The Core Principles of Conservatism

I as I write this, I am listening to Rush speak at CPAC. And I realized something. I have never spoken of what I believe the core principles of Conservatism are. So I’m putting together a sort of “platform” to explain what ideas are central to Conservatism. We believe, centrally, in the ideas of John Locke. Yes, there are other people who have greatly influenced our movement, Smith, Jefferson, Hayek, and on and on. But Locke’s ideas, I think, are the central basis of Conservatism. We believe that Government’s purpose, its only purpose, is to protect the basic, natural rights of all men (in the archaic sense, that is, humans) to live their lives unimpeded, free of the restrictions of a tyrannical government, but living in a secure society where the government protects these rights and their property. We believe in the unlimited potential of the individual, to overcome anything, and we reject the repressive nature of the collective, the serfdom that is socialism. We believe that hard work deserves reward, not punishment, that the best way to make poverty vanish from this earth is not to make everyone poor but make everyone free and not to make poverty easy but to make it hard, to not make people complacent and apathetic but to get them moving by showing them the reality of their condition. We believe that the individual has a right to defend himself (again, this is being used in the gender neutral sense) from tyranny. We believe that liberty consists of the right to do anything which does not harm another person (harming yourself is fine, just don’t expect anyone to pay for your bills afterwards). We believe in the Constitution’s relevance to the present day. We believe that freedom is the right of everyone in the world. We believe in the value of our traditional moral system in keeping our society healthy and stable. We are opposed to any and all forms of political religion. Freedom is more important than anything. That is what Conservatism is, that is what we know, we think, we believe.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “The Core Principles of Conservatism

  1. Forget, please, “conservatism.” It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure.

    As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
    Recovering Republican
    JLof@aol.com

    PS — And never has “Mr Worldly Wiseman” Limbaugh made a bigger ass of himself than with his blasphemous joke at CPAC about God thinking he was Limbaugh…

  2. Mr Lofton is correct to quote Dabney: ““[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation.”

    That is Burkean conservatism in an nutshell. The world moves on but pragmatic Burkeans try to slow things down and say “Look before you leap.”

    It seems Mr Lofton would like to turn the clock back to Biblical times. Good luck with that. The ancient Jews were no more moral or righteous than we are nowadays but they did not have refrigeration, antibiotics and a host of other pieces of “progress” that have made life better for most. Ah, but those were the good old days when our children died of whooping cough and measles.

    However I do agree with Mr Lofton that Rush is an ass.

  3. timetochooseagain

    John-I’m not sure where exactly you are getting this idea that I am embracing “secular conservatism” (is it the political religion bit? Because that’s a reference to Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism, not a shot a religion, but more a shot at the idolatry of the left. ) Secondly, I simply don’t see what Dabney’s point is. First, he seems to define conservatism as Reactionary, not as the classical liberal belief in freedom (which may not be surprising in that the term “conservative” did not mean quite what it means now back then. Conservatism is not about resisting any political change, that’s old world 18th century European “conservatism”. I am very frustrated to see the Republican party, as it has done of late, do almost exactly what he describes however, which is to race to be as close to the center or the left as possible to avoid marginalization. But I don’t see “secular conservatives” doing this so much, really. Now, religiously, I am, at least, a believer in God, but I am not a member of any organized religion. Does that mean that, in your view, I am a part of the crowd of sheep following the left to “perdition”? Because I would take great offense to this insult, nothing could be further from the truth. If you would suggest I abandon conservatism, what, politically, do you suggest I believe in? I can’t, in my mind, form any sort of philosophy as to the role of government in society based on religious faith (unless you would prefer I was a liberal?) only on that which God has given me to determine such matters, not divine revelation but reason. Now, you may be overly sensitive to such things, but to my mind it is counter productive for you to act indignant and offended when Rush makes a joke that involves God. How can anyone take you seriously? I mean really, that’s childish, to my mind.

    With utmost respect of course. God Bless!

  4. timetochooseagain

    Pat, well said.

  5. Andrew & Pat: Mr. Recovering Republican has mastered the CtrlC & V thing. I have seen that comment word for word on three or four blogs that I visit. Once I saw it within two days on the same blog on 3 different posts.

