Monday, January 07, 2008

Conservatism

One of the defining characteristics of conservatism (small 'c') is that change for change's sake is unwelcome. Marcel Berlins in the Guardian hits that particular part of me with this, about legal honorifics.
What is the point of the Mr, Mrs, Lord and Lady? Very few people other than lawyers appreciate these niceties. Nor is there any reason why they should. They are neither logical nor necessary. If, centuries ago, there was a valid reason for adding these appendages, it has long disappeared. Today, it serves only to confuse.
There's the 'rich tapestry' argument - that these titles are part of the pageantry and meaningless flummery that goes so far towards explaining the English character. Or you could point to the fact that the rigid formality and hierarchy within a courtroom go towards 'de-humanising' justice, which benefits true justice as it decreases the problem of personalising it. Or you could agree with Tim and say just because something is only historical, neither currently logical nor necessary, isn’t actually a reason to change it.
Personally, I'm with the third Viscount Falkland on this. If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. After all, we know how many conservatives it takes to change a lightbulb...

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