Friday 1 April 2016

Should We Call Ourselves Conservatives?

Of the five sites that I link to, 3 have expressed to me either a rejection or a reluctance to being called Conservative. The Author of Another Politically Incorrect Blog, calls himself Conservative from time to time but other times rejects the name, I think it is far to say he finds the term conflicting. Right Wing Fighter isn't conflicted he rejects the term and calls himself Right Wing. Over at Oz Conservative Mr. Richardson uses the term but he has in the past questioned it's usefulness. I think it is fair to say that Conservatism has acquired some baggage along the way.

The word Conservative originally meant to "to conserve" and it is in that meaning that the Frenchman Franois-Rene de Chateaubriand first used it in a political context in 1818. As an aside the word Liberal has been in use since the 1300's but only gained it's political meaning at around the same time as the word Conservative did. The original Liberals were those Spaniards who supported the Liberal Constitution of 1815, The political word Conservative comes from France but is not French, the political word Liberal comes from Spain but is not Spanish. Since that time the Western World has divided itself into Conservative and Liberal camps, although the meaning of the two terms has been anything but consistent.

Even today, while many other political philosophies exist, most people think in terms of the two sides, Conservatives on one side and Liberals on the other. It's why you get various meanings of the two words. In the 1800's Conservatives were Conservative, they believed in tradition, order and family, they were trying conserve. But due to Liberalism's need to constantly change what tended to happen was Liberals who had gone so far but could no longer believe in going any further went over to the other side, and started to call themselves and believe themselves, to be Conservatives. Over time young people grew up with a more Liberal society and saw that society as the one they had to conserve. Both of which diluted the idea's of tradition, order and family.

 In the Twentieth Century both of those trends continued, even accelerated. The Conservatives became more and more Liberal. They even took up Classical Liberal economic ideas and started to call it Conservative!

Today we are left with every Right of Centre party calling itself Conservative, and most of them believe that they are. The media calls them Conservatives, even their enemies think they are Conservatives, in a way it is quite bizarre.

So is the term Conservative still useful?

I believe that it is and here's why. First of all we need a name, you cannot go around without a name because over time someone else will give you a name and then your stuck. Secondly it's a name everyone knows, sure it has it's baggage but it is still respectable (I'll come back to this point). Thirdly it still has it's original meaning, to conserve.

The real problem with the term Conservative is that it's too broad and it has picked up too many meanings. That can be fixed by attacking Liberalism, when Liberals call themselves Conservatives point out why they are Liberals. When Liberal policies are called Conservative point out how they are really Liberal policies. The British Conservative Party legalised Homosexual marriage because it supports the family. Conservative? No of course it isn't, you cannot defend the family by redefining it, you cannot defend marriage by redefining it. The policy is Liberalism supported by Liberals, no real Conservative would ever support it, this is the type of thing that needs to be pointed out and attacked. Just because it is now law does not mean it is anymore worthy than it was before. The policy is not tradition, therefore it is not Conservative. The policy is not order, you cannot refine order as that is the road to chaos, therefore it is not Conservative. The policy is not Family because you not defend the family by redefining it, therefore it is not Conservative.

One mistake people make is to think that as we support tradition then we support every tradition, we support everything that has happened in the whole of history. Of course we do not, supporting tradition means supporting the best traditions not the worst, it means supporting the natural order of things, not inventing "better" ways, artificial ways.

If we did change our name what would it be, Alternative-Right, Neoreactionary, Manosphereian or some other term? The truth is that they have their own baggage, as is only natural, to try to invent a name with no baggage is to invent something no one objects to. If you invent a political name or philosophy that no one objects to then we will all start calling you the God-Emperor of the Universe, because that is what you would be. Sadly I do not see that happening for you or for anyone else.

Conservatism is still respectable and unlike Liberalism it will remain respectable. Liberalism keeps changing it's name, one decade it's Progressive, the next it's Liberal and on it goes, why? Because it uses up it's good name and goes searching for a new one. That has happened to Conservatism as well, when Liberals reject any further Liberalism they call themselves Conservatives, why? Because we are still respectable, for all of Conservatism's up's and downs we are still respectable after two centuries. Liberalism cannot say that.

Further to that point is that if we did change our name we would not escape. They would still accuse us of everything that they do now, their deserters would still try to join our ranks and dilute it. We could call ourselves anything we wanted, we could call ourselves the Insane Clown Posse, we could call ourselves Rapist-Murders and in 50 years time we would have Liberals claiming that they are the real Rapist-Murders and that we should stop calling ourselves that as we are destroying their good name. And what would we do then? Start a completely new name or pley the Liberal game and go back to the old one?

If you believe in tradition, order and family your a Conservative, get used to it.

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  1. The problem is that there's nothing left worth conserving.

