Sunday, August 06, 2017

Meaning Of Conservatism

Several months ago, some teenagers broke into my place while I was sleeping and stole my wallet. When I wrote on the Internet that I harbored them no ill will, someone responded by saying that they were a danger to society.

This person was obviously a conservative. Conservatism has experienced intellectual difficulties in such situations. For a long time the talk of society was associated with Communists and hippies, and Margaret Thatcher stated that “there is no such thing as society, only individuals.”

So how can conservatives credibly claim that there is such a thing as danger to society?

Now I started out on the Left, but in recent years I've moderated my views. This is because I have seen good behavior in a number of conservatives and vicious behavior in a number of people on the Left. In the last election I did not vote. I could not decide which candidate was better. Donald Trump is a throw-back to 1980s, and Hillary Clinton is a throw-back to 1990s. Both decades were good economically, and both decades were bad socially. I do not like to see ugly behavior either in men or in women; and that is what we saw, respectively, with both decades.

Conservatism needs to define exactly what it means. Is it what Margaret Thatcher says it is, and there is no such thing as society? Or is it what the poster means it to be?

Now there have been any number of people on the Right who accuse people on the Left of being selfish. Whereas when they were not selfish, they were called Communists. They started out fighting for all sorts of altruistic causes. This was confronted in the name of self-interested capitalism. Many of these people did in fact become selfish; indeed any number of them created a religion of self. However that is not what they started out doing.

So it becomes imperative for conservatism to solve this intellectual contradiction. Was Thatcher right and there is no such thing as society? Or are some people a danger to society? Where exactly do you stand?

I think that it is important for everyone that conservatives have this debate.


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