What does conservatism mean?

I try to shed light on the phenomenon that conservatives are politically rather inactive and are rarely seen demonstrating in the streets, throwing stones at police. They are no activists, brawling and screaming for change, nor do they subvert schools and editors boards in order to force their ideology onto everyone. Today’s conservatives have no holy books, no bible, no “Das Kapital” or “Mein Kampf” as dogmatic reference for their ideas and beliefs. They generally want to preserve the social conditions that have proven to be successful and are critical about social changes, until a change has been tried and tested to be a majority approved advancement. Conservatives trust the historical continuity of a society. Small gradual advancements are acceptable if they balance out the considerations of traditions and the new (often technological) framework. Healthy change must be for the benefit of the many, not for the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the many. They are neither regressive nor progressive and favor stability.

Historically the origins of conservatism started with the resistance of the Nobles against the political absolutism of various kings in the 16th century. The aristocracy opposed the introduction of state laws which were not already covered by the bible or in contradiction with their interpretation of the bible, mainly because this would limit their despotic and arbitrary rule in their inherited feudal lands. After the french revolution (1789-99) the Nobles upheld their opposition, but then against the legislative national state. There are certain striking parallels between the bible based medieval law and it’s local variants and the Qur’an based Sharia law which is still in use in many Muslim countries today. (And the Euro-Islam reformers think that they can catch up on 500 years of European legal development in a few months or years. This won’t work.) Anyway, the aristocracy lost its power and influence. The transition from an agrarian society to industrial societies rendered the anti-capitalist 16th century conservatism obsolete. Since mid 19th century the conservatives limited themselves to retaining their estates and gave up on defending immutable god-given rights and law, thereby becoming nearly indistinguishable from Liberals. According to Kondylis, all that remained in the early 20th century were National-Liberals who promoted government efficiency, individual merit, a free economy and as little welfare state as possible.

I think a redefinition and rejuvenation of conservatism is urgently required. On the one hand, Liberals (center left = democrats or center right = republicans) do not have any believable moral position in order to fight back against Islamic conservatism which steamrolls Europe with subversion, force and terrorism. Liberalism also cannot bridle the random moral definitions of the neo-left, the gender mainstreaming movement or the feminists. On the other hand, the Neo-Liberals (Capital-Feudalists would be more descriptive) has established itself as a variant of the historic conservatism. The financial aristocracy has overtaken law making by simply paying off politicians and ordering them to e.g. push trough banking laws written by the big banks themselves in puppet parliaments. Many people claim that humanism is the moral ‘home position’ out of which everything else follows. But I dare to ask which of the many humanism’s are they referring to. Is it the renaissance version, secular version or the religious version of humanism? Or even the ‘atheist humanism’ of Karl Marx? The human rights declaration might serve as a moral basis, but it is obviously not sufficient. Each and every state, including all western states, violate these human rights every day. They do this intentionally and systematically, not by accident or individual error (e.g. limitations on free speech, political prisoners, legal discrimination against men and especially fathers, etc.). Nevertheless, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights still is an important evolution in moral law today.

Here we go. My attempt to redefine conservatism. It is largely based on Russel Kirk’s “Ten Conservative Principles” and shall serve as a basis to later discuss Vox Day’s 16 points on “What the Alt Right is”. I see the Alt Right as the intellectual Stormtroopers who try to garner populist support in order to get rid of the liberal and leftist excesses of the past century and may finally stop the continuous retreat of conservatism into the private sphere. However, these 16 points offer no solutions to the sweltering problems that have pent up for a century; they offer no answers to the technological changes on the basis of a conservative world view. The Alt Right is still mainly defensive in that they declare what they don’t want (globalism, multicultural diversity, free trade); but at least they decided to accept the declaration of war that the Left and Liberals officially stated in the late 60’s and have fought since the early 20th century.

