Paine has won.

But he has won largely because conservatives have lost heart. With some notable exceptions, most people who call themselves conservative in the present day have little sense of what it might mean to adopt gratitude and appreciation as a mode of orientation toward our experience. Instead, like everyone else, we are concerned with efficiency, problem-solving, and changing the world. We may have qualms about technology, but we no longer resist it. We might wish in the abstract that government policies could be less purposive and more nomocratic, but usually we give up on the rule of law as an ideal and promote policies that encourage our own favored outcomes.

In short, much of modern conservatism provides a vision of a good life that differs little from that advocated by the most energetic progressives. The ends might be different, but the means are the same.

A substantive alternative would require a much more radical reorientation of the modern soul.