Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Conservative Radicals

In our modern politics, the labels of each side are pretty well understood. Liberals are those who want to move the culture and government towards something new, and change the world. Conservatives are those who want to keep things the way they are, and even move back towards a more traditional culture. William F. Buckley summed this view up by saying that conservatism is “standing atwart history, yelling ‘stop.’” The root of the word “conservatism,” of course, is “conserve,” and that is how most conservatives see their movement’s goal—to conserve the past.

That’s a bad goal, and one conservatives should move away from. In order to have a really conservative society, it will be necessary to attain at least the same amount of societal change that liberals try to achieve. “Conservatism” should be about conserving—its goal should be to try to incite an entire cultural revolution.

Conservatives spend a great deal of time wishing for the “old days,” and bemoaning change. (Or “yelling stop,” if you will). But they rarely consider precisely what decade they would choose if given the choice. The fifties? The period of McCarthyism, Jim Crow, and the beginning of the welfare state? Or the thirties, during the New Deal? Maybe the twenties, during Prohibition (an incredibly intrusive act of government) and the beginnings of the collapse of the traditional family, or the teens, where the federal government was passing constitutional amendments giving it increasingly broad powers?

Conservatives are over-affected by nostalgia, and nostalgia is all to often unsupported by fact. The past wasn’t really all that great, and it’s hard to imagine a point where yelling “stop” would have been worthwhile.

In fact, throughout the past century of American history, there has been one dominant theme: liberalism has advanced while conservatism has retreated. (Actually, that holds true for most of American history). Given that that is the case, why should conservatives feel nostalgic for the past?

Right now, abortion is recognized by most people as a legal right, if not a moral one. Aside from pro-lifers, there aren’t many who want to change the status quo. The welfare state, too, is now part of American government, and has been for some time. Most Americans literally can’t imagine changing Social Security or Medicare in any meaningful way. And Americans have gotten used to high levels of government spending—any attempt to slash the federal budget would be met with stunned disbelief by the American people.

From a conservative point of view, all these things are unsustainable, and must be reversed. But they won’t be reversed by calling on the traditions of the past. It was the past that got us to where we are today. Trying to return to some past utopia is pointless.

Rather, conservatives must attempt to totally remake society in a conservative image, moving on from America’s liberal premises. (Not that all of the premises that shape American culture are liberal, but many are). It is conservatives who are (or should be) the true radicals in today’s culture—their mission should be to wholly change the American landscape.

This will necessarily be a difficult challenge, maybe an impossible one. Social revolutions are hard to pull off. American liberals tried during the sixties, and succeeded in pushing through some legislative successes and pushing American culture to the left, but they failed in their larger goal of creating a really liberal society.

Conservatives have had their share of victories as well. But they want anything more, and want to really make America into a conservative nation, they will have to overcome their fascination for a past that never existed and try to claim the future of America.

10 Comments:

At May 7, 2009 at 5:47 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

I hate to resort to being one of those commenters that merely throws out quotes. But this one sums it up your point quite succinctly.

"Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice. And, let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

 
At May 7, 2009 at 6:10 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I am currently reading The 5000 Year Leap" and it talks about the ideals our Founding Fathers shaped our country under, THAT it what I want to conserve, not the 1950's, more like the 1870's, the principles can stay the same even though society changes.

 
At May 7, 2009 at 7:53 AM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

1870s would be good:
1870 Utah gives women right to vote
1871 Darwin writes 'Descent of Man'
1872 Credit Mobilier Scandal.
1873 Financial Panic (Jay Cook)
Stock Exchange closes for 10 days
1874 Massachussits limits women's work day to 10 hours.
1875 Suprem Courte denies women the right to vote
1876 Custer Massacre
1877 Great RR Strike, Nez Perce War
1878 Congress denies women the right to vote.

 
At May 7, 2009 at 1:29 PM , Blogger Steve B said...

BB- Point taken. There never was a golden age- but is human natue to keep trying I think.

 
At May 7, 2009 at 9:54 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I meant to say the 1780's for when the Constitution was ratified, sorry for the transposition!

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:33 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

louis vuitton outlet, coach purses, prada outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, nike shoes, red bottom shoes, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin outlet, oakley vault, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, true religion outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, coach outlet, ray ban outlet, nike air max, burberry outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, kate spade outlet online, polo ralph lauren, coach outlet store online, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, cheap oakley sunglasses, coach outlet, true religion, christian louboutin, longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet online, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton, jordan shoes, prada handbags

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:37 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

nike blazer pas cher, lacoste pas cher, timberland, north face, air max, guess pas cher, nike free, air jordan, sac louis vuitton, air max pas cher, hollister, michael kors canada, lululemon, barbour, abercrombie and fitch, burberry pas cher, hermes pas cher, vans pas cher, north face pas cher, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, chaussure louboutin, mulberry, nike roshe run, ralph lauren pas cher, louis vuitton, louis vuitton pas cher, sac michael kors, converse pas cher, nike free pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, longchamp, new balance pas cher, hollister, nike roshe, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, scarpe hogan, true religion jeans, nike air force, longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, nike air max

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:37 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

nike blazer pas cher, lacoste pas cher, timberland, north face, air max, guess pas cher, nike free, air jordan, sac louis vuitton, air max pas cher, hollister, michael kors canada, lululemon, barbour, abercrombie and fitch, burberry pas cher, hermes pas cher, vans pas cher, north face pas cher, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, chaussure louboutin, mulberry, nike roshe run, ralph lauren pas cher, louis vuitton, louis vuitton pas cher, sac michael kors, converse pas cher, nike free pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, longchamp, new balance pas cher, hollister, nike roshe, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, scarpe hogan, true religion jeans, nike air force, longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, nike air max

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

marc jacobs outlet, beats headphones, canada goose, rolex watches, abercrombie and fitch, celine handbags, new balance outlet, instyler ionic styler, ugg boots, reebok shoes, roshe run, uggs on sale, ghd, north face jackets, nike huarache, valentino shoes, vans outlet, ugg outlet, p90x workout, ugg soldes, mont blanc pens, chi flat iron, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, ferragamo shoes, longchamp, nfl jerseys, asics shoes, mac cosmetics, bottega veneta, north face outlet, herve leger, birkin bag, wedding dresses, insanity workout, soccer shoes, soccer jerseys, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, canada goose outlet, babyliss pro, canada goose outlet, hollister, jimmy choo shoes, uggs outlet, ugg, mcm handbags

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:47 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, moncler outlet, hollister, juicy couture outlet, ralph lauren, moncler, louis vuitton canada, montre femme, moncler, canada goose pas cher, pandora uk, parajumpers outlet, thomas sabo uk, iphone 6 case, ray ban, lancel, oakley, swarovski jewelry, supra shoes, moncler, louboutin, uggs canada, coach outlet, swarovski uk, wedding dress, ugg, canada goose, baseball bats, canada goose, timberland shoes, replica watches, pandora jewelry, gucci, moncler, converse shoes, air max, karen millen, hollister clothing, juicy couture outlet, pandora charms, hollister canada, vans, converse, links of london uk, nike air max, moncler, toms outlet, canada goose uk

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home