This might come to a surprise seeing a title like this published in a journal like The Burkean, but it’ll make sense if I elaborate on it more. I’ve never been at ease with the word, and I feel like I’m more uneased by people that proudly call themselves a conservative. A self-declared conservative who wrote an article in this journal (who I won’t name), explains his conservatism as:

“don’t overthrow a tradition without very careful thought; reject all utopian schemes; look after marriage; … look after the money. Highly indebted societies invariably run into trouble”

This is a perfect illustration of what conservatism is. It sounds a lot like the platform Renua ran on. The first point, “don’t overthrow a tradition without very careful thought”, is just a roundabout way of saying that you are 15 years behind public opinion. It just affirms the saying that conservatives are just ‘liberals going the speed-limit’. 

When the writer says, “reject all utopian schemes”, what they are really getting at is that conservatism is not an ideology in itself; it’s just the belief that the status quo should be kept on the basis that they are just used to the status quo. Believing in utopia to them means believing in something that isn’t the status quo; conservatives don’t allow you to dream. They are just stuck in their ways and don’t see the point of changing. Even their desire to maintain the status quo is quite lacklustre, which makes them easily defeatable opponents (something we’ve all become aware of now). 

Conservatism is completely void of any soul; It is not a positive affirmation of any belief, so it will always fail. Liberals believe in freedom of speech and religious indifferentism, socialists believe in the nationalisation of the means of production, Catholics believe in the glorification of suffering through bodily mortification. What do conservatives believe in? Conserving the status quo? How boring can you be? The only group more cringe than them are the smug centrists. Are you beginning to see why I call them unthinking? 

The third point made by this conservative writer is about marriage. This is probably the only legitimate point they made, but if you look at their track record of their defence of marriage it’s abysmal; the conservative has lost every single cultural battle. 

To be fair to them, since conservatives are unthinking, we can’t blame them for being ignorant of how social change occurs. To them, social change is bottom up. A group of disgruntled individuals get together to raise an issue with the public; society at large then has a debate of the issue until they come to an agreement. 

Even writing those sentences down and realising that there are people that actually think this is how social change occurs makes me cringe. To anyone that understands how human psychology works, and understands how people care more about status and fitting in with the group than going on an intellectual journey as a non-conformist freethinker; it is clear that propaganda emanating from the top of the social hierarchy changes culture. There is and has been a concerted effort to mould society to the ideals that the regime desire, entirely for their own benefit of maximizing and maintaining power. If this isn’t clear to you, I don’t know what to say to you. 

Going back to the topic of marriage, conservatives can’t really articulate the order of human sexuality so as to have a perfectly cohesive argument. This is the case as they are just ‘liberals going the speed limit’. In the homosexual marriage referendum, all of them conceded that male-on-male sexual relations were perfectly legitimate; some even went as far as to say that homosexual civil partnerships were legitimate. If you acknowledge from the standpoint that they have a legitimate sexual relationship, why would you deny them marriage? It’s just inconsistent. 

I think we just need to be honest and acknowledge that conservatives were against homosexual marriage because it just seemed alien to them. They just weren’t used to it; it wasn’t the status quo. In 20 years’ time, they will of course be in favour of it, as they will then be used to it. Maybe at that time they will be arguing against polyamorous marriages and the cycle of acceptance will repeat.

The last point on conservatism made by the writer is to “look after the money. Highly indebted societies invariably run into trouble”. To anyone this will seem like a perfectly reasonable belief to have, but to me, all I see is an East Yank who has a romantic view of Ronald Reagan. The same Ronald Regan who was the first governor to bring in no-fault divorce, which paved the way for the mass abandonment of America’s children by their selfish, hedonistic parents. 

I won’t even get into the fact that Reagan played an essential role in establishing our current slavery to the corporations, and our unrelenting debt to international finance. What these conservatives want to do is create a society centered around the love of money, just like they have in America.

And I must point out as well that they are mainly talking about government debt, they are usually staunch defenders of usurious capitalism that will shackle you to the bonds of debt. If you are drowning in debt, their response to you is that you should stop being selfish and should just be a wage slave until you can pay it off. Can’t pay off your debt because your wages are too low? They will then go into detail about how the market sets a just price through supply and demand, and you deserve what you get. Market forces to them is equivalent to a decree by God; they are completely devoid of a soul. Worshipping the sterile and rootless commodity of money does that to you.

