We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Benjamin Disraeli--twice prime minister of Great Britain, romantic novelist, inventor of modern conservatism--was a neocon in the plain sense of the word, a "new conservative" who began his career on the left. Conservative thinking dates to the dawn of organized society, but modern conservatism--a mass movement, a philosophy not for aristocrats and the rich but for everybody--was Disraeli's creation. That modern conservatism should have been invented by a 19th-century neocon is thought provoking. More surprising: His redefinition of conservatism is still fresh, and his political philosophy has never been more apt.
Conservatism is the most powerful and electric force in the American intellectual landscape. Young people no longer discover the left and get excited; they are far more likely to get their intellectual kicks discovering and experimenting with conservatism. But what exactly do conservatives believe? How do they resolve the seeming paradox that so many conservatives revere the past yet are also progressives, determined to move this nation forward and let it grow, stretch, and inhabit more and more of its own best self? Disraeli produced a definition of conservatism that resolves the problem. It is so terse and compelling, it ranks as a milestone of political thought.
He was a statesman who remodeled Europe and a thinker who examined some of the hardest of all political, social, and philosophical questions: How should democratic government work, what does party politics mean, where do the Jews fit in? I too "would lift up my voice to heaven, and ask," says the hero of his novel Tancred, "What is DUTY, and what is FAITH? What ought I to DO, and what ought I to BELIEVE?" On these and related questions, Disraeli said fantastically improbable things that would be easy to dismiss except that many of them are true.