Although Karl Marx and Ayn Rand are usually presented as espousing diametrically opposed political philosophies, and although there are important differences between these two thinkers, Marx and Rand share an important continuity which can be described as the primacy of the economic. This fundamental agreement between Marx and Rand is significant because it constitutes a rejection of important themes of classical political philosophy and because it is opposed to philosophical conservatism which attempts to preserve the best of the western tradition.
Daily Archives: October 16, 2012
In his post making a case for the conservative’s (potentially) necessary acceptance of Paul Krugman, I think Kelse hits on a fundamental tension conservatism consistently confronts: how does the conservative determine who (or what) is and who (or what) is not conservative? What criteria or methods are employed in this process? It’s conservatism’s very own demarcation problem. And while Kelse stirs the pot which begins a potential food fight, this is just another iteration of a fundamental problem that conservatives have dealt with in various ways throughout the history of the movement (intellectual and otherwise). As I sat reading the quotes from Sullivan and others that Kelse had marshaled together, it occurred to me that in the 1950s and 1960s, those conservatives such as Kirk and Buckley engaged with other so-called conservatives in an a variety of internecine battles whose reverberations continue to be felt to this day; the case of Peter Viereck and his battles with the then “new conservatives” (represented by Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley and others); or the “reading out” of the conservative movement of the John Birch Society by the National Review are two of the more prominent examples of this attempt at self-definition and delimitation of the boundaries of conservatism. Can a figure such as Paul Krugman be drawn out of conservatism? I question whether he can. A conservatism that is averse to abstractions and rationalism I think will have a difficult time employing history or historicism for the job. Which leads me to think that maybe Krugman qualifies as a conservative. Maybe he meets the criteria. In which case, is conservatism worse off for it?
In undergrad I studied politics. One of the requirements of my major was that I take an intro to economics course. I had heard so many horror stories of students failing out of Prof. Andersen’s Intro to Microeconomics, that I decided to first take Intro to Macroeconomics to better prepare myself. I fell in love with economics during those two courses. When compared to the meaningless parade of ‘politics’ classes on the EU, globalization, and globalization these economics courses were pure philosophical gold. In retrospect, what I was so keen on must have been that economics only works if you accept that man has a nature, and that what he does can be predicted based on this nature; something none of my politics classes were willing to admit. From that point forward I focused my attention on economics and in so doing salvaged some of my undergraduate education. Continue reading