June 02, 2015

Who gets to say what's true conservatism in America? A Helpful Primer for Canadians, Part III

David M. SwindleRebel Blogger

Two of the responses to the previous installment in my series last week seemed like they offered an opportunity to expand the discussion before I start to define the 15 different variations of American Conservatism named thus far:

Jason Bertucci: “Also, Free Republic is an excellent site, and represents true conservatism (not RINO or GOP) in America.”

Liza Rosie: “Says you David. Many in that list I would disagree with you on also. CINO like RINO is a real problem these days… I don’t think you understand Conservatism at all. Wrong and wronger. I have to question your devotion.”

Guilty as charged! I am no longer devoted to serving some abstraction called “Conservatism” and have admitted that openly. I think focusing exclusively on building up some secular political ideology distracts people from basing both their personal lives and their political values on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The only “conservatism” I support nowadays is one guided by an open Bible.

My conclusion after more than a decade of research and almost 6 years of full-time, in-the-digital-trenches participation, is that there is no such thing as “true conservatism” and no individual’s definition of the word is superior to another’s. The term is entirely relative to the time and place in which it is used, hence why I choose to split it into 15 different varieties, each shaped by the time and technological mediums when it emerged. (Acknowledging the disagreements about what “Conservatism” means is NOT moral relativism! I am not saying that all of these different ideas are at an equal level of respectability.)

So by all means: If anyone wants to insist that I am not a “true conservative” or that I am advocating “heretical” ideas then please do. The Ideological Church of American Conservatism is as fractious and contentious as the theological fights within Judaism and Christianity and nowadays I regard all three as much the same.

These symbol systems are just manmade tools for transforming ourselves and our world. They are not inherently good or bad, but have the potential for both within them depending on who chooses to pick up the traditions and utilize them. They are means to an end - not ends in and of themselves. The goals of religions and political movements should not just be to convert more people to the cause.

But perhaps I am “wrong and wronger” in claiming this - maybe there actually is one correct understanding of Conservatism just as there might be one particular church or synagogue that understands the “correct,” “true” way to interpret their holy texts. So please, by all means, correct me. If “Conservatism” has a fixed, key meaning defining what it is and should be, then what is it and how did you discover it?


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commented 2015-06-02 22:24:31 -0400
True conservatism is the 10 commandments, anything less is the seven deadly sins, some of us strive for the former while living amongst the easier government/special interests Marxist 7 deadly sins!
commented 2015-06-02 13:53:21 -0400
When liberalism jumped the shark to post modernism and socialism, conservatives took up the mantle of what was once classical liberalism. Part of the problem is that conservatism clung onto some of its former vestiges which I at least see as unnattractive. The new conservative movement tried for instance to finally divorce itself from Toryism. Toryism as an elitist, father knows best, official Anglican view of society. In Canada we haven’t fully divorced ourselves from the Tories. In America, in Virginia state, Anglican priests were paid by the state for their services. It took the revolution and a founding document to finally allow religious freedom in America. In America there was also the struggle to move Republicans to the new conservatism. For some reason Republicans still clung to British sytle mercantilism believing strongly in statist control of trade. (even though the whole revolution was against a King who tried to manage trade) Some still do. It is only recent that Republicans (and conservatives) have embraced free trade.

The term “conservative” is loaded itself. In the Soviet Union days, “conservative” meant those wishing to cling to the old Soviet era. Liberals meant those wanting to throw off the socialist yoke. In ancient times in Britain a conservative was a a cavalier, fighting for king and official church against what later became the Whigs, the forebearers of classical liberalism.