Saturday, August 18, 2007

Apologetic No More: A defense of Modern Conservatism

There is a movement sweeping the world. It is one based individual dignity, freedom of the marketplace, innovation of ideas, piety, and family. It is about advancing the best of human race, yet it is the most understood movement in the world.

Part of the confusion is due to the fact that conservatism is such a popular label. Racists, sexists, tyrants, and others have tried to claim its banner as their own. To a degree, you have to ask what are you trying to conserve? Such confusion has emerged that someone needs to take up the banner of defining for the people today’s conservative movement. I hope this will inspire someone to do so.

In the past conservatives have been thought of as preferring institutions over the individual. Yet modern conservatism is as much about conserving the18th century liberal values of individualism. We are conservative in the use of government. This is not some reflex reaction. Limited government is a core value because we understand that the degree to which government intrudes into an area is the degree individual sovereignty is compromised. We believe government power not only comes from the consent of the governed, but is the collective expression of individual rights of self defense.

The government is charged with protecting people from the illegitimate use of force. You have a right to your life, liberty, and property. This is regardless of strength, wealth, or influence whether you are pre-born or aged or whether you are in a minority position in society or a majority. The first job of government is to prevent those who would take those rights from you whether a foreign or domestic source. No one even the government can take those rights from you without cause.

Modern conservatives would say the next job of government is providing an infrastructure for the advancement of its people. Patents encourage innovation. Copyrights protect intellectual property (though recent changes are abusing this). Roads and frequency spectrum facilitate commerce. Education facilitates a citizenry which can prosper and govern itself.

Modern conservatism rejects bigotry as inconsistent with individual rights. If all individuals are equal, why would we have government banning some from participating in the marketplace? Why should some not have equal justice in the courts? Modern conservatives know that once you accept the demise of some one’s rights, you sow the seeds of undermining every one’s rights.

Modern conservatives tend to distrust concentrations of power. The movement has expressed this with its anti-monopoly business policies; the rise of the evangelical movement in the Christian Church, which distrusts big religion; the call for deregulation and hands off by government; the effort for school choice, and the get back to family over the village movement.

Modern conservatism recognizes the value of societal institutions. The family, business, the church, the government, and charity/social organizations are vital. Each of these institutions has a role in advancing the human condition and must be protected. Modern conservatives believe today’s liberalism is about government growing beyond its bounds and gobbling up these other institutions. Government is a poor substitute for any of them. History has shown that a society is more than government though it can rarely operate on a large scale without one.

Modern conservatives value science as a great tool but distrust it as a governor of our values. We believe science should be subject to values. Human cloning, human hybrids, genetic manipulation, human experimentation, and other controversies in science are addressed from how effect human dignity.

This is why modern conservatism so defends attempts at government to redefine marriage and family. This is why it believes business should be about doing business and government should be about governing. When a modern conservative wants to advance charity in the private sector over government entitlements, it is about the most effective expression of compassion.

Modern conservatives want a government which is honest, efficient, fiscally responsible, and limited in scope. Why? Government like any other enterprise works best when it is on purpose. If government is trying to substitute for family, church, charity, and run businesses, it will not be governing. This will cause havoc and universal distress.

When looked at in this light, it is easy to see why this new century will become the conservative century. It is easy to say, “I am proud to be a modern conservative”.

This will have to be continued. I hope this philosophical discussion inspires a vibrant discussion of vision for the next century.

2 Comments:

Anonymous ThirstyJon said...

Conservatives can count on small government working because they believe so much in internal government.

If we rear children up to be lawful, loving, and kind to others on the inside, the need for government decreases!

However, if we capitulate to forces that wish the government to raise our children according to the latest political agenda in power, we will not have internally governed children in future generations.

The law is for lawbreakers, not for those who wish to do right!

:-)

ThirstyJon
freedomthirst.com

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree.

6:39 PM  

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