First principle of the conservative worldview is that human nature is immutable. It is an ancient and biblical knowledge that good and bad is innate to every human being. There is no magic wand, no god or gods, no god-given rules, that would make humankind entirely good. We are rational and also largely irrational. Quite often we don’t know what is good or bad, right or wrong and we can be easily seduced (think snake, woman, apple). Because we are how we are and have this primal urge to be in the society of other humans, we need a moral order that enables us to coexist. “Can’t we all just get along” only works if we give ourselves rules that make us get along. This goes against post-modern leftist Utopian ideas that only this or that little thing has to be changed and we magically would have an entirely good society. Human evolution through progressivism is utter nonsense, it doesn’t exist. This set of rules or moral order is needed for couples, for families, for tribal villages, for cities and nations in order to live together in harmony. Conflicting moral orders lead to physical conflict, war and destruction over and over again. These rules have to be set by a society and taught to everyone, they are not innate. The rules are accepted because they have proven to be successful for a specific society, they are not universal.

The traditional means to convey this moral order to others and the children was religion. The ‘ancient Greeks’, like e.g. Plato, already tried to base the moral teachings on a rational foundation, excluding the irrational aspects of religion. They failed and were forgotten throughout the medieval period in Europe. During the European enlightenment this project was picked up again. The biblical doctrines, which were used by kings, rulers and lawmakers, were step-by-step replaced by civil rights and human rights.

Today’s conservatives mistakenly believe that once such an order is established and supervised, nothing needs to be done anymore. This mistaken belief violates my first principle and is the reason it differs from Russel Kirk’s first principle/article.

  • 1. The recognition and acceptance that human nature is immutable.

 

  • 2. The recognition and acceptance that both, good and bad is innate, that we have to consciously choose and that these choices are not universal.

 

  • 3. The choices that we make as a couple, family, tribe, society are our moral order, which we have to establish, uphold and defend in order to survive.

 

This mistaken belief ignores the risk of a revolution, it ignores that a moral order has to be upheld, defended and maintained. If this Upholding, Defense and Maintenance is not done the society will regress into disorder. Plato recognized this around 2,400 years ago, Edmund Burke stated this again around 300 years ago.

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
Plato (427 – 348 or 347 B.C.)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797 A.D.)

This is not limited to Europe, the Chinese recognized this as well :

In making judgments, the Early Kings were perfect, because they made moral principles the starting point of all their undertakings and the root of everything that was beneficial. This principle, however, is something that persons of mediocre intellect never grasp. Not grasping it, they lack awareness, and lacking awareness, they pursue profit. But while they pursue profit, it is absolutely impossible for them to be certain of attaining it.
Lü Buwei (246 B.C.)

The Romans had plenty of philosophers who thought about it. Seneca stated that you need to practice moral thoughts and moral action in order to keep the emotions in check:

Virtue depends partly upon training and partly upon practice; you must learn first, and then strengthen your learning by action. If this be true, not only do the doctrines of wisdom help us but the precepts also, which check and banish our emotions by a sort of official decree.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (1-65 A.D.)

During the period of the European enlightenment (1650-1800), time-proven rules and laws were extracted from the christian religion and church laws and became the basis of secular civil law, criminal law and state laws. It was mainly the additional secular laws, to which the original conservatives, the Nobles were opposed. Before the enlightenment there was the reformation (1374-1648, or 1517-1648 in Germany) which shed a light on the corrupt practices of the catholic church, the sale of indulgences. This led to mistrust of the church as an institution, but the simple fact that there was religious diversity with Calvinist and Protestant sects already called for a moral rule-book independent of churches. The various laws in European states were still heavily based on christian moral values. The enlightenment was in no way a clear re-orientation towards rationality and reason. Theological charlatans, economic interests and the lust for power of groups and individuals used and abused every chance to tweak the new rule-books in their favor. The barn doors were wide open for new ideologies.

Since I have beaten the ideologue Karl Marx to death several times already in this blog, let’s look at a different example in ‘good old Prussia’. Frederick the Great was King of Prussia from 1740-1786. Like his father already, he wanted to recruit new inhabitants for his country. Between 1680 and 1780 the population of Prussia grew from 1.5 million to 5.6 million, despite multiple wars that cost hundred thousands of lifes. He needed additional tax payers and soldiers and encouraged immigration, no matter what nationality or religion the immigrants had. Translated Quote: “All religions are the same and good, as long as the people who profess to them are honest. And if Turks or heathens come here to populate the land, we will build them mosques and churches.” Well, the Turks and heathens didn’t come, but mainly Huguenots from France.

As an aside, it strikes me that Mrs. Merkel, who tries to imitate a German leader, may have certain affinities to Frederick the Great in this regard. But Frederick II was much more fortunate. His immigrants were mainly well educated people who were willing to work.

The gradually developed new moral principles were written down in law books which replaced the bible in this regard. Before, the priests were responsible for the proclamation of biblical and church law, and they were led by the Pope. All European Kings and local Lords were beholden to the Pope as well. If one of them – as supreme judge in his feudal lands – was denounced as making his very own interpretations of the bible the law of the land, he could be held accountable by the Pope as the ultimate infallible judge. With the printing press and during the enlightenment, the print media and later the politicians became responsible for the proclamation of the law; the priests were pushed aside.

At the end of the enlightenment period, the Code Civil (Code Napoleon, 1804) was established as french civil law. It is mainly based on Roman law that was developed in the 5th to 2nd century B.C. and advanced until the 6th century A.D. Most current European, American and international law is based on Roman law. In Europe’s medieval period, this law was ignored and forgotten, which allowed each feudal Lord to establish his own arbitrary civil law (except religious, biblical and church laws). A minister of justice (Attorney General) has the job to represent and uphold laws that are based on 1,000 years of antique Roman traditional lawmaking as well as around 200 years of modern law-history and practice of the law. This fact seems to be ignored by many of these top lawyers; I can’t believe they are unaware of it after years and years of law school. It should be obvious that one cannot quickly inject some random, untested, counterproductive law into such a large body of legalese which is our moral Codex. Amateur legal “experts” who want to change the world SJW style, helped by the financial interests of the legal profession, do it anyway and slowly erode our moral order. Tried and tested legal norms, which are improved methodically, step by step over many generations, are essential for a peaceful society and a prosperous economy.

Second principle of the conservative world view is to trust the wisdom of our forebears. It’s not “that’s how we do things here” which we often hear in offices and workshops from elderly colleagues. This doesn’t stick because technology and work processes may change quickly and mental flexibility is in demand. It is related to the social community and the law. Conservatives know that such changes can only be developed slowly and carefully. These rules and long-held notions, which may have been followed for centuries already, can’t just be eliminated or changed on a whim, or because something else is trendy now, or because a new Zeitgeist has been called upon by the media or some wacky social theory professors.

Even the student revolutionaries of the late 60’s recognized that it will be a long and painful process to change the existing work morals and sexual morals in the direction of Marcuse’s “pleasure principle”. Their long march through the institutions led to chaos and decline in western societies; their new morals have not been broadly accepted and are outright rejected by all conservatives, who adhere to the “performance principle”. No matter if such revolutionary change comes quickly with a violent revolution (Russia) or slowly and sneakily (long march), nobody knows in advance if these new rules and morals work better and improve a society or not. Conservatives firmly believe that our current society is only as good as it is, because their forefathers have made the right decisions and have put us on the right track. They are the reason why western societies are better than all the others. Further improvements need to be based on past success. Until we have a clear concept about the implications of desired changes, conservatives tend to be cautious and prudent. A new rule may be tried out under controlled conditions, but if the desired effects don’t come to pass, the rule needs to be scraped or should expire automatically after some time.

This is a huge difference to the progressives and the Left. They can’t wait for change, favorably over night by the means of a rebellion or revolution. They behave like little kids when they see the sweets at the supermarket counter. Whining and crying like they would die any moment if they don’t get what they want, or making a racket until that chocolate bar is in their mouth. Fathers and mothers know that there are only two solutions to this. First solution: they get what they want and you can continue your business in peace and quiet for a while. Second solution: Ignore their ruckus and stoically suffer through it. At home then, after things have calmed down, a straight talk about their misbehavior and the consequences if they do it again. Forget about threatening them with a visit to the dentist. Don’t cause a ruckus yourself and shout at them, it only shows them that you are out of control. Bad parents and bad politicians are easily recognizable: they give in to the demands of the cry-bullies.

It seems to me that conservatives have lost the plot due to the exponential increases in new technologies and automation. The end of WW2 caused a reset to conservative values and led to the baby boom. Then came the technological intervention of the birth control pill, to which conservatives paid no attention. But even before that, conservatives remained too stoic about the technology changes in household automation. I already described in another blog post how my grandparents lived; that my grandmother was just as busy ten hours per day at home as my grandfather at work. But refrigerators, washing machines, central heating etc. reduced the time needed for household work drastically. To this day many conservatives cling to the old family model where the wife always stays at home with the kids. They ignore that she has nothing to do half of the day, at least as soon as the kids become a bit independent. In came the feminists, claiming the field, but unfortunately they went about it irresponsibly and based on Marxist class ideology. The other part of traditional conservatives were overwhelmed by the technological achievements and thought that societal change must speed up just as much. So they became progressives as well; their conservative background is barely recognizable any more.

Third principle of the conservative world view is that they accept the fact that inequality is a natural phenomenon. Diversity has a number, and it is the number of people currently alive. That has nothing to do with group-inequality ideologies invented by Marxists (proletarians and bourgeoisie) or by Neo-Marxists (oppression Olympics). It means each individual human is different from each other. Each has his individual abilities and preferences, and therefore will be more or less successful in his private life and work life. There is only equality before a court of law, because the rules must be the same for everyone. The antonym of preferences is dislike/disgust. This discrimination – in the sense of discriminare “separate, delimit, isolate” – is completely natural, just as natural and individual as the preferences.

Everybody discriminates between his potential sex partners based on his individual criteria (rational and irrational) and no one wants to deny him this choice. Everybody discriminates between tens or hundreds of service providers, like e.g. the hairdresser; rational – based on price, distance, quality – and irrational – because you feel good there or they always smile when you come. An employer discriminates often between hundreds of job applicants; rational – based on grades, experience, desired salary – and irrational – “I have the feeling the applicant will not fit in”. To bring an ‘equal opportunity officer’ into this selection process makes no sense, it only forces an employer to make bad choices. It makes as much sense as Kim Yong Un ordering his subjects to copy his hairstyle. If an anti-fatshaming campaign tries to shame men into accepting fat girls as sexy, it can only fail. Sexy and disgust are contradictory – well, except for some perverts. This whole anti-discrimination nonsense makes everybody unhappy. If you are forced to accept a (work) partner you find disgusting, you won’t treat him very well; if you eliminate one “discrimination” you produce two or more very unhappy people.

Conservatives reject this leveling down of everybody. They also don’t accept blanket group discrimination as long as this particular group doesn’t plan to destroy our society. Individual abilities and performance typically trump subtle dislikes of race, gender etc. The Stalinist credo “From each according to his capacities, to each according to his work” was kind of ultra conservative, and few cared about that when the outcomes became more and more equalized in the Sowjet Union. They liked Marx’s credo better, “Form each according to his capacities, to each according to his needs”. The majority went to work because they were forced to do so, but they did as little as possible, since most got basically the same salary. Even with a higher salary, there was nothing to buy in the shops. Demotivation was a feature of the system as much as scarcity.

Because people are so different from each other, there can be no perfect system or perfect government or perfect ideology. There will always be people with issues to complain about. Over-regulation, caused by perfectionists or special interests, may also lead to conflicts and rebellion. Creativity is killed in an over-regulated system and creative people will become bored to death. The laws should only cover areas where experience tells us that a regulation is unavoidable. These few laws must be applied equally and just; for everything unregulated, each individual has the freedom to pursue his own version of happiness. Only this basic moral order must be upheld and defended. If it is overthrown or eroded, chaos and violence will ensue.

Forth principle of the conservative world view is the belief that a free society is linked to individual property rights and voluntary economic transactions. Since humans started agriculture this is a condition for a free and peaceful society. No free man wants to plow the field and sow if the harvest belongs to someone else afterwards; this would be slavery. With property rights come responsibilities for this property. The lessons learned from community-owned land are that the individual members of a community are unable to accept responsibility for it. See: tragedy of the commons. The conservative also accepts, that with property rights there come duties. These are duties like financing the legal system and police who hold up and enforce his rights. Another duty is to contribute to the military (financially a/o personally), otherwise his rights may not be worth anything.

Regarding the voluntary economic transactions I’ll stick with agriculture, because that makes things easier to explain. Everybody knows that if you don’t plow and sow, there will be no harvest. If one guy is lazy and farms only half of his field, he’ll have less than the neighbor who does more work. Now, if some other farmer in the community has ill luck, because his field gets flooded or barn burns down, all (most of) the neighbors will voluntarily help him. Everyone who has a surplus will support the unlucky fellow, so that he can survive. This is a mutual insurance community, because if you yourself are the jinx next year, you expect reciprocity. The thing conservatives hate is forced altruism, like if the mayor came around after the harvest every year and just took 10% to redistribute it to other people, strangers, foreigners. In this case the principle of reciprocity is violated.

If you have such a voluntary mini-socialism on the level of a village and the community agreed to it, it remains controllable as long as everybody knows each other including the recipients of free stuff. The higher in a state hierarchy such a redistribution takes place, the less transparent, more corruptible and more expensive it becomes. Practical experience simply is, that if you give a smoked ham to family Smith, because their smoke house burned down, the Smith’s will be grateful and will reciprocate the next time you need help. But if I have to give this smoked ham to a tax collector, in order to bring it to family XYZ-in-need, who lives hundreds of miles away, that ham will become smaller and smaller before it reaches XYZ. First slice goes to the tax collector, he needs to eat as well. The stage driver, storage house operator,… will take their share also and in XYZ’s village the tax distributor will do the same. Family XYZ ends up with the remaining crumbs. I have no idea who family XYZ are, neither do they know me; and if I’m in need some time later they couldn’t help me even if they wanted. Maybe I’d end up with a few crumbs as well, sent by family ABC, who I don’t know either. It is an inefficient, anonymous system in which a substantial share is wasted for administrative expenses and it’s in-transparent for the individual donor and beneficiary.

A neighborly mini-socialism improves cohesion in a community. It exist so that all members can survive, not that some individuals can unfairly enrich themselves. It’s not limited to farmers; craftsmen guilds in the cities did the same. Communities know each other, help each other and trust each other. If there is someone in your social circle who always has ‘bad luck’, like the bad luck to be so drunk every night that he can’t make it to work in the morning, the community will tell him to get a grip on it or face starvation. The tax distributor (paragraph above) doesn’t care; his job is to hand over the crumbs to the guy who is ‘in need’. To check and control the neediness requires another administrative position which means additional costs and more potential for abuse. In a community based on reciprocal help, those who always take and never give will likely be expelled at some time. Fortunately shaming the misers as well as the lazy buggers works well enough, so that expulsion is rare. But a state-socialism is completely anonymous. Those who continuously create surpluses always pay, those who claim to be on a life-long roll of bad luck always receive. Such a system impedes cohesion in a community and drives people apart. The tax payer is distrustful and always thinks he is forced to pay too much; the receiver of benefits is distrustful and thinks he is given too little, and both are correct. The voluntary mini-socialism in villages worked well for thousands of years. State-socialism is around for roughly 100 years and is on the verge of collapse.

Fifth principle of the conservative world view is that stability of the society is a ‘prime directive‘, so that anarchy and/or dictatorship can be avoided. Political power must steer a middle course and minorities must not dictate their wishes on the majority. A phase of anarchy doesn’t eliminate political power, it only redistributes it, usually to a tyrant or oligarchy. Painful experiences of past wars, uprisings and revolutions taught us that if the balance of power is out of whack, a nation’s wealth will be destroyed or it becomes impossible to create wealth. The method conservatives use to avoid those glitches is an ironclad rule of basic law. Before the enlightenment this was represented by the bible, in modern times we have a constitution, the declaration of human rights and common-law systems. This should prevent that even if authoritarians come to power, their power remains limited. If they pass oppressing laws, they have to face constitutional courts or a human rights court. It should also stop Liberals or Libertarians to eliminate or ignore laws, so that lawlessness and chaos is prevented. I personally think that western nations have done a really bad job in defending their constitutions the past 50 years. I guess if you need right-wing and left-wing lawyers for the interpretation of a constitution, it may be time to re-write it in language that needs no interpretation.

Conservatives also want to keep a balance between the tried and trusted laws and the possible need for change due to technological advancements. We cannot yield either to this blind pressure for progressivism or the demand to cling with the last fingernail to old conventions which have been disregarded by the majority for a long time. Any demands for change must be vigorously inspected and discussed. Social changes must be temperate and for the benefit of the vast majority of society. Huge and quick social changes have always resulted in suffering, lasting for generations, as well as death and destruction. Blind progressivism is the enemy of society.

 ### e.o.f. ###

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