Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics

Updated from 2012.

  1. Everyone is right-wing about what he knows best (the words “right-wing”, “conservative”, and “reactionary” are all used in renditions of this law)
  2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing
  3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies

These are not all equally obvious.

The first seems to me to be the least so. I found a page that discusses this law specifically and gives a quote from Roger Scruton’s book, “The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope” which is helpful:

By ‘right-wing’ Conquest means suspicious of enthusiasm and novelty, and respectful towards hierarchy, tradition and established ways. One sign of ignorance, according to Conquest, is the preference for originality over custom and radical solutions over traditional authority.

The second law seems the most evident. John Derbyshire, while he was still considered acceptable as a conservative, wrote at National Review:

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples. Of the Third, he noted that a bureaucracy sometimes actually IS controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies–e.g. the postwar British secret service.

The Third Law is best explained by Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Another pretty interesting perspective.

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