Primer: a deeper understanding of conservative thought

russel_kirk_-_american_conservative

Primer: A deeper understanding of conservative thought

Amongst the young and, particularly in the metal community, Conservatives and Conservative thought are seen as retrograde, fascistic and wholly in thrall to religious fanatics. There are numerous reasons why they have this perception — and even more reasons why this line of thinking is wrong.

Modern American Conservatism was formed in a caldron of four events: two horrible world wars, a concerted effort by those in power to import European socialism to America and a long march through American institutions of Marxists, progressives and secular humanists. These events created the nascent conservative movement, which was reactionary at first — but soon developed into a coherent philosophy by thinkers such as William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Whittaker Chambers, Phyllis Schlafly and many others. Though theyoften disagreed with each other on various issues, conservatism nonetheless coalesced around certain principles and beliefs:

The wisdom of the American founders: The founders limited the power of government to keep it from becoming an ideological tyranny, and set up a system of gradual change instead of sudden, impulsive and emotional crusades which they witnessed in the revolutions of Europe.

Belief in the individual: Conservatives believe that human individuals are each unique and cannot be lumped together like clay, treated like masses and molded by elites in government “for their best interests.” Individuals are capable of great things when allowed to define their own destinies.

Peace through strength: Conservatives believe that weakness (both real and perceived) invites aggression. Conservatives such as Winston Churchill understood that Europe’s weakness and indecision during the interwar period from 1919-1938 is a primary reason for the ascendancy of Hitler and the war that followed.

Market capitalism: Conservatives believe that the greatest engine for creating wealth, driving innovation and lifting people out of poverty is market capitalism. No other system developed has created a thriving middle class like market capitalism has, and it should be promoted instead of demonized. This does not mean unfettered, unregulated capitalism, but a lightly regulated system that insures a fair playing field for all participants.

Low taxes: Government raises taxes to pursue ideological goals, which signals its intent to become a tyranny. High taxes support this. Further, high taxes represent oppression and the limiting of individual potential.

Absolute truth, morality and rule of law: Centuries of human experience show us what works and what does not, and from this we derive an understanding of morality. It is not given to humanity by God, but by practicality. The rule of law is designed to help bolster those absolute truths, and more importantly it is meant to protect the individual through having his or her constitutional rights protected at all times. Deviation from the consistency of law allows people to impose their will on one another by abusing positions of authority. Hence the statement “we are a government of laws, not men” is of utmost importance to the Conservative.

Human nature: To the Conservative, mankind is imperfect and will always be, and knowing this, the Conservative understands that no perfect social order or utopian society could ever be created. Attempts to create utopian societies, or to engineer man for perfection will end in civil unrest, chaos and ultimately totalitarianism. The best we can reasonably hope for is to try and improve mankind’s plight with prudent reform and gradual social change. Conservatives accept that there will always be some suffering, inequality and destitution amongst mankind and the challenge is to ease it without disrupting or constraining the rest of society.

Problems and tensions within Conservatism:

As with many movements, there is strife, disagreement and infighting. This is especially true within the Conservative movement, because Conservatives are individuals first, and members of a party or movement second. Even more, conservatism is an amorphous theory rather than an ideology, so it does not have simple universal principles and instead must be interpreted on a situational basis.

The political vessel through which a Conservative works is the Republican Party — which contrary to what many in the media will have you believe, is a coalition of diverse groups of individuals ranging from isolationists, religious fundamentalists, anarcho-capitalists and libertarians. These groups are in constant tension with each other, and holding a Republican coalition together is difficult at best. Some examples of tensions within the party will follow below.

One of the most divisive issues within the movement is the role of God and religion. Belief in certain principles such as absolute truth, the individual and rule of law can coexist with belief in a Supreme Being, but many Conservatives have no religious affiliation and treat God as a symbol of the sovereignty of the individual over their government. This line of thinking flows from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

Another tension within conservatism occurs within the realm of foreign policy. There are three differing viewpoints constantly battling each other for the movement’s heart and soul: Isolationists believe we should not interfere in foreign affairs; Neoconservatives (hawks) believe in a robust foreign policy to transform the world; and Traditionalists believe in interfering in foreign affairs only if it is vital to our economic or national interest.

