Cultural conservatives are always at a rhetorical disadvantage to utopians and ideologues: they do not have a theory of everything. This means that they are unable to appeal to the paranoid mode of explanation that rarely lies far beneath the surface of political discourse (it is a singular, though little remarked, fact of our existence that the failing human brain often, if not always, turns to paranoia). The conservative appeals to reality, the utopian to fantasy: and to the disgruntled, that is to say the majority of the human race, fantasy is more real than reality.

The lack of a theory of everything does not mean that conservatives are entirely without beliefs, however, but their beliefs give a tenor to their thoughts rather than determine what they should be on any given subject. Conservatives tend to acknowledge that the world did not begin and will not end with them, and that those who came before them were neither...