chapter  14
25 Pages

A Conservative Ethic

A. R. Orage and T. E. Hulme, 1908–1916
WithHenry Mead

The Edwardian connection of spiritual with political discourse was encapsulated in the socialist journal The New Age, a leading venue for cutting-edge art, literature, philosophy and politics. The New Age's small number of self-declared conservatives had different shades of opinion. The political corollary of Ramiro de Maeztu's conservative ethic was his proposal of 'function' as an organisational principle, whereby individuals should be allotted roles in society depending on their ability to serve the collective group. As Collini has pointed out, Eliot developed ideas from the Edwardian debate through the interwar period as, arguably, he moved away from Maurassian extremism towards a genus of Anglo-American pluralism, of a distinctively conservative, Christian brand. Coupland has shown how Christendom's reservations regarding Sir Richard Acland M.P.'s socialism brought out its conservative side—their hierarchical view of spiritual authority, though not as fixed as Maeztu's functionalism, supported the notion of a religious elite, a guild of the wise.