The abortion debate poses many problems for conservatives as well, and falls along a few interesting fault lines. There is of course, the religious view of abortion, which is seen as a simple issue: abhorrent and sinful. However, more thoughtful Conservatives wrestle with the abortion issue from the standpoint of individual rights, and the tension between the rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child – both of whom are considered individuals worthy of protection. Furthermore, many Conservatives fear that abortion will lead to eugenics, eventually destroying the variety and unique qualities found in each human being.

Finally there are numerous economic theories that divide conservatives. These range from unlimited free-marketers, protectionists and more moderate free marketers. Libertarians for example believe that free market capitalism alone will produce the best society; more protectionist-oriented Neoconservatives see the importance of high tariffs to keep our products low cost and imports expensive, where in the middle most conservatives like free markets to a point, but believe in varying degrees of regulation or other influence by our leaders on the markets.

In conclusion, the media portrays conservatives as a bloc of religious fanatics, racists and warmongers. As a result, most young people will never know of what conservatism is, nor the ideas that drive it or the diversity within it. Conservatism is a philosophy rich in tradition, rigorous thought and internal debate, and with a little exploration, most will find something in that history that appeals to them.

Groundbreaking Conservative writing, speeches and articles:

  • God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley.
  • Witness by Whittaker Chambers
  • The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk
  • Dictatorships and Double Standards (Essay) by Jeanne Kirkpatrick
  • The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek
  • A Time for Choosing (Speech) by Ronald Reagan
  • Anarchy State & Utopia by Robert Nozick
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  • The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
  • On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

17 thoughts on “Primer: a deeper understanding of conservative thought”

  1. Meek Metalhead says:

    “Conservatives fear that abortion will lead to eugenics, eventually destroying the variety and unique qualities found in each human being.”

    Perhaps dysgenic even? This however varies in how such methods are applied.

    1. I suppose you could look at it as dysgenic, since there would be no “weeding out” so to speak of undesirable traits, etc., if that’s what you are trying to convey with your comment. China was (since they changed their laws)a perfect example of what conservatives fret about concerning abortion — a preponderance of males and very few females, since many chose to abort females in order to try again to produce a male. The whole issue is far more complicated than the media portrays it.

  2. Wassup homedogs? says:

    Fuck the Right!

    Christians are SCUM

    1. vOddy says:

      What little Jesus speaks of economy in the bible, is left wing.
      I’m not saying that Christianity is any good, nor that this makes the left wing politics any worse. I’m just saying that a reasonable interpretation of Christianity should not lead to right wing economics.

      He said shit like (I’m paraphrasing): “Give away your possessions to the poor and follow me”

      1. SheikMain says:

        Let’s not forget “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God” with regard to paying taxes.

        No need to worry about paraphrasing though, I doubt Jesus spoke all this in Modern English anyhow.

      2. Not necessarily true, and one can easily argue the other way, because there are plenty of examples in the bible where olde JFC (Jesus Fucking Christ) says things such as (Luke Chapter 12:13-14):

        “Someone in the crowd said to Him (JFC), ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’”

        In just that verse, one can see the rejection of left-wing JFC supported socialism hokum.

        When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth – to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other – Jesus refused. Jesus would never support government or a church stealing property by force to give it to a stranger. He would not even intervene for one man to share his own family’s wealth with his own brother.

        The thing is (and I think that many people on the left completely miss this): Jesus says be generous, help the poor, etc. But he means as INDIVIDUALS, not by having a central authority take from you to give to another.

        I’m not defending Christians or Christianity (I am a completely non-religious person), but they have done numerous studies on giving and charitable donations and find that conservative/right wing Christians (and conservatives in general) are far more personally generous in their giving than left-leaning liberals. So I think they are living in line with Jesus’ admonitions as well as their political beliefs. They far more compassionate or caring than most stingy left wingers who would rather have the government steal people’s income to redistribute it and waste it.

        1. vOddy says:

          I wasn’t thinking about politics, more about values that guide behaviour.
          I assumed that those values would become certain politics by people who hold them, but you’re right.

      3. Jesus’s economic speech in the Bible is not strictly left wing.

        Here is a right wing example:

        A woman came to him with an beautiful alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

        When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste!?” they asked Jesus. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!”

        Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.”

  3. 1349 says:

    WTF?! I’m a conservative, and what is described here is not conservatism.
    “Neocons”, libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are all liberals.
    Christianity is essentially liberal, too.

    “we are a government of laws, not men”

    A democratic ( = liberal) statement.

