Conservatism and 'deep history'

Posted by Helen Tuesday, September 08, 2015 ,

The most appropriate reading matter at the moment is The Tory World, edited by Professor Jeremy Black and published earlier this year. The book's subtitle is Deep History and the Tory Theme in British Foreign Policy, 1679-2014, which speaks for itself. It is a collection of essays by various luminaries (some more than others and none of them female) about Tory and Conservative ideas about foreign policy, not as simple a subject as it might appear to those who think only in terms of Disraeli or Churchill.

In fact, on reading the Introduction by Professor Black himself, I recalled a conversation I had with Professor John Charmley, who has made a few appearances on this blog already, in which he argued forcibly that we  misunderstand Conservative thinking about foreign policy because we concentrate on the adventurous, often imperialist and always pro-active ideas of such people as Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill. In the light of that, I am looking forward to reading Richard Toye's chapter in this collection, entitled Winston Churchill - Conservative or Liberal Imperialist?.

Here is Professor Black's definition of 'deep history' or, at least, an attempt at a definition. Thus, the extent to which there is 'deep history' in Conservative views on the outside world and to which views on this subject provide a 'deep history' and continuity for Conservatism, are central issues. 'Deep history' is the long-term, seemingly inherent assumptions, the emotions of policy that help create teh context for the politics of the shorter term.
As they used to say, discuss. That is precisely what I intend to do as I continue reading the book.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Why on Earth would it possibly matter if none of the writers are "female"?

    Sounds like you have drunk of the leftist, feminist Kool aid.

    I think you need to face the paucity of actual female accomplishment in the intellectual and and political history of our Civilization. Heaven knows that the authors of the work in question did.

    Your sex might try to accomplish something before you imagine that you are "equals", rather than have us squint our eyes and pretend that you are such.

    Shame on you.

  3. Helen Says:
  4. Dear Anonymous,

    In future, would you please sign your comments, particularly when they are vituperous attacks. Otherwise I and readers of this blog might consider that you are a coward as well as a failure (being male is not in itself a sign of success) and ignorant of the number of eminent and not so eminent women historians there are and have been for a good many decades. Not all male historians are eminent either. That does not preclude one from reading their work but you seem to be unable to read any female historian as you appear not to have heard of them.

    May I suggest that, firstly, you start signing your comments as I do not propose to reply to any more anonymous ones and, secondly, deal with your hysterical misogyny. A longish venomous reply to a slight throw-away comment on my part argues an unhealthy obsession.

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