Who is Tobias Wolff? I don’t know, but apparently he’s no selfless humanitarian, as Dalrymple displays in a brief City Journal piece that also serves as a nice summary of some of the major philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives.
Modern conservatives tend to see the locus of appropriate moral concern more in personal behavior than in social structure (I am not here concerned with whether they are right or wrong). They believe in personal responsibility rather than causation by abstract social forces. They do not believe in entitlement, their own or anyone else’s, or in an indefinite extension of rights. They do not believe in perfection, and they think that even improvement usually comes at a cost.
Modern liberals, by contrast, tend to focus their moral concern more distantly from themselves, on the more abstract political and economic sphere. For example, the personal sexual code does not concern or worry them much unless it is restrictive. They believe that bad behavior finds its origin in social forces rather than in man’s soul. They believe in everyone’s entitlements, which are never met quite sufficiently and need to be extended endlessly. For them, the perfect society will result in perfect people.
Tobias Wolff is most famous for his novel This Boy’s Life, which was made into a”>http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108330/“>a 1993 feature film starring Robert DeNiro and Ellen Barkin. He sounds like kind of a tool, judging by the comments he made in the Observer.
Sorry I messed up the markup in my comment above. Is there any way you could implement a “comment preview” feature on your blog so that we commenters might avoid such errors in future?
I will look into that. We use the generic GoDaddy blog software, and they have only just implemented a Preview feature for our blog posts, so I doubt they offer it for Comments yet, but I will find out. Thanks for the feedback.