By Andrew Sullivan
In the great movie, “A Man For All Seasons”, there’s a classic scene when Thomas More speaks to his ultimate betrayer and former friend, Richard Rich, who had lied about him under oath in exchange for the position of the attorney-general of Wales. More was set to be executed as a result of Rich’s testimony. Looking at Rich, More scoffs: “For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales!”
I keep thinking about this when contemplating the American right’s new flirtation with the illiberal, corrupt, authoritarian government in Hungary. When I think of the soul of Anglo-American conservatism, I think of limited government, incremental change, a concern for social cohesion, and a defense of old-school liberalism — a free press, free speech, free association, free markets, freedom of religion.
I think of a government eager to ensure that capitalism can work without excessive government intervention, but also a dedication to enforcing the integrity of the market — busting monopolies, regulating stock markets, prosecuting corruption. I think of a conservatism that enforces borders, but has no issue with vibrant, moderate immigration.
And yet many on the right now seem happy to chuck all this into the dustbin of history — in order to make a pilgrimage to a nasty little regime that for some rather ugly reason gives them hope.