A Critique of Conservatism

A Critique of Conservatism

The very first sentence in Mark Levin’s book reads, “THERE IS SIMPLY NO scientific or mathematical formula that defines conservatism. This is probably true. If there were a scientific or mathematical formula for conservatism, we would find some logic in the ideology. Maybe we could make logical inferences and draw logical conclusions that would show that conservatism was steeped in some form of logic. However there really is no logic to conservatism. This came as no surprise to me. Conservatism does however have a prescribed doctrine. A Theory of Rationality. What would give me that impression you might ask? Glad you asked. In his lecture on The Origins of the Modern American Conservative Movement given to the Heritage Foundation in 2003, Dr. Lee Edwards cited Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind as providing the central idea upon which American conservatism is essentially based, calling it ordered liberty.

Kirk described six basic “canons” or principles of conservatism:


1. A divine intent, as well as personal conscience, rules society;


2. Traditional life is filled with variety and mystery while most radical systems are characterized by a narrowing uniformity;


3. Civilized society requires orders and classes;


4. Property and freedom are inseparably connected;


5. Man must control his will and his appetite, knowing that he is governed more by emotion than by reason; and


6. Society must alter slowly.


Edwards states that “the work established convincingly that there was a tradition of American conservatism that had existed since the Founding of the Republic. With one book, Russell Kirk made conservatism intellectually acceptable in America. Indeed, he gave the conservative movement its name.”

Lest we minimize the writings of Kirk, we should point out that one of his biggest supporters was “Mr.Conservative”, President Ronald Reagan. Reagan said this of Kirk:

“As the prophet of American conservatism, Russell Kirk has taught, nurtured, and inspired a generation. From . . . Piety Hill, he reached deep into the roots of American values, writing and editing central works of political philosophy. His intellectual contribution has been a profound act of patriotism. I look forward to the future with anticipation that his work will continue to exert a profound influence in the defense of our values and our cherished civilization.”
—Ronald Reagan, 1981

For several years he was a Distinguished Scholar of the Heritage Foundation. In 1989, President Reagan conferred on him the Presidential Citizens Medal. In 1991, he was awarded the Salvatori Prize for historical writing. Dr, Kirks conservative credentials are established. He is a conservative. He is qualified to speak on the meaning of conservatism. Far more so then Mark Levin.

This prompted me to examine a few of Kirks ideas which he put forth as his 10 principles of conservatism, in addition to his 6 “canons”. Kirk begins with his first principle as being that “the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order”.
He states, “Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.


Well, in taking a close examination of Plato, we see that to Plato, there was no natural sense on how men ought to live, education was to be the key to the construction of a better society; from that the “educated” would arise the elite to rule society. Plato thought it essential that a strict threefold class division be maintained. In addition to the rulers, the Philosopher-kings, there were to be “Auxiliaries” (soldiers, police and civil servants) and the “Workers” (the rest of us).

Plato’s view of society was pinned by the belief that philosophers are capable of knowing the absolute truth about how to rule society and thus are justified in wielding absolute power. Such a view is in striking contrast to that of his principal teacher, Socrates (469-399 BC), who was always conscious of how much he did not know, and claimed superiority to unthinking men only in that he was aware of his own ignorance where they were not.

Slave State:


Putting it mildly, Plato’s view was that we are ineradicably social, and that the individual person was not, and could not, be self-sufficient. In fact, Plato offered up humans like so many animals that could do nothing for themselves unless they had constant and detailed direction from those who were to be their leaders:
“... And even in the smallest manner ... [one] should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals ... only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently ... There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.” (The Republic.)

Incidentally, Plato took a dim view of democracy. To Plato, it made no sense that we should proceed to put people in charge who have shaky, or, worse yet, no philosophical positions. A “democratic” system turns up people to govern on the basis of what the majority of the voters say, a majority which when compared to the number of citizens (non-voting included) is likely in fact to be a minority of people who have no plans, no answers other than that necessary to get themselves elected. Plato may have been right in his views on democracy; the difficulty is Plato’s avowed and stated belief that men were unequal to one another. I say unequal, but that is putting it on a too charitable basis. To Plato society was to break down to those few who were to be the philosopher kings, and the rest of us, who were to be treated like laboring beasts of the field. The Platonic view of man is one that is in complete accord with the view of the socialist.

Not exactly what Sir Karl Popper would have called, an Open Society.

Kirks third principle states that, “conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription”. According to Kirk, “In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality”. Kirk is justifying prejudice here and we have many examples of conservatives over the years taking that justification to heart. This is an ample of the logical fallacy known as Appeal to Tradition (Argumentum Ad Traditio): This line of thought asserts that a premise must be true because people have always believed it or done it. It is almost an automatic knee jerk response by conservatives who base their ideology on preserving existing institutions.

Alternatively, it may conclude that the premise has always worked in the past and will thus always work in the future: “Jefferson City has kept its urban growth boundary at six miles for the past thirty years. That has been good enough for thirty years, so why should we change it now? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”( Healthcare anyone?) Such an argument is appealing in that it seems to be common sense, but it ignores important questions. Might an alternative policy work even better than the old one? Are there drawbacks to that long-standing policy? Are circumstances changing from the way they were thirty years ago?

The conservative Dixiecrat’s of the South such as Strom Thurmond who opposed the Civil Rights Act are prime examples. It’s no coincidence that Thurmond’s racist prejudice and an ideology that allowed him to justify that prejudice would find each other down in Dixie. Conservatism, whether in the hands of a Democrat or a Republican has never been friendly to minorities.

