Conservatism: A Definition

Earlier this evening I began writing a lengthy post on the Conservative Party and its role as the United Kingdom’s principle obstacle to any genuine conservative politics in this country. In so doing, it occurred to me that the popular understanding of conservative as a political definition is woefully lacking. Or, put another way, the understanding of conservatism as advanced by mainstream commentators and thinkers appears to define something, but it in no way consists of anything approaching conservative thought. And so, while I am no expert in political theory, nor even a great source of original ideas, I would nevertheless like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss what is generally understood by conservatism today, which it isn’t and should not be, followed by what it really is and ought to be.

It appears to me that people of the mainstream who describe conservativism can be grouped into those who have confused libertarianism with conservatism, and those who have adopted a luddite fallacy that conservatism is literally the conservation of materialism and national chauvinism. There is nothing inherently conservative about the rate of tax, nor in the rejection of innovation for the sake of established forms. Nor, it must be said, can conservatism be found in the token patriotism of flags and anthems.

All of these are, broadly speaking, materialist conceptions of politics which, in my opinion, misunderstand the essence of the word and the spirit of what a conservative should aim to achieve.

It is my opinion that a strong definition of conservatism may be acquired from contrasting what is generally called liberalism, which has its roots in the politics of Revolutionary France. Here, the student of history finds countless examples gathering pace since the late-18th century of new philosophies and ideas which have as their underlying purpose the imposition of artificial rationalisms, when we take rationalism to mean more than simply the political application of rational thought. In the vast majority of post-enlightenment ideologies we find the belief of individuals and parties that enlightenment is to be found in the struggle to impose artificiality on an existing social order. This applies to ideologies that are allegedly disparate, from classical liberalism through Bolshevism and modern neoliberalism.

In contrast to this, I advance a definition of conservatism that seeks to develop a social, economic and political order around an eternal Natural Order. We are subject to the laws and ways of nature as they are specific to Homo sapiens, and it seems to me that this is the structure around which to build a conservative philosophy. We may claim, although not necessarily, that these laws come from God; alternatively they are derived from Darwinistic pressures on all species. Irrespective of which side of the aisle you come from, so to speak, it is the intellectually soundest basis upon which to structure a society, and that which is most conducive to human and social flourishment.

It hardly matters whether the rate of income tax is 17 or 20%, or the extent to which our architectural tastes change from one decade to the next. What matters is that the fundamental social, economic and political pillars of society augment, rather than fight against the eternal laws of nature. Above all else, a conservative should demonstrate unequivocal fidelity to these laws, and an absolute commitment to their being the basis of every innovation in the political sphere.

Unfortunately, modern conservatives begin from the position that the revolutionary politics of artificiality is fundamentally sound and accepted, which leads them to adopt increasingly obscure policy proposals that are either obsessed with fiscal minutiae or appear to be a conservation of the liberal social forms that were introduced a few years’ prior. No final victory exists though this prism. Ultimately, the last few centuries of Western political thought represent an aberration in the context of human history. They will be swept away by resurgent nature in one way or another, but if conservatives fail to adopt the politics of naturalism over artificiality they risk permitting irreparable damage to occur which risks the total disappearance of European civilisation before it has the opportunity for salvation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s