Yoram Hazony: The case for national conservatism in the UK
The Israeli thinker makes his case for bringing the movement to the UK
Between liberalism and fascism is a vast and forgotten space, according to Yoram Hazony. Last night, at UnHerd’s new Westminster HQ, the Israeli philosopher and political theorist gave a lecture which drew attention to the discarded ideologies which once competed with liberalism and presented his alternative: national conservatism. But could this movement come to Britain? Yes, Hazony said, but time is of the essence. In his words: “It’s now or never. Time’s up.”
According to Hazony, liberalism is gone and “it’s not going to come back”. In the space of two years, the old liberal consensus has been usurped. “In the year 2020, the great majority of institutions, private and public,” he said, “went over from this traditional liberal view […] to something completely new […] woke neo-Marxism. We can talk about exactly what it is, but it’s certainly not liberalism.”
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Hazony’s case for conservatism can be found in the word itself: the urgent need for us to conserve what we have inherited:
Hazony invoked pornography, prostitution and the breakup of the family unit as symptoms of this overthrow. Liberalism is not strong enough to derail this relentless overthrowing of inherited values, he said, because it does not tie people to a nation or a place. Liberalism turns us all into citizens of the world. There must be some loyalty or sense of obligation to that which you are trying to conserve:
If there is to be a coherent national conservative movement in Britain, then many of its potential members were present in the room last night. But with internal disputes as to the key principles of the movement, will it find its footing across the Atlantic? That, Hazony admitted, is yet to be seen.
Very interesting stuff. I will certainly read the book.
Two questions I would have asked if I was in the audience (in case Mr Hazony is reading the comments):
1.What role does a sense of national superiority play in establishing boundaries between nations? I not only feel British but deep down, I feel that to be British is as good as life gets. Obviously the French feel the same. In the USA they call it “American Exceptionalism”. In Israel they are God’s Chosen People. Is this integral to a sense of nationhood? What is the point of conserving customs and traditions otherwise?
Rational Liberal Internationalists would say, as Obama did of American Exceptionalism, that it is all nonsense. But it seemed to me that he was missing the point. Why vote for a leader that didn’t believe America was the best place on earth with a glorious history and future?
2.It seems to me that National Conservatives are far more democratic than Liberal Internationalists. Is this true in Mr Hazony’s view?
I don’t know of any international body which has had anything like democratic control exercised over it. Indeed this was the heart of the Brexit debate – without a Demos, there can be no Democracy.
It seems to me that the more power a nation hands over to trans-national institutions, the less it keeps for its people.
Of course Liberals will say that the people can ultimately override the international protocols but looks how hard that is with something like stopping illegal immigrants: the lawyers first step is to get the national courts to overturn the local legislation in favour of the international rules.
Vote Reform Party whenever you can. Or Nigel.
Really interesting talk. Very clear and we’ll explained. Is it possible to view the Q&A somewhere?
I was surprised that Hazony identified liberalism as the enemy we face, using “liberal” in the phrase liberal internationalism as a pejorative term.
We should certainly preserve national traditions and be sceptical about aspects of internationalism. But I had always thought of liberalism, particularly in the sense of free speech, as being one of the most important aspects of our civilization, of the traditions that we have inherited from our forebears. It is now much under attack, mainly from the forces of the political Left.
Is it all simply a linguistic difference between Britain and the United States? Does “liberal” in the United States now just mean Left-wing? If so, Hazony and his supporters must be careful not to abuse one of the traditions that they purport to defend.
well well, interesting analysis to have a wide view on the things that are happening. What he forgets is that we are all stuck with our opinions and need for securities (assurance) and find it difficult to change. the best option is likely a balance between both. Bit this is difficult to handle because it means re-evaluating things regularly, accepting to be wrong a few years later, happily living with people who have completely different views and ways…. humanity still needs some exercises to achieve this…
National Conservatism has been tainted by money-oriented conservative parties like the British Tory Party on the one hand and race and national borders obsessed fascists on the other.
What we actually need is a blue Labour type party, which espouses socialist economics and conservative social policies such as family and national sovereignty. If the Labour Party in the UK where I live were to start espousing such policies, they’d be on to a winner. But this is not what Keir Starmer represents.
The Labour Party is often described as a broad church, but its too broad and is held back by wokery on the one hand, who won’t accept even the mildest immigration controls, Brexit or family values, and the neo-liberal, Blairites on the other hand who want to be the alternative party for business.
But please don’t conflate wokery with Marxism. One is about identity politics. The other is about class. I respect Marxism but cannot respect wokery.
Such a party exists in the UK. The SDP.
A good speaker and worth listening to.
The Communism, Fascism and Liberalism trinity of labels is a bit simplistic. Reminds me of the old one about there being two kinds of people; those who believe there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.
Just are there are several spaces where Conservatism exists, this is also true of other political beliefs. He is speaking to a UK audience and praises its democracy but doesn’t mention that it also had a world-wide empire which it exploited.
He also makes no mention of Nationalism (in the negative sense of the word) – it’s straight to fascism without collecting $200.
“…let’s start with God and scripture, nation and family, man and woman, honour, the sacred, loyalty…” ?
Ok…but which ‘God’ and which ‘scripture’? Why do we need such arguments from authority or tradition in politics? I’m not against all traditions…but don’t political arguments stand or fall on their own merits?
For better or worse, religious belief has been declining in the UK and indeed Europe. So, fewer voters are willing to listen these days.
All familiar but……………
Standard conservative barking at the moon because things have changed and he doesn’t like it. Can be safely ignored.
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