When Kirk states that “the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality”, what he is in fact endorsing is a collective theory of rationality and dismissing the liberal critical rationalism of the individual. It seems that although conservatives like to speak of individualism, it really amounts to little more than words. What they subscribe to according to Kirk, is a collective theory of rationality.

A conservative is without any doubt, a traditional rationalist. This simplifies his life since he need only apply his theory of rationality to whatever assertion is in question. As such, he need never distinguish between truth and falsity.

His theory does that for him. There is a conservative position on issues, and no more needs to be said. No thinking is necessary.

As Liberals have no such theory of rationality, they must distinguish between truth and falsity themselves. I think it’s important to see that Conservative doctrine and dogma precedes Levin’s “Conservative Manifesto” Levin is merely the latest version of something we’ve seen before.

In Kirks Fifth principle he states, “conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety”. In this principle he claims that “For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at leveling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality”.

What we have here is a justification for a hierarchal society. Otherwise known as an aristocracy. We also see a justification for prejudice and bigotry as being a good and necessary part of the conservative concept of society. We also see, a justification for the segregation that occurred in the south where natural and institutional differences were destroyed in the eyes of conservatives.

Getting back to Levin’s book, on the very first page of the book, Levin states that “what follows are my own opinions and conclusions of fundamental truths, based on decades of observation, exploration, and experience, about conservatism and , conversely, non-conservatism – that is, liberty and tyranny. All things conservative = liberty. All things NOT conservative = tyranny. In short, if you aren’t a conservative, you’re a tyrant. He cannot demonstrate why what he’s saying is true, but if you don’t agree with his ideology…it’s because you aspire to being a tyrant.


On page 4 of his book, Levin says, “The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state, thereby rejecting the principles of the Declaration of Independence (written by the Liberal Thomas Jefferson) and the order of the civil society, in whole or part.” He goes on to say that “As the word “liberal” is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate, therefore, to characterize the “Modern Liberal” as a Statist. Levin creates a monolithic character called “Modern Liberal”. The definition of monolithic is characterized by massiveness and rigidity and total uniformity; “a monolithic society”; “a monolithic worldwide movement” The “Modern Liberal” here is characterized by massiveness and rigidity and total uniformity; “a monolithic society”; “a monolithic worldwide movement”. Therefore, all liberals are part of a massive and rigid and totally uniform way of thinking.

This probably comes as quite a shock to liberals who don’t ever seem to agree on anything. Organizing liberals has been equated to trying to herd cats. The humorist Will Rogers once said,” “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” However, Levin casts non-conservatives monolithically as “statists”. A term he took from Reagan. Throughout his book, Levin describes all evils as the designs of the “statist” otherwise known as, “the modern liberal”... the non-conservative. He claims that conservatism is the antidote to tyranny precisely because its principles are the founding principles.

But they really aren’t, Mr. Levin. The founding principles of the United States are grounded in liberalism. What Mark Levin is doing here as attempting to co-opt and re-write the very historical foundations of this country into a conservative ideology that was totally at odds with the reality of the American revolution. He’s trying to present conservatism in a light that gives it a patina of patriotism and legitimacy.

Levin and others make a distinction between what they call “classical liberals” and today’s “modern liberal”. This shows a basic lack of understanding of what liberalism is. It never stands still. It constantly evolves. To think that the “classical liberal” of the 18th century would remain in one spot is to ignore completely what liberalism is, and give it conservative characteristics that it doesn’t have. It’s the conservative that remains steadfast in a position. Not the liberal. Hayek, the man he loves to quote, would tell him that. Liberalism is a philosophy that is open ended. It’s never completely fulfilled like that of conservatism. In this sense, conservatism is ideological and dogmatic. It resists change. Liberalism IS change. That’s what it’s about.


The economist F.A. Hayek; whom Levin loves to quote, wrote in his essay, Why I’m Not a Conservative, “There has never been a time when liberal ideals were fully realized and when liberalism did not look forward to further improvement of institutions. Liberalism is not averse to evolution and change; and where spontaneous change has been smothered by government control, it wants a great deal of change of policy. So far as much of current governmental action is concerned, there is in the present world very little reason for the liberal to wish to preserve things as they are. It would seem to the liberal, indeed, that what is most urgently needed in most parts of the world is a thorough sweeping away of the obstacles to free growth”.

He goes on : “As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead. The conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate to whatever appeals to the more timid mind. In looking forward, they lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment which makes the liberal accept changes without apprehension, even though he does not know how the necessary adaptations will be brought about. The conservative feels safe and content only if he is assured that some higher wisdom watches and supervises change, only if he knows that some authority is charged with keeping the change “orderly.” A conservative is authoritarian by nature and his entire ideology is an appeal to authority. His very acceptance of a theory of rationality such as conservative ideology is an appeal to authority.

In John Deans book, “Conservatives without Conscience” he pointed out the authoritarianism of the conservative.

“It’s difficult for most rightwingers to talk about any subject about which they feel strongly without attacking others. Right wing authoritarians are motivated by a fear of a dangerous world. The factor that makes right wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an attack mode is their remarkable self-righteousness. They’re so sure they are not only right, but holy and pure, that they are bursting with indignation and a desire to smite down their enemies.”

Right Wing Authoritarian – Followers:

  • men and women
  • submissive to authority
  • aggressive on behalf of authority
  • Conventional
  • highly religious
  • moderate to little education
  • trust untrustworthy authorities
  • prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own
  • mean-spirited
  • narrow-minded
  • Intolerant
  • Bullying
  • Zealous
  • Dogmatic
  • uncritical toward chosen authority
  • Hypocritical
  • inconsistent and contradictory
  • prone to panic easily
  • highly self-righteous
  • Moralistic
  • strict disciplinarian
  • severely punitive
  • demands loyalty and returns it
  • little self awareness
  • usually politically and economically conservative/Republican

Ad Verecundiam

An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.
Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.

