Why do Conservatives believe in different social classes?
I received the following message for the post What do Traditional Conservatives believe?
Can you explain why you (or conservatives generally) believe in different social classes?
I come from a working class family and without access to tertiary education, something my parents were denied, I would not enjoy the middle class lifestyle that I do, nor the capacity to engage with our national and political conversations.
Do you realize how enriching, to a poorer boy, that can be?
That's an excellent question, why do Conservatives believe in different social classes? Here's why.
It is fashionable and has been for a long time to talk about eliminating social classes, to have a classless society, in fact some countries do claim to be classless. The most famous is the United States where everyone, it is often claimed, is middle class. A society in which it is possible to change social class very rapidly. It is claimed that as people can change social classes so quickly that means that the United States is classless, a society in which class is so fluid that it doesn't matter, therefore in effect it doesn't exist. It's a nice story but it's not true.
The truth is that most people will die in the exact same social class they were born into. There are many reasons for this, intelligence, ability, education, opportunity, money, location, family, environment, values, desire, ambition, drive, circumstance, etc.. This ties into another fashionable idea, that everyone is equal. The argument goes something like this, if only enough places were opened in elite schools everyone could be successful. Yes if the system is rigged enough, but in reality not everyone has the aptitude to succeed in such a school, even if enough positions were made available. It is a false equality, it is not based on people's real ability, they are simply proclaimed as being equal. If everyone is equal why can't I be a brain surgeon? Well when I look at the list above I think the problem is confined to the following intelligence, ability, education, money, desire, ambition and drive. Only a short list but still big enough to stop me from being a brain surgeon, fortunately.
But some people do change social class and it gives the illusion that because it can be done that it is easy. It's often forgotten that if your born wealthy and you die poor, your an exception. Actually the same in reverse, if your born poor and you die wealthy, your an exception. Of course most people who change social class do not have such radical changes, they go into or out of the middle class. Much more modest but still life changing. Actually Conservatives are not against people having opportunities or of someone taking advantage of the abilities they have to change social classes. We do not hold anything against the exception but we do not think society should be based around the exceptions either.
In short different social classes exist and there is no evidence that any society past or present has not had them. You might argue that hunter/gather societies don't have social classes and you may be technically correct. But they do have hierarchies and that's not much of a difference. Maybe a technical difference but not an actual difference. If all human societies have social classes it's a simple fact, social classes exist so we must accept that fact. Of course not all political philosophies agree, they are quite prepared to put their desire for a level or equal society in front of the reality. But we are not.
Secondly not only do we accept the reality of different social classes but we think they are good.
How can someone think that different levels of wealth and success is good?
Because people are different, if the only jobs available were for brain surgeons, or accountants or meter readers we would find in each case that there would be large numbers of people who could not work, in fact might never work, because they do not have the ability to carry out the tasks required. In fact such a society could not exist because we need people to perform different tasks. A society of only accountants would be an extremely dysfunctional society and the reason no such society exists or has ever existed is because it cannot exist. It isn't even really a society because a society is the bringing together of people with different talents and abilities to provide mutual support to each other. In other words different social classes are vital to the very existence of society as it allows people of different talents and abilities to work and co-exist together, in cooperation, instead of being external enemies with no other option but to prey upon each other.
Finally I should point out that while we believe in different social classes that does not mean one class should exploit any other class. Traditional Conservatives do not find that acceptable as each social class is a vital chain in the life of the community. Breaking the chain destroys the chain, making it useless. We are totally against destroying society as we are against anyone who attempts to destroy a portion of it.
Most people who you hear described as Conservatives are not Conservatives, most are right-Liberals. They are called Conservatives because they are more Conservative than the other fellow. If you are the most Liberal person in the room that doesn't make you a Liberal it only makes you the most Liberal person in that room. If you are the most Conservative person in a room it doesn't make you a Conservative it only means you are the most Conservative person in that room. So when two Liberals disagree the more Conservative one will be called a Conservative, he's not a Conservative, he is simply the most Conservative Liberal in the room.
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