By which I mean to say: we are a society evolved to deal with causes of catastrophe bigger than any individual can withstand - from volcano, tsunami, earthquake, and fire; as individual units we have significantly less power-over-events than we do as some form of collective.
Outside context problems give us nascent awarenesses of how much shit we could find ourselves in, at any given moment, and without even that moment's notice.
How the collective is led and run is the business of government: economics plays a major role in this, but is not sufficient. Inalienable rights, like personhood, equality before the law, moderated freedom of speech (whether this be by custom or even officially where custom has evidently failed) etc & etc blah-de-blah make up most of the rest of the package. But my point is this: with a truly conservative (in the old-fashioned "High Tory" sense) perspective, accepting that a collective has to exist, what do you conserve?
Experts in leadership don't always have the qualities of good administrators, or even good policy-makers. (I'm being kind here.)
I define myself pretty much as a High Tory. In some respects, that puts me to the left of the Labour Party. I believe that there are limits of propriety, but also good old-fashioned dirty fun has to have a reasonably private place. In my world, everything is judged on a case-by-case basis, with some reference to first principles but with circumstances becoming a significant variable that influences each judgement too. This is, to me, the only principle that works properly for government and law.
Each man in his castle: and to each their allotted estate.
Nah….it's never really been like that. we've (even the poshest of us) all had common relatives whom the posher side of the family would genteelly disdain: I should know, being in that category. The upper classes traditionally loved a successful criminal. The entree of dodgy Russian chaps into the upper echelons is pretty much guaranteed as long as they behave themselves in company. And their kids….well you're not to blame for your father now, are you? Time and generations gentle money: else how could families who built their fortunes on, ahem, sugar, or, ahem, shipping, have become wealthy and titled?
I'm no leveller, by any means: but if it comes to a shit-kicking contest between the Levellers and the Randian Anti-Society brigade, I admit the necessity of society, and am therefore on the Leveller side, which I pretty much despair of. And this is where modern Conservatism has gotten us: where people like me, who are old-fashioned paternalistic types who believe expert opinion is generally better than that of the man-on-the-Clapham-omnibus, unless that man on the Clapham omnibus is by happenstance also an expert; people who believe there is a sensible limit to free speech; people who think that honour, justice before the law, individual freedom within limits, and person's rights, are not incompatible with social justice and being "forced" to pay taxes for things they don't use; these people have been forced into the arms of the political left by the right's move ever rightward.
That's the fucking point of society: other people need and use services they don't pay for individually, but collectively. I live inland, yet through tax I pay for the coastguard. Obviously I can make a case that this fact is personally unjust, and also to society's benefit.
But I am safe from Sabre-Tooths. And my water doesn't contain cholera. And I'm really happy about that. And I also know that I am better-educated than the average man, and wealthier, and posher: and I don't feel any guilt about that fact either. And I have no need to justify myself to myself or others by taking a strict philosophical position about something to which it should be impossible given its randomness: all such systems, even the most rigorous, being prone to paradox, tautology, or outright internal contradiction.
How about you? Is your water clean? Have your children been eaten by wolves recently?