pathetic echo in an age that survived Hitler and Stalin. Tyrannyrnis naturally radical, Locke argues, and popular government isrnnothing to be afraid of. By and large, and in comparison withrnother svstems, it is conservative.rnModern conservatives have usually been uninterested inrnsources such as these. Anyone who asks his conservativernfriends, as I sometimes do, to explain what is conservativernabout a competitive free market, for example, is likely to get arnblank stare followed by an answer to another question. “Itrnworks,” I am told. No doubt it does. But then 1 did not askrnwhat is good about it, but what is conservative about it, and tornsay that it works is to dodge the question. Oddly enough, thernissue is now much the same everywhere in the Western industrialrnworld, and terminology causes little confusion here,rnthough only the British still have a party called Conservative.rn(The Canadians added the word Progressive to theirs yearsrnago.) But Americans seem no more puzzled than the British atrnthe spectacle of a British Conservative government under MargaretrnThatcher, which took power in 1979, governing with arnradical fervor soon to be echoed, after 1981, by Ronald Reaganrnin the White House. And if people are not bothered by peoplerncalled conservatives being radical, then it is plain they are notrneasily bothered. In fact, it is now widely accepted that a competitivernfree market is a conservative idea, puzzling as that mustrnbe to anyone who knows anything about conservative oppositionrnto free trade in earlier centuries. Conservatives nowadaysrnare the happy victims of an ideological hijack. They were hijackedrnin the mid-1970’s by an idea so good that even Chineserncommunists have lately had to make concessions to it. For thernfirst time in history, mankind, or most of it, is governed by a singlerneconomic idea.rnThat is a new place to be. There has never been a globalrneconomy before, and scarcely even the idea of one. Evenrnif Louis XIV or Napoleon had succeeded in conquering Europe,rnthey would not have achieved that, or wanted it, andrnthough Hitler and Stalin may have been reaching toward it,rnthey failed. Humanity is now in a new place in the sense of beingrnall in the same place. You can fax faster than you can think.rnYou can buy shares in Shanghai as well as in London, Paris, orrnNew York. There are social effects to the global market that notrneverybody likes, and the late Christopher Lasch in his last book,rnThe Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (1995),rnlaments the mobility of a new class of managers and their lossrnto their native soil. But the simple truth is that you have torncompete to live, and competition has no frontiers. So the marketrnis not a choice. There is no other way.rnThat explains, as nothing else can explain, the sudden enthusiasmrnof the leaders of the right for the free market. Therernmay be nothing conservative about it, but they are past caring.rnIn a recent BBC interview Richard Pearl, who is said to keep arnbust of Lenin in his Washington think tank as a joke, has publiclyrnpraised the Reagan administration he once served as trulyrnrevolutionary in foreign affairs, and hailed the Republican majorityrnin Congress as ready to complete, in home affairs, whatrnhe calls the second stage of the conservative revolution. So revolutionrnis now conservative, and conservatism is revolutionary.rnThat has been true for nearly 20 years. In her 11 years as primernminister (1979-90), Margaret Thatcher, newly converted tornmonetarism and the free market by disciples of Milton Friedman,rnheaded the most radical government Britain has seenrnsince Attlee’s Labour ran out of steam around 1950. What isrnmore, she seems to have enjoyed the ideas of people even morernradical than her. In the mid-1970’s it was suddenly, and for thernfirst time in memory, intellectually chic to call yourself a conservative.rnNo holds were barred. One member of her thinkrntank at Ten Downing Street, Ferdinand Mount, who now editsrnthe Times Literary Supplement, had the enormous effronteryrnearly in her premiership to write and publish The SubversivernFamily (1982), where the adjective is a term of praise. The familv,rnMount argued, with plenty of journalistic panache andrn’erve, is nothing like the bulwark of established morality it hasrnsometimes been supposed. On the contrary, it is “the ultimaternand only consistently subversive organization,” on a long view,rnundermining the state and hostile to “all hierarchies, churchesrnand ideologies.” Good for the family, one is meant to think.rnThat would be strong stuff even if the author were neither arnfamily man nor a conservative. Mount was (and is) both, andrnthe spectacle of a conservative attack on states, churches, andrnhierarchies is surely meant to astound. Most people, as Mountrnknows, have long supposed the family to be the guardian ofrntradition. Locke and Johnson thought that; so did Marx andrnEngels. In The Communist Manifesto of 1848 they dismissedrnaristocratic families as decadent and the proletarian family asrnalmost nonexistent; but the modern family, they argue—thernbourgeois family—based as it is on capital and the motive ofrnprivate gain, is the enemy of all revolutionary change; and unablernto accept the loss of wealth and power, it invokes its ownrndestruction. For 100 years and more, that was a familiar andrnwidely accepted view. Mount, in a world in which the left suddenlyrnlooked tired and the right radical, has rushed in to offer arnwholly new model of the family as an institution: eccentric, creative,rnand resistant to the corporate disciplines of church andrnstate. Suddenly change belonged to the right.rnThe notion is plausible enough to excite but perhaps notrnplausible enough to convince, and it is the contradictions withinrnthe New Right that have led to its recent difficulties. Somernthings must still be said in its favor. In its superior organizationrnand self-discipline it was far more successful than the New Left,rnwhich it followed and imitated, in influencing political leaders,rnand through those leaders the course of events. It was not, likernthe New Left before it, a species of moral self-exhibitionism. Itrnwas sincere and it was tough. The New Left got no nearer tornpower than the antechamber, as in President Mitterrand’s appointmentrnof Regis Debray, a romantic Marxist in the ChernGuevara tradition, to the rank of aide in 1981; and romanticrnMarxists soon cease to be that, especially in office. The NewrnRight, by contrast, had the courage of its convictions about privatization,rnlow income tax, and deregulation. Where the NewrnLeft loved the rhetoric of the barricade, the New Right lovedrnthe cabinet room. It was like the difference between Being andrnDoing.rnThe New Right, in its day, wasted little time on moral declarationrnand openly despised speculative thought. “There is nornsuch thing as society,” Mrs. Thatcher once remarked briskly asrnprime minister—meaning, no doubt, that the word had beenrnvastly overused. Monetarism was not an idea, she thought, stillrnless a theory or ideology, merely something you knew in yourrnbones. “It’s just common sense,” she would tell interviewers,rn”not to spend more than you have.” Again, the New Right wasrngenuinely internationalist, and without prating about thernbrotherhood of man, in the sense that it belie’ed we go for thernbest price wherever it is and welcome capital whoever holds thernstrings. It personihed Christopher Lasch’s revolt of the elites.rnAPRIL 1997/23rnrnrn