Immanuel Can wrote: ↑
Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:47 pm
philosopher wrote: ↑
Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:17 pm
That's Conservatism for you, right there!
Conservatives are monsters.
Here's the problem for that claim.
"Conservative" is not a particular ideology, but rather an answer to the question, "How do things need to be changed?"
Conservatives, by which I mean the modern-day admirers of Edmund Burke, (the best examples of whom you will find will find in the British Tory Party) are not solely
concerned with preserving the status quo
and advocating for prudent, cautious reform of the state when change is necessary. They hold to a number of other fundamental political principles, such as: natural Hierarchy
; the notion of Organic Society and the Social Individual
; advocacy for The Free Market
to society/institutions/customs/associations/the state; the concept of the Personal Government
- i.e., the view that the state is not only a corporate person but also one endowed with the distinctive virtues of a person; the principle of Partnership
(which extends beyond the living to the unborn and dead); the principle of a preference for Limited Government;
respect for duly constituted Authority
, affirmation of the Natural Rights
of man ( life, liberty, private property) and so on.There is, in fact a coherent, Conservative philosophy, but its core themes have only been set down in print in a small handful of books/essays. The reason being that Conservatives are deeply suspicious of: abstract political theorising/analysis; the metaphysical speculations of philosophers, the views of political experts in the academy, intellectuals, in general, and Enlightenment - style rationalists. Edmund Burke, for instance, who was one, ironically, one of the greatest ever masters of the English language(according to S.T.Coleridge and T.S. Eliot), pointedly described himself as "a philosopher in action"
- a "hands on" philosopher - that is, as "a doer", not some high falutin' waffler. Tories typically trust their personal "gut instincts" and are instinctively dubious about any political rhetoric they hear or read. The Brexit revolt of 2016 provided a good illustration of this trait. David Cameron, who was Prime Minister at the time of the Brexit referendum threw all of his government's resources into warning the British people of the catastrophic economic and social consequences that would result if the "Leave" vote won the day. He had literally staked his job (as Prime Minister) against the Brexiteers and then, using the media, tried to intimidate the country into voting "remain" (in the EU). Then the tidal wave hit as Nigel Farage's UKIP party won the political contest no one said they had a chance of winning. Brexit was a thoroughly
English (not Scottish, Welsh or Irish) rebellion, it was the humble, "small-c" conservatives of REGIONAL England who rolled David Cameron's government on the big issue of EU membership; the kind of people who generally have no great interest at all in debating political affairs. It was they who triggered one of the the most tumultuous events in British politics for over a century.
Richard Nixon famously called them "[i]the great silent majority
"[/i].The story behind this is that In the United States, public support for the war in Vietnam was at its lowest ebb after the Tet Offensive of 1968 and Lyndon Johnson's announcement that same year that he would not seek re-election as President. In 1968 and 1969 the political Left in America was literally on the march in cities across the US, furiously demanding an immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Vietnam. When Nixon was elected President in 1969 he inherited the complex military and political problem of America's involvement in Vietnam, at the time, well over 30,000 US combat troops had lost their lives in the conflict. There was substantial pressure on him to pull America out of the war completely and immediately. Being a Conservative, Nixon's instincts would have warned him, I think, against any precipitate, large-scale, change in policy. There was no way to predict all the short-term or any of the long-term consequences of suddenly pulling ALL US forces out of Vietnam "over night", (remember this conflict was taking place during the Cold War,and many political analysts would, in fact, argue that the war in Vietnam was a "proxy-war" fought between the Soviet Union and the US, Indochina having long been been a major Cold War theatre (since the 1950s at least). To continue. One thing was guaranteed, however, and that is by suddenly withdrawing all US Forces from Vietnam, the Northern communists would most certainly over-run and subjugate South Vietnam in short-order. Countless thousands of South Vietnamese civilian and troops would be slaughtered, and America's reputation and credibility on the world stage would, in consequence, be damaged.Moreover, America's allies might well lose confidence in her leadership of the free world. The United States would not only be seen to have acted dishonourably in betraying and abandoning an ally (South Vietnam), but also to have a lost the war and been whipped by the heavily Soviet and Chinese backed North Vietnamese communist forces. So, Nixon was in a difficult predicament. On the one hand, he was not prepared to suddenly pull all US ground and combat troops out of Vietnam. One the other hand, the only alternative would seem to be substantially increasing the number of ground/combat US troops in South Vietnam in a bid to defeat the enemy by sheer strength of numbers i.e., using the strategy of attrition warfare. But the public had made it clear they did not want any substantial escalation in the numbers of combat US troops sent to fight on the ground in Vietnam. Given this, Nixon came up with a compromise plan, he would gradually withdraw US troops from South Vietnam, and in the process of this gradual withdrawal simultaneously direct American troops to train ARVN combat fighters and equip the South Vietnamese army (ARVN) to the point where it was an effective fighting force capable of defending itself attack against the Northern communist invaders