Saturday, October 14, 2006

Beryl Wajsman's Civil Conservatism

Back in May 2005, I wrote about Beryl Wajsman in an article entitled An Honest Liberal? At the time, Wajsman had achieved a certain notoriety as one of the lunch guests at Chez Frank when an envelope of cash was passed by advertising executive Jean Brault to a Liberal Party worker. Although Wajsman was later vindicated by Gomery, Paul Martin kicked him out of the Liberal Party all the same. The action, however, was redundant. Wajsman had already quit the party in disgust.

Since that time, Wajsman has not faded into the woodwork. He keeps up a whirlwind pace writing commentary for the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal of which he is president, started Barricades Magazine of which he is the publisher and hosts The Last Angry Man on Montreal’s 940 AM.

Wajsman's latest essay On Civil Conservatism is reprinted on The Conservative Voice. It is well worth the read.

Wajsman eloquently describes the inevitable descent of "industrial liberalism" into illiberalism:

It has been an article of faith that appeasing almost every demand of populist "rights" was the course for electoral success. Little thought was given to the legitimate limits of government intrusion. Less still to the efficacy of the policies proposed. Today's experiment always trumped yesterday's experience.

It has resulted in an international retreat from reason in the face of a galloping excess of license. A license which not only threatens the economic viability of western nations, but has created a feckless and frivolous citizenry dependant on government largesse whose apathy compromises the most basic and cherished constitutional liberties through the verdicts of illiberal democracy returning government after government based on the lowest common denominator of greed.

In its place, Wajsman posits a civil conservatism which stands as a bulwark against the intrusions of the state:

The essence of civil conservatism lies in the belief that the organization of a commonweal is essential for the promotion of those qualities of co-operation and compassion without which the challenges of human existence would find even the most powerful among us quite desolate. That these nobler inclinations of man must triumph over our coarser instincts of competition and contempt so that we can continue our incontrovertible ascent from the jungles of barbarism.

However, though intuitively democratic, the civil conservative understands the need to restrain illiberal government intrusions with the bridle of constitutional liberty. That society exists to provide each of us with the just consideration to realize the full flower of our individual humanity. And the requisite freedom to express that humanity in our singular poetry and passions.

Read the rest. It is a philosophy to which I could easily subscribe. I like this guy.