Monday, November 3, 2008

Jeffrey Hart, right and wrong

Jeffrey Hart correctly criticizes the nonsense of Bush's nation-building schemes:
Like the French radicals of 1790, Bush wanted to democratize Iraq, turn it, as he said in a speech at Whitehall, into a "beacon of liberty in the Middle East." Now, Robespierre and the other radicals were criticized by Burke for wanting to turn France into a republic. Not a bad idea, but they tried to do it all at once, and according to republican theory.
Maxmillien Robespierre himself would have been horrified by the notion of democratizing Mesopotamia. That may -- possibly -- happen. But it will take a long time, an Enlightenment, and the muting of sectarian hatreds.
While I share this disdain of Bush's egalitarian universalism, Hart then goes on to defend Social Security (!) and makes a bizarrely unconservative defense of abortion:
Ever since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been a salient controversy in our politics. But the availability of abortion is linked to the long advancement of women's equality. Again, we are dealing with social change, and this requires understanding social change, a Burkean imperative that Obama understands.
On my Dartmouth campus, half the undergraduates are women. They do not want to have their plans derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court ruled that the availability of abortion "enables women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the country."
So the career ambitions of Dartmouth coeds and the "advancement of women's equality" are now conservative projects -- indeed, "a Burkean imperative" that trumps all else? (If Dartmouth girls so fear the consequences of "unwanted pregnancy," would it be too much to ask them to keep their britches on?) Behold the prophesied fruit of "infidel democracy":
In our day, innovations march with so rapid a stride that they quite take away one's breath. The fantastical project of yesterday, which was mentioned only to be ridiculed, is to-day the audacious reform, and will be tomorrow the accomplished fact. Such has been the history of the agitation for "women's rights," as they are sophistically called in this country.
So we now have abortion defended in the name of Burke, and its defenders anointed as "conservative." So much for "standing athwart history" et cetera.

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