from North Vietnam. This strategy was called "Vietnamisation" and eventually "The Nixon Doctrine". On 3rd November, 1969, with millions of anti-war protesters demonstrating in the streets, a hostile, left-leaning media who were also universally opposed to the war, and a public long grown weary of what had become a lengthy, costly and bloody war, Nixon decided to go on national television and address the nation on the question of Vietnmam. In a 30 minute speech he explained his new policy of "Vietnamization" and why he felt it had merit, he knew perfectly well that the political left in America, including the national media, would reject anything short of a full, unconditional and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam out of hand. Nixon also knew, of course, that In order for his new approach to ending the US war in Vietnam to have any chance of working he would first need to have the support of the American public. If the American people rejected any US President's policy for fighting the war in Vietnam, Hanoi and the Kremlin would respond accordingly. And so, near the end of this televised speech to the nation, Nixon said in a very earnest tone of voice..."so to you, the GREAT SILENT MAJORITY
of my fellow Americans, I ask for you support." He got it. In fact he got it in spades; the American people overwhelmingly backed him. In the days after his speech the White House was inundated with phone calls and letters of support from the public for his speech. It turned out that Nixon was good to his word and progressively withdrew increasing numbers of US combat troops from South Vietnam over following years. The public, it seemed, were happy with the "Nixon Doctrine" and in the 1972 Presidential election Vietnam was not a major campaign issue. Nixon won the '72 election by a landslide, taking 49 out of the 50 US states.
Conservatives tend to keep their opinions to themselves, with the exception of professional politicians, like Members of Parliament, etc; they are reluctant, metaphorically speaking, to get up on their soap box in "Speaker's Corner" and hold forth on the issues of the day. I think that one reason for this is that Conservatives tend to be far more firmly connected with the real world; what I mean is that they have at least enough wisdom and experience to understand that "life was never meant to be easy
" Moreover, life on this Earth is not uncommonly a very harsh, brutal and unforgiving affair. All too often it truly is, little more than "a vale of tears." Doing the right thing - or even just trying one's best to - often requires a great deal of moral courage/strength and will power - it's tough going, no cake walk, and that's for sure. I don't mean to paint a completely black picture of human existence because there are also times in life when we ( well, most of us, at least) experience times of great joy and happiness. Moreover, life can also be laugh-out-loud funny, full of wonder, rapture, intensely beautiful, etc. But one thing I know for sure is that if you are a socialist of some species who is an idealist fighting the good fight for progress towards the moral egalitarianism, universal justice, universal enlightenment, universal fraternal love that you believe will characterise life in some: "cutsie-pie"; honey - dripping; paradisiacal, socialist utopia, then you are a fool, or, if not, you are certainly behaving like one. If you honestly believe the drivel that is spouted by utopian socialist philosophers, individuals like : Marx and Engels; Herbert Marcuse; Theodore Adorno; Voltaire; Bertrand Russell and such like, then, you are either too young to know any better, probably because the pre-frontal-cortex of your brain (that region which mediates all of the highest cognitive functions in your mind) has not yet fully matured (this takes place at around the age of 25 years) or, you are a neurologically - mature adult but you have some kind of psychological dysfunction( perhaps even a serious, organic psychiatric disorder) that is, IMO, severe enough to warrant professional assessment and therapy. It's easy to talk the talk if you are a socialist because there is nothing unpleasant or harsh that you have to say. Your position is that there should be social justice, everyone should be treated fairly, that we should all treat each other(strictly speaking) as equals no matter what our age/gender/race-ethnicity/social class/sexual (LGBTIQ) preference happens to be, that everyone must be provided with equality of opportunity and we must work to ensure equality of outcome as well ("equity"), that everyone's human rights must be respected, that we (the West) should destroy all of our nuclear weapons (because nuclear weapons are very nasty things), that all white males must attend anger-management classes, and so on. Its all about niceness, fairness, equality, respectfulness, justice. Its easy to lecture people in material like this, because it is eminently easy to listen to; I mean, there is nothing disturbing, grim, bleak or severe about kind of stuff. Not only that, the speaker gets assume a Christ-like mantle of virtue, and preach "ex cathedra"
from the moral "high ground" because being an advocate for more fairness, equality, justice, brotherly love makes you a very good and righteous person. For Conservatives, things are not so easy, because speaking the truth about human nature and the way of the world as it really is - which is what Conservative do - means having to say some things that are very harsh, disappointing and discouraging. This is why Nixon referred to the great SILENT majority, members of the public who are Conservatives tend to keep the fact "under their hat", they do not , generally speaking discuss their political views outside their own immediate family. AS for professional Conservative politicians, in England, say, they are typically intelligent, very well educated men and well-practised rhetoricians, but even they must proceed with great care and often, indeed, by subterfuge. This is especially the case today when the mass media in the West are effectively a branch of the political left, ever-ready to push Conservative spokesmen for any mistake or oversight.
