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Positive Depictions of Conservatism

Discussion in 'News and Politics' started by Hostarius, Dec 11, 2020.

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  1. Hostarius

    Hostarius V I R I L I S

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    Hello all,



    I think we're living through some pretty rabid and divisive times, such that I think it might be a good idea to reflect upon the whole spectrum of views that actually resides within each of us, rather than resting within the false strictures of our respective appointed camps.

    So in that spirit, this thread is about conservatism. In particular, positive representations or depictions of conservatism; or the kind of conservatism that we obviously need, and is clearly to the social good.

    What kind of things have people come across on this theme? Anything that struck you particularly? I'd also like to invite commentary on the concept of 'civic commitment' (described below in my spoiler).

    RULES: This thread is not for political debate as such, so please don't engage in critique of what others share. It's more of a celebratory thing, and an attempt to cast aside the false veil of polarisation.


    If I were to describe my political views to you, I'm not sure they'd make much sense in terms of how people have been conditioned to digest 'politics' in the last century or two.

    In general I might say something like 'I'm of the "left", but I believe in the "centre"', but that's not entirely accurate, either, since I have some opinions which could be rightly regarded as 'conservative', and I'm not ashamed of that despite being on balance 'progressive'.

    The core value, though, revolves around the 'centre', or rather, 'the forum' (in the classical sense). I'm committed to the cooperative space of compromise and accord that exists within the core of our societies, and the lofty pillars of civility, respect, and truth which hold up the whole august structure.

    There's that phrase of Aristotle's which is usually chucked about by people who want to make some kind of Machiavellian point about the scheming nature of human beings: 'man is a political animal'. However, I wouldn't translate it like this. I'd go with something more like, 'man is a civic animal'; I think that's much closer to the sense of the original Greek. And, in fact, I think this is both what we need more of, and what I'm ultimately drawn to: civics.

    There's a couple of people on this forum who I think probably share this same commitment to the civic core as I do. @Pin springs to mind, but when @Reason speaks of 'the Republic', I get a powerful sense of it, especially. Reason and @Asa recently had an exchange in the former's blog which indicated to me that Asa has the same commitment.

    In fact, I love to see open displays of that commitment - that respect - and they stick in my heart as memories or knowledge very important to me. I'm thinking of things like the friendship between Tony Benn and Enoch Powell in the UK, or the respect between Barrack Obama and John McCain (encapsulated by his funeral) in the US, and now, of course, between Asa and Reason in our own community.

    Conservatism
    Conservatism really 'clicked' for me when I first came across the work of the conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton (in fact I just today watched a documentary of his on beauty).

    It was his concept of 'oikophilia' to describe the essential conservative mindset of the 'love of home'. To be an oikophile in any sense is also to be conservative (whoever you vote for) - it's to say 'we like it here. We want to preserve the good things that we have.'

    It is an attitude fundamentally vested in love.

    The constant seeking to improve and change of the progressive is a noble cause; and so is the earnest desire of the oikophile - the conservative - to preserve and protect what is good. And, what's more, all of us have both of these feelings simultaneously.

    For me, I am somewhat proud of the parliamentary tradition of my own country, and the legacy of democracy, liberality and 'science' of Europe more generally. I don't have to be an imperialist to love those things from my own culture.

    I also tend to place high value in the good that a traditional, stable family structure can provide for the raising of children. As someone raised outside of that, I feel this keenly. There is no hatred in valuing something like this.


    Ultimately, I don't really have much tribal attachment to different approaches, systems and ideas. 'Socialism', 'capitalism' - these are mere 'technologies of statecraft' to me. Part of an arsenal of systems and structures from which we ought to pick and choose in the construction of ideal societies and states based on their utility to particular tasks. Marketise this, nationalise that; see what works best and readjust.
     
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    #1 Hostarius, Dec 11, 2020
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  2. philostam

    philostam Permanent Fixture

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    Cool thread. I like the 'oikophilia' concept. I appreciate conservatism which is based on love, on preserving what we like. You expressed it well. But I of course dislike conservatism which is based on fear, hate and degradation of others (be it different ethnic groups, 'communists' etc.).

    Of course the same applies in the other direction.
     
    #2 philostam, Dec 11, 2020
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
  3. OP
    Hostarius

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    Oh for sure, and I agree with you about it 'going the other way'. What I like about that concept is that it expresses - simultaneously - a whole constellation of approaches based upon oiko/xeno and philia/phobia.

    The great risk of conservatism is investing too heavily in xenophobia in order to protect the 'home'; that the 'other' is a 'threat'. Some of this is of course justified, as in the case of war, but the risk is an overextension of the category (especially to include 'internal enemies').

    On the other hand, the risk for progressives is in overinvesting in oikophobia (thus us also Scruton's term) - being overly destructive and vandalistic to one's own culture. Again, a certain amount of this is necessary to engage in the destruction of corrupt institutions, but it can run amok very easily (as in the case of white guilt, &c.).

