Political philosophy that emphasizes respect for traditional institutions

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy, authority and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as monarchy, religion, parliamentary government and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more extreme elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".


3 libertarian takeaways from South Park season 20 (SPOILERZ), by Joseph Kast, 14 Dec 2016
Discusses the themes of the 20th season of "South Park", in particular the issues of free speech and online anonymity, groupthink and the dangers of traditionalism
"As Hayek says in his famous essay 'Why I Am Not a Conservative':
[Conservatism] cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance.
Here Hayek is drawing out the traditionalist strand of conservatism."
Related Topics: South Park, Freedom of Speech
Along Pennsylvania Avenue, by Murray Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Feb 1955
Suggests that a conservative third party, albeit initially small, could be more influential than conservatives staying in the two main parties, and considers the reasons for the intense McCarthyphobia
"Whither conservatives? ... The course of least resistance tells Democratic and Republican conservatives to stay in their Parties ... a new party would provide the most practical method for recapturing the Republican Party, to say nothing of forming a possible nucleus for a major conservative 'second party.' ... Lacking a formal party, however, such a strategy must always remain confused and relatively ineffective. Without a definite channel of organization, conservatives will diffuse their efforts: some will vote Democratic, some Republican, some will write in a candidate, and others will abstain."
Related Topic: Republican Party
Bush's Place in History, by Joseph Sobran, The Reactionary Utopian, 6 May 2006
Considers the Bush presidency from his candidacy description of himself as a "uniter" to Bush saying he is "the decider" (18 Apr 2006), from his popularity after the 11 Sep 2001 attacks to his "abysmal" poll ratings in 2006
"Even his hard core is shrinking, as conservatives belatedly notice that Bush is, to say the least, a very odd sort of conservative. Under his rule, big government is bigger than ever, and is committed to even more explosive growth in years to come. Another liberal pundit, E.J. Dionne Jr., rejoices that the country is reacting against 'the failure of conservative policies and the declining appeal of conservative rhetoric.' Really? And just which 'conservative' policies would those be? ... Conservatives also rally to any politician who can make liberals hate him, as Bush has done more successfully than any pol since Richard Nixon."
Related Topic: George W. Bush
Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, by Lew Rockwell, Kenny Johnsson, 25 May 2007
Interview by Kenny Johnsson for "The Liberal Post" blog; topic include libertarianism, statism, war, elections, taxes, anarchism and the U.S. Constitution
"Conservative ... dates to the Tory party in Britain, the very mercantilist-landowners who resisted change in the Corn Laws. ... They didn't like the merchant class making more money than the old families – meaning that they didn't want to lose their privileges. In the US, the term conservative came about after World War II. It had no meaning, really, other than to refer to the general desire to be prudent in public affairs, in contrast to the revolutionary tendencies on the left. The problem is that it amounted to a defense of the status quo, and, after Buckley, it was irretrievably wrapped up with the Cold War cause."
Epistemology and Politics: Ayn Rand's Cultural Commentary, by David Kelley, Navigator, Dec 2004
Discusses the continued currency of Rand's 1960-1970s writings, citing as examples "Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World", "Racism", "The Age of Envy" and "The Anti-Industrial Revolution"
"Rand predicted that the conservative movement would fail politically, not only for its moral inconsistency but for its equally inconsistent effort to base capitalism on religious faith. That obituary turned out to be premature; conservatives have wielded substantial power in the last three decades. But they are still offering an apologetic defense of capitalism, when they bother to defend it at all. They have made no serious effort to eliminate the welfare state. And their appeal to religion has become more and more pronounced, not only as a means of getting votes from fundamentalists and evangelicals ..."
Garet Garrett (1878-1954) On Empire, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 5 Aug 2000
Biographical and bibliographical essay, focusing on the essays in The People's Pottage
"'The Revolution Was' undertook to assess the New Deal. ... This would make an interesting 'text' for our Compassionate Conservatives, who wish to 'conserve' all those things which make up the Negation of American Life. Garrett, by contrast, takes up the posture of a radical conservatism, something which the good social democrats and tame conservatives like Peter Viereck spent the fifties and early sixties telling us just isn't done, old chaps. ... The Depression was the new rulers' great opportunity and they exploited it to the hilt. ... what a wonderful heritage for our GOP protectors to 'conserve'!"
