It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Conservatism is not simply a defense of “capitalism”

page: 1
8
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join
share:

posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 09:15 PM
link   
“Capitalism” is a word that was used by Karl Marx to, among other things, imply that the only thing conservatives defend is vast accumulations of private capital. Conservatism, however, is not simply a defense of “capitalism.”

This post is an attempt to interject some understanding into what it means to be "conservative" from a political and ideological perspective. There are numerous misconceptions perpetrated on the American conservative. I hope this post is informative to both those who characterize themselves as "conservative" and those who think they understand what underlies modern conservative thinking.

This post does in a way reflect my personal thoughts on the direction of the modern conservative. To the extent that direction leads away from stark conservatism and towards more moderate views, then perhaps the term needs adapting or refining (at least as applied in the American political climate). Some have argued that black and white ideologies may be no better than an extremist's views. With that said, I want to highlight some underlying tenets of conservatism that are misunderstood or overlooked. These tenets are ones, in my opinion, that should form the foundation of the political ideology that our country embraces moving forward.

What is Conservatism?

Conservatism is not simply the concern of people who have property and influence. It is not the defense of privilege and status. In fact, most conservatives are neither rich nor powerful. Rather they have (and strive for) liberty, security of person and home, equal protection of the laws, the right to the fruits of their industry, and opportunity to do the best that is in them. Conservative principles shelter the hopes of everyone in society. And conservatism is a social concept important to everyone who desires equal justice and personal freedom. But the true conservative does stoutly defend private property and a free economy, both for their own sake and because these are means to great ends.

Key Principles of Conservatist Thought

Diversity Over Uniformity

Variety and diversity are essential to success. Uniformity and absolute equality are the death of all real vigor and freedom in existence. Conservatives resist the uniformity of a tyrant or an oligarchy. Conservatives starkly oppose the uniformity of what Tocqueville called “democratic despotism."


"Having thus taken each citizen in turn in its powerful embrace and shaped him to its will, government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society. It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform … . It does not break men’s will, but softens, bends, and guides it; it seldom enjoins, but often inhibits, actions; it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.”


Equality of Opportunity, Not Equality of Outcome

Equal justice means that every man and every woman have the right to what is their own, to the things best suited to their own nature, to the rewards of their ability and integrity, to their property and their personality. Civilized society requires that all men and women have equal rights before the law, but that equality should not extend to equality of condition: that is, society is a great partnership, in which all have equal rights, but not to equal things. The just society requires sound leadership, different rewards for different abilities, and a sense of respect and duty.

Freedom of Property

Property and freedom are inseparably connected. Economic leveling is not economic progress. Conservatives value property for its own sake, of course, but we value it even more because without it all men and women are at the mercy of an omnipotent government.

Centralization is Dangerous

Power is full of danger; therefore, the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs. So far as possible, political power ought to be kept in the hands of private persons and local institutions. Centralization is ordinarily a sign of social decadence. This is the essence of the desire for a small federal government.

The Past is Pertinent

The past is a great storehouse of wisdom. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise. We need to guide ourselves by the moral traditions, the social experience, and the whole complex body of knowledge bequeathed to us by our ancestors. We must look beyond the rash opinion of the hour.

True Community, Not Collectivism

Modern society urgently needs true community, and true community is a world away from collectivism. Real community is governed by love and charity, not by compulsion. Through churches, voluntary associations, local governments, and a variety of institutions, conservatives strive to keep community healthy. Conservatives are not selfish, but public-spirited. They know that collectivism means the end of real community, substituting uniformity for variety and force for willing cooperation.

America Should be an Example, Not the World's Police

In the affairs of nations, the American conservative feels that his country should set an example to the world, but should not to try to remake the world in its image. The conservative does not aspire to domination of the world, nor does he relish the prospect of a world reduced to a single pattern of government and civilization.

Perfection is Unattainable and That is Okay

Men and women are not perfectible and neither are political institutions. We cannot make heaven on earth, though we may make hell. We all are creatures of mingled good and evil, and, good institutions neglected and ancient moral principles ignored, the evil in us tends to predominate. The conservative is therefore suspicious of all utopian schemes. He or she does not believe that, by power of positive law, we can solve all the problems of humanity. We can hope to make our world tolerable, but we cannot make it perfect. When progress is achieved, it is through prudent recognition of the limitations of human nature.

