A Meditation on Bourgeois Conservatism

A bourgeois conservatism by itself can never incorporate Catholicism for bourgeois conservatism is merely the conservatism of markets.

Bourgeois conservatism is the resistance to social change on the basis that it might disrupt the economic order.

But, bourgeois life by itself is rather malleable. It is simply those habits of mind and practice that facilitate productive work.

This is why we see bourgeois conservatives like David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, David Frum and so on accepting of same sex marriage.

Change agents within bourgeois life need to articulate that “we are just like you” where the you is a respectable productive employee.

If they can win that argument the purposed change in social norms typically follows suit.

Indeed past social changes are socialized within us on these terms on the grounds of men/women and whites/blacks.

Bourgeois progessivism is not therefore a species of radicalism properly understood.

Bourgeois conservatives are the policemen of the habits of productive work.

While bourgeois progressives seek to expand who is allowed within that framework. However it is the framework that stays.

It is a framework defined by public interest, not common good.


This is not to say that bourgeois conservatism is, per se, an illegitimate enterprise.

Indeed, the expansion of rights for racial minorities and the opportunity for women to engage in work seems to be a good thing

This is to say that bourgeois conservatism is an imperfect and incomplete guide to the good.

Sometimes what is in the public interest and the common good match up.

Sometimes they do not.

Therefore our preference should be for the common good.

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