    Well, at least the old boy knows what he believes. That’s his story…and he’s sticking to it!

  6. Not well said, Pat; I said NOTHING abt turning any clock back to “Biblical times.” I believe in God’s Law. It has not been repealed. We live in His world governed by His Law. You ignore It at your peril. Thus saith the Lord, numerous times, in His Word. We’re living in exciting times when we’re seeing God’s Word fulfilled in the collapse of America’s God-hating, self-centered, secular, the-State-is-God, order — disorder, actually. Will we repent and acknowledge that our ways have been wrong and we are merely men? This is still an open question. I see no signs of this yet….

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

    Recovering Republican

    JLof@aol.com

  7. timetochooseagain

    Are you implying that secular Conservatism believes in a God-State? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve been railing against when I speak of “political religion”. What it sounds to me like you believe is in some sort of Christian Social Anarchism Utopia where people are the nice, God-fearing kind of collectivists.

  8. Mr Lofton, I can’t argue religion with you because I am a heathen but I do wonder at you’re saying: “We live in His world governed by His Law.” Somehow I thought we lived in Caesar’s world and had to render unto to him etc and that the Kingdom of God is within not external, not of this world.

    Also, it has come to my attention that you are notorious in the blogosphere for spamming i.e. pasting this theocratic tract of yours willy-nilly on hundreds of blogs. That doesn’t bother me as much as it apparently does many others.

    I understand your passion but I don’t understand your desire to bring perfection to a fallen and temporary world which is as a blink of an eye in the eternity which is our true home.

  9. jhosey1206

    Hold on, you say that no one should hurt anyone else but you believe that people have the right to protect themselves from Tryanny, which may ultimately end up with them hurting someone else. You dont see the irony there?

    REPLY:There is a difference between the idea that people should be allowed to act with malice toward others in violent way, and self defense. You are looking at the situation backwards. The Tyrant is the agressor, not the serf. But there is another subtle point. The world is far from perfect. Sure, ideally harm should never come to individuals by other’s actions, but such a thing could be so broadly construed as to allow for ridiculous restrictions on people. What then is the point of protecting their lives if you’ve taken away their ability to live them out of such fear that any action they take may harm another? That is of course an extreme case-and even then they still have a right to continue living. But you apparrently construe the protecting people from harm to include protecting them from people trying to protect themselves from harm by others. I see no reason what so ever to abandon the idea that a society must protect people from other people as incompatible with one in which people may protect themselves if need be, including from tyrants who try to go beyond that. It’s hardly “ironic”.

    Now, it’s not that I don’t enjoy discussing these marginal parts of the issue, but it really doesn’t change the central point.

  10. jhosey1206

    I dont know, some people use self defense to justify acting in a malice way. Also you say the way to eliminate poverty is to make everyone free. Even if you make everyone free, its not gonna change the fact that they still live in poverty, they have to get themselves out of poverty, take risks. Also you dont have to show them that they live in poverty, Im pretty sure they already know.

    REPLY: You say “they have to get themselves out of poverty, take risks.” Yeah, that’s the point! But it is not about not “knowing” they are in poverty but being complacent in poverty. But there is something else, to. It is not about someone claiming they acted in self defense, it actual self defense which I refer to. Would you forbid all self defense for the sake of preventing a few fraudulent instances? Or would you try to uncover those instances and leave man free to defend himself?

    • jhosey1206

      Well if their complacent then its like the saying goes, you cant help those who dont want it. The government can make as many people free as they want, but its not their place to meddle in peoples lifes as you said. Its not their place to change the human condition. Its their place to run the government.

      REPLY: The government does not “make people free” they are born free. But you miss understand the problem I was getting at refering to complacency. The problem is that government intervention makes people complacent in their poverty-sure, some are naturally that way, but not many.

  11. John Lofton, Recovering Republican...

    “Free” meaning — what? “Free” from — what?

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

    Recovering Republican

    JLof@aol.com

    REPLY:John, if your that clueless, it becomes pointless to engage with you.