A Good Conservative Will Do That

costelloWe can almost picture Tim Costello  (left) give his big, sophisticated head a toss as he writes about ‘Edmund Burke, more praised than read among modern conservatives.’ Oh, Timothy, do go on.

Rev. Costello, you see, is having a crack at conservatives in the Liberal Party who are still (still!) bitter about losing control of the Coalition’s ideological nerve centre. It’s a bit rich,  given that, as the good reverend observes, it was only during the Howard years that conservatives started peeing in the LNP’s gene pool. Howard said the Liberal Party brings together two esteemed traditions: social conservatism and economic liberalism; ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?’ Costo the Elder observes astutely.

What’s truly wearying is that these aren’t even the civilized variety of conservative: ‘… they are reactionary rather than philosophical conservatives in the Burkean mould,’ he laments. Oh, Tim-Tim, what exotic tongues you speak! Please, do tell us more about this ‘Burkean’.

Rev. Costello is one of the most common anti-conservative stock characters: the leftie who’s nostalgic for that age when conservatives stood for something respectable. ‘Oh, for the days when conservatives actually read old Edmund Burke!’ they wail: ‘When conservatives believed in slow, sensible change – but change nonetheless!’

Yes, it was a magical time indeed. Progressives could be confident that, simply by waiting patiently, the ‘Right’ would capitulate to its every demand. Resistance to détente with the USSR simply collapsed. Resistance to the Sexual Revolution simply collapsed. Resistance to Elvis Presley simply collapsed. It was those dear, doughty conservatives who – though a bit slow, yes – could be counted on to come to the proper conclusion eventually.

‘Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views,’ quoth William F. Buckley, Jr. Indeed, they had good reason to be shocked when men like Bill appeared on the scene. It could once be counted on that the so-called conservative didn’t disagree with their views any more than the dull-witted boy disagreed with his teacher’s answer to a sum: he wasn’t getting it wrong per se, it just took him a bit longer to work out the solution. Burke was, in the byzantine imagination of Costello et al., not a devil, but a dunce. The true, respectable conservatism is therefore nothing but a harmless idiocy.

It’s the modern conservatives who are the devils – the Reagans, the Thatchers, the Howards and the Bernardis – who insist that conservatism isn’t merely the long way to progressivism. They’re the ones who, shockingly and rather offensively, seem to subscribe to principles and convictions that disagree with those of the liberals’. It’s been more than half a century since Roosevelt ushered in the New Deal, and yet there are still those who prefer free markets to an interventionist state. Andrew Sullivan first pitched same-sex marriage in the mid-‘90s, yet some haven’t come around to the idea yet. ‘This is beyond sluggishness!’ the incensed Leftist bellows: ‘This is unwillingness, plain and simple!’ What would Burke make of such men who claim his mantle yet spurn his Gospel of Retardation, replacing it with their own Book of Defiance? Their sin isn’t the natural, inevitable sin of stupidity: it’s a premeditated evil.

Alas, I can’t answer for Burke. I’m sorry to admit my lot is decidedly cast among the defiant. If I may be so radical, I might even suggest that Burke wasn’t simply urging us to take the road more travelled, either. When he wrote in support of the monarchy, I get the impression that he wouldn’t have been a republican had he the opportunity to participate in the 1999 referendum. When he defended the Established Church, I don’t think it was simply out of dread for papism. His enthusiasm for the American colonies’ independence probably wouldn’t have wavered had he been introduced to the United Nations.

But, then, who am I to judge? I’m only one man, who (yes) has read and been convinced by Burke. Bill Buckley had another wicked idea in his time: that conservatives shouldn’t allow liberals to set the parameters of ‘acceptable conservative opinion’ for us. ‘How is it, I’d like to know,’ Buckley asked, ‘that so many of us heed and even solicit the counsel of our sworn enemies, the collectivists? To begin with, what reason have we to believe that they are acting in good faith when they spell out to us a program which, they insist, might woo the American people away from their demigods, the Democrats?’ (Substitute ‘Democrats’ for either ‘the Labor Party’ or ‘the small-‘L’ liberal faction’ and you’ve got the gist.)

It’s a question we might put to Rev. Costello. Only, please, dear reader, don’t hold your breath waiting for his reply.