Change and Reform are Not Identical

Moral and political innovation can be destructive as well as beneficial. If innovation is undertaken in a spirit of presumption and enthusiasm, it probably will be disastrous. All human institutions alter to some extent from age to age, for slow change is the means of conserving society, just as it is the means for renewing the human body. Conservatives understand that men and women are best content when they can feel that they live in a stable world of enduring values.

Hopefully no matter what your political ideology, you found this enlightening in some respect.
edit on 14-2-2016 by ExNihiloRed because: (no reason given)

edit on 14-2-2016 by ExNihiloRed because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 09:33 PM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed




“Capitalism” is a word coined by Karl Marx, intended from the beginning to imply that the only thing conservatives defend is vast accumulations of private capital


The etymology of the word capitalism goes decades before Karl Marx was born. Karl Marx yes was a critic of capitalism but he did not, I repeat not coin the term.

Edit; He was one of the first to use it I'll grant you that, I believe William Thackeray was the first.
I could be dead wrong though.
edit on 14-2-2016 by NateTheAnimator because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 09:40 PM
link   

originally posted by: NateTheAnimator
a reply to: ExNihiloRed




“Capitalism” is a word coined by Karl Marx, intended from the beginning to imply that the only thing conservatives defend is vast accumulations of private capital


The etymology of the word capitalism goes decades before Karl Marx was born. Karl Marx yes was a critic of capitalism but he did not, I repeat not coin the term.



Please don't miss the point of my post. It was to articulate a common misconception of conservative thinking by outlining certain underlying tenets. Coining, in my opinion, does not necessarily mean inventing, but rather using to serve a purpose. In Marx's case, to emphasize what he believed as an "evil" perpetuated by conservative thinking.
edit on 14-2-2016 by ExNihiloRed because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 09:47 PM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed




Don't miss the point of my post. It was to articulate a common misconception of conservative thinking by outlining certain underlying tenets. Coining, in my opinion, does not necessarily mean inventing, but rather using to serve a purpose. In Marx's case, to emphasize what he believed as an "evil" perpetuated by conservative thinking.


I did not mean to drift away from your OP's intended purpose, I think if your going to educate people about the ideology of conservatism you shouldn't start with a erroneous assertion.
Everything else you stated is spot on.



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 10:37 PM
link   

originally posted by: NateTheAnimator
a reply to: ExNihiloRed




Don't miss the point of my post. It was to articulate a common misconception of conservative thinking by outlining certain underlying tenets. Coining, in my opinion, does not necessarily mean inventing, but rather using to serve a purpose. In Marx's case, to emphasize what he believed as an "evil" perpetuated by conservative thinking.


I did not mean to drift away from your OP's intended purpose, I think if your going to educate people about the ideology of conservatism you shouldn't start with a erroneous assertion.
Everything else you stated is spot on.


I made the statement more general to avoid any misunderstanding or implication that Marx necessarily invented the word (and rather focus on his use of the word, which was my intention).
edit on 14-2-2016 by ExNihiloRed because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 10:54 PM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

I like your key principles. While I agree that Conservatism is the appropriate term for the concervation of our rights, these days it has come to mean GOP...which is disappointing. For that reason, I am more Libertarian than Neo-conservative.
edit on 14-2-2016 by BELIEVERpriest because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 11:50 PM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

Very good primer. Thanks for sharing this.

Sounds to me like a very natural concept. I see conservatism as the herald and attendant of society. I think conservatism might also be the best bet for the environment as well.



posted on Feb, 14 2016 @ 11:56 PM
link   

originally posted by: BELIEVERpriest
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

I like your key principles. While I agree that Conservatism is the appropriate term for the concervation of our rights, these days it has come to mean GOP...which is disappointing. For that reason, I am more Libertarian than Neo-conservative.


This is a tragedy. Anyone who is actually paying attention should realize that establishment/mainstream/cocktail Republicans != Conservatives.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 01:48 AM
link   
Actually, conservatism applies to any idea that seeks to maintain the status quo. That means that a conservative can be against every point you made if it goes against the status quo.

I'm pretty sure you meant american conservatives but that is a specific application of the term.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 02:26 AM
link   

originally posted by: ExNihiloRed
What is Conservatism?

Conservatism is not simply the concern of people who have property and influence. It is not the defense of privilege and status.


