The Disappearance of the Moderate Conservative

Globe & Mail political columnist Jeffrey Simpson has a bang on article on “the disappearance of the moderate conservative“. It’s one of the few I’ve read that actually starts to connect the dots.

Simpson could have named this new “hard-edged” conservatism for what it is — reactionary conservatism; a nihilistic kind of immoderate and immodest, even narcissistic conservatism that eschews traditional conservative virtues of decency and civility, and favours instead a raging kind of toxic and poisonous public discourse. What Simpson does note is that it has become pretty universal to the so-called Anglosphere. It’s the politics of ressentiment.

The question naturally arises, why? Why now? What is it about these times that invite and curry such reactionary attitudes? Apart from the fact that it seems to be a symptom of Nietzsche’s “two centuries of nihilism”, it seems hard to identify any real cause for such right-wing ressentiment that isn’t just fictitious.

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” indeed.

In fact, Of Passionate Intensity was even the title of a book on the rise of Canada’s Reform Party and Stephen Harper to the office of Prime Minister. For if there’s three things that characterise Mr. Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister, it is definitely ressentiment, cynicism and narcissism.



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