INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, May 12, 2005

 
When was the last time Conservatism wasn't dying?
Written by: Dave

Recently John Derbyshire lamented in NRO that Conservatism is a quickly dying movement. He cited a definition of Conservatism as adherence to the following six principles:

1. a deep suspicion of the power of the state
2. a preference for liberty over equality
3. patriotism
4. a belief in established institutions and hierarchies
5. a skepticism about the idea of progress
6. elitism

If these are in fact the principles by which we define Conservatism, I wonder, when was the last time conservatism wasn’t dying?

I'd argue that under this definition, American Conservatism has been around for hundreds of years. I'd also argue that it has been losing the battle to the Left for at least the last one hundred of those years, as government power has been inexorable growing, egalitarianism increasingly enforced, and patriotism stripped of more and more of its meaning.

Consequently, if we really want to determine whether Conservatism as an intellectual movement is dying any more quickly than it was 25, 50, or 75 years ago, we can’t simply ask which direction society is moving toward, because it has consistently been moving away from Conservative principles. The real question is whether the pace of retreat is quickening.

Looking back on the 20th Century, I don’t think we are caving on Conservative principles at nearly the clip we were in the early 1900’s (the so-called Progressive Era), or the 1930’s, 1960’s, or 1970’s. You might make an argument that the 1920’s and/or 1990’s were better years than the present decade for Conservatism, but that would be overlooking the tremendous success the Left experienced on social fronts during those decades. The 1910's and 1940's also included rapid increases in state power, despite the fact that many of these changes were made necessary by the threat of foreign enemies. That pretty much leaves the 1950's and 1980's, which I believe were draws rather than victories for Conservatives.

I also don't think Conservatives' acceptance of many of the changes the Left has wrought implies that they are no longer Conservatives. I believe most American Conservatives still adhere to the Conservative principles listed above, despite their resigned acceptance of some elements of the welfare state. Conservatives' hesitation to demand more radical reform has less to with support for the welfare state, and more to do with their small “c” conservatism – that is, their belief that the established order shouldn’t be overturned too quickly if it can be helped, and a flexibility of ideology that allows them to accept that some of the changes might have been for the better.

So with all that said, I don’t think Conservatism as a philosophical movement among intellectuals is dying. Perhaps what Derbyshire was really emphasizing is the fact that the mainstream population is becoming less philosophically Conservative as the post-modern nanny state becomes more institutionalized. I would agree that this is certainly a problem, as it may eventually dry up new recruits to Conservatism. More importantly, the continued retreat on principles of liberty, individual rights and responsibilities, and patriotism will at some point lead our nation to begin collapsing upon itself. The more immediate danger is that we will soon weaken to the point where we are unable to face up to challenges from external enemies.

To summarize, I don’t think Conservatism as an intellectual movement is dying; it’s simply losing, just like it has been for most of the last 100 years. The more important issue is how much longer we can afford to lose.


Contact The Author:

John Beck

Feedback Welcomed








Greatest Hits

The Complete United Nations Posts
Immoderate Moderates
Marketing Myopia
In defense of the Republic
UKIP in America
Playing Connect the Dots
A Point So Often Missed: The Presence of an Administered Rate
Reagan Remembrance
Dr. Wolfowitz, or How I Supported the Right War Waged in the Wrong Way for the Wrong Reasons
Divine Right of Kings and UN Mandates
A Fantastic Idea, If I Do Say So Myself
Why We Were Right to Liberate Iraq
The Crisis of Conservatism


Blogs Worth Bookmarking

Steal The Blinds
Poor Dudley's Almanac
Mansizedtarget
Protein Wisdom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
New Sisyphus
Iowahawk
Jim Treacher
Ace of Spades
Captain's Quarters
Rambling's Journal
Neolibertarian Blog
LLP Group Blog
The Llama Butchers
The Castle Argghhh
The Politburo Diktat
The Dissident Frogman
In Search of Utopia
Aaron's cc:
TacJammer
Wizbang
Q&O
IMAO
INDC
You Know You Wanna
Classical Values
Clowning Glory
Vice Squad
Samizdata
Hit & Run
Link Mecca
The Corner
Power Line
Instapundit
Michelle Malkin
Mises Institute
marchand chronicles
Enlighten - New Jersey


More Top Reads

Ego
SlagleRock's Slaughterhouse
a_sdf
This Blog is Full of Crap
Redstate
Who Tends the Fires
The Bleat
Outside the Beltway
gapingvoid
Small Dead Animals
Kim du Toit
Tman in Tennessee
mypetjawa
mASS BACKWARDS
Hog On Ice
Pardon My English
Mr. Minority
Speed Of Thought
Bloodletting
La Shawn Barber
Vodkapundit
Right Wing News
USS Clueless
LeatherPenguin
Belmont Club
Shades of Gray
Seldom Sober
Roger L. Simon
Tacoma Blaze
A Small Victory
Murdoc Online
Iraq Elections Diatribe
Winds of Change
Wuzzadem
Enlighten - New Jersey
Random Fate
Riding Sun
My VRWC
The Daily File
Matt "The Man" Margolis
Bastard Sword
Roller Coaster of Hate


News Links

Blogger News Network
National Review Online
Tech Central Station
The Drudge Report
Reason Online
Mises Institute
The Weekly Standard
Front Page Magazine
Town Hall
VDARE


Affiliations, Accolades, & Acknowledgements

NEOLIBERTARIAN NETWORK
The Neolibertarian Network


LIFE, LIBERTY, PROPERTY



ALLIANCE OF FREE BLOGS
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
"More tallent than a million monkeys with typewriters."
--Glenn Reynolds


BEST CONSERVATIVE BLOG NOMINEE
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


EMPIRE OF THE BLOGS
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


BLOGS FOR BUSH
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us





Life, Liberty, Property Community





Reciprocal Blogrolling

Yippee-Ki-Yay!
Accidental Verbosity
Conservative Eyes
The Moderate Voice
Perpetual Three-Dot Column
Chapomatic
Sudan Watch
Mystery Achievement
Le Sabot Post-Moderne
Comment Me No Comments
New Spew


Links That Amuse the Writers

Huffington's Toast
The IFOC News
Dave Barry's Blog
Drum Machine
Something Awful
Fight!
Cox & Forkum
Fark
Exploding Dog


Archives

March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
August 2006
March 2007
May 2007
June 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
September 2008
November 2008
December 2008
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009



The Elephant Graveyard

We Are Full of Shit
The Sicilian
The Diplomad
Undercaffeinated
Insults Unpunished
Fear & Loathing in Iraq
Right Wingin-It
DGCI
Serenity's Journal
Son of Nixon
Rachel Lucas


Credits

Site Design by Maystar
Ask not for whom the blog tolls...
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Listed on Blogwise
Blogarama - The Blog Directory


Popdex

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Email Questions and Comments

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
eXTReMe Tracker