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Archive for June 28th, 2006

Conservative?

I always find it ironic that those in the U.S. who call themselves conservatives are actually often the most hostile to tradition.  An example that I just came across is this article by Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal, published there last fall. Henninger writes (quoting a German immigrant to the U.S.): 

I could not do in Europe what I did here. A European at the age of 25, with little money but a lot of ambition and ideas, could not expect to move outside his own country–move to say the center of France, or the center of Italy, Belgium or any other country–and have much prospect of succeeding. He would remain an outsider.

This is the roots argument. In America, the Jamestown settlers hit the ground running in 1607, and their descendants have kept moving for nearly 400 years, high on change. Lucky us. In Europe, every village and town has roots that run 1,000 or more years deep. Past some point, maybe World War I, pulling up one’s roots became unthinkable. Tough luck for the young Ray Ozzies in the historic towns of Europe, yearning to be ‘quick’ and ‘decisive.’

Although I would not defend the often statist economic policies of Europe, still, there seems to be a sense in which place, family, tradition matter there, while here "conservatives" are often among the first to scorn and jettison such things if they get in the way of economic growth.

Thomas Storck

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