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Author Topic: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past  (Read 479 times)

Perd Hapley

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"Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« on: July 22, 2022, 02:00:24 PM »

The title probably does not mean what any of you think it means, so I hope you will read the below. It's something I've been thinking about for several months now, but am still unsure how to communicate. For the gist of what I'm saying, see the red text below.

I'm not talking about the content of what America's "conservatives" believe in. I'm talking about the position those are ideas are placed in; or more accurately, how Americans are conditioned to think about those ideas.

"Conservatism" in quotation marks, because that's the label used by both sides, and because I've become convinced the label has a profound effect on how we respond to "conservative" ideas, and to the people who hold to them. This may sound like the usual, and usually feckless, rant about how conservatives are the true liberals, and liberals aren't. But that's not exactly what I'm getting at.

I think that by accepting the role of the conservative in American politics, the Right has consigned itself to the past. Calling an idea conservative means that it is old-fashioned, which in the world we live in, means it should be on hospice care.

If we pick a point in the distant past, say a thousand years ago, we find ourselves in a time when not much change was expected. There were the usual changes of seasons, and changes that come from aging. There were changes of fortune. Crops thrived or failed. Wars were won our lost. People died too soon, or had plans upended by accidents or by disease. But there was not the modern (or now post-modern) expectation (however illusory) that we were moving on to better and better things by constant changing or rethinking of what came before.

In that, more static, world, it wouldn't be self-defeating to contend for conservative ideas, and call them that. But the Western world, and I'm focusing on the U.S., left that behind centuries ago. Whether it's the Enlightenment, the American or French revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, the Market Revolution, religious ideas of bringing in the millennial reign of Christ by improving the world or any number of other movements, we're all deeply ingrained with the expectation that the old ways are likely to perish, and new ways will replace them, as if by some natural law.

It's true some of us contend for those older ways, and even the most "progressive" nihilist wants to preserve at least something from the past. If you don't believe the latter, recall the reactions to the most recent decisions at the Supreme Court. Regardless, we each expect the old to go away, and the new to replace it. So being labeled "conservative," and accepting the label, is a rigged game.

This is tragic, as the "old-fashioned" principles on which the U.S. was built are not old-fashioned at all. They were liberal and progressive in their day, and are still liberal and progressive in the best sense of those words. They are the best way that has ever been found to organize society among human beings, and the replacements on offer are revolting. They offer no political freedom, and social "values" that lead only to misery and destruction.

So I think a way must be found to shift away from the position of "conservatism" to - something else. I don't know the way forward, but I don't think it's just a new political party, or a new label. I wish I knew what it was. If America is to continue to be America, we have to change something about the way American ideas are received, even by those most sympathetic to them - even to ourselves. Most of us seem to have accepted that the Left is going to win the day. Can any movement survive that level of despair?


Does anyone else out there understand what I'm saying? Have I lost the plot?


I do not own a boat. I still have all my guns, cuz this is America.

AZRedhawk44

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Re: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2022, 04:15:58 PM »

If I'm understanding you correctly, you see the word "conservative" as being closely related to a "conservationist" or one who strives to merely preserve the past on a blanket basis, rather than arguing for the supremacy (or at least the desirability) of those concepts by which the past is defined (or the object being conserved).

"Conservatism" by definition then, can never lead to a new idea, a new outcome, or an improvement.

You're probably right, if that's your angle. 

What other turn of phrase could describe it though?  Classicalism?  Enlightenment?  Deist Liberalism?  Or the dreaded "Constitutionalism?"  (Which is a garbage label given what SCOTUS has said is "constitutional.")  Gets pretty mucky to try and define it otherwise.
"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."
--Lysander Spooner

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Perd Hapley

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Re: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2022, 05:40:04 PM »

It doesn't matter exactly how "conservative" is defined. Any way you slice, it's a word that's oriented toward the past, and our civilization for hundreds of years now has been oriented toward the future. Anything that falls into the category of conservatism is just something that's waiting to be scrapped. If we want to conserve things in the Western world, we're going to have to stopped talking about them that way.

As I said, I'm not sure what new label or paradigm we need. "Classicism" has the same problem as "conservatism." Maybe "enlightenment" is closer to what we need. The new label or party or paradigm has to be about how cutting-edge traditionally American political ideas are - how they are more advanced and sophisticated than others.
I do not own a boat. I still have all my guns, cuz this is America.

French G.

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Re: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2022, 05:42:59 PM »

You geniuses have conserved nothing. But you’re right if the goal of conservatism is to keep things just the way they are. The big Ls are useless. Need a libertarian-ish deal that believes in the constitution and national identity. Also minarchist.
AKA Navy Joe   

I'm so contrarian that I didn't respond to the thread.

Perd Hapley

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Re: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2022, 05:50:13 PM »

You geniuses have conserved nothing. But you’re right if the goal of conservatism is to keep things just the way they are.

I don't think that's the goal, but aren't you getting a bit personal?

The failure to conserve is rather the point. What I'm trying to say is that Western Civ since at least the 1700s has assumed that anything we could conserve (aside from, perhaps, wilderness conservation) should eventually be scrapped. So letting oneself be herded into the conservative position is a trap.
I do not own a boat. I still have all my guns, cuz this is America.

230RN

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Re: "Conservatism" strands our liberties in the past
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2022, 10:48:49 AM »

Perd said,

"So I think a way must be found to shift away from the position of 'conservatism' to - something else. I don't know the way forward, but I don't think it's just a new political party, or a new label. I wish I knew what it was. If America is to continue to be America, we have to change something about the way American ideas are received, even by those most sympathetic to them - even to ourselves. Most of us seem to have accepted that the Left is going to win the day. Can any movement survive that level of despair?"

I can understand your dislike of my rather discouraging view of the outcome of this struggle.  But I see that outcome as largely being generated by the long-term careful use of semantics by the Leftists.  As I am fond of saying:

(1)  Control the language, control the issues, and the left is very adept at generating negative impact semantics regarding conservatism. Your comment on changing the word is most apt... if you can generalize to "words" rather than "word."

(2)  They are professionals, well-staffed and well-compensated, and we are rank amateurs at understanding the successive impacts of propaganda.  Heck, we don't even recognize much of what the left says, as propaganda.

(3)  People vote with their bellies, not their brains.

That latter is the most significant.

That's my specialized view of what you're trying to say.

Terry, 230RN