If you're being honest, you'd have to admit a big portion of conservatism is protection of privilege and status. This isn't to say that some conservatives don't honestly value high minded ideals. However, those ideals are very easily co-opted by selfish interests, just as easily as socialism is co-opted.

I despise how partisanship ignores this fact.


Rather they have (and strive for) liberty, security of person and home, equal protection of the laws, the right to the fruits of their industry, and opportunity to do the best that is in them. Conservative principles shelter the hopes of everyone in society.


All those things are great, but reality bears a different fruit. Everybody is free alright. Free to exploit or be exploited. That's truly the essence of the idea of capitalism. When the capitalist talks about freedom, they're talking about their freedom to do as they wish and not be held accountable by any kind of social group.

The goal is to acquire wealth and forget all but self.


Centralization is Dangerous

Power is full of danger; therefore, the good state is one in which power is checked and balanced, restricted by sound constitutions and customs. So far as possible, political power ought to be kept in the hands of private persons and local institutions. Centralization is ordinarily a sign of social decadence. This is the essence of the desire for a small federal government.


You seem to confuse private power with democratically elected power. There is a difference between the two. With democratic power there's at least some kind of mechanism for change in place. Private power is complete tyranny. Unelected and unaccountable to any social group. Now whether the democratic process is functioning or not is a completely different conversation altogether.

We live in a world of transnational corporate power. There's no way around that. What you essentially propose is eliminating the only entity we have that is strong enough to hold that private power accountable and replace it with much weaker entities.

I'm a pragmatist. This idea is all faries and unicorns to me.


True Community, Not Collectivism

Modern society urgently needs true community, and true community is a world away from collectivism. Real community is governed by love and charity, not by compulsion. Through churches, voluntary associations, local governments, and a variety of institutions, conservatives strive to keep community healthy. Conservatives are not selfish, but public-spirited. They know that collectivism means the end of real community, substituting uniformity for variety and force for willing cooperation.


Charity?

Conservatives can prove charity actually works at any time they like. There's nothing stopping anyone from charitable giving. Churches bring in massive amounts of money every year and pay no taxes. You don't like things like socialized programs and think charity is the way to go then prove it. Charity is completely voluntary and nothing bars any institution or private person
from beginning to establish it as a viable program.

Once again, I'm a pragmatist. Show me, don't tell me. Otherwise it's just rhetoric with no substance.


I too have concerns with centralized power, but I'm not naive enough to think that getting rid of it is going to fix our ills. I'm much more interested in fixing the levers of power rather than destroying them. We are not getting away from massive transnational private power. The world is too interconnected. The only thing we can do is ensure with have properly working democratic levers strong enough to stand up to that private power and hold it accountable.

I feel like people like me are fighting a battle on two fronts. The large entities of private power attempting to usurp our system of governance and the conservative entities wanting to destroy it.


Regardless, this is a well thought out thread and you deserve recognition even if I disagree with most of it.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 08:16 AM
link   

originally posted by: Teikiatsu

originally posted by: BELIEVERpriest
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

I like your key principles. While I agree that Conservatism is the appropriate term for the concervation of our rights, these days it has come to mean GOP...which is disappointing. For that reason, I am more Libertarian than Neo-conservative.


This is a tragedy. Anyone who is actually paying attention should realize that establishment/mainstream/cocktail Republicans != Conservatives.


The paradigm has unfortunately shifted in the mainstream. Hopefully, modern republicans (the growing electorate) will shift it back.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 08:19 AM
link   

originally posted by: daskakik
Actually, conservatism applies to any idea that seeks to maintain the status quo. That means that a conservative can be against every point you made if it goes against the status quo.

I'm pretty sure you meant american conservatives but that is a specific application of the term.


I think I said American conservatism. Regardless, the post is intended to provide the political and ideological underpinnings of conservative thinking, generally and as I see them.

You're being a bit ignorant to broadly characterize it as "maintaining the status quo." In fact, taking into account historical lessons and believing in slow, methodical change as opposed to radicalism is not necessarily "maintaining the status quo."



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 08:25 AM
link   
a reply to: GD21D

I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and put together a thoughtful rebuke.

I think you missed my point, however. I was trying to highlight the underpinnings of conservatism from a political and ideological standpoint. I was not assessing whether people who claim to be conservative or the republican party have successfully implemented those tenants. We can discuss implementation another time.