    It's not the word that I object to - it's the mindset. There's no point in trying to conserve the status quo if the status quo is pretty much everything that liberals ever wanted, and everything that conservatives opposed (or should have opposed). We need to turn the clock back to a time when the status quo represented something worth defending. We need to be revivalists, not conservatives. We need to forget defensive strategies. We need to launch a massive counter-offensive to regain the ground we lost. We need to be the agents of Hope and Change.

    The change we want is a return to the values of the past but we need to find a way to package that idea so that it sounds positive. Terms like conservative or traditionalist sound defensive and negative.We need to find a term that sounds positive, that will capture people's imaginations. Something along the lines of revivalists.

  2. Mr Doom

    "The problem is that there's nothing left worth conserving."

    That is rubbish and you know it!

    Family, Nation, tradition, order all still exist, don't pretend that they don't. They may not be as healthy as they were but they are not dead. Defeatism is by far a bigger problem than our name!

    Revivalists isn't a bad title, but it will suffer from exactly the same problem that other equally fine words suffer from. What do you want to revive they will ask and then answer the question for you. But that won't stop Liberals from joining and in time it will be just like the rest.

    Except we still lose because we have once again retreated and given up ground to Liberalism.

    However I entirely agree with you here:

    " We need to forget defensive strategies. We need to launch a massive counter-offensive to regain the ground we lost."


    1. We don't just need to go on the attack. We need a game plan. The cultural marxists have been so successful in the culture wars because they always had a game plan.

      We need strategies to do things like breaking their stranglehold on education.

      We need to find ways of shifting the Overton Window. Putting forbidden topics back onto the political agenda. The Left's strategy is to shut down debate. There's no point in worrying about how to win a debate if you can't even get one started. We need to be a lot cleverer about doing that. And more opportunistic - no opportunity to open up debate should ever be missed.

      Up until now conservatives have been quite happy to allow the Left to shut down debates on contentious topics. At times it seems like conservatives have been more afraid that leftists are of opening up debates. It's a guerilla war so rather attempting frontal assaults we should make lots of hit-and-run raids. And keep switching targets. Keep the enemy on the wrong foot. The Left is the Establishment now and that makes them vulnerable to such tactics. They're the ones that have to worry about seeming respectable. We're going to be vilified no matter what we do so we can afford to take risks.

    2. The left has been quite willing to use extralegal methods to shut down debate. Witness the claim to "safe spaces" and the physical obstruction of Ann Coulter and other dissidents in Canada.

      What most conservatives have done is complain and duly vote for the same right-liberal politicians. When it comes to corporations, there is no hesitancy towards using lawsuits and economic threats (Salesforce vs Indiana). But the rest of the right is too focused on prevailing by sheer force of argument.

      The chief vulnerability of the left is that they cannot fund themselves. The need Ford Foundations, Hollywood billionaires, university endowments and government grants. When leftist parties first came into being, they were funded by working class dues-paying members.

  3. Mark, here's a further problem. At one point we tried to settle on the name "traditionalist conservatives" in order to distinguish ourselves from "establishment conservatives" - i.e, right-liberals.

    But the alt-right has also adopted the term "traditional conservative" in order to refer to establishment conservatives and the alt-right is likely to popularise this understanding of the term.

    So it's possible in the future that someone seeing the term "traditional conservative" will think of us as self-professed establicons, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid.

    I don't know what to do about it for the time being. The term "conservative" does give new readers some idea of what part of the political spectrum we're on and it's true that it's a name that makes some sense as we are trying to "conserve" the things that liberalism seeks to dissolve - though I think dfordoom has a point that we are now trying to revive the true form of these things, or even find new ways to take them into the future.

    I don't have a good replacement term, so I'll remain a tradcon for the time being, but I can see us being forced to reconsider.

    1. My problem with the word conservative is that it has developed associations that I'm very uncomfortable with. I'm as suspicious of capitalism as I am of socialism. To me both ideologies seem to lead to materialistic atomised societies and the destruction of all traditional values. I'm especially suspicious of capitalism when it's combined with globalism.

      That's not to say that I don't see any positive aspects to capitalism, or even to socialism for that matter. But they're potentially dangerous ideologies that need to be handled with extreme care.

      I find myself having some sympathy for the ideas that were promoted by the late B. A. Santamaria (surely the most misunderstood figure in Australian political history).

    2. Capitalism is itself a Marxist term. What we mean by it is generally the rule of free markets unencumbered by mercantilism or welfare statism.

      The latter two really aren't ideologies, just preferences.

      The better term to describe our current economic ideology is neoliberalism. Its mainly used by the left, and rarely by its proponents, but it does have a coherent plan. Of course its a wrong plan, and wiser countries like Singapore reject many of the bad aspects.

  4. "The word Conservative originally meant to "to conserve" and it is in that meaning that the Frenchman Franois-Rene de Chateaubriand first used it in a political context in 1818."

    After twenty years of revolution and rule by Napoleon the French were ready for conservatism.