What do conservatives conserve? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Traditional 'common sense' values and duty to the state.
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#14940500
They pretty much conserve the policies of the opposition from 10 years ago. Just think of gay marriage for example. This used to be a huge no-no for the conservatives. You even see some conservatives starting to embrace the transgender agenda.

One of the things that does seem consistent, is their support for Israel. Though these are neocons, not conservatives. Neocons used to be Trotskyites.
#14940505
Early conservatism was about conserving traditions and (to a lesser degree over time) social institutions that, as the argument went, had subtle and perhaps even metaphysical value even though their overt functions or utilitarian value was not always immediately apparent. It also broadly describes forms of philosophy; a person could, for example, spend their money "conservatively" while a person who spends their money more "liberally" will probably run out of money a lot sooner. As the analogy goes, the conservative spender might miss out on a good deal while the liberal spender might get lucky, although more often than not the liberal spender probably has nothing to show for it.

Recently, older traditions and institutions have either mostly disappeared or else they have been so de-fanged as to be close to irrelevant. People who are taller, more good looking and more physically fit find that their subjective world view more resembles that of conservatives and so they think they are conservative; purple-haired "land whales" who hate everyone else find that their subjective world view more closely resembles liberalism, so they sometimes think they are liberals. I am not sure that either instance of this is really true anymore. The difference was originally an extension of differing philosophies on life, not merely the expressions of subjective viewpoints but no one really understands these philosophies anymore because life for most people in the developed world no longer contains enough diversity of options for one's personal decisions to have an immediate impact on their lives. Even moving from one city or state to another, taking on a job or abusing drugs will often not fundamentally change someone's life, at least not in the short run, so things like philosophical outlooks on life are not even understood as a concept by many people because in many cases their own agency has never perceptibly mattered or had an impact on their own life.

In the rare cases where you see people that have a vaguely defined conservative philosophy, it tends to come down to things like "hey, maybe don't chop your dick off, statistically you'll regret it" and this is what passes for values, conservatism and thinking ahead these days.
#14940506
In the US, originally conservatives "conserved" or better attempted to preserve the principles of constitutional government.

Surprisingly this included the principles of the Bill of Rights. Now, sadly, those who have co opted the term only attempt to preserve the second amendment. (And even this is a mistake because their argument often forwards the notion that the ultimate way to settle a political disagreement is to take up arms against the armed forces of their own states and country. (Yes our states have armed forces.))

Conservatism (as I have embraced it for nearly 7 decades) is not about social trivialities such as gay marriage. That is unless one looks to the constitution to see what the correct roll of the government is in the decision to allow or not allow it. (The SCOTUS took the conservative position when they ruled it "legal" under the equal protection clause by the way.) So a "real" conservative who happens to be a fundamentalist might have said on the subject:

"I oppose gay marriage and believe God does not like it but our constitution does not allow me to impose my religious views on others and the equal protection clause prohibits this discrimination. Therefor my political opinion upon which I must act when voting requires me to accept that the protection of the constitutional principles involved trumps my desire to impose my religious beliefs on others. And I call this good when I realize that the laws that protect same-sex people's right to marry are the same ones that protect many of my rights too.

Sadly, many who call themselves conservative believe that, as you say, what was considered "right" in the past is the deciding factor today. They stand against changing things that we conservatives fought to enact years ago holding that these things WERE the conservative position. Environmental protections came about under Nixon (conservative) under the notion that we were protecting the right of all people against the business interests of the few. Immigration amnesty was enacted by Reagan realizing that if people were to be living in this country they must be afforded the protections our constitution offers all people. (Among other reasons.)

Conservatism is hard because it requires a depth of thinking that frankly most people are either unable or unwilling to embrace. Modern American conservatism is a confederation of single-issue voters, controlled and manipulated by corporate interests. This leaves many of the ones who might decide that they want to embrace our beautiful constitution casting around for champions. They look to find them in Austrian economics and fringe political identities like libertarian-ism or Ancap variations. Or democratic socialism for that matter. This confusion is not limited to republican party affiliation though it is certainly more pronounced there.
#14940509
Conservatives seem to conserve old inefficient ways of operating. They keep wanting tax cuts, which have in the past hurt businesses and people, you're basically cutting up the budget and reducing resources. How can things run with only half or less of what they need? It's like running a 4 cylinder engine on 2 cylinders, not going to work well.

It would be better if we all could conserve energy, but that's not going to happen. Or if we conserved money and food, again not going to happen. We are a wasteful people in general.
#14940680
Old time conservatives did not see tax cuts as the primary goal. They saw a balanced budget as the goal. This is a monumental difference. Goldwater had no real problem with higher taxes as long as necessary to balance the budget. Instead of cutting taxes he would have favored cutting the size and scope of the government.

What people forget today is that were we to cut federal spending and the size of the federal government there is absolutely nothing to prohibit the states from raising the tax money to provide these services themselves. This is why we rarely, if ever, hear the term "states rights" used properly anymore.

