“We are All Guilty: The Need for a Positive Conservative Vision.” Speech to the Swinton Circle (2014), by Sean Gabb


On Friday the 24th January 2014, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, gave a speech to the Swinton Circle. He spoke at The Counting House, which is a pub at the junction of Gracechurch Street and Cornhill in the City of London. The subject was "We are All Guilty: The Need for a Positive Conservative Vision."

Sean made these points:

  • People on the Right are good at grumbling – and usually about what "others" are doing to our country. The European Union gets blamed, or the immigrants.
  • However, everything bad that has happened has been quietly accepted by the British people. They have never used their still formidablle constitutional rights to stand up and complain effectively.
  • One reason for this might be that the British people are now at the end of a century of dysgenic change, and that the changes we do not welcome are actually fitted to the degraded condition of the people as they now are. As de Maistre said, "Every nation gets the government it deserves."
  • But another possible reason is that people on the Right have been ineffective at conceiving and arguing for an alternative vision to the one we are given by the ruling class.
  • Most conservatives seem to want a return to about 1954, plus modern medicine and the Internet. But this is not on offer. The institutional arrangements of the past have been swept away, never to be recovered. There is no going back. We can only go forward, and we must explain where we want to go.
  • Before then, however, we should accept that victory is not likely in the foreseeable future. Before we can start waging our side of the culture war, we need effective communities of the like-minded.
  • One thing we can all do is to do business with each other. We should seek out conservative lawyers and accountants and building workers. This does not mean putting up with shoddy goods and services. It simply means that we should start to behave as homosexuals and Jews and Moslems and Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists, and every other cohesive minority group does. This is wholly natural and reasonable behaviour for people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to be atomised within the general population.
  • We need intellectual communities that are bound together by shared values and by commercial interest. We might then find that we are less easy to push round, and that we have greater confidence to push back.
  • Only then can we start planning for a conservative revival.

Note on the Recording

Sean Gabb recorded the debate on his Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile telephone. The microphone used was not very directional, and there is considerable background noise from a busy pub in the City on a Friday night. However, it also managed to pick up the questions and comments from the floor

© 2014 – 2017, seangabb.

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