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> [轉貼]The meaning of conservatism
Pearltea
發表於: Aug 13 2018, 19:15  評價+1
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A good short read
https://www.economist.com/the-economist-exp...of-conservatism

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ANYBODY trying to explain the meaning of conservatism is immediately confronted by a paradox. Most conservatives eschew grand theories in favour of practice. Marxists may devote their lives to producing definitions of Marxism; conservatives prefer to get on with the business of government. In that sense conservatism is what conservatives do. Yet the term “conservative” is not infinitely elastic: there is a core of principles that guides conservatives in the practice of government.

Conservatives like to stick to ancient ways of doing things out of a combination of sentiment and pragmatism. Sentiment because they like the poetry of the past and pragmatism because they worry that abstract blueprints may produce disasters. Otto von Bismarck defined politics as “the art of the possible”, a phrase that was later revived by R.A. Butler, a British grandee. Winston Churchill said ruefully that he “preferred the past to the present and the present to the future”. Michael Oakeshott, a philosopher, said that to be a conservative “is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss”. 

Therein lies the first principle: opposition to pie-in-the-sky schemes. The second principle is the importance of elitism. Some conservatives (particularly in Europe) believe in the importance of preserving a role for the traditional ruling class. Others believe in the importance of creating an educated minority—Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it a “clerisy”—that can preserve high civilisation in a democratic society. Most conservatives believe in the importance of disciplining democracy through various constitutional constraints such as representative democracy, powerful revising chambers, Supreme Courts and bills of rights. The third principle is a belief in “belonging”. Modern liberalism is the philosophy of the airport hotel: liberals believe that nothing should be allowed to interfere in the efficiency-maximising power of free exchange. Conservatism is the philosophy of the comfortable country house; conservatives believe above all in having a place that you can call home. They put a high value on the importance of patriotism because the nation-state is a collection of like-minded people. They have a soft spot for old-fashioned country squires who are the linchpins of local societies. The basic reason why conservatives are worried about free movement of people is that free movement turns society into a nexus of contracts rather than a “homeland” that is occupied by people who share a common history.

This definition of conservatism points to one of the great oddities of our times: that many people who go by the name of conservatives are anything but. The British Conservative Party—or a dominant faction within it—has pursued its dream of leaving the European Union despite the fact that doing so has involved breaking with 45 years of history, embracing a referendum and throwing the country into turmoil. The American Republican Party is dominated by a man who has no conservative qualities whatsoever: he’s personally uncouth, feasts on television and fast food, makes policy by Twitter and is bent on overturning the establishment.
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willyho
發表於: Aug 30 2018, 06:41  評價+2
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Just my one basis point on the meaning of conservatism: 
QUOTE
first principle: opposition to pie-in-the-sky schemes.

Personally I see that as simply due diligence rather than a divide between conservatism and liberalism

QUOTE
Modern liberalism is the philosophy of the airport hotel: liberals believe that nothing should be allowed to interfere in the efficiency-maximising power of free exchange.

a pretty broad statement and not quite right. Using the same analogy, then conservatism is more like some posh club members only hotel. Having more of the latter is unlikely to benefit society as a whole, which brings me to the third point:

QUOTE
Conservatism is the philosophy of the comfortable country house; conservatives believe above all in having a place that you can call home. They put a high value on the importance of patriotism because the nation-state is a collection of like-minded people. They have a soft spot for old-fashioned country squires who are the linchpins of local societies.

Yet at the same time, this tends to benefit those who already have an above average social status. Eventually this sort of mentality creates also a "us versus them mentality", within the society. Since those who already have advantages will be unwilling to give those up to those less advantaged. (In other words, those who have a bigger share of the house will pass them to their own next of kin. Meaning those who didn't have some ancestral share will always remain as "guests")

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This definition of conservatism points to one of the great oddities of our times: that many people who go by the name of conservatives are anything but. The British Conservative Party—or a dominant faction within it—has pursued its dream of leaving the European Union despite the fact that doing so has involved breaking with 45 years of history, embracing a referendum and throwing the country into turmoil. The American Republican Party is dominated by a man who has no conservative qualities whatsoever: he’s personally uncouth, feasts on television and fast food, makes policy by Twitter and is bent on overturning the establishment.

Slight alteration: the people who go by the name of conservatism are taking it to the logical extremes, just as a group of owners in an apartment block is trying to completely takeover the whole block. In the case of Brexit, it's like a minority of owners hanging the British flag over the building (or society at large). As for the US, it's a blatant attempt to turn the establishment into a personal legacy, by stamping his own face over it.   
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