|Seizing the Moral High Ground for Reform||The Legacy of Jerry Falwell|
by Christopher Chantrill
May 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm
ON THE DAY after British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his retirement they took down the new in New Labour.
The British Labour Party removed the logo New Labour, New Britain from its web site and substituted just plain Labour.
So the Third Way era is over. It was, after all, nothing more than a makeover to restyle the progressive parties of Britain and the US and make them electorally viable. It didnt change the nature of the parties. Even Clinton and Blair, with all their talent, failed to talk the progressives out of their progressive faith. The Democrats have gone back to tax increases and more spending, and the Labour Party doesnt think it needs to be new any more.
The promise of Third Way politics to conservatives was that maybe the left would work with us in reforming the welfare state. Now we know that they wont.
Reform of the welfare state in Britain, if any, will have to come from the Conservative Party, and under the leadership of David Cameron it is tiptoeing towards a genuine reform agenda. Oliver Letwin, in charge of the policy review process, recently described, with a mouth full of policy-wonk marbles, the political vision of the party as framework-based rather than the Labour Partys provision-based approach.
Cameron Conservatism is... an attempt to shift the theory of the State from a provision-based paradigm to a framework-based paradigm.
The Labour Party under Gordon Brown is stuck in a postMarxist provision-based paradigm with the central State not only as the funder but also as the proper provider of public services. But the Conservative Party believes that it is the role of government to get beyond providing
to establish a framework of support and incentive that enables and induces individuals and organisations to act in ways that fulfil not merely their own self-interested ambitions but also their wider social responsibilities.
Perhaps Letwin was being deliberately unquotable, and obeying the first law of radical reform: Dont frighten the horses in the street. For it is not just Britains schools and National Health Service that need reform.
Britains Institute of Economic Affairs just released a harrowing review of Britains welfare system authored by Patricia Morgan: The War Between the State and the Family: How Government Divides and Impoverishes. Morgan describes a system that seems to be designed to induce individuals precisely to ignore their wider social responsibilities. In Britain the welfare system wantonly subsidizes single-parenthood (lone parents in Britspeak) and cruelly discriminates against low-income married couples, completely negating the old idea that support of the non-working poor should not make the working poor seem like suckers.
But think tanks like the progressive Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) are not concerned about the working poor. IPPR worries more about anachronistic demands for greater support for traditional families rather than lone parents. For the IPPR, writes Morgan,
the only [welfare] choice deemed worthy of support is one where women work full time with their children in day care, since this helps to move us towards the goal of gender parity in pay and position.
That is rather problematic when study after study shows that only a small proportion of women want continual full-time work while they are rearing children. It is doubly so when the numbers show that: Lone-parent families depend upon benefits and tax credits for an average of 66 percent of their income.
Conservatives should never forget. Most women are not raging about gender parity. They are worrying about their children.
In Britain as in the United States the welfare system is a vortex at the center of two swirling social-cultural forces. First of all there is the left-wing tradition of analyzing everything in terms of power, in which depending on family members for assistance is always degrading, supplying unpaid domestic work or childcare in return for economic support from a breadwinner. Then there is the autonomy movement that celebrates a life based only upon free personal choice; unregulated, unsupported and unconstrained by any external standards, laws, demands, conventions, rules, and institutional frameworks. Both movements agree that the individual must be freed from family dependency to achieve true liberation.
It is understandable that Oliver Letwin would paddle very carefully into this maelstrom. The essence of the conservative vision both in Britain and in the United States is to revive Burkes little platoons, Neuhauss mediating structures, and now Letwins frameworks. These social structures enable men and women to build social capital by meshing them in a web of collaboration and reciprocation. In that web the progressive program of equality and autonomy gets decisively marginalized.
It will be interesting to see how our Conservative cousins in Britain translate their framework-based paradigm from policy-speak to an open appeal for the votes of British voters.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up
rather than learns... Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism