Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A YouTube clip to ponder.


What does it mean to be Conservative.

This panel discussion from a few years ago raises several important points.


I think Waleed Aly (a moderate Muslim) gives a very good analysis of what constitutes modern conservatism.

It's a frightening realisation since, if you think about it, real Conservatism is nearly dead. Perhaps this explains the Left's triumph during the 20th Century. More to come.

12 comments:

nickbsteves said...

Smart guy. We don't have anything like that on TV in The States.

novaseeker said...

It's correct to distinguish it from neo-liberalism, but people who say they are conservatives like Andrew Sullivan also say that conservatism is simply an attitude towards change that accepts slower, more organic change, and rejects faster, engineered change. Of course, he's one of the advocates of gay marriage, and has been for decades, which is one of the more remarkably fast social changes we've ever seen as a species, full stop.

It seems to me that the idea of conservatism as the slower boat of change really just makes conservatism the foil in a political order which will feature a faster, more energetic boat which is driving change -- in other words, the one we have. It results in what we have seen --> a cycle between times when the left is in power and foists engineered/pushed change on everyone, and a cycle where the conservatives are in power where they slow some things down and roll back a few of the more radical changes, followed by another left cycle which sees the conservatives eventually embracing what the left did in the prior cycle when it was in power. That serves the conservative function of slowing down, or moderating the pace of, change. It just makes the conservatives a kind of sugar that makes the change medicine go down. An attitude of slow, organic social change would be fine in the context of a political order where there was not an activist, energetic advocate for fast, engineered change. But, alas, as we know, power abhors a vacuum, and a political stance which aligns itself with slow/organic change leaves itself wide open to being dominated by a contrary force which aligns itself with fast/engineered change, and in the long run it is the latter force which "wins", in terms of determining the general thrust of change and its direction and, at times, even its pace.

To me, it seems that what is needed is a more robust "rightism", and not a conservatism which acts as the left's occasional "slow it down a bit, son" sugar that ultimately makes the whole change programme easier to swallow socially and politically, and which in the long run lends once radical ideas new legitimacy (as I am sure we will see with gay marriage in a decade or two, and not only from the neo-liberals, but from many social conservatives as well).

We need a new think on this, really. A new paradigm. The progressive/conservative paradigm needs to be redrawn, and not merely for the neo-liberals to be separated (although that also has to happen).

Anonymous said...

Knew there was a reason why I liked that guy.

Just Saying said...

Conservationism isn't taxing others to support your favorite group that don't want to work or do anything for a living. Taxing companies because you decided to have a child is just robbery - typically liberal...

The Social Pathologist said...

@Nova

To me, it seems that what is needed is a more robust "rightism"..

I agree. I think the "Men of the Right need to separate themselves from what is traditionally thought of as conservatism.

I think you've hit the nail on the hit in describing the relationship between liberalism and conservatism. I don't think that many conservatives see how they enable the liberals.

Jason said...