    1. hhhhhh says:

      Seems you are talking about the original meaning of the word ‘liberal’ and not what leftists have turned it into. Democrats of today are not liberals in the original meaning, and neither are neocons. Trying to interpret an economic philosophy out of the bible is completely absurd; the bible merely teaches submission to authority, and never anything resembling an economic treatise.

  4. morbideathscream says:

    I can relate to conservatism in more ways than one.

    I think certain people are individuals, mainly the ones who can think outside the box. Most people are braindead in these current times. Probably due to the government brainwashing them. People who blast rap music, idolize ghetto scum and worry about what slutty outfit the kardashians are wearing are not individuals, just programmed robots. Yes, individuals who separate themselves from the herd are capable of great things, but that trait is only active in some. It is wishful thinking to believe just any person can be an individual. Just look at the retards fighting over flat screen tv’s during black Friday. Enough said.

    If your enemy sees weakness, they will attack it. That’s just common sense, it’s human nature. The laws of nature will always apply.

    If I had a choice of what type of country I can live in, it would be a white nationalist country. Besides that, a capitalist system with some regulations and managed right would make for a thriving middle class. The middle class is the backbone of any country.

    Higher taxes only benefit those in power and the parasites on public assistance. It’s an attack on the middle class and yeah their goal is tyranny.

    I am a bit skeptical on the statement, we are a government of laws, not men. I guess it can be interpreted in several ways. The constitution is not perfect, but when our government keeps trying to strip us of our first 2 amendments and that the constitution is outdated, their goal is obvious. No right of free speech or right to bear arms is tyranny.

    Anyone who thinks there can be world peace is living in fantasy land and is not in touch with reality.

    As for the religion issue, this is where conservatives start acting retarded. Trying to outlaw things like abortion because it’s sinful is also an example of a tyrannical move. Conservatives make sense on alot of secular issues, but religion gets involved they start becoming sjw’s for christ. It does state on the declaration of independence that, they are endowed by their creator, which is a vague term and can mean any god or deity. Religious fundamentalists, when in power can be just as dangerous as Obama and the leftist thugs currently in power. Both types have attempted to censor metal. Think why?

    On the abortion issue where it concerns the unborn child having individual rights, I understand where they’re coming from, but at the alarming rate trash, of all races, are popping out kids you want there to be more abortions. Lower IQ people breed at a far higher than smarter people. Cut welfare and I guarantee that abortions would skyrocket and how would that be a bad thing. Your not gonna find variety and unique qualities in those subhuman beings. I’m convinced a majority of the militant anti-abortion must live in gated communities, they don’t see the parasites breeding at a rapid rate. Their fictitious bible also blinds them.

    When it comes to foreign policy, we need to stop worrying about what the fuck is going on in other countries and worry about our own country which is almost 20 trillion in debt. We also need to stop worrying about fucking Israel, but our country is ran by Zionist jews(our main problem) so there you have it. So I’m definitely on the isolationist side of things in regards to foreign policy.

    That’s my thoughts on this subject.

    1. morbideathscream Cheers for your thoughtful reply. You bring up some great points, but I would like to address some of them to further this discussion, again, thanks for chiming in:

      I agree with you on the religious people acting “retarded”, if fundamentalists had their way, we’d live in a theocracy for sure. However, save for a some issues, these fundamentalists are usually kept in check by more rationally-minded conservatives. There is no doubt that there is a fundamentalist wing, which I honestly think is antithetical to conservative principles. Sadly, it’s an important coalition for the right side, so it must be appeased sometimes. It’s politics — what can you do? I look at it as I’d rather have them on the right, then having the left have even more adherents. In the overall struggle between the totalitarian left (which is pretty much all of the left) and the more liberally minded (in a classical sense) right, I’ll take the right any day. We have to deal with reality unfortunately. Philosophy is great, except when it meets reality.

      I think you’re proving my point (although I may have to explain it more) about “a government of laws and not men.” The exact things you are fretting about (first and second amendment) are supposed to be laws that cannot be violated by man made whim. Hence the statement. I know that many are trying to strip that away, specifically because they reject the notion that we are a nation of laws — not men.

      I reject the notion we are run by some Zionist cabal. Granted, they have a powerful lobbying group, I will not deny that, but in the world of geo-politics, they are a strong counter weight to have in the middle east. Frankly, I think we should stop restraining them (which we do) and let them do what they want. I’m not an isolationist. I think we need to protect our interests and provide a check against aggressive totalitarian regimes. Sadly, we must be the reluctant sheriff, because no one else will be.

