quinta-feira, abril 20, 2006

A New Whig Agenda

Há uns anos atrás, Andrew Lilico (o senhor da foto, que pode ser encontrado aqui) publicou no seu site pessoal (entretanto desactivado), sob este título, o texto que aqui reproduzimos. Continua a ter as ideias que ainda fazem falta ao Partido Conservador no Reino Unido - e que podem inspirar os que por cá também andam à procura de qualquer coisa (mas sem agenda):

"The single biggest problem that the Conservative Party has faced over the past few years is the lack of a philosophy. By the end of the Major period Conservative activists didn't know why they were Conservatives. Still the constant lament is that Blair has 'stolen all our policies' - as if this were somehow unfair - and many Conservative activists quite openly admire the policies of the Labour Party more than our own policies. Traditionally Conservatives have not cared whether they could say what Conservatism is about. Belonging to a political party on account of a political philosophy was considered a rather tasteless trait of the Left. Perhaps this was acceptable when it was clear what a Conservative wasn't, when we knew what we opposed. If the Left offered property-confiscation, pacifism, and dumbing-down, what did it matter who we were? All that counted was that we were against them! However, in the age of New Labour we cannot get away with merely saying what we are not, because New Labour appears to be against most of these things anyway! Today we need to say what Conservatism means in the modern age. Our Euro policy is a start, but it is not enough. Single issue parties do not win British General Elections. On the doorsteps we do not sell voters just a single issue, neither can we mire them in policy details and subtleties. They need us to tell them who we are, and why we are different from the rest. But do not despair! We do have something to say... What does Labour offer us? Is it 'new', 'modern', 'cool'? No. What Labour offers us today is one of the oldest and longest-serving political programmes still active: Catholic Collectivism. Catholic Collectivism was the major political doctrine enacted during the middle ages, and has evolved and found new expression in each new age - as all vibrant political philosophies must.. Earlier this century its major expression was Corporatism, a programme explicitly inspired by two Catholic encyclicals - Rerum novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo anno (1931). New Labour's 'Third Way' is its most recent form. Catholic Collectivism advocates close co-operation between employers and workers over working conditions, wages and prices, production and exchange, with the state as overseer. It aims to promote social justice and order by substituting collective considerations in the place of competition and the price mechanism. Catholic Collectivism has always promoted a pan-European hierachy, and still does. New Labour's philosophy adds a populist side, with a collectivist notion of democracy. For New Labour, democracy is something we do collectively. It is how we 'rule ourselves'. For New Labour the People's Will is sovereign. Focus groups and opinion polls are not mere marketing devices, as some naive Conservatives suppose. They are how New Labour's policies find their moral legitimacy. New Labour wants to reflect the People's Will, so that those who oppose it are automatically wrong - they oppose the People. What today's Conservative Party offers is quite different. It is a somewhat newer philosophy than Labour's, but it has a good pedigree. Modern Conservatism reflects closely its Whiggish tradition. The Whigs were the dominant party for most of the eighteenth century. Famous Whigs of this period include Walpole, the two Pitts, and Burke. Towards the end of that century the party split into two factions - the Pittites and the Foxites. Over time the Pittite faction came to be called 'Tories' (though they had had nothing to do with the seventeenth century party of that name). This faction went on to form the Conservative Party in about 1830. During the 1830s many members of the Foxite faction (now called 'Whigs') defected to the Conservative Party, including Edward Stanley, later a Conservative Prime Minister as Lord Derby. The remains of the Whig Party defected to the Conservatives in the 1880s on the Irish Question. The Conservative Party is thus the inheritor of the entire eighteenth-century Whiggish tradition, and modern Conservatism reflects this tradition very closely. In modern Conservatism we can identify four key Whiggish principles - a New Whig Agenda around which our future policies can be formed. These principles are: * favouring Parliament over the Executive * favouring the interests of small traders over concentrated wealth * favouring toleration of non-conformists * promoting ordered liberty against the arbitrary powers of the State In short, the New Whig is the champion of the individual and the underdog. The founding element of Whiggish philosophy, and the issue over which the Whig Party was formed, is the sovereignty of Parliament. The party was formed to oppose the succession of the Catholic despot James II. Whigs favoured Parliament against the King under Rome. Today this issue is very much alive. In place of New Labour's pan-European hierarchy, Conservatives favour our British Parliament. In place of the People's Will, Conservatives favour a representative assembly, forming the basis of a government which, if people don't like, they can vote out of office. This is the crucial issue. This is what we don't like about a European super-state, about the Single Currency, about proportional representation. All of these things undermine the capacity of the British electorate, if they do not like their government to 'kick the rotters out'. The Whiggish constitution is the first thing which Whiggish Conservatism exists to defend. Secondly, Whigs are the promoters of