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← Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance?

foundationist's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by foundationist

Comment 14 by danconquer :

"Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance?"

It's a good, pithy question. And the answer I suspect is that, yes, there is degree of inevitability in the two being synonymous.

Conservatism takes the natural human desire to conserve certain things and turns it into an almost fetishistic position against change, against evolution in human relations and behaviours. One seeks, by default, to prevent evolution in culture, in ideas, in techniques (unless, of course, those changes happen to permit personal enrichment, at which point monetarist selfishness suddenly trumps any desire to conserve).

How can seeking to maintain something solely because 'that is how things have always been' possibly not lead into blind-alleys of ignorance? Trying to hold back the mutation of ideas and cultures is about as pointless and self-defeating as trying to prevent the mutation of genes. Just look at all the things that even European conservatives were opposing a few hundred years ago (opposition which is never apologised for nor mentioned today) to get a flavour of the sort of ignorant stagnation that unchallenged political conservatism leads to.

I never thought that I would eventually end up defending conservativism, but I don't think that's nessecarily true. Smart conservativism can check ideas for their merrit and embrace them when they are worth embracing. A smart conservative is then merely a person who is all in all happy with the status quo and thinks that the current state of society is a good one and largely deserves to be preserved.

Of course in reality conservative groups have always had their share of reactionaries who desired to hold on to traditions just for the sake of tradition, but on the other hand the progressive groups have always had their share of revolutionaries, who despised almost everything in the status quo so much they wanted to throw it all away just because it was the present state of society. Just think of the New Soviet Man or the French Revolutionary Calendar.

Thu, 15 Mar 2012 11:07:25 UTC | #927412