Who is a conservative? Burke or Buckley? Is Bill Kristol a conservative or Victor Davis Hanson? David Cameron or Peter Hitchens? Or are they all conservatives? Will Narendra Modi of India be considered a conservative? Is Vladimir Putin’s vision of a society conservative, or Rodrigo Duterte’s forceful authoritarian law and order imposition against deviant drug addicts a conservative approach? In that case what is conservative? How can it be defined and charted for this new young century?
For those of you paying attention, two of my colleagues recently started this topical and timely debate. Ben Sixsmith, critiquing Noah Rothman’s Commentary piece, stated that #NeverTrumpers are pseudo-conservatives. Mitch Blatt countered that they are indeed conservatives, because there isn’t any fixed definition of conservatism.
For a non-European/non-American reader of politics, the arguments of both sides might seem odd. Both are correct, both are circular and axiomatic. Both, in some ways, logically contradictory. And both, never tries to define what it tries to critique. Without summarising the aforementioned pieces, (readers can read them, in their due time) let me highlight the contradictions.