Yeah, I liked some of what that young Muslim said too doctor, notably his equating modern conservatism with neoliberalism. There does seem to be a tendency, especially on the part of many American conservatives, to be too “liberal” in their belief that man can better himself. If you scratch anybody hard enough, they think, eventually you’ll find the entrepreneur within. This is sheer fantasy, an unwillingness to recognize that—contrary to Keillor’s famous dictum—many people are below average and are simply ordinary. Wall Street Journal-types are unwilling to acknowledge that many Americans have historically been not terribly smart; for every Edison or Gates there have always been many more farmers, factory workers, and cubicle drones who are just trying to get by. As Benjamin Franklin once thoughtfully put it, a “happy mediocrity has tend[ed] to prevail” in the U.S., where what mattered more was not your noggin but simply your willingness to work hard. Yet the mentality of many conservatives, and Republicans, is Thomas Friedmanesque: just give a kid a computer and a school voucher and introduce him to the reality that the “word is flat,” and all will be well.
However, I do disagree with this fellow’s suggestion that a love for country is “conservative.” Maybe that seems true now, but from a historical point-of-view I think that is too simple. Consider Orwell: while a man—generally speaking—of the Left, he had no problem expressing a fervent patriotism for England. Which brings me to a general point. I’m not sure the solution to the problem of poor conservatism is the rise of a new Right, but rather trying to persuade people generally to believe in the Reality Principle, something that transcends Left/Right categories. To refer to your previous post about the British female columnist, I don’t think it would be a large jump for many liberal women to admit to a “conservative” truth: that having a lot of lovers before you marry a man in your thirties will make it difficult for you to fully bond with your husband, as well as the obvious corollary to this, that it would be wise for women to marry much earlier and not have lots of pre-marital sex if they want to have good marriages. I think though that women—and people generally—will be much more open to such truths if they issue from the lips of feminists or liberals or moderates or mainstream conservatives rather than from somebody like Roisy or other members of the Alt-Right (a rather unattractive lot, truth be told, notwithstanding their real insights). In essence the, people needed to be persuaded of things not because they are conservative or liberal or whatnot, but simply because they are true.
Although as I think about it more, perhaps it does indeed fall on a new Right to simply do the dirty work, the intellectual heavy-lifting, which moderates and those of the Left can then subtly—or not so subtly—steal from. Not a movement that will necessarily become an influential political party, but an influential intellectual movement that simply keeps the political parties and the people-at-large honest. Which, I suppose, is what you (and perhaps Novaseeker) are actually advocating.

Greg said...

What do you make of this: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/08/pope-brings-in-catholics-to-explain-how-their-marriage-lasted-55-years-and-their-answer-shocked-the-church/


Is it something out of nothing?

(Also, the issues with "harsh" language like "living in sin")

Anonymous said...

We need a new think on this, really. A new paradigm. The progressive/conservative paradigm needs to be redrawn, and not merely for the neo-liberals to be separated (although that also has to happen).

I think the progressives love the progressive/conservative paradigm. They win every decade of every century.

Protestantism is the key here. It offered a "conservative lite" that, as long as it held just enough tradition to survive whilst using up all our Christian cultural seed corn.

The stores are nearly empty now; we've run out of time. Conservatives needed a new approach one 500 years ago, but American expansion offered a way to avoid a confrontation. I think we have not much time left, although I sure hope I don't live to see the confrontation. I rather like my comfortable life.

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Desiderius said...


"I think you've hit the nail on the hit in describing the relationship between liberalism and conservatism. I don't think that many conservatives see how they enable the liberals."

The whole thing takes place within a modernist framework becoming rapidly obsolete.

Modernism assumes progress is inevitable (although the pace varies, as you note) and linear, and thus (knowledge of) the past can safely be discarded. As the everyday experience of more and more people (especially the young) violently contradicts that thesis, other alternatives inevitably will gain traction.

One of them being the neo-reaction championed by Nova. But while the Modernists are wrong about the inevitability of progress, they are right that it is impossible to turn back the clock and put the genie back in the bottle.

Better I think to embrace post-modernism broadly understood and look throughout the past and across civilizations for solutions that have worked to the new problems the future will inevitably throw our way - the most obvious and fruitful source being Holy Scripture, and the most promising approach a prayerful, humble one.

We can't go back to 1950 or 1776, but we can look there for better ways to do things that what currently isn't working.

Desiderius said...

As for piling on to liberalism, neo or otherwise, keep in mind that the gravest enemies to pretty much all we hold dear are themselves enthusiastically illiberal and loathe liberals and liberalism itself.

In the context of that show, notice how the panelists avoid labeling themselves either liberal or conservative. In a similar manner, Peter denied his Lord, and for similar reasons.

I am a Hayekian liberal myself, and have always been and will always be a great fan of Thatcher. I remain entirely sympathetic to pretty much everything I've ever read from Nova or this blog.

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