[1] http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-liberal-partys-identity-crisis-wont-be-solved-with-a-poll-20160323-gnp9mr#comments

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com

    During the Howard years the Costello brothers often had a difference of opinion and it was the Rev Tim, not the skillfully performing Treasurer Peter, who was esteemed by the ABC. Certainly Rev Tim was not esteemed by the ABC for his religious profession, but for his interest in sharing other peoples resources and for the critique he was always ready to offer on the Governments Treasurer.
    Each month readers of the ‘Eternity Newspaper’ that is distributed to churches can read the column by Tim Costello and a check on the March issue reveals this quote:
    “When Australian churches offered sanctuary to asylum-seekers including children being threatened with removal to Nauru, they were following the example of Jesus. What else should they do?”
    To answer this question for Rev Tim one could vigorously suggest the churches back, and not undermine, the border integrity pursued by a lawful government which was generously acting like the Good Samaritan in the parable given by Jesus himself.
    The generous Samaritan provided for the medical needs and for the temporary accommodation for the needy-one so he could recover and be on his way. It was never suggested that he should should be supported by the Samaritan or taken home for the rest of his life. In the same way the child Jesus after being a refugee in Egypt for a short time was given the word to return to his homeland when it was safe to do so [Matt 2: 13-23].
    Be aware Tim that some of the intending migrants despise Christians as polytheists and would replace our democracy with a Caliphate and Sharia.

  • rh@rharrison.com

    “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt 22:21).

    In this instance it might be interpreted as: The churches are entitled to the souls of those alien scroungers who call themselves ‘asylum-seekers’, but their bodies belong to the Commonwealth, so hand them over.

    • John Jones

      Ah yes,Saint Tim,man of the people!

      I used to attend a discussion group at the Baptist Church in Collins St,where Tim Costello was the resident preacher.In all the time that I attended,not once did he seek to enquire about my spiritual welfare or welfare in general,even though I was the one who seemed to ask the most challenging questions(meaning-offending his middle class left of centre sensibilities) on whatever topic was at hand.I suspect because of that,he saw me as a threat to the acceptable consensus and declared me persona non grata. How easy it is to love your neighbour in the abstract!
      Very rarely,did we discuss the Christ of the Gospels.Instead,every sermon was about the environment or Global warming,or VCE exams,or reconciliation,or the sorry plight of drug abusers-in short,anything but Jesus!He barely got a look in.To the attendants,mostly smug,middle class,left of centre students,Jesus was simply themselves writ large.A PC Christ who could be counted on the buttress and justify their epigone prejudices and progressive beliefs.

  • mvgalak@bigpond.com

    Both brothers Costello wanted our money. However, the difference between Tim and his brother Peter, is fundamental. For the past 30 years or so Brother Tim wants Australians to give him money to build a drinking water tap. In Africa. For the last 30 years or so. Fair enough. Another 30 years of tireless appeals to Australian compassion and Brother Tim might be able to build a shower in the same place. In Africa. In the meantime these poor souls will have to live without the shower, waiting in despair until Brother Tim will make them happy.
    Brother Peter, on the other hand, wanted to take our money to build roads, hospitals and pay salaries and whatnot. Now, if you follow, there’s a punchline: which brother will you give your hard earned cash to?

  • Jack Richards

    It truly astonished me why anyone takes holy men seriously. Tim Costello is a grown man, an adult, who still believes in the Great Sky Fairy; in angels; that human levitation unaided by any mechanical contraption is possible; that the dead really can be brought back to life; that insanity is caused by demons that can be driven out of human and into a herd of pigs; that a man (for whom there is zero evidence he ever actually existed) died for my sins around 100 generations ago because he knew that I’d be born about 1920 years after his death and would pinch 2/- from my mother’s purse as a child and have improper thoughts of a sexual nature as a teenager. Now the probability of my existence means that around the year 33 AD a man and a woman had to meet and like each other enough to have sexual intercourse. She had to be ovulating at the time and young enough to be fertile while he had to ejaculate around 150,000,000 sperm of which one got lucky. Now a woman is fertile for around one week in every four – so to calculate the probability of me being here you start with 1/4 multiply that “x” then multiply that by 150,000,000 and then multiply all that by 2^80. Then multiply all that again by the probability of making it to age 5 before 1900 and the chances of surviving the Black Death and all the other plagues and epidemics of the Middle Ages and surviving famines and wars… Well the number, the chance of me being here is about 1 in infinity minus a handful. The same applies to you.

    It is quite clear that there is no heaven in the sky, no hell beneath us, no purgatory or limbo, no God running the universe while taking a frowning interest in the sexual thoughts I have about Kylie Minogue or Taylor Swift and all the really filthy thing I’d like to do with them as consulting adults.

    I think it’s a well accepted fact that anyone who is a Christian simply hasn’t read the Bible – or has and has decided to ignore 90% of it. It’s the same for all religions.

    In my opinion, anyone who believes such bunkum and piffle as is contained in the Bible, Koran, Torah, Hindu scripts et al dismisses themselves from any grown-up conversation about anything.

    Really, how can it be, in the Year 2016 that anyone takes seriously what some obvious psychotic preaches in the Churches and Mosques, Synagogues and Temples. It is well recognised that religion is a sign of madness. The more fervent the belief, the crazier the patient.

    Why would anyone take the slightest notice of Tim Costello? It defies all logic.

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