John Norris Brown
has been kind enough to respond to my request
, and has written an excellent definition of conservatism. The reason I say it is excellent is because it sounds a lot like mine, which was of course perfect.
Not only do I want to comment on a specific passage in JNB's definition, but I also want to criticize AC Kleinheider's
criticism of it. The Appalacian Scribe wrote
I believe that capitalism is the most moral and just economic system. I recognize that it is not perfect, but it is as close as any human system is likely come.
As a response to that passage, AC wrote
This love of capitalism, bowing at the altar of free trade, all of it. It is not conservatism. Capitalism, Socialism, Comunism are not moral or immoral. They are amoral. Communism is the godless, souless ideology that Reaganites said it was but if Communism is the devil then Capitalism is one of his minions.
Oh my goodness, where does one start?
Economics is more than numbers. Economics is a study of human nature. The best economists are the ones who tend to understand human nature the best. Capitalism is not some type of economic system imposed on people by government. In fact, if there were no government involvement at all, people would naturally be capitalists. Capitalism is the result of individuals being free. Socialism or communism, on the other hand, go against human nature. The only way that the Utopian ideas of Karl Marx could ever be implemented is by the point of a gun. Regardless of how good they sound, human beings are not naturally collectivists.
Obviously capitalism is not perfect. That is because free people are not perfect. Would you rather they not be free though? Would you prefer that the masses be controlled by some large intrusive government, ran by only a few powerful men?
There is no such thing as freedom without economic freedom and capitalism is
economic freedom. More government always means less freedom and there can be no socialism without big government.
AC goes on to say:
Conservatism is about preserving the good of tradition. It is about recognizing the imperfectability of man and the human condition and going on from there.
When I was about 21, the local paper published an editorial that referred to the hard line communists in Russia as conservatives. I wrote a letter to the editor that blasted them for using that term to describe people who subscribe to communism, which is a left wing economic philosophy. For me, the conservatives were the ones wanting to get rid of communism and bring about capitalism, which meant freedom. In my mind, communist equals liberal. Maybe I was wrong. Based on AC's definition, the hard line communists were "preserving the good of tradition". They were "recognizing the imperfectability of man and the human condition".
No wonder some people shudder when they hear the word conservative. I believe in traditional values, but more than anything, I believe in freedom. I believe in individual liberty. I don't believe that mankind is perfect. But I especially don't believe that a government, which is also made up of men, is better suited to correct those imperfections.
If AC is conservative, then I am liberal. Not only that, but modern liberals are also conservative, for it is they who want to maintain the status-quo, which is New Deal/Great Society socialism. No wonder he gets along with them so well.