Glorious War!, by Joseph Sobran, The Reactionary Utopian, 31 Aug 2006
Discusses how, after the Bush father and son presidencies, the Republican Party and conservatism became associated with militarism and war
"This Bush administration has managed to pervert the meaning of conservatism ... It's a grotesque accident of history that [war] should have acquired even a verbal association with the philosophy of conservatism. ... Briefly, conservatism is a more or less articulate sense of normality ... Conservatism can tolerate many abnormal things that can't be eliminated from human society, but it doesn't call them 'rights' or confuse them with normal things. And, after all, few things are more abnormal than war. So today's alleged conservatives (and especially the misnamed 'neoconservatives') are aberrations."
GOP, R.I.P?, by Sheldon Richman, 11 Feb 2008
Reviews conservatives' criticisms of John McCain and his positions in his presidential campaign as well as what the criticism may mean for the Republican Party
"Would these conservatives really promote a Democratic victory in November ... Not that I agree with every conservative criticism of McCain. ... The conservatives are completely off-base on the immigration issue. ... The logic of the conservative position would require that everyone carry a national identity card to be presented on demand. ... Conservatives argue that walls intended to keep people out are different from walls intended to keep people in. Balderdash. ... The conservatives are on firmer ground when they criticize McCain for his so-called campaign-finance reform."
Related Topics: Iran, Republican Party
Gore Is Right, by Paul Craig Roberts, 18 Jan 2006
Ponders the lack of coverage of news coverage given to Al Gore's speech at Constitution Hall in which he challenged the Bush administration's lack of respect for the Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers
"Conservatives should fear this more than anyone. The separation of powers and our civil liberties are our most precious property rights. They are our patrimony from the Founding Fathers. We are stewards of these rights, which we hold in trust for our descendants. How can any conservative fail to realize that Bush's attack on these rights is the ultimate attack on property? It is astonishing to watch conservatives wave the flag while they are transformed into subjects to be dealt with as presidential authority decides."
How I Became a Libertarian, by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, 19 Dec 2002
Autobiographical essay describing Sciabarra's influences on his road towards libertarianism, primarily Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard
"Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, born to a Greek and Sicilian family, I had some conservative predilections as a young high school student. One of my earliest high school teachers had a big influence on me; his name was Ira Zornberg. ... He was the first teacher to bring the study of the Holocaust to high school students. He very much encouraged me in my conservative politics, even though I was never completely comfortable with the conservative social agenda, especially with regard to issues of abortion and sexuality. It wasn't until I read Ayn Rand in my senior year in high school that I was able to sort those issues out."
Related Topics: Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard
Libertarianism: Left or Right?, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jun 2007
Examines the origin of the political terms "left" and "right" and makes the case that libertarianism is properly on the Left of the spectrum
"... those who sat on the right side of the assembly were steadfast supporters of the dethroned monarchy and aristocracy — the ancien régime — (and hence were conservatives) ... state socialism ... promised prosperity and industrialization (liberal ends) through government control of the means of production (conservative means). ... When state socialists attacked the market ('capitalism') as part of their criticism of America, the right wing, the conservatives, defended economic freedom rhetorically (while usually ignoring the corporatist features of capitalism ...)"
On Evil Acts, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 19 Apr 2007
Analyzes the typical mainstream ("liberal") and conservative responses to acts of violence such as the April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting
"Life is, at its core, brutal and shocking. People are depraved in every way, whether they show it or not. This is the thinking of the group generally known as conservatives. And what do they suggest? That we always and everywhere prepare for total war. Whether we are speaking of Virginia Tech or international politics, society must be armed to the teeth and people must be relentlessly roughed up and scared straight, or else society crumbles. This probably means that we need more jack-booted thugs and ... let's hear nothing from the wimps who doubt the need for torture and prison without trial as policy options."
Related Topics: Free Market, Society, The State
ripensare il femminismo/.2 "My body, my choice", by Wendy McElroy, Marco Faraci, 9 Mar 2012
Second part of "Rethinking feminism" interview; topics include modern feminism vs. the Berlusconi scandals, American conservative women, and the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul
"Se temo l’ascesa delle donne conservatrici? ... "sì" e "no" ... Io non ho paura di nessuna scelta pacifica che le donne compiano in un contesto di libertà. Non ho paura del fatto che alcune donne scelgano di essere casalinghe ubbidienti, purché non esistano barriere legali o politiche al fatto che altre donne scelgano di essere scienziate. ... Ho paura che siano varate leggi che limitino o ribaltino alcune delle libertà per le quali le donne hanno combattuto per decenni. Per esempio, lo zelo antiabortista è così forte ... che ci sono serie discussioni sulla restrizione o sul divieto di metodi contraccettivi ..."
