But it has to be said that he is nonetheless a liberal in his politics. What matters for him is that we self-determine our own individual identity. Therefore, he believes that it's wrong for people to have predetermined national or ethnic identities.
I've given examples of Bolt arguing for this previously. For instance, Bolt once criticised a group of Aborigines who wanted an historic artefact returned to them on the basis that the Aborigines were forgetting:
The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities as equal members of the human race.
Bolt has also related the story of how he once, as a Dutch migrant to Australia, attempted to identify with his Dutch heritage:
Later I realised how affected that was, and how I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.
So I chose to refer to myself as Australian again, as one of the many who join in making this shared land our common home.
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.
To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.
That is a radically liberal, rather than a conservative, position to take. He is only allowed to identify with himself rather than with a communal tradition. It is his own self-determined, individual identity that is allowed to matter, rather than a predetermined one that is treated negatively as "a mere accident of birth".
One of the problems with taking this liberal view, that what matters is that we are autonomously self-determined, is that a whole raft of other positions logically follow on.
Bolt himself this week provided a small example of this. He has expressed his admiration for Lady Gaga on this basis:
Lady Gaga’s music is irrelevant. Her real art is in reinventing her identity, and for that alone I like her.
As a boy I moved from town to country to town, and learned how powerfully liberating it could be to define afresh who you were.
Gaga has demonstrated this possibility to millions.
There’s her personal story – of going from a bullied loner at school to the brash superstar.
And there’s her professional guises – tramp to vamp to sophisticate, costumed from the barely there to the heavily lacquered.
With every change, let the critics complain, Lady Gaga would be who she pleased.
What matters to Bolt is not whether Lady Gaga is virtuous, but that she is adept at being a self-creating individual. Freedom, asserts Bolt, is an ongoing act of self-definition - and doing and being what you please.
Bolt is supposed to be the leader of conservative opinion in Australia. And yet what we've ended up with is the idea that we should admire those who do whatever they please in order to define their own individual self.
There's no sense here that people might be oriented in a stable way to an objective good, or that our deeper sense of identity is tied to things we don't invent but that are given to us (which then means that those who trangressively reinvent themselves over and over might be thought of as disconnected rather than as liberated).
One of Bolt's readers left this comment:
“As a boy I moved from town to country to town, and learned how powerfully liberating it could be to define afresh who you were.”
With all due respect, you’re not a true conservative, AB. I too moved from town to town as a child because of my father’s employment, but I always longed for the stability and rootedness that I saw others had, even more so now, 40 years later. Conservatism is rooted in the stability of place, family, community and religion, and it transcends the Right/Left paradigm, knowing that the modern Right can be as destructive of community as the Left can be. Read Russell Kirk or Wendell Berry. No, you’re not a conservative, you’re more a reactionary modernist. Anthony of Toowoomba
That's well-observed by Anthony of Toowoomba. And yet for all that Bolt still manages to be a voice in opposition to the main current of left-liberal thought in Australia.