Does the inclusion of comments by Hayek amount to an appeal to authority? No. Hayeks comments are his views on why is is not a conservative. Hayek is also a source used by Levin to support Levins conservatism. But Hayek is NOT a conservative and here he is telling us why.

Hayek adds : “This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles, it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule. A commitment to principles presupposes an understanding of the general forces by which the efforts of society are co-operating, but it is such a theory of society and especially of the economic mechanism that conservatism conspicuously lacks. So unproductive has conservatism been in producing a general conception of how a social order is maintained that its modern advocates, in trying to construct a theoretical foundation, invariably find themselves appealing almost exclusively to authors who regarded themselves as liberal. Macaulay, Tocqueville, Lord Acton, and Lecky certainly considered themselves liberals, and with justice; and even Edmund Burke remained an Old Whig to the end and would have shuddered at the thought of being regarded as a Tory”.

He continues : “Let me return, however, to the main point, which is the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule – not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them. Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people”.

“When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire.

To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.”

“It is for this reason that to the liberal neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion, while both conservatives and socialists recognize no such limits. I sometimes feel that the most conspicuous attribute of liberalism that distinguishes it as much from conservatism as from socialism is the view that moral beliefs concerning matters of conduct which do not directly interfere with the protected sphere of other persons do not justify coercion. This may also explain why it seems to be so much easier for the repentant socialist to find a new spiritual home in the conservative fold than in the liberal.”

“In the last resort, the conservative position rests on the belief that in any society there are recognizably superior persons whose inherited standards and values and position ought to be protected and who should have a greater influence on public affairs than others. The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people – he is not an egalitarian – but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are. While the conservative inclines to defend a particular established hierarchy and wishes authority to protect the status of those whom he values, the liberal feels that no respect for established values can justify the resort to privilege or monopoly or any other coercive power of the state in order to shelter such people against the forces of economic change. Though he is fully aware of the important role that cultural and intellectual elites have played in the evolution of civilization, he also believes that these elites have to prove themselves by their capacity to maintain their position under the same rules that apply to all others.”

These are the words of F.A. Hayek. Why I’m not a Conservative. A man that Levin, the conservative, loves to quote.


Today’s modern conservative will be quick to tell you that today’s modern liberal is not a liberal by their standards. But Liberalism doesn’t care about their standards. It never has. Liberalism doesn’t stay in one place. And the Liberalism of our founders was always meant to evolve. The conservative may not like what it has evolved into by their conservative standards, but that’s to be expected. Again, it isn’t liberalisms intention to meet conservative standards. Liberals have their own, and those standards continue to evolve as new challenges are confronted. It is still true that the American liberal believes that society can and should be improved, and that the way to improve it is to apply human intelligence to social and economic problems. The conservative, on the other hand, opposes efforts at purposeful change — especially when they threaten the existing distribution of power and wealth — because he believes that things are about as good as they can be reasonably expected to be, and that any change is more likely than not to be for the worse.”

One thing we have learned from the writers and spokesmen of the conservative movement is their love of tradition. As Kirk said, “Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted”. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine a conservative going along with a radical revolution in 1776 that was certain to upset the custom, convention and continuity of the devil they knew, in order to replace it with the devil they didn’t know. It goes completely against the ideals of conservatism. Their DNA would reject it. I can only speculate, but I have little doubt in my mind as to who’s side the conservative would have been on. I believe they were called Tory’s.

The founding principles of this country are rooted in the rejection of the concept of the Divine Right of Kings. It’s a rejection of the aristocracy, the embrace of self rule, and freedom from authoritarian dictatorship whether it be a monarchy or any other form of supreme authority. The freedom of speech is not a conservative concept. It’s a liberal concept. The freedom of religion is not conservative. It’s liberal. Freedom itself is liberal. It’s the liberation from those things that would restrict its freedom to think and act according to one’s own conscience. The American revolution took place during the late 18th century during the height of the Enlightenment. Looking back at Kirk’s claims, one can examine the statements that “A divine intent, as well as personal conscience, rules society”, and ” Civilized society requires orders and classes.”
A divine intent pre-supposes not only that a divinity is at hand, but that its intent can be determined. A personal conscience is, of course, a matter of subjectivity. A religious view appears to be essential to conservative thought. According to Professor Gerhard Rempel of Western New England College, “to understand the Enlightenment and the foundations of democracy is to know that doctrinal substance was less important than overall philosophy.” It wasn’t as much Descartes’ reason as it was Newton’s Laws. Not abstraction and definition, but rather observation and experience.

The real power of reason lay not in the possession, but in the I of truth. The ideal for knowledge was a further development of 17th century logic and science with an emphasis on:

1. The particular rather than the general;
2. Observable facts rather than principles;
3. Experience rather than rational speculation.

Liberalism is more easily recognized for what it is not, than for what it is. Since it doesn’t subscribe to a rigid theory of rationality it doesn’t employ a positive or assertive methodology in determining truth. A liberal critical rationalist would recognize that there simply is no “positive” method whereby we can obtain the truth. Not only this, liberalism suggests that attemping to hold to such a “positive” method might narrow our viewpoint such that the quest for truth is made more difficult. In an attempt to get our decision about the truth to fit with some narrow view of what the method of truth “should” be, we will be restricting ourselves in a way that is unnecessary. After all, there is no one method that is the end-all-be-all of obtaining truth. Unless of course you are a conservative. Rush Limbaugh and certainly Mark Levin would tell you otherwise.

A liberal will argue against “positive” methods for obtaining the truth, which overly restrict our viewpoints.