Related Topic: Ron Paul
Sic Semper Tyrannis, by Lew Rockwell, The American Conservative, 23 Apr 2007
Analyzes how the U.S. Presidency has been transmogrified from the role proposed by the Federalists
"Now if some intellectuals set out to say that ... the rule of law is and should be a dead letter ... We would be back to the fundamental debate of liberty versus despotism. Instead, keep in mind that the people arguing for executive dictatorship fashion themselves as conservatives. Contrast this with the genuine conservatism of Robert Taft, who saw the postwar period as a time to set matters right and return to first principles. He attacked Truman for his Cold War forays and stated clearly that Congress alone has authority to declare war and manage foreign policy. FDR's attitude toward his power, Taft wrote, was inconsistent with our heritage."
The Delusion of Limited Government, by Butler Shaffer, 14 May 2002
Comments on watching the Cato Institute's 25th anniversary dinner in which speakers held up booklets with the U.S. Constitution while complaining that the document had "not restrained the power of the state"
"Korzybski’s admonition ['the map is not the territory'] is revealed in the irony that the same words conservatives see as limiting governmental powers, liberals see as providing a means for the expansion of such powers! ... Conservatives continue to wrap themselves up in the kinds of knotted thinking about how the Constitution is what keeps the government from doing all the terrible things that it does. Nevertheless, the harsh reality is that there is nothing the federal government does that cannot be interpreted as being within the meaning of these empowering words!"
The Lawless State, by Joseph Sobran, The Reactionary Utopian, 11 Jul 2006
Explains how the United States changed from being a decentralized republic to a centralized democracy and how most of the power has moved from the legislative branch to the "imperial presidency"
"During Roosevelt's four terms, conservatives had realized the same dangers of what they called 'Caesarism' ... Today, alleged conservatives favor the current Bush's 'big-government conservatism,' together with all the unprecedented warmaking and national security powers he asserts. Both parties oppose the old constitutional limits on executive power, except when they find some of those limits politically convenient for the nonce. Conservatives are apt to be outraged when the media reveal how far Bush has gone in transgressing private matters we used to assume were safe from government spying."
The Power of Persuasion, by Jeff Riggenbach, Mises Daily, 20 May 2011
Historical account of the Persuasion magazine, edited by Joan Kennedy Taylor between Sept 1964 and May 1968
"Conservatives certainly didn't oppose the draft, either then or later. 'What is important to the Liberal,' William F. Buckley Jr., perhaps the most famous American conservative of all time, had written in 1959 in his book Up from Liberalism, 'is that there be choice; whereas to the conservative, what is important is, What choices will man, whose first choice was so catastrophic, go on making?' If, for example, 'man' should not choose to 'serve his country' by marching off to war ... well, then, he should be forced to do so. He should be conscripted. He should be drafted."
The Price of Bush, by Joseph Sobran, 11 Oct 2005
Examines the George W. Bush presidency a year after his re-election and argues that conservatives should have known better than supporting him earlier on
"Bush is on the verge of losing his conservative base. ... As long as Bush could plausibly claim the war was succeeding, they were willing to overlook most of his sins and ignore the qualms of the stern conservatives who were shouted down and slandered by the warlike neoconservatives egging him on. ... So conservatives are now afraid that when the dust has settled, their philosophy will be identified with Bush's failure. That would be unjust to their philosophy, but they've asked for it. It's too late for them to repudiate him now. He hasn't betrayed them as badly as they've betrayed their philosophy by supporting him all these years."
Vindication, by Thomas Sowell, 6 Mar 1998
Compares the vilification of Larry Elder and other "black conservatives" to the similar tribulations and eventual vindication of Billy Mitchell, criticizing "race hustlers" for emphasizing 1960's problems rather than dealing with today's issues
"Larry Elder is currently being vilified and threatened, and his sponsors are being boycotted, because he is one of a growing number of 'black conservatives' who do not march in step with the racial party line ... However, it is only a matter of time before Elder, Clarence Thomas and others are vindicated. ... the education of a whole generation of young blacks is destroyed and their future with it. That is why people like Larry Elder in Los Angeles, Ken Hamblin in Denver and growing numbers of other black conservative talk-show hosts across the country are needed to blow the whistle on what is really happening."
Related Topic: World War II


The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America
    by William Henry Longton (editor), Ronald Lora (editor), 1999

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Conservatism" as of 27 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.