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The Faber Book of Conservatism.

Conservatism in Britain is much more difficult to describe than socialism, liberalism or communism, admits Kenneth Baker, for 'it is instinctive rather than intellectual, subtle rather than simple, and it is close to common sense and the natural feelings of mankind'. In his book he selects passages -- arranged chronologically and in some eighteen chapters -- on tradition, the free market, support for the family, patriotism, property, morality, love of the countryside, less government and a sense of community.

Kenneth Baker has had his predecessors: Quintin Hogg, Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott. And he calls in aid from Adam Smith and Edmund Burke. Some of his quotations are familiar. But not totally so. And his book is relevant, even on Europe. Thus he quotes G.K. Chesterton --

Oh, how I love Humanity, with love so pure and pringlish And how I hate the horrid French, Who never will be English!

The International Idea, The largest and the clearest Is welding all the nations now Except the one that's nearest.

And Lady Thatcher's memorable Bruges speech (September 1988): 'We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the State in Britain only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels'.

And the abundant quotes and extracts do not preclude a pertinent personal comment:

There is no doubt that Britain's future destiny lies in Europe. But the increasingly centralist thrust of the Community's organization today is unlikely to be the pattern for the future as the Community welcomes more and more new members. The role of the Conservative Party is to argue for a European Community in which individual nations cooperate on the basis of shared interests rather than submerge their identities under the weight of some imposed federalist goal. ESMOND WRIGHT
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Author:Wright, Esmond
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:297
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