You also cannot use the current state of the country as a counterargument to conservatism. The tenets of conservatism are not being followed.

I am at work. If I have a chance later, I will try and address each of your points more fully.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 08:31 AM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

There might have been a time when conservatism equated to republicans, but I don't see that anymore.

The opening post looked more like classical liberalism, to be honest.

It's what today's liberals claim to uphold, but don't.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 08:40 AM
link   
a reply to: DBCowboy

I think the confusion is that the ideology of bettering society is not purely a liberal idea. Conservatives care about society. Their means of achieving it are much different, however. Liberals believe in a welfare state, but conservatives believe in personal responsibility.

I would argue that the ends of each of the tenants may be similar, but the means for conservatives are different than liberals. With that said, because the ends are the same (or similar), then that should help foster compromise (one would think). This is not always the case in the modern political spectrum, however.

Tocqueville discussion of “democratic despotism" is quite pertinent.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 09:39 AM
link   
a reply to: ExNihiloRed

Yes you did but that does not change what the word means, generally.

Even within the context of american politics it isn't homogenous. Obviously a member of the KKK who consideres himeslf "conserevative" will probably not agree with "Diversity Over Uniformity".


In fact, taking into account historical lessons and believing in slow, methodical change as opposed to radicalism is not necessarily "maintaining the status quo."

Those opposing change are not the cause of change. They want to "conserve" or keep things the way they are.
edit on 15-2-2016 by daskakik because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 09:58 AM
link   
a reply to: daskakik

The point of my post was to shed light on the underlying tenets of conservatism beyond the dictionary definition of the word. Webster's definition of "conservatism" or "conservative" is different, in my view, than the political and ideological meaning of conservatism/conservative as it has developed over time. You're focusing on the former, I'm focusing on the latter.


edit on 15-2-2016 by ExNihiloRed because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 10:07 AM
link   

originally posted by: ExNihiloRed
The point of my post was to shed light on the underlying tenets of conservatism beyond the dictionary definition of the word. Webster's definition of "conservatism" or "conservative" is different, in my view, than the political and ideological meaning of conservatism/conservative as it has developed over time. You're focusing on the former, I'm focusing on the latter.

You can't say that "american conservatives" believe XY and Z when many of them don't.

Logically if they can toss any of your tenets to the side and still be considered conservative then that tenet is not a core value of the ideal.

All I see is you trying to reclaim the term. That is why, instead of trying to see which way things are spun, I prefere to stay with the dictionary definition.



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 10:33 AM
link   

originally posted by: daskakik

originally posted by: ExNihiloRed
The point of my post was to shed light on the underlying tenets of conservatism beyond the dictionary definition of the word. Webster's definition of "conservatism" or "conservative" is different, in my view, than the political and ideological meaning of conservatism/conservative as it has developed over time. You're focusing on the former, I'm focusing on the latter.

You can't say that "american conservatives" believe XY and Z when many of them don't.

Logically if they can toss any of your tenets to the side and still be considered conservative then that tenet is not a core value of the ideal.

All I see is you trying to reclaim the term. That is why, instead of trying to see which way things are spun, I prefere to stay with the dictionary definition.


I was discussing what underlies American conservative thought. I also made clear in my OP that:


This post does in a way reflect my personal thoughts on the direction of the modern conservative. To the extent that direction leads away from stark conservatism and towards more moderate views, then perhaps the term needs adapting or refining (at least as applied in the American political climate). Some have argued that black and white ideologies may be no better than an extremist's views. With that said, I want to highlight some underlying tenets of conservatism that are misunderstood or overlooked. These tenets are ones, in my opinion, that should form the foundation of the political ideology that our country embraces moving forward.


Did you even read my OP or are you just trying to argue for the sake of arguing?



posted on Feb, 15 2016 @ 10:45 AM
link   
The OP is referring to libertarian conservatives and constitutional conservatives.As the thinktanks which define and create conservative ideas are generally headed by libertarianish constitutionalish conservatives.

The average conservative is not like this.

most people use moral intutions first, then use rationalizations to proof their arguments.


To get an idea of the liberal and conservative mind along with the separate libertarian mind Jonathan Haidt a social psychologist has done a lot work on this subject. Here is a piece on the different moral foundations. excuse democrat and republican, that is a mistake by the author, haidt did not label it as such.
moral foundations




top topics



 
8
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join