Re: definition of conservatism

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From: Bill Stoddard (
Date: Mon Dec 04 2000 - 05:57:43 PST

> John Klassa writes:
> > >>>>> On Tue, 28 Nov 2000, "Kragen" =3D=3D Kragen Sitaker wrote:
> >
> > Kragen> These beliefs are the foundation of conservatism; indeed,
> > Kragen> conservatism divides humanity far more finely than mere
> > Kragen> racism, asserting even that different families of people in
> > Kragen> the same clan are hereditarily superior and inferior to one
> > Kragen> another.
> >
> > *What*?! What's your definition of conservatism?
> I'll quote Phil Agre; although it's the same definition I learned in my
> sociology classes at UNM, I have Phil's posts in a more pastable form
> than my textbooks:
> In reading the responses to my recent notes on political
> subjects, it has finally dawned on me that many people who
> regard themselves as conservatives don't know what
> conservativism is. Conservatives believe in objective truth,
> and there is an objective truth about what conservativism is.
> Ever since conservatism was given its definitive articulation
> by Edmund Burke, conservatives have worked to build a society
> of orders and classes, governed by a hereditary aristocracy, in
> which tradition and prejudice are good things and equality and
> innovation are bad things, in which the lower orders
> unquestioningly regard the judgements of authority and
> institutions as the absolute truth, and in which everyone
> presupposes that all oppression is the fault of the oppressed.
> That's what conservatism is, and what it has always been.

Is this how you view "conservatives" in the U.S.? I would suggest this
definition is an overly general abstraction of a reality that is significantly
more complex. I.e, this definition is too narrow and theoretical to be
generally useful. Our Marxist friends in China, Cambodia and the Soviet Union
murdered millions of people in the process of imposing their simple
abstractions of reality on the world. That's what ivory tower intellectualism
can (but not always) get you when played in the real world. IMHO as always.


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