Critical Rationalist Philosopher Matt Dioguardi, pointed this out in an essay:

“An important thing to note is that conservatism (traditional rationalism) leads to irrationalism. Imagine you have a theory of rationality. How did you decide about this theory? As this is your meta-theory, used to decide on a theory of rationality, it cannot judge itself in terms of rationality. Any “positive” argument in regards to rationality cannot judge itself without creating circular argument.”

For example:


A: Why are you rational?


B: Because I listen to God.


A: How do you know that listening to God is rational.


B: Because God told me.


That’s circular.

“By asserting there is a theory of rationality, this leads you to the next move, which is why is the theory of rationality, in and of itself, rational? Here you can only assert it was an irrational choice and all such first choices are by necessity irrational. As such you open the door to whole scale irrationality. If you allow one choice, then why not many. A critical rationalist avoids having to make this capitulation to irrationality by NOT offering any “positive” theory of rationality.”


“The only possible benefit you can possibly receive from having a “positive” theory of rationality is it can give you a sense of moral superiority when dealing with others. That is, if you think your theory of rationality is correct, you could be “sure” you were right and whoever disagrees with you is wrong. Or at least you could argue that way. However, your opponent could merely point out your theory of rationality itself was also irrational. At this point the argument ends. You both take your irrational stand and the only way to resolve the conflict is to engage in violence.”


“People with theories of rationality take stands, critical rationalists keep arguing. They keep trying to shift through the ideas to try and figure-out where the disagreement lays and what might resolve it. This is an endless process. It might not be resolved until some new ideas come along. But even then, this will probably only lead to new disagreements. All the better.”

Liberalism could almost be viewed as the complete absence of holding of any traditional theory of rationality. Of course this is the very thing that irritates the conservative who is steeped in traditional thinking.

In an interview with Sean Hannity, Levin states that conservatives are the beneficiaries of thousands of years of human experience. He then refers to Obama and others as relying on philosophies a couple of hundred years old. That’s interesting considering that aside from the Ancient Greeks, Democracy as we know it is only as old as this country itself…approximately 218 years old. Those philosophies that preceded it were aristocratic, authoritarian, or theocratic. They were not democratic. They were exactly the philosophies that our founders rejected.

Essentially, Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy. Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world, which is exactly why it’s floundering today. Going back to Kirk, we see that In Kirks Fifth principle he states, “conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety”. In this principle he claims that “For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at eveling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality”. What we have here is a justification for a hierarchal society. Otherwise known as an aristocracy. We also see a justification for prejudice and bigotry as being a good and necessary part of the conservative concept of society.

Levin re-iterates that “our principles are tried and true. They’ve been tried for centuries”. Yet again, Democracy as we know it only began at the time of the ratification of the constitution. So what philosophy is he talking about that preceded democracy? Certainly it wasn’t something that our founders sought to replicate. Levin hits the main problem with conservatism. He states that we can’t salute a philosophy that is antithetical to our history (that’s a subjective view and could be debated forever) or to our BELIEF SYSTEM. And that is where the problem lies. Conservatism is by Levin’s own admission, a belief system. But being so it can never demonstrate itself as being true. It’s an ideology actually formalized by Russell Kirk who provided 6 canons that conservatives follow. Canons? Conservatism today has taken on the mantle of a religious cult. It has a doctrine that must be followed religiously or you risk excommunication. It is a Theory of Rationality that cannot justify itself through any authority other then itself. It’s a circular argument and irrational. A theory cannot use itself to justify itself.

The problem with ideological thinking like this is that it assumes its own infallibility. That it is flawless. Yet it was created by fallible men. Is it even remotely possible that it could be wrong? Can an idea created by fallible men be infallible? The question is can it even demonstrate how it’s true. If it can, then maybe Levin could provide the methodology that he uses to prove it. He writes a book that is the Conservative Manifesto, defining conservatism. By defining it, he is unconsciously limiting the reach of its own effectiveness. Once he defines it then it’s not possible to be something beyond that definition. Its potential for greatness is limited to what he’s described. That is self limiting and completely contrary to free-thought and democracy. If, in a democracy those ideas are rejected as they have been recently, then perhaps he might reevaluate his ideas. But no! That isn’t possible because the ideology can’t be wrong. He can’t demonstrate how it’s true, but it can’t be wrong. But if something cannot possibly be wrong, then how can it be right. In order for something to be right it must contain the possibility of being wrong. For something to be true, it must contain the possibility of being false otherwise you’re merely preaching a belief, rather than something that can be proven right or wrong empirically. You would have nothing to compare that truth to. In the world of Mark Levin, conservatism cannot be wrong.

The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Mark Levin has no interest in democracy. His only interest is a return to an aristocratic society of Lords and serfs.

I was asked by a poster on a political forum once to tell why I thought conservatism is a “twisted ideology”. I was expected by this Poster X to define conservatism. But that isn’t my job. That’s the job of conservatives. They look for definition but since the Enlightenment, liberal thought realized that it wasn't abstration and definition, but rather observation and experience that was important. That the real power of reason lay not in the possession but in the acquisition of Truth.They present themselves and say,” this is me”. They don’t present themselves and expect me to define them to satisfy my preconceptions. But these very people will attempt to define a liberal in a monolithic sense as if all liberals are this, or all liberals are that. Liberals want to kill your granny. Liberals want to take your money. Liberals want to eat your kids. Liberalism = tyranny.

