Trump prefers to speak out of time

Conservatism: The main thing is that the upper lip remains stiff


Read on one side

For which political camp is the nationalist right, from Donald Trump to Hungary's Viktor Orbán, particularly dangerous? For the progressive and leftists, one would say, of course, for ecologists, feminists, critics of capitalism or multicultural people. But that's not true. Progressives of all kinds are very much alive, as the success of green parties or the "Black Lives Matter" movement shows. You rather draw additional strength from the confrontation with Trump and his ilk. The real victims of the new right are the classic, moderate, liberal conservatives. In the ideological landscape that is developing between national populism on the one hand and militant progressiveness on the other, there is basically no longer any room for a traditional center-right position.

This can be seen most clearly in the United States and in the ongoing American election campaign. As a conservative, you are faced with the choice of either side with President Trump - a man who despises essential principles of the market economy (such as free trade) as well as traditional moral and state ideas (he is currently under suspicion of fallen To have mocked soldiers of their own country as troops and losers). If, on the other hand, you don't want to have anything to do with this scandalously unconservative president, you have to break with the Republicans as "Never Trumper" and join Joe Biden. Twenty or thirty years ago, when the American Democrats were a party of the center, it might not have been a particularly dramatic act of alienation. Today, on the other hand, the Democrats have moved so far to the left, in the direction of student radicalism and protest milieu, that center-right voters can hardly feel at home with them even as guests.

In Europe the situation is not that extreme, but it is hardly different in principle. Let's take Germany. Chancellor Merkel managed to save the CDU (and in its wake the CSU) from the populist temptation to a large extent. At the same time, however, the Union is no longer a political force that could in any meaningful sense be called "conservative". From the NGO-like refugee policy of 2015 to the current initial experiments for a European debt union, Angela Merkel has geared her party towards a center-left course rather than a recognizable Christian-democratic line. Here, too, the classic conservatives have become homeless.

But what does that even mean: liberal conservatism? And why should its decline be such a big problem? Not every heartbreak of some half-right does not have to represent a world-historical catastrophe.

Gauland was a liberal conservative; today he is a right-wing nationalist

The political worldview we are talking about has usually been called "bourgeois" - an old-fashioned and obscure but nonetheless helpful term. Namely, it connects the two elements that together define the center-right camp. Firstly, the emphasis on freedom, autonomy and personal responsibility, the defense against collective incapacitation and state interference. On the other hand, respect for the historically evolved, for traditional institutions and ways of life. Article of Faith No. 1 is the liberal element of bourgeoisie, Article of Faith No. 2 is the conservative one.

For decades, since the end of the Second World War, the political order in the West has been based essentially on this liberal conservatism. When, for example, the CDU / CSU spoke of the "Christian Occident", it was not a religious creed, but a broad ideological umbrella was set up, among the entrepreneurs (thanks to the opposition to atheistic Marxism), trade unionists (because of the Christian social doctrine) and educated citizens (as Addressees of high school humanism) found space. Today "Occident" is a battle slogan and a code word for Islamophobia on the right, while for the left it is the relic of a patriarchal and colonial past. The term has in fact become unusable for reasonable usage. So also "Nation" or "Family" - for some these are meanwhile verbal sticks with which they beat up a hated modernity, for others hopelessly antiquated or as reactionary suspected intellectual museum pieces. It's an eerie polarization and destruction process.

You can also see that in the fate of the political staff. In the 1990s, as a CDU member in the Kohl era, Alexander Gauland was a fairly liberal conservative - but resentment against an allegedly left-wing conformist present overwhelmed him, radicalized him and made him a right-wing nationalist as an AfD man. Friedrich Merz has remained true to the old bourgeois model as a high earner and traditional valuesist - but with his conventional conservatism he now seems to have fallen out of time. For years people have grieved or amused themselves about the crisis in social democracy; what is crumbling and falling apart today is the center-right.

However, there is a prominent politician with whom there are faint hopes for the future of the battered liberal conservatism. It is, of course, a surprising candidate. Many do not take it seriously, others consider it a real misfortune, and it is precisely in these days that it has once again made itself particularly unpopular on the European continent. It is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.