      I don’t like the idea of a white nationalist society. I like variety. I could do without trash from all cultures, but I know many productive, decent and fair minded people in many different races and that makes life interesting to me. And some of my favorite economists and philosophers are black (Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter and Walter Williams come to mind)

      But, to each his own on that point though.

      I do like the idea of a nationalist society, and that society is an American society. We treat membership (citizenship) as if it means nothing. It was not always that way. It should be difficult to become an American Citizen and you should want to be an American. My grandparents came here wanting to be Americans who happened to be Greek, not the other way around. We need to get back to that line of thinking. Sadly we won’t, because the left sees people flooding our borders as votes, and they are also more world-minded and citizenship means very little to them. This is one of the primary reasons Rome fell, they cheapened citizenship to the point it meant nothing. Once that type of apathy sets in, a culture is doomed.

      “If your enemy sees weakness, they will attack it.” — I couldn’t have said it better. I would add that when there is a power vacuum, someone will try to fill it.

      At the end of the day, I try to look at things realistically and analyze them through the lens of that reality. The world will never be how I want it (or you want it), but I believe that more people should make allies the conservative movement and understand that it is much more freedom loving, capitalist and open than the left will ever be.

  5. DJW says:

    There’s so much in a short article and even more in the comments.

    Eugenics has already been underway since Wade v Roe; look at the disparity in WHICH babies have been killed more than any other. It sickens me to see Dems wave the women’s rights flag and play the race card at every turn, while cheerily supporting the systematic elimination of an entire generation.

    “If your enemy sees weakness, they will attack” should put to bed the notion that isolationism works in any form. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. We tried that as a nation and it led to two World Wars. By no means do I want us to be the world’s police, but we can’t hide in a shell and hope the rest of the world doesn’t fall to pieces around us and drag us down with it. Check the news…

    As far as religion goes, it ain’t for me. Religious motivated wars have killed more people in the history of mankind than any other. (Again, check the news). However, it doesn’t mean I have the right to make anyone else think the way I do. As long as you’re not blowing up stuff and demanding I believe what you do, worship as you see fit.

    The problem with government intervention in a capitalist system is that the intervention never ends. Lightly regulated isn’t a phrase that exists in the minds of government employees. It starts off small, and ends up, well, exactly where we’re headed. Lobbyists, politicians for life, and civil servants who think they all know what’s good for you. Capitalism works only when there’s no crony attached.

    Great thoughts Mr. Pervalis, but I repeat myself.

    1. Thanks DJW,

      Just a few thoughts on your comments:

      Re — Government intervention in a capitalist system: You did hit the nail on the head. As soon as the door is open to some regulation, there will be a horde of interested parties rushing into the doorway to get in their pet regulations. That being said, I do think there needs to be some (not many) clear, easy to understand regulation to curb unfair business practices, etc. We should be as laissez-faire as is humanly possible in business affairs and let real, true competition sort out the winners and losers.

      Re — Religion: It aint for me either. However, the concept of God is critical in the understanding of the uniqueness of this country. The founders understood that God, religion, etc. was, and is a bulwark against totalitarianism. The first thing totalitarian regimes do is destroy the concept of God and replace it with state. We must be wary.

      Re – Isolation: Damn straight truth right there. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t work.

      1. We should be as laissez-faire as is humanly possible in business affairs and let real, true competition sort out the winners and losers.

        Interesting point, and to my mind, this is the difference between practicality and ideology. Ideology would be “regulations never” and practicality would be “it’s situational.”

        Clearly they need to be simpler and not blindly in favor of industry, and not enforced by bureaucrats…

        The founders understood that God, religion, etc. was, and is a bulwark against totalitarianism.

        And even the atheists among them had transcendental goals of some kind.

        1. “Interesting point, and to my mind, this is the difference between practicality and ideology. Ideology would be “regulations never” and practicality would be “it’s situational.”

          I agree with this. Ideology is meant to inform and be a basis for proposed solutions, but it should never replace rigorous thought — or concessions to reality and human nature.

          “And even the atheists among them had transcendental goals of some kind.”
          Very True. And They all readily agreed that using God/creator was the ideal way to assert natural rights in a way that could be easily — and clearly — understood.

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