The definition of what is a ‘conservative’ and what informs conservative thought covers an incredible range of philosophies. Paleo-cons, neo-cons, libertarians, social conservatives, ‘compassionate’ conservatives, orthodox liberals, free-traders, constitutional conservatives, objectivists and many others populate the conservative ideological continuum. Most of these movements are only partially conservative and some are not conservative at all. So what would a real conservative actually look like?
Conservatism is not based on race, social standing or religiosity. Great conservative thinkers and doers cover the entire social and racial spectrum. Conservatism is a framework of thought, of living and of viewing reality. It is a cultural and mental phenomenon that has developed and created our modern world. It is not the legacy of any one group, gang, or tyrannical system but rather the derivative of millennia of systemic experiences; cultural mores and the application of natural laws to building society.
Natural laws regulate reality. There are physical laws that inform the real world [humans can't fly for instance unaided, the sun heats the earth, the earth is spherical etc]. Natural laws also inform moral codes; high standards of conduct; ethos; high culture; familial strength; and human activity within a civilization. Natural laws are not abstract but clearly define how the real world operates and how society built by humans should map back to natural law. If you contravene natural laws by ignoring reality or embracing low-culture you will not only have civilisational issues, but probably widespread social destruction as well. Think of the utopian philosophies and deep thinkers who helped create the evil vanities of Islam, Hitlerism, Communism, Feudalism, or various forms of Tyranny.
What then is the conservative ideal that ‘maps’ back to natural law? There are many great conservative thinkers [see a list at the end of this article] and generally all of them would agree that a true conservative supports the following natural and human inspired laws of social development:
1. all people are different, that variety of personality and skill is to be embraced, and that there is no natural equality between 2 persons;
2. natural distinctions between people makes it clear that we need to order society in some fashion through laws, social rank, economic success and skill levels;
3. a higher faith and cause including a respect for traditions that work, divine inspiration, and natural law are necessary to produce high culture and stability;
4. rationality is the premise of civilizational development, but rational thought should be joined with a higher purpose;
5. innovation in any sphere must be rooted in the progressive history of high culture; traditions and inside processes ‘that work’;
6. freedom to own and keep private property is the corner-stone of civilization;
7. trade, commerce and wealth production is the surest way to redress social and economic imbalances both domestically and across the world;
8. the moral tenets of Christianity are the basis for civilized development and the creation of the modern world; and
9. a strong military and a well-defended nation state is the only hope to secure the interests of civilians and counter non-civilisational challenges including fascism, paganism, and ideologies such as Islam or Hitlerism which are universal in intent.
So what does the above translate into?
You can’t have a political ideology that is coherent, moral and effective unless you have some core virtues and ideals that frame your philosophy. If the above points are true, and I believe they certainly are, then on top of this foundation you can erect various pillars of policy regarding; economics, social services, health care, immigration, the military, fighting Islam and border control. In this sense the various groups of ‘conservatives’ represent only a subsystem or a part of conservative thought. There are in reality very few political parties, think-tanks, or commentators who espouse the entire conservative lexicon and system of virtues and who have a coherent view of reality.
Political realists will tell us that a ‘total’ conservative platform or a complete conservative policy guide using the 9 points listed above as a basis, would be a big loser. ‘Experts’ will dourly note that no one in the modern world accepts many of the premises of conservatism and that in many locales conservative ideals are regarded [incredibly] as fascist; ‘right-wing’; ‘Jewish’; or intolerant. This has more to do with the success of socialist and Marxist propaganda than with reality.
After all it was the merry socialists during the 1930s who convinced every generation since that time, that fascism is a ‘right-wing’ ideology. Any cursory study of fascism shows that it is an extreme left-wing concept and contains many of the cherished tenements of the modern welfare state [free education; free health care; national values rhetoric etc.]. But the propaganda from liberals, leftists and Marxists has convinced an entire planet that fascism is right-wing. Since conservatism is supposedly right-wing [it isn't] we have the magic formula that all conservatives are therefore fascist. Idiotic but that is what passes for intelligent analysis in the mainstream media and on campus.
This remarkable general ignorance about what is natural law and what are conservative virtues pollutes political debates. Conservative leaders ranging from Bush, to Harper in Canada, to Cameron in the UK, are more populists than conservative in their platforms. A mantra from the media and political experts is that to win an election you have to be a ‘moderate’. Ergo conservatives must veer to the ‘left’ to win.
The problem with this idea is when the ‘moderate center’ is firmly anchored far to the left. A moderate in today’s world is nothing more than a warmed over left-over of socialist-marxist thought, a populist who has no overarching purpose other then to get elected and enjoy the fruits of leadership. Bromides reign. Love children; love the environment; spend more money on various programs; increase taxation; soak the rich; control corporations; and regulate everything and everyone is the order of the day. This is Marxist engineering not conservative thinking.