Sweeping generalizations that are simply stunning in their stupidity. It would be like me trying to define what a muslim is. Not being a muslim, how could I possible know what it means? A Muslim can define his religion far better and more accurately then I ever could. So the complaint that I’ve used the definition of conservatism as provided by conservatives themselves, is empty headed and shows enormous ignorance of how the process of critique is done. This critique is based on conservative definitions of themselves and the lack of logic and rational critical thinking that it uses. There is no basis for it to rationally justify itself, any more than any other religion. As Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind, the man that gave the Conservative movement its name, and Ronald Reagans political guru said: "Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. It cannot demonstrate itself as true, and is simply another authoritarian theory of rationality that has all the charactoristics of a cult religion complete with it's own doctrine, rigid ideology and dogma.

 Adagio4639

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Comments 16 comments

Valentine Logar profile image

Valentine Logar 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Very well done! Great referencing.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 6 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

Thanks Val.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

You wrote: "there really is no logic to conservatism"

Horserubbish. Conservatives are the defenders of Traditional Values, Objective Truth, Liberty, Freedom, Tradition, Custom, Virtues, Marriage, Free Market Capitalism, Religion, America and Life. I cannot think of any political position that is so utterly logical.

As you note, "Levin says, “The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state"

That is absolutely true.

You wrote: "The founding principles of the United States are grounded in liberalism."

Yes, they are: In Classical Liberalism. As sharp as I can tell you by the rest of your writings I know that you know the difference between Classical Liberalism and Progressive Liberalism.

You wrote: "one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change"

That is not so. Conservatives do not want "bad change." We are perfectly fine with "change" itself as long as it is change for the good. I changed from fax machines to email. Not a problem.

What Progressives want is "destructive change" and "deconstruction." They want to destroy all that is good, true, beautiful, and virtuous in the world. They can only take this stance on the one tenet from which their entire philosophy flows: Moral Relativism.

You wrote: "The conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate to whatever appeals to the more timid mind. In looking forward, they lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment."

Nonsense. Conservatives are not inclined to use the power of government at all. It is Progressive Liberals who look to the government to dominate every facet of life because it is they who "lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment," such as in the Free Market.

You wrote: " A conservative is authoritarian by nature"

Now that is a downright stupid statement. You know that conservatives favor the smallest government possible and the smallest government possible CANNOT be authoritarian. The farthest to the right of the political scale is anarchy—no government. To the left of that is Libertarianism. Then comes conservatives. To the farthest left of the political scale is totalitarianism. Just to the right of that is authoritarianism. Then comes Progressive Liberals.

You say: " that makes right wingers faster than most people to attack others"

Not so. The hostility of the rhetoric and actions by Leftists is far more prominent than that of conservatives.

You laughingly say " A liberal will argue against “positive” methods for obtaining the truth"

A Modern Liberal denies that there is any such thing as the Truth. And that is circular. How can your idea that is no Objective Truth be True?

You say, apparently with a straight face, that " But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are."

No political philosophy is so caught up in the opinions of "elites" than is progressive liberalism. It is by nature anti-democratic because it believes in government by experts that know better than the little sheep.

Both conservatives and Progressives take action. But Progressives rush at their objectives without being mindful of the law of unintended consequences, which can cause greater harm than the harm they wish to abolish. The conservative acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. The mind of the social liberal has instead the diabolical imagination of a decadent society—man living day to day, or rather moment to moment, as dogs do.

Since you like to quote Russell Kirk, I will also do so:

"The conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. The nature of man cannot be changed. Moral truths are fixed and permanent; and all social questions are questions of private morality. Political problems are at bottom religious and moral problems. A society in which individuals are governed by a belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, will be a good society. A society in which men and women are morally adrift, intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society."

"Man being imperfect, no perfect order ever can be created. Utopia is an impossibility, an illusion of secularists that is incompatible with the true nature of man. The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century into a terrestrial hell."

"All great civilizations have been built on the foundation of private property. Economic leveling through redistributive tax schemes, confiscation of property, and the suppression of competition is not conducive to liberty or economic progress. Private property is a powerful instrument for teaching individual responsibility—to be able to retain the fruits of one's labor; to be able to bequeath one's property to posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one's own."

"Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. In a genuine community, decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. A centralized administration of bureaucrats, however well intentioned, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities. That experiment has been made before; and it has been disastrous. "

"The true natural rights of men are equal justice before the law, security of property, and the benefits of an orderly society. It should seem obvious that 'absolute liberty' and 'absolute equality' are conspicuously unnatural conditions. Men are not equal. A government which ignores this fact becomes an unjust dominion, for it sacrifices talents to mediocrity. The resulting degradation frustrates the natural longing of talented men to realize their abilities and impedes any improvement, qualitatively, of the moral, intellectual, and material condition of mankind—and thus the well-being of the general population."


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 5 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

James...you're making my point for me. Look at what you write. I stated this: "there really is no logic to conservatism" You replied: "Horserubbish. Conservatives are the defenders of Traditional Values, Objective Truth, Liberty, Freedom, Tradition, Custom, Virtues, Marriage, Free Market Capitalism, Religion, America and Life. I cannot think of any political position that is so utterly logical".

None of those points have anything to do with logic. You're confusing logic with values. None of your values can be demonstrated as being true. They're simply your values. That makes them subjective. Not objectively true. Being a "defender of Traditional values" isn't a position of logic. In fact, the appeal to tradition is a logical fallacy. Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or "always has been done." This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:

X is old or traditional

Therefore X is correct or better.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because the age of something does not automatically make it correct or better than something newer. This is made quite obvious by the following example: The theory that witches and demons cause disease is far older than the theory that microrganisms cause diseases. Therefore, the theory about witches and demons must be true.