What do I propose you call yourself, if not a conservative? This question is really yours to answer, but the one rule you should abide by is that you should be genuine about who you are. If your worldview is centered around a strong emphasis on the prerogatives of your nation, call yourself a nationalist; if you talk about free speech and capitalism a lot, call yourself a liberal; if your mind is set on the eternal and have a strong aversion to heresy, call yourself a Christian. 

And if you are unthinking and believe in conserving the status quo just for the sake of it, call yourself a conservative. 

I think going forward it would be a positive improvement if we were to turn the label ‘conservative’ into a pejorative for a boomer that is stuck in their ways. The label is unredeemable at this stage, the best we can do is make a joke about it.

Posted by Seán Joseph

One Comment

  1. Yeah sure, well there’s another person who noticed that conservatism has been fighting a loosing battle for decades, and the downfall of conservative societal norms was accelerated by conservatism not having a propositional quality within it that presented some animating vision to the public. The downfall of conservative social norms featured a key fundamental aspect of human nature being exploited by the proponents of change… the desire for the new or the desire for change itself. It was also the case in the Irish situation that the status quo was dreary, depressive, and unjust, and without the stoic piety of the past telling us to take our state in life according to our caste as a son of so and so or a person from a certain house or town… we found it impossible to justify the extreme nepotism and stratified immobile society we dwelt under. We wanted change, that is what happened in Ireland’s transformation. We wanted change, to anything, doesn’t matter what it was so long as it was not more of the same. The incense in the air and the browbeating from the chapel gossip queens or from “Father” did not motivate us to take up our cross of opulently deprived social prospects and suffering just for the aesthetic virtue of it. Instead, we tired of the yoke of dreary Catholicism. We wanted to live and have opportunity and hope. We tired of the Catholic version of hope being hope in something after we were dead, to the detriment of beautifying our earthly lives. We tired of all the politicians and parish pump politics who were devoid of animating spirit and vision. We tired of it all. We got rid of the first necessary shackle to untie from our leg, we got rid of the church, and now it cowers in hiding and it is the object of ridicule and scorn. We highlighted the hypocrisies of those who claimed to be the guardians of morality in society. We laugh at their claims and we suspect them when they are in the presence of children, we suspect and do not rejoice, we fear the perversions of these misfits who in modern times wont bother wear their uniforms anymore. We got rid of the church, and now the next thing to fall is the parish pump politician.
    Once we get rid of paddy of ballynaspam parish who got voted in because of his GAA skills or his father was a TD or because the voters say this is a Fianna Fail house… once we get rid of this ridiculous corrupt and treacherous regime who were always voted in on dubious mandates by an electorate who were too thick, myopic, and feudalistic to know or care what the person’s policies are,
    once we clear out all this PUS, only then will Ireland heal and the political overtones of Ireland will reflect healthy and rational policies. The system was just too clogged up for too long, and we have yet to learn as a people how to utilize our democracy.
    We were always behaving as if it was not a democracy, and the tyranny and corruption of all institutions and businesses shows our mentality. We were behaving as if it was run by the British Viceroy, and everyone in power was his feudal lords and ladies who were entitled to power and prestige and support. We were behaving as if we had no voice ever since the start.
    And what ensured that was the very Catholicism that told us to suffer in silence, not reveal other peoples sins, and suffering is a virtue, and superiors are appointed by God.

    Until the Irish psyche collectively heals, this will always be a dreary run down kip stuck in a delusional outmoded past.
    Getting the church out of the public mind was the first step. The removal of the politicians voted in on spurious mandates is the second part. The foreign media will do the rest, exposing people to the wonder of a strong articulate man or woman, who cannot be browbeaten or shamed due to family or caste. The foreign idea of meritocracy will infect us, and after a clumsy cringeworthy effort to emulate it, eventually in our descendants it will catch on, but it will all be too late because by then, the Irish will have sleepwalked into becoming a minority in their only homeland.

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