Old Time ReligionGreg Staples in comments asked me to expand on my remark that
"The Conservative Habit of Mind is about is very much a Protestant version of political philosophy."What I had in mind was Umberto Eco's rather famous remarks about the religious war between Macs and PCs,
...."Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.My point being that the Conservative interest is perpetually engaged in a struggle to find its own meaning. Essentially, conservatives are uncomfortable with the Liberal orthodoxy but, in Canada at least, have been unable to create a viable response to that orthodoxy. While we await our Luther, we seem content to follow the Anglican alternative in which the official party spends most of its time explaining how nothing would change if the Conservative/Alliance/Reform party were to be elected. In essence an alternative Curia, a B-team, which promises no substantive doctrinal revisions.
"The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the 'ratio studiorum' of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach--if not the Kingdom of Heaven--the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
"DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
"You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow women and gays to be ministers if you want to.
"And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic..."
To mix the metaphor just a bit further, Lurther's great gift was to look back to Scripture without the intervening, and at the time throughly corrupt, priesthood. He hacked back to the machine code.
The present Conservative Party, mimicing much of the Anglican Church, is engaged in a long running struggle to refine the liturgy without asking why the form of service is as it is. (And yes Anglican readers I know that is a gross oversimplification.) What I believe is necessary for the Conservative interest to prevail is a much deeper examination of the nature of conservatism and the application of essential conservative tenets to the modern world.