You then present a list of values such as "liberty", "Freedom" etc. as if you have some claim or monopoly on them which you don't. You even go as far as to list Relgion. What is logical about religion. Demonstrate for me or anyone else how your religion is true. What is it based on?? What do you base that claim on? The statement is as far removed from one of logic as you can get. In order to even try to demonstrate that for me, you'll have to resort to circular reasoning. That's hardly an example of logic. You then even claim America, which was founded by a group of radical liberals in revolution against the conservative authority of a monarchy. The entire idea of the country was built on the Enlightenment philosophy of thinkers like John Locke who defied the divine right of kings. There isn't an ounce of logic in your statement.

>"“The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state" That is absolutely true."<

No. I'm afraid that isn't "absolutely true" Thats another problem with conservatives. You assume absolutes that don't exist. A basic flaw in your thinking is that you always seek to define others on your terms rather than theirs. You see liberals as monolithic because you yourself are monolithic and live under the assumption that everyone thinks as you do. But they don't. That's what makes them liberals and you conservative. Conservatives hold to a doctrine as I've pointed out. It was presented by Russel Kirk back in 1953 and it was the guiding principles that Reagan lived by. There is no such doctrine to liberalism. It's totally individualistic. No two liberals agree on the same things except that conservatives are narrow minded and dogmatic. It leans on science rather than faith in making its decisions. Fact rather than belief systems.

>"That is not so. Conservatives do not want "bad change." We are perfectly fine with "change" itself as long as it is change for the good. I changed from fax machines to email. Not a problem."<

But who defines what is "bad" change and what is "good" change? You?? Suppose I disagree with you on what is bad and what is good. Which of us is right? I would say that change which moves the country forward and is responsive to the needs of the people is change for good. Eliminating those things that have moved the country forward and taken peoples rights and economic power is negative and bad. Passing laws that benefit the smallest percentage of Americans at the detriment of the vast majority is a bad idea.

>"Now that is a downright stupid statement. You know that conservatives favor the smallest government possible and the smallest government possible CANNOT be authoritarian."<

Of course it can.The smallest form of government would be a monarchy. A King that rules the entire thing with divine authority. Concentration of power into the fewest hands possible is about as authoritarian as it gets. You're placing the vast power of the nation into the hands of a small handful of people that can and will use it to their advantage everytime. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Likewise power by committee is absurd. People like yourself always preach small government. Ok..but you never say how small. What exactly is the right size for you? Precisely. We have a nation of over 300 million. How do you propose to deal with the needs of a modern society. The proposals made by conservatives are ridiculous. They aren't interested in Jobs except for one. The White House. They put party and ideology before the country. You may point to the president and say look how low his poll numbers are. 46%. But look at congress. It's at 9%. That's Republican obstructionism being judged by America.

>"It is Progressive Liberals who look to the government to dominate every facet of life because it is they who "lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment," such as in the Free Market."<

We've seen the "Free Market" approach already. 8 years of Bush deregulation have brought us to this point. And your answer is to deregulate more. We tend to like knowing that there are things that protect the consumer from the practices of businesses that would poison us if they could make a product cheaper.

>"You laughingly say " A liberal will argue against “positive” methods for obtaining the truth""<

That's because there isn't. Show me one. Demonstrate for me a positive method for obtaining truth.

>"A Modern Liberal denies that there is any such thing as the Truth. And that is circular. How can your idea that is no Objective Truth be True?"<

Wrong again. I am a modern liberal and I don't deny Truth at all. What I deny is that you can possess it. Nobody has a monopoly on Truth. You can however aquire it incrementally. So your assumption that I'm claiming that objective truth doesn't exist is false.

As for conservatives and truth; In an AP story I found this: Iowa GOP Rep: Obama “favors the black person”. It seems that Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says President Obama favors blacks over whites and a GOP candidate from Colorado has canceled a fundraiser the Iowan was to keynote. Rep. Steve King, known for sometimes incendiary remarks about immigration, Abu Ghraib and other issues criticized Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder who also is black, in an interview Monday on G. Gordon Liddy’s nationally syndicated radio talk show,.” I’m offended by Eric Holder and the president also for their posture”, said King. “It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race”.

Holder, in a 2009 speech, did not suggest that whites are more cowardly than blacks when discussing race as King indicated in the radio interview.

This is what Holder said; “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot”, Holder said, “In things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards”.

Christopher Reed, an Iowa conservative activist, defended King. “He is one of those few politicians who actually says what he thinks”. “Reed said. “One man’s controversy is another man’s truth” !? Really??

That’s quite a statement from a conservative activist. What he’s saying here is that Truth is relative. So it’s clear that Mr. Reed is a Relativist who doesn’t believe in Truth at all. If Truth is relative, then there is no Truth. That might put him at odds with Iowa conservatives that think that the Bible IS the Truth. But of course being a conservative in Iowa, how many people are going to think about what he said, and consider his hypocrisy as their own?

One mans controversy is another mans truth. That's a conservative saying that truth is relative. How can you claim that Objective Truth is real, and claim that it's relative at the same time?? Do conservatives ever


Thomas Thyros 5 years ago

Hello adagio4639:

Love what I read here! Very well done, informative, and intelligently delivered.

It's interesting that you haven't received more comments from the Right, trying to defend themselves and their positions. However, it is not surprising. Fact, for many, is a menace to their senses. Especially when their tradition or traditions are in question.

Unfortunately, there is no changing the wayward mind, or ideology, but through hardship caused by its belief. A state of conscience is only influenced by its suffering. Perhaps these people of Conservative belief will see that progression is the true tradition. It is the fear of many that keeps us from progressing the state of our nation to the next level of betterment.

Thanks for posting this intelligent hub.

Writer

Thomas Thyros.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

It is obvious that you and I are not on the same level.

and I am not going to pretend I am even close to being on the same level of reasoning as you. You are clearly a well spoken and intelligent man.

