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.