Saturday, January 5, 2019


404. From a new social conservatism to a new socialism

I have been wondering whether what I have been writing in this blog adds up to a coherent political ideology. I have recently been triggered in this by an article in the New York Review of Books (20 December 2018), by Mark Lilla on ‘Two roads for the new French right’. It brought into focus the rise of Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine le Pen, with a deviation from the latter’s National Front, with the contours of a more coherent, intriguing new Christian social conservatism.

Here I summarize that account and then compare it to my views, leading in a direction that is somewhat similar but also quite different, amounting, I think, to a new form of socialism.

With populism on the right, as with Marine le Pen and Donald Trump, this new conservatism shares nationalism and a rejection of globalization, the EU, multiculturalism, and mass immigration. However, it does accept multinational coordination, as long as it leaves national identities and their variety intact.

It is against the EU for its globalized policies and its neoliberal orientation towards the individualistic, egoistic homo economicus, its corresponding focus on markets and its neglect of a social orientation, with iniquitous austerity policies.

It harbours, along with a tradition of Christian democracy, and with old-style American Christian ethics, the old, organic view of humanity as communitarian and ‘organic’, and of family values, with a traditional child-bearing role for women, rejecting same-sex marriage. The catholic church has a long term tradition with communitarian values in convents or monasteries, and the protestant church with local, voluntaristic humanitarian projects.

With the green left this new conservatism shares its sense of solidarity with the poor and neglected, as well as a commitment to environmental ideals.

Where do I stand on all this?

With this social conservatism I share the environmentalism and the social view of humanity, rather than the liberal view of the autonomous individual, with, instead, a more organic communitarian view, with a re-invigoration of local communities.

However, together with that I value diversity, multiculturalism, not only between but also within nations. Also I do not wish to return to old family strictures, and do not see why LGBT’ers could not also flourish as members of local communities.

Also, I think that we need the EU for further integration in the areas of foreign policy, defence, immigration, security and financial policy (for equitable taxes, control of banking). However, and here I agree with this social conservatism, we need a more social Europe. I think awareness of this is growing in the EU. That includes less iniquitous austerity policies for countries with failing finance, on the condition of effective, equitable taxes, control of spending and corruption, but also a constraint on lobbies of large firms that yield a race to the social bottom, and a moderation of salaries and bonuses. The purpose, the mission, of business is to satisfy needs in society. The most pressing need now is to save the environment. Business is dragging its feet and thereby fails in its mission.  

For this I have pleaded for a shift from utility ethics to a virtue ethics, with the cardinal virtues of prudence, courage, moderation and justice.     

We cannot do without markets, but there are limits to how far they should go, and there need to be measures against market imperfections.  

How, then, does my position compare with socialism? On many points it is similar, except that socialism has let itself be side-tracked, since the 1980’s, by neo liberalist ideology, and has become too individualist and consumerist, neglecting social solidarity, community, and the environment.       

It seems to me that if the new social conservatism develops, a coalition should be possible between that and a new socialism and Christian democracy, all sharing the social and environmental, and making compromises concerning the EU, on the condition of a revised, socio-economic orientation, replacing neo-liberalism, while preserving multiculturalism and immigration.