La crisi di idee del conservatorismo americano

BERKELEY – Sul lato sinistro della mia scrivania ci sono, al momento, tre volumi di recente pubblicazione: The Battle di Arthur Brooks, Coming Apart di Charles Murray e A Nation of Takers di Nicholas Eberstadt. Insieme, essi formano un importante filone intellettuale che, in gran parte, spiega anche il motivo per cui oggi il conservatorismo americano ha ben poco di costruttivo da dire sulla gestione dell'economia, nonché scarsa presa sul centro dell'elettorato americano. 

Ma andiamo un po' a ritroso nel tempo, fino alla nascita di quello che potremmo definire il conservatorismo moderno in Gran Bretagna e Francia all'inizio Ottocento. Allora, c'era chi, come Frédéric Bastiat e Jean-Baptiste Say, credeva che lo Stato dovesse utilizzare le persone senza lavoro per costruire infrastrutture, qualora l'attività dei mercati o la produzione fossero temporaneamente sospese. A questi, però, facevano da contrappeso coloro che, come Nassau Senior, si opponevano persino agli aiuti alimentari: nonostante un milione di persone avesse perso la vita durante la carestia delle patate in Irlanda, per lui "era una cifra a malapena sufficiente".

L'essenza del conservatorismo nella sua fase iniziale prevedeva la totale opposizione a qualunque forma di assicurazione sociale: rendere i poveri più ricchi li avrebbe fatti diventare più prolifici, e ciò avrebbe avuto come conseguenza la riduzione delle dimensioni delle aziende agricole (poiché la terra sarebbe stata divisa tra più eredi), la diminuzione della produttività della forza lavoro, e un ulteriore impoverimento della gente. La previdenza sociale non era considerata solo inutile, bensì anche controproducente.

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