Thursday, June 24, 2010

What is a Conservative?

John Willson has a good definition of the word "conservative" in an interesting post over at Front Porch Republic entitled "Why I am a Conservative":
To “conserve,” however, is a fairly simple thing. While “liberals” and “progressives” keep changing what lovely things they see in the future, “conserving” means knowing what’s important and trying to save it. The opposite of “conservative,” in fact, has never been “liberal”; it has always been ideology. Ideology, as my friend the great historian Forrest McDonald says, is “dogmatic, scientific, secular millenialism.” It’s been around the western political world since the French Revolution. Ideology is older than that, of course, it is “we shall be as gods.” Conserving, its exact opposite, is understanding the order of creation, and trying as hard as we can to stay somewhere in its near vicinity.
The contrast between "ideology" and conservatism is crucial. We conservatives do not have an ideology. Actually, an ideology is what a non-conservative needs in order to know what to do next. The alternative to ideology is tradition.

Later in the article he quotes Scripture:
Place. Limits. Liberty. Do these words have real meaning? I have often asked my ideological friends, “Is there a place you love? What would you do to defend it?” Or, “Is there a limit to what you would ask government to do? Name it, or at least give an approximation.” “Is there a better definition for liberty than the one in Micah 4:4?” But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it."
The eschatological hope of Christianity is for rest in the shade of our own tree at peace with the world and freed from the fear of revolution.

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