections last week, while polls show American voters thoroughly rejecting the Republican brand. ... The British conservative renovation begins with this insight: The central political debate of the 20th century was over the role of government. The right stood for individual freedom while the left stood for extending the role of the state. But the central debate of the 21st century is over quality of life. In this new debate, it is necessary but insufficient to talk about individual freedom. Political leaders have to also talk about, as one Tory politician put it, ‘the whole way we live our lives’.
“That means, first, moving beyond the Thatcherite tendency to put economics first. As Oliver Letwin, one of the leading Tory strategists put it: ‘Politics, once econo-centric, must now become socio-centric.’ David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, makes it clear that his primary focus is sociological. He argued: ‘We used to stand for the individual. We still do. But individual freedoms count for little if society is disintegrating. Now we stand for the family, for the neighborhood — in a word, for society’.
“This has led to a lot of talk about community, relationships, civic engagement, and social responsibility. Danny Kruger, a special adviser to Cameron, wrote a much-discussed pamphlet, “On Fraternity.” These conservatives are not trying to improve the souls of citizens. They’re trying to use government to foster dense social bonds. They want voters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control. As such, the Conservative Party has spent a lot of time thinking about how government should connect with citizens. Basically, everything should be smaller, decentralized, and interactive. They want a greater variety of schools, with local and parental control. They want to reverse the trend toward big central hospitals. Health care, Cameron says, is as much about regular long-term care as major surgery, and patients should have the power to construct relationships with caretakers, pharmacists and local facilities.
“Cameron also believes government should help social entrepreneurs scale up their activities without burdening them with excessive oversight. This focus means that Conservatives talk not only about war and G.D.P., but also the softer stuff. There’s been more emphasis on environmental issues, civility, assimilation, and the moral climate. Cameron has spent an enormous amount of time talking about marriage, families and children.
“The Conservatives have successfully ‘decontaminated’ their brand. They’re offering something in tune with the times. Cameron describes a new global movement, with rising center-right parties in Sweden, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, California and New York (he admires Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg). American conservatives won’t simply import this model. But there’s a lot to learn from it. The only question is whether Republicans will learn those lessons sooner, or whether they will learn them later, after a decade or so in the wilderness.”
Ronald Reagan shocked members of his own party by insisting that we need what he called a “Second American Revolution.” As a one-time small-bit contributor to his major policy pronouncements, I said at the time and have ever since that we need merely to complete the first one. Whether it is Second or First, such a revolution would indicate that the Great American Experiment in peace, prosperity, and freedom through justice is more than a mere dream. It would show that there is also hope for the world, which has been fighting a losing battle against the ideology of creative destruction perfected by American NeoCons in their de facto support of their Caliphatic mirror image emerging from the caves of Afghanistan.
Lest anyone accuse me of being an Islamophobe for using the tern “fascist” to describe some of the destructive extremism among self-declared Muslims, perhaps one should qualify it by the term “wannabe,” because Osama bin Laden and what I call the Caliphatics don’t have the power yet to be real fascists. In his insightful article, “Ideological Abuse,” Islamic Horizons, May-June, 2008, Ali Mazrui writes that European “fascism was a systematic body of thought that included a central role for the state, a personality cult for the Leader, and fusion of corporate power and militant nationalism.” Professor Mazrui says that Osama bin Laden’s drive to be the leader of a global political caliphate does not qualify him to be a fascist because the Muslim umma is not a nation, because Osama has not yet turned the caliphate into a modern state, and because he has not yet harnessed corporate power to his megalomanic pretensions.
Regardless of political correctness in the use of terminology, there is a common ideology of creative destruction designed to impose order on the world. Those in the halls of power may now be experiencing their come-uppance just in time to deter what once appeared to be a drive to “obliterate” Iran.
God willing, we now may have a genuine possibility to introduce a new look in globalization, so that the traditionalists in all religions can introduce its missing dimension, namely peace, prosperity, and freedom through justice. Introducing this new dimension globally in both domestic and foreign policy is the purpose of the Just Third Way spelled out in some detail by the American Revolutionary Party: http://www.americanrevolutionaryparty.us/partyplatform.htm