Saturday, March 1, 2008

Conservatism is Dead; Long Live Conservatism?

An essay by Selwyn Duke caught my attention, asking if "Conservatism" as a movement is dead. How you define "Conservatism" will make a difference to the conclusions you draw.

If you see "Conservatism" as a holding action against the onslaught of "Progressive" ideas, then conservatism is indeed doomed. On the other hand, if conservatism is a set of principles that you hold to and use to inform your actions, then conservatism can grow and thrive. The irony, of course, is that this version of conservatism was called Liberalism in the 18th century, the classical political philosophy of Locke and Burke (among others).

Unfortunately, far too many of today's "Conservatives" are of the first sort, and even when they get into power, are unable to do more than rehash "progressive" legislation at a somewhat slower rate. How else would you explain the recent federal budgets in Canada and the United States?

Principled conservatives have some difficult choices to make. Trying to gain control of the party machinery within current parties would be one route to take, but be ready for a ferocious fight against the party insiders who benefit from the status quo. Joining political movements which represent your (our) political philosophy is another route to take, but since they are currently small and disorganized, prepare to do lots of heavy lifting to craft them into viable political parties capable of electing candidates. This isn't impossible, look at the Alberta Wild Rose Alliance, or the Green Party on the Left, although like our mission in Afghanistan, this will be an effort that will take decades to come to fruition.

No comments: