Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative" - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

http://www.scienceforums.net/forums/showthread.php?t=9745&page=1&pp=20

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In My Memory wrote:

The most minimalistic meaning of the word conservatism basically amounts to "preservation of the status-quo, keeping things the way they are, submitting to change only in moderation".

Conservatism actually has a very rich philosophical history, tracing itself back to the political theories of Burke (and possibly back to English philosopher Hooker), who's reaction of the French Revolution caused him to become skeptical of social changes that occurred too quickly.

In the past, conservatism valued strong political institutions (not unlike the doctrines of Hume or monarchies), as a result there have been some very far right ideologies (though arguably not characteristic of conservatism) such as faschism, authoritariansim, elitism, totalitarianism, etc.

In the philosophical context, conservatism derives from a few central doctrines:
* Continuuous tradition - which basically amounts to the maintenance of political institutions, and skepticism toward large sudden change (and especially against violent revolutionary change). There is a common analogy that change should be approached slowly and gradually, as in the same way that one would approach walking on ice. Continuuous traditon is valued in a way that would make Hobbes applaud, that if it werent for strong traditions and values then men would be at each other's throats.

* Value traditionalism based on intellectual pursuit rather than emotional pursuit - a fair amount of skepticism toward political institutions generally encourages that changes made to any political system be done by experienced educated authorities in the most prudent fashion possible.

* Skepticism and Pessimism - the idea that there is no universal human nature, that the needs and desires of individuals will differ. It also argues that there really is no "ultimate" way in which government should be run (i.e. there is no literal theory of government, as theorizing about government cannot be attained in the same way as theorizing about the natural sciences).

So, thats the basic explanation of why conservatism call themselves conservatism. Unfortunately, very little of that kind of conservative doctine remains in the way that the word is used today.


Notice the values bulleted above, it becomes obvious that conservatism is essentially a political attitude rather than an actual theory of government. Today's "conservatism" has much less to do with actual preservation of historical tradition, and much much more to do with some of the political doctrine behind anti-Federalism and State's rights.

I'm not sure when conservatism became associated with free-market capitalism. However conservative ideals such as having a strong well-devoloped military are actually a fairly recent invention. In fact, if you look back in history, the pre-1964 Democrats were the ones who valued strong military and interventionalist foreign policies. As a result of divided attitude with the Vietnam War, the Democratic party reformed drastically, and adopted more Federalist attitudes and backed the Civil Rights movment - as a consequence the formerly solidly Democratic southern states shifted firmly to modern meaning behind conservatism.

Since the 1980s, the word conservatism has adopted a few values behind theocratism after Falwell and Robertson formed the Christian Coalition. In a technical sense, the Christian Coalition's theocratism is "right-wing", but its reactionary attitudes toward sexual morality and agressively interventionalist campaigns against the operations of government have next to nothing in common with conservatism at all. Reagon's contribution to conservatism was tying it together with supply-side economics.

Modern conservatism has very little to do with its philosophical roots. The reason is simply due to the fact that many modern political candidates run under the label of conservatism, however what they stand for is something that cannot be considered conservatism (or liberalism) at all.

The reason why the word "conservativism" isnt outdated is because American politicians have transformed the word "tradition" into a catch-all justification for most modern conservative beliefs.

In my experience, common opposition to issues such as homosexuality are defended with "homosexuality is impulsive, and hence as a conservative I oppose homosexuality", being anti-abortion is defended with "the traditional end to sexual relationship is children, and hence as a conservative I oppose abortion", etc. I find these justifications to be a completely disingenous use of the word conservatism.

Today, being a conservative has much more to do with adhering to a label than the actual philosophy behind the label. (To be fair, modern liberalism has little to do with its philosophical roots either.)
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 11:13 AM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Nice article. The change in the use of the meaning of the words conservatism and liberalism is due to the ever evolving human and english language. No meaning stays the same, and this is a good thing because languages that typically do not evolve fall victim to ones that do.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 11:22 AM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Do you really think it's a good thing that fascism is now tagged as conservatism? I guess it depends on your perspective...

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 11:27 AM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

That is taking some liberties...
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 11:35 AM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Is it? Tell me why "conservatives" favor our invasion of Iraq and "liberals" oppose it. There is nothing conservative about invading another country or using propoganda to "create" enemies of the state...

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 08:16 PM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Your argument is unteneble.

1. The history of fascism is expansionist colonization.

2. You believe that the adventure in Iraq is expansionist colonization.

3. Supporters of the Iraq adventure are conservatives.

4. Therefore Conservatives are fascist.

----------

The crux of the argument is in #2. Most people who support the war in Iraq would reject it and find the suggestion repulsive and insulting.

The proposition in #3 is demonstrably unsupported.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 08:31 PM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Mercedes has ALWAYS been "conservative in updating their cars from year to year. Their '05s Still retain some semblance of their original trademark looks and quality that identified the Mercedes marque from all the lessor competitors (the tri-star, large distinctive grill, blunt, front and rear end. SLs still look a little like the Gullwing). Slowly and steadily moving forward, instead of moving by jerks and extreme jumps in styling, that do not retain or encourage any brand identity trademark, thus no customer loyality is built over the years, because the customer doesn't know what to expect next. Use this sucessful example as an analogy to what (we)conservatives do politically.

"I have spent MOST of the money I have made in my life on expensive women, expensive cars, and expensive drugs. The rest I just wasted." S-KLASSE8, "Belief in the supernatural, reflects a failure in the imagination." - Edward Abbey "Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the Earth." - Archimedes - 1979 (fully restored) 450SLC - 1989 (fully restored)420SEL - "S CLASS STYLE - S CLASS ATTITUDE"
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 08:33 PM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Quote:
Botnst - 3/24/2005 8:16 PM

Your argument is unteneble.

1. The history of fascism is expansionist colonization.

2. You believe that the adventure in Iraq is expansionist colonization.

3. Supporters of the Iraq adventure are conservatives.

4. Therefore Conservatives are fascist.

----------

The crux of the argument is in #2. Most people who support the war in Iraq would reject it and find the suggestion repulsive and insulting.

The proposition in #3 is demonstrably unsupported.
Let's rephrase...

1. The history of fascism is one of belligerent nationalism and suppression of opposition through fear.

2. I believe that the adventure in Iraq is representative of belligerent nationalism and suppression of opposition through fear.

3. Supporters of the Iraq adventure are conservatives.

4. Therefore Conservatives are fascist.


Please inform me how invasion represents conservatism. If anything, invasion is a liberal agenda.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 09:33 PM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

Quote:
The crux of the argument is in #2. Most people who support the war in Iraq would reject it and find the suggestion repulsive and insulting.
Ya, I hope they find the suggestion repulsive and insulting--because that whole f@#king project is repulsive and insulting. A complete and utter waste of human effort and loss. The fact that so many of my fellow countrymen have bought into an imperialist vision crafted in the guise of some peace and security framework is absolutely frightening to the core--really! This is a grotesque obscenity. This is worse than Vietnam, because we know better and we still did it. That my friend, is repulsive and insulting.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 03:49 AM
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RE: Smart people talk about the meaning of "conservative"

If I remember my history correctly, ( and if not some will be sure to coorect me), wasn't the liberal position to criticize the US for staying out of WW2 for so long. Was it not argued that the US should have become involved earlier to minimize the evil, and the deaths of six million? Perhaps that was justified criticism.
You don't see the massive evil that was Saddam as reason to act on behalf of the oppressed? I don't know how to decide when to become involved and when to ignore evil, but it is something to be discussed. There is a cost for action as well as inaction. Critics seem to want to blame the US first and then figure out why.
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