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Conservatism and Who the Law Protects

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 18, 2021

I’ve seen this quote, or ones very much like it, a few times in recent years:

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

The original quote is from Frank Wilhoit — it’s worth reading what he wrote in full in a comment on this blog post. He begins by stating that conservatism is the only political philosophy that has ever existed and goes on to say that liberalism or progressivism isn’t the answer or counterpoint to it, anti-conservatism is.

So this tells us what anti-conservatism must be: the proposition that the law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone, and cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.

Then the appearance arises that the task is to map “liberalism”, or “progressivism”, or “socialism”, or whateverthefuckkindofstupidnoise-ism, onto the core proposition of anti-conservatism.

No, it a’n’t. The task is to throw all those things on the exact same burn pile as the collected works of all the apologists for conservatism, and start fresh. The core proposition of anti-conservatism requires no supplementation and no exegesis. It is as sufficient as it is necessary. What you see is what you get:

The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.

I wonder what such a system of law and governance would even look like? (via @koush)