free enterprise and free markets. Under Mrs. Thatcher we saw how Conservatives promoted entrepreneurship, broke up monopolies, undermined vested interests in the union movement, and de-regulated. We did not do these things because we believed in some 'law of the jungle'. If might were right then we would favour the big guy over the small. But big is not best, and might is not right. Markets and price mechanisms do not just happen. They need a strong legal framework, secure property rights, and a medium of exchange which retains its value. This is what Mrs. Thatcher delivered. In contrast with New Labour's belief in 'stakeholding', in 'just prices', and in regulating to by-pass the price mechanism, Conservatives believe that what regulation there is (for there must be some) should promote markets, promote a well-functioning price-mechanism, and prevent markets being undermined by monopolistic abuses. The Market rewards talent, imagination and innovation. It offers people the liberty to trade to their mutual advantage, and thus creates contentment through co-operation. It promotes efficient operation and undermines racism, sexism, and other ill-founded prejudice. Markets have not happened by chance, but rather because wise governments have created an environment in which they could operate. The Market is the exchange mechanism of the future. Whigs have always favoured the Market, and they favour it still. Catholic Collectivists have never believed in the Market, and New Labour is no different. Thirdly, we favour tolerance. In any society there are those who choose to live differently from the norm. Sometimes not everyone adheres to the state religion. Sometimes people choose not to use the national language. Other times people take different numbers of wives, do not have weddings, or prefer sexual partners of the same sex. Even, occasionally, there are those who just wear different clothes and do not support the national sports teams. Now clearly in some such cases there is no right or wrong way to do things. Equally clearly, in other case there will be. No-one can seriously suggest there is no ethical distinction between islamic fundamentalism and libertarian atheism. However, for the Whig, provided that non-conformism does not take a form which threatens order (such as inciting riots or burning animal testing labs) we have another principle: Whigs favour toleration of non-conformists. For the old Whig this principle meant support for Baptists, Presbyterians, and others who did not support the state religion, and hence who tended to suffer discrimination. For the New Whig this must mean supporting co-habiting couples, opposing the victimization of homosexuals, and standing up for ethnic minorities who wish to retain their culture and religions. This does not mean that New Whigs do not believe marriage, heterosexual sex, integration, and Christianity are best. To tolerate we need not agree. And to fight injustice against someone is not to say that everything he does is right. In contrast, New Labour oppresses the different, be they fox-hunters or believers in re-incarnation, if that is the People's Will. Theirs is the tyranny of the majority. And around the world, for centuries we have seen that Collectivist systems lead inexorably to oppression. That is another reason why the Whiggish constitution is so important to preserve. Our fourth principle is that Whigs promote ordered liberty against the arbitrary powers of the State. The State is a valuable instrument. It guarantees property rights, and offers people security to go about their business without continuous threat from the unscrupulous and the violent. Order is immensely valuable, and anything which threatens order is anathema to the Whig. In Britain the rule of law has been dominant for centuries. But on the Continent, where Catholic Collectivism has dominated, there has been a tradition of bloody revolution and the rise of the mob. Even today we see how unwilling French police are to clear the roads to permit lorry traffic to flow. The French tradition is of permitting mob protest, because historically attempts to suppress it have failed. Thus order is valuable. However, to create order, we must make the State immensely powerful. With this power comes a danger. The State becomes the largest power, so the State becomes the most potent threat to our liberties. Who could be more oppressed than the man unjustly arrested and imprisoned? Who confiscates more of our property than the taxman? Who can interfere with our sport more effectively than the legislator who bans it? Hence the Whig belief is that the invasion of our liberties by the State should be restricted to those instances where it is absolutely necessary. Too often, Governments regard liberties as something the State grants, rather than something the State takes away. The British system has sometimes been far from perfect in this regard. But other systems have very often been awful. Thus, in conclusion, we have seen that New Labour's philosophy is the latest form of a Whiggism's most powerful and enduring philosophical adversary - Catholic collectivism. This believes in collective bargaining to achieve collective ends. It aims to exchange the price mechanism for 'just' prices to improve the welfare of 'stakeholders'. It is automatically the friend of big business and regulation, because these make its bargaining processes possible. It aims to create a pan-European hierarchy to combine the collective interests of like-minded peoples. Under New Labour it is also populist, believing that the People's Will should be obeyed. In contrast, modern Conservatism has a Whiggish heritage, favouring a sovereign elected legislature, free markets, tolerance and liberty. Whiggish Conservatism is the champion of the individual and the underdog. This is an attractive philosophy, and represents the way forward, both for the Party and for the country."