Sometimes I think one can "overthink" a given situation and perhaps OVER analyze issues.

I have lived and based my life on simple, common sense, truths.

The conservative ideology is exactly that.

At least it is through my eyes....

I DO have a faith in God. I have a faith in the Bible...and find it very enlightening. Full of simple truths.

I can only speak for myself, but I will say that many conservatives has been sterotyped by liberals as you described with your list of right wing authoritarian followers.

I do not believe that Christian Conservative are submissive to any authority other than God.

I do not believe that being a Christian Conservative makes you highly religious…

Nor do I think we trust untrustworthy authorities, at least no more than the next guy…we all have our moments.

Prejudiced? This is the biggest “lie” and “insulting” of them all….I, hate no one. Period.

Mean-spirited?....c’mon. Some of the meanest spirited people I have met have been liberal.

Narrow minded is found to be rampart on both ideologies.

Intolerant, perhaps this one is accurate to a degree…and I do not find it to be a bad thing necessarily.

Bullying? Really? Again, I can point to some liberals who make a living at this “virtue”.

Zealous? Absolutely! Yes that is me….100%

Dogmatic? Again, found on both sides….as I believe YOU fit this word to a tee…and that is a compliment.

I think I have made MY point…and I am sure that you can and will, reject them with articulate words of wisdom….again; this is a compliment not an attack.

The bottom line is this; I simply think that the liberal ideology is a force that is turning America into a place that is not in the best interest of its citizens or as a Nation.

I vote up awesome and interesting.

Your conservative pal,

Chris


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

First off, thanks for the compliments. It wasn't expected but it's appreciated.

On this; "Sometimes I think one can "overthink" a given situation and perhaps OVER analyze issues."

I think that's true in some situations, but I don't think it is in regards to politics because we are talking about things that effect peoples lives, and for that reason alone, I think it's vital to look at the ideas that are put forth and examine them for their truth and their consistency. Very often statements are made in absolute terms, mostly by conservatives I might add, which should be held up to scrutiny in order to determine if they are in fact absolute. When we find that they fall apart, it's important to follow the logic as to where that statement is coming from. Usually it's built around some emotional response to an issue. There is no doubt an entire philosophy is built around it, and it's that philosophy which is bidding to guide this country. The question then becomes is the philosophy built on rational grounds or irrational grounds. Most people are foundationalists in their thinking. I'm not. So I'm going to require people to present the foundations to their thinking for examination before I ever sign on to it. It's called Critical Thinking and I think it's missing in America today. I never simply accept what somebody says and can't understand why anybody would. What is the Authority that they speak from? If it comes down to God or the Bible or some other religious belief, I'm afraid that isn't going to win the day let alone the debate. All that amounts to is preaching some belief system which I have no interest in.

"I can only speak for myself, but I will say that many conservatives has been sterotyped by liberals as you described with your list of right wing authoritarian followers."

Actually that list were traits of authoritarian personality's. Not necessarily conservatives although they do tend to fit the "Profile". Now I know that conservatives have no problem with "profiling" when it comes to other people. But it does seem to be a problem when it's pointed at them doesn't it?

"I do not believe that Christian Conservative are submissive to any authority other than God."

But that in itself is submission to a perceived authority. An authority that we can't even prove exists. So it's submission to an authority that you believe in. Except, not everyone shares your belief. I'd argue that it isn't the only one. Lets take for example James own use of quotations from Russell Kirk. I used Kirks quotations to critique them. James however, used them as a source of authority to support his ideology. Look here:

"The conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order." Clearly that order is coming from some authority figure.

The nature of man cannot be changed. Moral truths are fixed and permanent; and all social questions are questions of private morality. Political problems are at bottom religious and moral problems.

James is quoting Kirk right here to establish the conservative position on religion, which is ALWAYS authoritarian, within politics and the conservative political doctrine. Conservatism as practiced today is simply another religion with it's dogma and doctrine to follow as any other religion.

"A society in which individuals are governed by a belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, will be a good society."

That is a position of submission to authoritarianism. You know this. That form of society requires an authority figure to enforce that "moral order".

"Prejudiced? This is the biggest “lie” and “insulting” of them all….I, hate no one. Period."

That's great. I'm glad to hear that. However those that are running for president within the Republican Party, all of whom claim to own conservative credentials, clearly do have deeply rooted prejudice toward either the African American community or the Gay community. I don't have to accuse them, their own words condemn them.

"Narrow minded is found to be rampart on both ideologies."

I don't think so. Liberalism is not an ideology. It has no doctrine. No dogma to follow. No canon's of liberalism. There is a Conservative Manifesto. You can't get any more ideological than writing a manifesto explaining your ideology. There is no liberal equivalent. A liberal is known more for what he is NOT than for what he is. An open mind is essential to liberal thinking. That's because he knows he could be wrong. So there is always something new to learn. He's a fallibalist. The notion of an open minded conservative is an oxymoron. He already knows that he's right. While he may admit that he's a fallibalist, he thinks that his ideology is infallibly correct...even though it's been created by fallible man.

"Dogmatic? Again, found on both sides….as I believe YOU fit this word to a tee…and that is a compliment."

You may think so, but I don't follow any dogma. I purged myself of that kind of thinking many years ago when I was a young man. In order to follow one, I'd have to buy into a theory of rationality, which I don't. The framework I come from permits a rationalist to be characterized as one who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself, open to criticism; one who never cuts off an argument by resorting to faith, or irrational commitment to justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is committed, attached, addicted, to no position. I have no qualms about putting my own ideas up to criticism. I recognize the fallibility of human beings. Nobody owns the Truth, including me. So, I’m not attempting to defend anything. No dogma to defend. So...before suggesting that I'm being dogmatic, first define that word, and then look for how it applies to me. That would carry a lot more weight then simply saying..."I believe YOU fit this word to a tee…and that is a compliment. For me, dogma is really more baggage than I need in my life.