THE CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLE OF HIERARCHY
Let me conclude my input to this thread on the nature of Conservatism , by briefly discussing one tenet of Conservative philosophy that provokes a particularly furious reaction from the socialist left; this is the principle of hierarchy...
I'm sure you will agree with me that human beings have a natural proclivity to confer benefits on their friends. This proclivity is an essential aspect of love and friendship, both of which involve selective (and systematic) granting of favours. I think (because I am a Tory) that it is family and friendship which define the unchosen obligations that, in turn, form our obligation to the state. So I don't think Conservative outlook on the state which does not involve, at some point, the acceptance of social differentiation/hierarchy of the kind that follows automatically from ties of family and love. To attempt to prevent this would require such a radical and extensive interference in the spontaneous practices of gift-giving and cooperation that it would threaten the fundamental fabric of society.
Next. In my opinion, striving for "equality" is both a mysterious and irrational goal. I can understand how it is possible to defend equality in this or that RESPECT, but when it is raised as an absolute value, the entire notion of "equality" is utterly empty and has zero appeal. A Conservative will usually "defend equality before the law"; and he might endorse a general principle of justice according to which each person is to receive his/her due, and in that sense be treated "equally."This is what Aristotle argues for in his version of distributive justice where wealth and political authority are fairly distributed, he says, when they are distributed according to individual merit. But equality in this
sense (the sense known as equity in law), is comparable with, and indeed even requires
considerable inequalities in wealth and advantage. Any more radical form of equality is simply incoherent as a goal, and absolutely undesirable as an outcome.
People are unequal in intelligence (IQ), wisdom, strength, talent, looks, health and original social position - in other words, in every respect relevant to our disposition to join ourselves to them in friendship and love. Thus natural inequalities nurture social inequalities: to think otherwise is to fail to notice that intelligence, strength and beauty are more ATTRACTIVE than stupidity, weakness and ugliness. Hierarchy and advantage are therefore unavoidable. For Conservatives, the task is not to oppose them, but strive to prevent their pathological forms, and sustain those forms which are most readily accepted by those with least to gain
This issue is increasingly difficult to discuss openly in the modern West, in particular, in countries like America. Although it is universally admitted that social "equality" is unattainable, the curious/perverse thought persists that it is nevertheless, in some obscure way (?) desirable. Who ever is prepared to make a stand in putting aside the the idea of "equality" immediately sticks out from the crowd, and unless he adopts the heroic-defiant and paradoxical posture of a Friedrich Nietzsche, will be regarded as an enemy of the people. Nevertheless, it is near impossible to retain a conservative attitude towards: order; authority and institutions, without hierarchy in general and hereditary hierarchy in particular, as being the natural forms of a stable and healthy social organism.
The real problem here is that the truth cannot be loudly uttered, and so Conservative politics must continue (as it has always done) to proceed stealthily like the fox, making use of any convenient subterfuge.
Finally...This is not to say that Conservative politics is the politics of "class rule", or even that the maintenance of of social stratification is in any clear sense a goal for Conservatives. On the contrary, stratification, like property, arises by an invisible hand from actions which have no such intention. In fact, to AIM at this effect is precisely to jeopardise its achievement. It is to put in question that which is valuable only so long as it is not questioned - only so long, that is, as it forms a stable background to our social choices and concerns.
Dachshund (Der Uberweiner)