Paul Krugman says a mix of “never” and “certainly not now” (my paraphrases, not actual quotations from him). Here is one bit:Tyler proceeds to mount a vigorous defense of conservative thinking on the environment but he needn't have bothered. Environmental stewardship is already reviled as a racist, i.e., conservative, i.e., old-white-guy cause.
On environment, a similar turn took place a bit later. The use of markets and price incentives to fight pollution was, initially, a conservative idea condemned by some on the left. But liberals eventually took it on board — while cap-and-trade became a dirty word on the right. Crude slogans — government bad! — plus subservience to corporate interests trump analysis.I believe this is pretty far from the reality, here are a few points:
Anyway, it's a worthwhile question but not one that I think can be answered at this point because the consensus on what constitutes conservatism has broken down. Who are conservatives--Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton or Bill Kristol and David Frum? The former would probably be denounced as, what else, fascists by the latter. Not True Conservatives.
“Conservatives” are irrevocably split between the Clash-Of-Civilizations camp and the End-Of-History camp. The former argues for conserving a civilization and the latter argues for conserving universalist ideals. My previous entry sets out the two worldviews. I regard the End-Of-History camp as naive and impotent, operationally resulting in conservatives forever apologizing Left and punching Right, thereby consolidating progressivist gains. Whig “conservatism” which conserves nothing. So that’s my Not True Conservative two cents.
I’d say the Golden Age of conservative intellectuals would be the late Victorian period of Belloc and Chesterton, and the astounding Rudyard Kipling. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Enoch Powell were the last heirs to that intellectual tradition. I’m biased toward England (which is where Belloc ended up), so there are doubtless some Continental thinkers I’m overlooking.
I agree with Krugman: conservatism in its ideological, universalist iteration has never had an intellectual Golden Age.