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Fillet of Soul

Actually, a name comes to mind for the conservative Utopia Sullivan would like to see built. It’s called Massachusetts, though actually the Netherlands would serve just as well. Both places have fetishized their history while making themselves open to any sort of libertinism but in reality supporting the most bourgeois societies imaginable.

Sullivan’s conservatism is not a creed anyone currently calling himself a conservative is likely to follow. (Continuing an argument begun in Virtually Normal, Sullivan’s important book on gay rights, he insists that same-sex marriage can come to seem a conservative position. Next up: universal health care?) Which is not to say that he won’t have allies. A humble, ameliorative, tolerant politics of modest ambitions, based on a clear-eyed view of the dangers in the world and pragmatic notions of what can and can’t be accomplished, is what a lot of Democrats now aspire to. The political rhetoric of the past five years seems exhausted, not least on his own blog. He recently announced that he found himself in uneasy alliance with Markos Moulitsas, who, as the Kos behind Daily Kos, has been a favorite target. Both, he says, are approaching libertarianism, but from opposite directions—Goldwater Democrats, he calls them. So the lion lies down with the lamb. Surely some kind of end-time is approaching.

The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get it Back
By Andrew Sullivan. 304 pages. HarperCollins.