Thursday, 28 January 2021

Conservatism Versus Traditionalism

When I first became aware of and interested in politics as a teenager I always thought and called myself a Conservative. As I look back at that time I see that I was a Classical-Liberal. In fact by that time, the late 1980's the two things were basically the same, not quite but nearly. When I started this blog in 2013 I still called myself a Conservative. It was Mark Richardson from Oz Conservative who suggested that we should call ourselves Traditionalists, I was very resistant. Now I call myself a Traditionalists.

I realised that I, like everyone else, had spent my entire life surrounded by Liberalism and that it would be impossible to entirely escape it's influence. But that didn't mean that I had to be entirely influenced by it. That I should reject those things that worked against the things that I loved and that I should reject those things that didn't make sense. Particularly the 'unprincipled exceptions', the things that Liberalism said were universal laws but that it make exceptions for, exceptions that were entirely unprincipled. 

Over the past 5 years or so I have completely changed my thinking about Conservatism. To be honest it has been a very slow and reluctant change, I, like many on the Right thought that we were the majority, that most people agreed with us and that all we had to do was have politicians who were brave and sensible enough to stand up and that things could change. But I am now on the other side, I am in the minority and while there are many fellow travellers, we are pioneers starting a new philosophy. Not from scratch, all pioneers come from somewhere.

 Conservatism originally meant to conserve, to protect the best of our past. That is what I thought it meant, that's why I was happy to call myself a Conservative. But I noticed that so many Conservatives were happy to fight for something, an idea, a tradition, a building, and they were just as happy to forget that they had once fought. The Left never gives up an issue, but Conservatives did it all the time. I thought that it was a personal failing, that once the right man was in place, or the right team of men, then it would change. I thought that for a long time. 

Slowly I came to realise that Conservatism was the rear-guard of Liberalism. That the Radicals were the Avant-Garde (Advance Guard) of Liberalism, testing the way forward and in the rear were the Conservatives. Not protecting the best of the old order, but using it as cover as it abandons it's positions to do it's real job, to protect the rear of the Liberal army. That explains why it is so ready to fight and then to move on. It explains why it never seems to be confused or annoyed when they have to say the opposite to what they said they supported a short time ago. They are not being disloyal or inconsistent as we so often accuse them of being. They are being very loyal and very consistent, to Liberalism.

Those of us who do not support Liberalism must be able to identify between those who are on our side and those who claim to be on our side. It's not a problem fighting alongside Conservatives, but we must always be under no illusion about what they really believe. We also need to be on the lookout for those who, like many of us, thought they were joining one thing and found out that they were really in another. Last but not least we must hold a mirror up to them so that they can see what they really are. 

Once the rear-guard has been defeated things can really change!

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  1. Your post made me think of a revelation I had a while back. Liberalism and our Liberal society are like the water fish swim in. Conservatives think they are outside the society, but really they are totally immersed in it, and want to conserve it. If you see someone who recognizes the Liberal water and is against it, you've got a dissident.