Saturday 22 January 2022

Why is the right unattractive to disenchanted leftists? Because of conservative nostalgia for the 1950s?



What liberal or former liberal would want to find themselves in an ideological movement in which opposition to the right to abortion, opposition to no-fault divorce, and a nostalgia for the era before the invention of the pill are commonplace? This isn’t to say that the conservative movement in America should not make these arguments. They can make them as much as they want. But they can hardly be surprised if others outside of their flock refuse to join them as a consequence.

'At the heart of this lies a centuries-old tension in America between the worlds of politics and religion. It was always said that the genius of keeping religion in the background during the founding of America was that it allowed it to flourish in the foreground later on. By contrast, the centrality of the established church in England almost guarantees the obscurity of religion’s place in public life.

From Douglas Murray's latest article, about American politics, yesterday in Unherd

I read that with great interest. It explained why I didn't think Margaret Thatcher ever did anything conservative. I had in mind the sort of conservatism he thinks former leftists find repellant, now called social conservatism. 

In fact I was wrong - her economics were an important part of conservatism, and restricting the power of the trade unions and governing without prices and incomes policies was a huge achievement which seemed quixotic in 1979. 

The 1960s social revolution did some good things (legalising homosexuality, for example, classlessness and the end of deference possibly) but was mostly ghastly and very often malign.

(It might be because homosexual acts were illegal then in the UK that Douglas Murray feels no attraction to the 1950s.)

Marxism contributed a great deal to the 1960s social revolution.

It's most memorable moment was students in West Berlin in 1968 demonstrating against America, protected from 'real existing socialism' by NATO troops. 

It began with the anti discrimination laws of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the USA and continues up to today, now called Woke.

I am a conservative because I believe in freedom, tradition and, above all, obviously, my and all nations. Free market economics is a very important part of freedom. But the British trade unions were suppressed not by Norman Tebbit's legislation, which of course I welcomed, but by huge unemployment and the destruction of much of British industry.

Yes, religion is very powerful and yes, paradoxically, a state ('established') church allows the establishment, in the modern post-1960s sense of the word, to control it. 

The move a long way to the left among the clergy is one of the most powerful forces in post-1960 European history, despite fewer and fewer white people believing in Christianity and despite working class people since 1960 giving up on the left. 

Theology in its widest sense underlies everything.

Both the left and the Church of England fail to reach the masses and both are in decline but the decline of Christianity is much steeper. 

The fact that what the clergy present to people is largely liberal, worldly, often materialistic ideas (think climate change, for example) is part of the reason.

An indication of how unwelcome the Conservative Party is becoming for social conservatives, or even apolitical people with common sense, is an article in Unherd on Tuesday about a Tory MP called Crispin Blunt, 
who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on LGBT+ rights, is one of a small number of politicians within the Conservative Party who fervently supports Stonewall and their stance on gender self-identification: he believes that it is discriminatory to exclude those who are male but identify as trans from women’s services and spaces. 
He has complained that the newly elected Conservative police commissioner for Surrey, Lisa Townsend, disapproves of transgender ex-men being sent to women's prisons.
In a lengthy formal letter, Blunt complained bitterly that his attempts to “counsel” Townsend had been rebuffed and that “she remains absolutely determined to take part in this most contentious of public debates”. Blunt argued that Townsend’s “messaging propagates dangerous myths that trans women represent a physical threat to cisgender [non transgender] women”.

Echoing criticism levied at Townsend by Pride in Surrey, he added that by expressing her opinions on the topic, “Lisa Townsend is in breach of her personal obligations under public sector equality duty” and that “tweets like these are an abuse of her position as an elected official whose duty is to oversee the police service under the law”.


  1. I think that both Britain and the United States were better societies in 1960 than they are today - indeed I believe that society is collapsing most of the Western world. This is the big difference between (for want of better terms) "left" and "right". When an American conservative thinks of a good society he or she thinks of "Bedford Falls" (from "Its A Wonderful Life") or "Our Town" (the story of the typical town in New Hampshire - ironically made during the time of Franklin Roosevelt) - to the left this was a dreadful society. This does not mean that I support putting homosexuals in prison, or "Jim Crow" (by the way there was no "Jim Crow" in Britain or in the northern small towns that American conservatives look back to) - but society functioned, and as such people as Mark Steyn points out - modern society does NOT function (it is falling apart).

    1. Very true - and the American South with all its unfairness functioned before the 1960s too - since the assassination of ML King there has been a huge problem of violence in the south and everywhere else. Society was segregated and the ex slaves and their descendants of the slaves were ill educated and badly done by but black people were free to build their society, their own businesses and friendly societies, etc. They did so. Then came LBJ's welfare state, high rates of illegitimacy, the sexual revolution and drugs etc..

    2. A huge problem of violence in the South and everywhere else in the USA.