    I think the West learned pretty well the dangers of xenophobia run rampant in the 20th century, but it hasn't internalised the destabilising dangers of oikophobia.

    In the same way, integrating the positive aspects of these things is exceptionally difficult for people to do because they tend to think in moral binaries of good/bad rather than rational balances.

    To a lot of people, it's probably incomprehensible to speak of 'positive xenophobia', but nonetheless it's absolutely necessary to the stable function of a society with values. Are Nazis trying to invade your country? Are extremists bombing your cities? Are criminals making the streets unsafe? Then yes, xenophobia for those incompatible' aliens' is crucial, otherwise the society breaks down through it's internal contradictions.
     
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  4. philostam

    philostam Permanent Fixture

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    Yup, agreed. Peterson also talks/writes about this. He says we all know how it looks like when conservatives go too far, but what about the other way? How do we know that the left went too far?

    I think that the way Europe handled the migration crisis of 2015 proved that certain amount of (positive) Xenophobia still exists. So I don't think we went too far in that respect, but at the same time I don't live in a country like France, Germany or England which has way more immigrants than my country.

    I think it's quite common be an economical leftist but a temperamental conservative. I see this a lot in my relatives, particularly the older ones. So on the one side they are all for equity and giving equal opportunities for all; on the other hand, they value the tradition of EU and don't wanna see it threatened by too many immigrants.

    I don't know, you are the historian, but these terms like liberalism and conservatism are really confusing to me. They signify different things in different contexts. I see 'national pride' as part and parcel of liberalism, at least that's how I understand the national revivals in 19th century Europe (Spring of Nations).

    I really wished we had some better and clearer definitions.
     
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  5. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    No thanks. And don't tell me how to discuss an issue. :tonguewink:

    We are thisclose to losing our democracy in the US. Conservatives refuse to accept the results of an election. There is little left of conservatives here that haven't drank the kool aid. And anyway, I think Trumpism is the ultimate end of conservatism. That's where it leads.
     
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  6. OP
    Hostarius

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    You're attached to your democracy?

    Sounds a bit... conservative to me, acd. ;)


    Nobody should be under any illusions with confusing 'the right as it is' with conservative impulses. Right revolutions occur all the time - they're much more successful at it - but all the same they are not conservative movements.

    Right now the most conservative force in America is the Democratic Party. The whole narrative of this election has been about preserving and protecting American institutions. It's a very pure expression of oikophilia.
     
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  7. philostam

    philostam Permanent Fixture

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    Yup. That's why I am saying that definitions are the problem.

    Trump just doesn't fit what I consider conservative - if anything, he is the most unconventional president USA ever had.

    When I think conservative, I think of something like the Habsburg Monarchy in 19th century. Or maybe Japan the last 20 years.
     
  8. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    It has seemed that democrats have become more conservative in that we want to preserve our institutions and norms and laws while republicans are bent on busting things up so long as Trump remains in power here. Conservative in the US (just like liberal) is a loaded word.

    Ideally, in the US both sides would be able to balance one another out through compromising. But those times are over here. We lurch further and further to the right. Which is labeled as conservative here. Because anyone moderate is automatically labeled a RINO or communist. These words do all mean different things in different countries.
     
    #8 acd, Dec 11, 2020
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  9. OP
    Hostarius

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    Well yeah, it's just become a label for a team or tribe, despite being pretty descriptive and neutral in itself.

    I do think, though, that we ought to confront that knawing feeling inside of us that reacts with revulsion at being associated with such a label. A label which, semantically speaking, is pretty innocuous.

    That revulsion represents nothing less than the very spirit of division and the sordid grip it has over us and our societies.

    Part of reversing that division and the extreme state of polarisation in the US today will be about shearing such terms of their nonsemantic, purely political and identitarian connotations.

    This starts with the individual.
     
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  10. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius V I R I L I S

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    That's precisely why.

    It's a position which simultaneously needs more respect and a rehabilitation, because we do see it manipulated and easily turned by demagogues.

    Conservative forces have become untethered from the civic core by their cultural exclusion from it.

    Attempting to further denigrate and demonise 'conservatism' - a universal human impulse - is only going to drive the wedge deeper into the crack at the heart of US society.


    Could we imagine a day, in some impossible future, where people are equally proud to declare themselves progressive and conservative in the same breath? Like some kind of enlightened, Tengriiist utopia, lol.
     
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  11. slant

    slant amour-propre
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    The root of teams based on ideologies in from my perspective stems from the erroneous belief that there can be one correct answer and that any subject can somehow be boiled down to a clean and concise package that can then be sold, legislated and defended.

    This is great for comforting the human mind's aversion to uncertainty and ambiguity.

    It is however in the long term detrimental to any real problem solving that usually acknowledges the differences between positions is not necessarily the facts so much as the interpretations of the facts and the motivations we have behind our style of interpretation.

    Once facts can be pooled from both positions, a sloppy, unsatisfying plan of attack can be developed that typically pisses off everyone.

