Although social liberals tend to support abortion and gay marriage this doesn’t mean anyone opposing these should write a blank check to conservatives. All too often they conserve what ought to change and fail to conserve what ought to be conserved. It has been said that ”Conservatives believe in an imaginary past and the liberals an impossible future” and by GK Chesterton ”The liberals make new mistakes and the conservatives prevent the old ones from being corrected” and I see plenty reason to agree. In my other post I had criticised both social and economic liberalism and here I will criticise both social and economic conservatism (both economic liberalism as in negative liberty and fiscal conservatism as in being against spending money are both aspects of capitalism so to divide the world into people being liberal OR conservative ultimately doesn’t make sense).
Poor Handling Of Change
You don’t need to remind me of the French Revolution or the Irish general election of 2011 to show that change is not inherently a good thing that will make things better, I do reject the liberal progress narrative. The problem of course is that, as happens all too often in politics, just because one side gets things wrong it doesn’t mean that the other side is better. On conservatism ”If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it” becomes ”Don’t fix it even if it is broke” and had things stayed the same we’d still die before 50 having lived in poverty with little hope of things being any better for the next generation and women would be seen as inferior to men. The education system in a number of countries is badly in need of a change but the people who would most benefit from it being reformed are the ones least likely to be listened to, the environment is badly in need of a change for the better and the list goes on.
Conservatism doesn’t have to mean no change at all though, it can mean change does happen but more gradually than the social liberals would like but this only postpones the inevitable and the result is the same anyway. Gay marriage in the UK was legalised under the Conservative Party (most of them were opposed to it I gather but it happened anyway) with David Cameron justifying it using small c conservative language but the fact remains it’s a liberal policy and in Ireland the supposedly conservative Fine Gael (who are members of the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament), led by supposedly conservative Catholic from Mayo Enda Kenny and then Leo Varadkar, a gay man from Dublin, legalised abortion where the mother’s life is at risk, successfully campaigned for gay marriage to be legalised and abortion legalised during the first trimester for any reason, repealed the ban on blasphemy which nobody was prosecuted for anyway, reduced the waiting time for divorce from 5 years to 2 and just recently the government of which they’re a part are handing out free contraception to 17-25 year olds. Sure, the Conservatives and Fine Gael had been in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and Labour respectively but these latter were the junior partners. If social conservatism is expendable but fiscal conservatism non-negotiable then really conservatism is libertarianism which would explain why Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan made such far reaching libertarian changes to their countries’ economies in the 1980s.
Although conservatives in different places and times may have had little doubt that conservatism was libertarian or authoritarian I’m not sure how anyone can say that conservatism is or ought to be one or the other. American conservatives have a dogmatic hatred of government while in South Korea conservatives were authoritarian like Syngman Ree and General Park. Conservatives from western Europe and the US may recoil in horror at the notion that the Nazis were conservative but they promoted the traditional family, patriotism, a staunch hatred of communism and a near worship of the military, all things conservatives often espouse. While American conservatives have a hands off approach to the economy they are fine with the government banning abortion, gay marriage and drugs and took a very hands on approach to warfare. If libertarian conservatism is just libertarianism and authoritarian conservatism is just authoritarian (authoritarian leaders whether conservative or not often act as the pater of the national familias) I see little point to saying that conservatism is some political philosophy of its own.
Dr King spoke of capitalism for the rich and socialism for the poor but as bad as that would be it’s often worse; we get state capitalism for the rich but anarchocapitalism for the poor. On the one hand under capitalism the government is supposed to stay out of things but in Ireland there was the infamous bailout of Anglo-Irish bank which bankrupted the country and led to the country itself being bailed out by the IMF, EU and ECB. A failed bank was bailed out while the many, including people not doing too well as it was, were hit with years of austerity. How awful to expect fiscal rectitude from everybody else when Anglo clearly had none and the Irish government wrote it a blank cheque. George W Bush’s TARP was more successful but still a remarkably statist thing for a capitalist to do. Some say the government should operate like a business but that is what the government does; it borrows money now to invest hoping to make more money and not only pay off what it owes but to be in a better position long term. Whereas business investing in new technology is apparently an investment wages are treated as a cost with no benefit and exposes what sort of behaviour capitalism produces; people are supposed to be allowed to get as much money for themselves as they want but when labour tries to do this the capitalists will try to thwart this. The conservatives like to think of themselves as fiscally responsible but I see nothing fiscally responsible about the high unemployment Margaret Thatcher caused or the Irish government’s austerity in the early 2010s which just made the economy even worse until the IMF finally left. Improving the worst neighborhoods in the country would surely generate more money in the long run than it would cost; less money would be spent on policing and more people would be off of the welfare roll and on the payment roll and of course less mental health issues and the list goes on but this goes against the conservative outlook; the private sector won’t do this as it isn’t profitable in the short term and the government doing things (other than sucking up to the rich) is seen as heresy. On the conservative worldview poverty is a moral failing; people deserve to be poor since it’s their own fault anyway and spending money on them would be a waste that fosters dependency but the rich get tax cuts and other benefits, even the ones who only inherited their wealth. If the conservatives really do value hard work and individual initiative let’s see them raise inheritance taxes and cut income taxes. Conservatives say they value family but they also often support capitalism which is individualistic and this circle cannot be squared. If they want to prevent abortion and reduce contraception usage it’s high time they adjust the workplace to be more family friendly so as few people as possible have to choose between children and career.
