I Don’t Understand Modern Conservatism

The recent biography of Mrs Thatcher by John Campbell (in particular volume one, The Grocer’s Daughter) did a good job of setting out just how much Hayek’s writings shaped Thatcher’s political outlook from her student days in Oxford onwards, in particular by paying close attention to her political speeches around 1950, when she was running for Parliament in Deptford, some of the few occasions in her early political career when she was making speeches without being bound by front bench discipline.

That part of the Right of the Conservative Party which is most keen to claim its legitimate political descent from Mrs Thatcher is most adamantly opposed to the European Union in general and British participation in the single European currency in particular.

I sometimes think that this should puzzle us more than it does…
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Fabian Funnies

I was reading the new almost-worthy-but-dull Fabian Society pamphlet by Gisela Stuart MP on “The Making of Europe’s Constitution” on a bus-ride yesterday.

“There were moments in the sixteen months I spent in close proximity with my fellow Europeans when I had great sympathy with the suggestion of my laptop spellcheck; which, whenever I typed in the word Giscard, replaced it with ‘discard’.”
But that’s the only highlight, I’m afraid.

Greetings from the Guest

As David mentions below, the kind people at Fistful… have invited me in and asked me to do a guestblogging stint, in the (vain) expectation that I might have something interesting to say about things European.

For people who haven’t stumbled across me before, I blog over at the Virtual Stoa, was the subject of a recent Normblog profile, and spend my days teaching politics at Magdalen College in Oxford — though my expertise, such as it is, is in topics in pre-20th century history of political thought rather than in anything useful (contemporary European politics and society, for example).

I’ve enjoyed reading Fistful… from time to time since its launch last year, and was very pleased to see A Fistful of Dynamite aka Duck, You Sucker, aka Once Upon a Time in the Revolution again over Christmas in Berkeley, CA. And I’m now the proud co-owner of an almost authentic-looking Sergio Leone-style duster coat, so I’m feeling especially qualified right now to contribute to the discussions here.

Before I close this introductory post, do check out, if you haven’t already, Scott Martens’s superlative summary of the argument of Karl Marx’s 1843 essay, On the Jewish Question, which appears in the comments to this recent post: it’s a patient and accurate summary of a complex and much-misunderstood text which deserves a bit more prominence than it gets buried away at the end of a long comments thread. Good stuff, Scott.

Right, more soon.