    But because politics are oriented toward appealing to the emotions of voters, no politician will ever be able to pitch a correct, yet largely unpalatable, plan or solution to anything.

    Thus we all remain forever trapped in our desire for there to be a ideal path, a pretty picture, in a world that objectively speaking really doesn't care about the human race.
     
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  12. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    The wedge isn't going anywhere. I'm just questioning why one side should be the one to bridge the gap while the other drags us further into extremism in service of a demogague. The US might actually be on the verge of a civil war. Which 3 years ago I would have said was crazy and impossible. (Maybe @Eventhorizon was right after all.) We have 17 states and 100+ conservative republican congressmen and women signing on to a lawsuit to go before our supreme court that wants to challenge the results of an election. I guess the conservative thing (in the way you are using the word) would be to say that's absurd. According to our constitution, states run their own elections whether Texas or whatever other state likes the result or not. Then you have 25 states and territories disputing this suit because they realize that if this does go through, we are done as a country. (I personally don't think SCOTUS will rule in Texas and Trump's favor. But we are still left with the stain of a fairly elected US president who is seen as delegitimate by a huge segment of the country including those elected to our own government.)

    You are talking about an enlightened day in the future that was basically in the American past. Where people were capable of compromise and tribalism wasn't this rabid. Where parties weren't willing to tear the country apart to install their figureheads.

    So are you just saying that centrism is where it's at? Because I would agree (I consider myself center-left). But so far, conservatism at least in the US has led us to this point. I have a lot of respect for those few conservatives who don't blindly support an authoritarian. But it's very rare. I don't know how we get back to that. You seem to think focusing on what was good about conservatism can achieve that. I don't know that it would be enough to bring them back from the brink. Because that is where the majority of conservatives in this country want to be, and right wing media outlets will continue to further alienate them from reality and radicalize them. You rehabilitate someone suffering consequences of their actions. I don't know that rehabilitation applies here.

    But I really don't know what it would take to bring people back to the center. I guess looking at a time in US where extremists weren't as rampant and represented in government would be a start. Maybe throwing out the Fairness Doctrine was a terrible idea.

    I just think it's going to take more than talking nice about conservatism to bring people back.
     
    #12 acd, Dec 11, 2020
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  13. David54

    David54 David
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    What is happening in this country is the attempt to return to the days before the civil war. Racism..white supremacy pure and simple. Talk is a waste of time. We live in 2020 and we will not turn the clock back to 1800
     
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  14. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda Controversial Girlfriend
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    Well that lasted a whole minute. :D

    I hadn't heard of the term oikophilia yet, Hos. I also wouldn't have connected it to politics if I had, given that oikophobia means something like fear of the decoration of your house, lol. (Help, the tea kettle is after me!)

    Back on topic,
    I too am proud of the tradition of progressivism lol.

    I find these terms highly amusing. Although nothing comes close to the silliness that is the term neoconservatism. Bruh.

    You mean like in the past, with Roosevelt? :tearsofjoy:

    But no, not really. It is of course true that both forces are present in every person to varying degrees, and it is honest to acknowledge that, but never equally. Proudly declaring that to be the case would just be dishonest. If such a people would exist,they would be stuck, unable to make decisions. It wouldn't exist for very long.
    It would also render the terms meaningless. Now I'm actually for that, cause I believe we should be discussing policies instead.


    Why?
    You are correct of course that the term is semantically speaking quite tame and unremarkable. But you also know that people deal more in connotations than semantics. Because of that I believe that confronting that feeling inside either leads to time wasting endeavors like 'ban bossy' and 'reclaim the word slut', or to the creation of new terms... like your oikophilia. We could just sidestep it, and discuss policies.
     
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  15. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    I don't see how you can have such a discussion without referencing real world situations or consequences and then without thinking of causes/solutions. Maybe that's just my stressed out Te as it seems we are on the brink of collapse within the next few months to (if we can stave it off) years here in the US.
     
  16. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    Well, I honestly don't have a positive sense of Conservatism in the United States, especially what those termed "Neoconservativism" and "Paleoconservatism." This is because I'm aware of the Conservative perspective and how devastating its been with respect to race relations in the context of American history.

    That said, I think that George HW Bush was one of the best presidents for covert operations/foreign policy (he saved Kuwait) and Ronald Reagan was great at speaking. The thing about Reagan that makes him so distinctive was his sense of optimism that permeated through the 1980s. I love watching Ronald Reagan campaign ads because they're so happy in tone and uplifting.

    I can't really compliment American Conservatives substantively except with respect to foreign policy in certain instances. That said, they're good at repeating rhetoric and selling certain narratives to their voter base, especially preceding the Iraq war.
     
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  17. Wyote

    Wyote (#/-\[]$ ([]`/[]'|'[-
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    Conservatives are ok. They just need hugs and to be shown they don't need to fear literally everything.
     
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  18. slant

    slant amour-propre
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    Too true
     
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  19. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    Especially people who don't look like them, speak the same language, or practice a religion they're familiar with.
     
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  20. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome
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