Example? Universal health care in Mass.
#14940752
Obviously they conserve the power of big business and capital. Back in the day they conserved the power of the aristocracy. Essentially they work to support whatever system is currently in power.


In a general sense true. In a specifically US sense not so much. That is unless you consider the collection of wealthy landowners who constructed our constitutional government with all of its protections for the unwashed the aristocracy. Certainly they were but their enlightened ideas and beliefs, despite the necessary compromises, made white people 100 years ago even more free than today.
#14940889
Drlee wrote:In a general sense true. In a specifically US sense not so much. That is unless you consider the collection of wealthy landowners who constructed our constitutional government with all of its protections for the unwashed the aristocracy. Certainly they were but their enlightened ideas and beliefs, despite the necessary compromises, made white people 100 years ago even more free than today.

The Founding Fathers were absolutely not conservatives. They were, in fact, revolutionaries. Jefferson even supported the Jacobin reign of terror, ffs.
#14940894
Beren wrote:They were Free Mason conservatives. :lol:

In other words, revolutionaries. :lol:
#14940895
Potemkin wrote:In other words, revolutionaries. :lol:

And progressives, because that's the real point here. However, it's also enough if we make a distinction between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.
#14940896
Beren wrote:And progressives, because that's the real point here. However, it's also enough if we make a distinction between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.

Progressives who pick up guns and wage war against established authority are called 'revolutionaries', Beren. :)
#14940898
Potemkin wrote:Progressives who pick up guns and wage war against established authority are called 'revolutionaries', Beren. :)

That's true, but the point is they were progressives and not conservatives, not that they picked up guns and waged war against established authority.
#14940900
Beren wrote:That's true, but the point is they were progressives and not conservatives, not that they picked up guns and waged war against established authority.

They weren't just progressives, they were revolutionaries, Beren. Bernie Sanders is a progressive; Jefferson, Washington et al. were revolutionaries.
#14940903
Potemkin wrote:They weren't just progressives, they were revolutionaries, Beren. Bernie Sanders is a progressive; Jefferson, Washington et al. were revolutionaries.

They were revolutionaries but reactionaries can also claim they are revolutionaries if they pick up guns and make a counter-revolution. The point is that they were progressives who made a revolution, but even if they hadn't made a revolution, they still would have been progressives, not conservatives.
#14940905
Beren wrote:They were revolutionaries but reactionaries can also claim they are revolutionaries if they pick up guns and make a counter-revolution. The point is that they were progressives who made a revolution, but even if they hadn't made a revolution, they still would have been progressives, not conservatives.

Hmm... granted. I think we can agree with each other that Drlee is wrong when he characterises the Founding Fathers as conservatives. :)
#14940906
Potemkin wrote:Hmm... granted. I think we can agree with each other that Drlee is wrong when he characterises the Founding Fathers as conservatives. :)

You just never know what conservative/liberal/socialist/etc. means in America. ;)
#14940916
Beren wrote:You just never know what conservative/liberal/socialist/etc. means in America. ;)

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." :lol:
#14940927
OP has a good point, and this i sbasically why reactionary positions are coming back.

The conservatives completely failed, so now we have to hit the big rewind button.

The Left makes us sound like we're a small collection of knuckleheads but... to borrow a phrase from the Left...

The revolution will not be televised.
#14940928
The Founding Fathers were absolutely not conservatives. They were, in fact, revolutionaries. Jefferson even supported the Jacobin reign of terror, ffs.


You misunderstand me. I absolutely DO NOT categorize the founders as conservatives. I classify those who embrace their ideas for constitutional government as conservatives. At least when I was younger they were. The conservatives of my youth, Goldwater, Buckley et all did not want to reunite with the crown. They wanted to embrace the principles of our early constitutional government; specifically, small government, the supremacy of individual rights, states rights and a balanced federal government.

The term conservative has become so distorted these days that it is almost useless. Can a conservative believe in a woman's right to choose? Can a conservative believe that the second amendment refers to militias? Can a conservative believe in higher taxes to balance the federal budget concurrent with reducing the size of government because both are necessary to reach the conservative goal of a balanced budget? Nowadays it would be said they could not. That if they did embrace these things they would be "liberals". Well the founders....were liberals AND revolutionaries.

So when I claim to be a conservative (as I said, if you had read what I said carefully) that I was a conservative I embrace those principles that the founder embraced. I believe in smaller government. This does not mean that I believe that the states may not act in place of what the federal government does now. For example several of the states had welfare like programs from the start. As a conservative I simply believe that it ought not be a function of the federal government except when absolutely necessary. I believe that the second amendment refers to the notion of regulating state militias as a check on vast central power. I also believe this is a notion that has lost its usefulness over time. I believe in the supremacy of individual franchise so that is why I oppose corporate money in politics. (The founders made it a felony.)

Simply put I believe that a REAL conservative attempts to conserve the broad principles on which our country was founded and improved through the amendment process. I believe that were Jefferson or Madison alive today they would be disgusted in the size of government and its intrusiveness into our daily lives. I believe their first comment might be, "where the hell are the states?.
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