Treatment Of Minorities
Although the social liberals are too quick to label people not agreeing with their particular solutions racist, homophobic etc. the reality is there is still a degree of these around and while not all conservatives are racist etc. it seems to me a safe bet that most of the racists etc. are conservative. The slavery in the southern US, apartheid in South Africa, anti-immigrant sentiment in the US as a whole whether against Irish and Italians in the 1800s or Hispanics now, insults and even violence against LGBTetc. people and of course the alt right’s puerile ”humour” about the misadventures of Daryl, a stereotypical black man who has big lips and tries to commit crime and the alt right’s ignorant labelling of anything they don’t like as autistic and anything opposing their ideology as autistic screeching (the ignorance never ends from the alt right). In both Japan and the US the far-right think that foreigners do more crime but they actually commit less and in Japan’s case an ageing population means either encourage people to have more children (hasn’t worked), raise the retirement age (Japan’s a democracy so this would cost the government votes) or reduce pensions (same problem) or encourage immigration (to a jingoistic country whose language is not widely spoke outside of it). As someone in minorities myself (I’m aspie and asexual) there’s no place in conservatism for me. The conservatives say time and again ”People wouldn’t get away with saying x or y about insert name of minority group” well no they wouldn’t; the minority groups (apart from the rich) haven’t got the power. It isn’t the same.
Shortcomings On Religion
Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m a very religious guy myself who can’t stand the new atheists but I can kind of see where they’re coming from and as with any group it’s best not give them ammunition. Ireland prior to the 1990s was on the surface a very Catholic and conservative country (it still is compared to most other European countries) and yet we had an attitude to sexuality that was stifling and bear in mind I’m certainly no supporter of the sexual revolution, divorce etc. and the treatment of single mothers in the mother and baby homes was a national disgrace which isn’t to say that these were unique to Ireland or Catholicism but as believers in a religion that teaches that works are important (but not enough by themselves) for one’s salvation then we are called to set a better example than non-Catholics and clearly this didn’t happen. The clerical sex abuse and coverup I hardly need to remind people of and this as well as the other wrongdoings I’ve mentioned caused an enormous backlash against the Church and resulting ultraliberalism in social policy. As for the American religious right it gained a lot of influence in the 1980s which is still around but not as much as it used to be as there were scandals in it. In a religion whose sacred text has many verses about helping the poor the religious right certainly did little if anything to reduce the growing gap between rich and poor in 1980s America and its militaristic stance on foreign policy has caused a lot of death and suffering, even the propping up of far right regimes during the 1980s. Meanwhile in American conservative Catholicism one finds the traditionalists who never seem to tire of bashing Vatican II or Pope Francis and complaining about the ”Novus Ordo” mass and branding defenders of these things modernists which is dishonest; there used to be a heresy known as modernism in the Catholic church but this was squashed and they conveniently forget there was also a heresy known as traditionalism which said that tradition was more important than reason. I they can resurrect a term for a heresy already gone to bash their opponents with then they themselves shouldn’t call themselves after a heresy that’s already gone. In US politics the religious right for the most part wrote a blank cheque to Trump with (white) evangelicals going from the group most likely to least likely to say a candidate’s personal integrity was important and this isn’t good enough. Yes the American political system is a 2 party system but this ought to be fixed instead of people being stuck writing a blank cheque to any Republican who gets the nomination. I think to myself a lot of Americans don’t actually like the political party they support but are stuck with them anyway given the winner-take-all nature of the electoral college.