Dennis 4 years ago

Overarching advice to Mr. Brown is ‘heal thyself’. Based on a review of his website when it comes to worshipping false idols I can only imagine Mr. Brown has a drawer full of Che Guevara t-shirts (which I’m sure were manufactured in a third world sweatshop).

For someone who presents himself as so cock-sure about conservatism, of which Mr. Brown has no apparent literate background, it is startling to see how he preaches against a ‘true believer’ mentality. He seems to be a ‘true believer’ against conservatism, but he has no understanding of conservatism whatsoever. However, based on Mr. Brown’s website, he has imbedded himself as a ‘true believer’ in the socialist ideology of the left and it’s new leader, President Obama. Ah, Mr. Brown, we despise what we are, don’t we?

Are Mr. Brown’s points the quintessence of hypocrisy? Or are they representative of a poor soul who struggles against the fact that his historically-proven failed socialist ideologies have infected his DNA to the extent that he is crazed with scorn (since he is unable to change his belief system) when faced with conservatism, an historically proven tradition of principles beliefs and values that are the bedrock of America.

His scathing attacks on conservatism and it’s principles, Russell Kirk, F.A. Hayek’s views on conservatism and direct attacks on Mark Levin’s conservative beliefs clearly indicate a lack of any understanding of conservatism, Kirk and Hayek. What they do display is the same old, same old patented ignorant and lemming –like socialist/democratic party talking point notations.

Cicero, Burke, Bobbitt, Disraeli, John and Samuel Adams, Jefferson, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis. One could go on and on, but Mr. Brown take a page from your own advice of “believing in something doesn't make it true” given your socialist belief system and read Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” and open your mind son.

While I have you in the mood please actually read Kirk’s 10 principles, which started out as 6 and you will see how Kirk states, “The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata.” Yes, son, conservatism is NOT an ideology, but a set of sentiments and Kirk was very resistant to memorialize these canons with the fear that people such as yourself, who are mesmerized by ideology and need ‘steps’ to be provided to them by their idols, i.e., Obama, Lenin, Castro, Hitler, etc., would attempt to characterize conservatism as an ideology. By the mere fact that Kirk increased the principles (not ideologies) from 6 to 10 supports the fact that conservatism is an open-minded view of the world.

You see Mr. Brown, conservatism respects, venerates and learns from the vast history of tradition, versus your socialist ideology of close minded, impulse, short-sightedness, secular, power hungry central planners who, in their ‘infinite wisdom’, choose winners and losers, which has been representative of the downfall of once great societies. Your socialism is based on the favor of the moment ideology driven by your flavor of the moment leaders.

BTW Mr. Brown, Hayek characterized himself as an “old Whig”. Well Mr. Brown another reading assignment for you on the history of Edmund Burke, the most famous and original ‘old Whig’ and the father of conservative thought.

Son, since I seriously doubt you will take the time to be conversant and understand the subject you revile I will make this easy for you since reading may not be your wheelhouse---the watchword specifically for you is PRUDENCE; LEARN IT. Maybe then even you and will open your mind to truly understand the body of sentiments we call conservatism.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

"Based on a review of his website when it comes to worshipping false idols I can only imagine Mr. Brown has a drawer full of Che Guevara t-shirts (which I’m sure were manufactured in a third world sweatshop)."

You'd be wrong. I own none.

"For someone who presents himself as so cock-sure about conservatism, of which Mr. Brown has no apparent literate background it is startling to see how he preaches against a ‘true believer’ mentality."

Why? My critique is entirely based on conservatives description of themselves. That's all.

"He seems to be a ‘true believer’ against conservatism, but he has no understanding of conservatism whatsoever."

Wrong again. Belief has nothing to do with the critique of conservatism. My understanding of it comes from their own descriptions of themselves. Not from any assertion on my part. It's an ideology that has no basis to it.

"However, based on Mr. Brown’s website, he has imbedded himself as a ‘true believer’ in the socialist ideology of the left and it’s new leader, President Obama. Ah, Mr. Brown, we despise what we are, don’t we?"

You aren't doing very well here. Belief isn't part of the fabric here. I don't invest in belief systems. They always fall short of expectations.And I don't subscribe to ideologies. They're closed systems. Philosophies are open to new information.

"Are Mr. Brown’s points the quintessence of hypocrisy? Or are they representative of a poor soul"..."when faced with conservatism, an historically proven tradition of principles beliefs and values that are the bedrock of America."

You make not one but two logical errors here. The first is called a False Dichotomy. You suggest only two possibilities. 1 the "quintessence of hypocrisy; and 2. that I'm a poor soul ravaged by the historically proven tradition values and beliefs of conservatism that are the "bedrock" of America . There is another possibility. That I'm correct. The second error is that you are relying on history as having proven a set of values and principles as desirable. I'm afraid that history doesn't prove values OR principles. Values and principles must have a basis. What is it? History doesn't prove either. One of the facts of History for example is that the United States was founded on Racism and White Supremacy. In order to ratify the constitution, the Southern states needed to agree with it, and that would only happen if slavery was accepted. In our constitution, Africans were considered 3/5's of a human being which was factored into the representation in congress. Do you actually find that slavery is a value and principle that your conservatism agrees with? The Declaration of Independence states that All Men are created equal. It's a bit hard to make that statement when it only applies to White men. So African slaves weren't considered men. They were property. Conservatism as the bedrock principle of this country must accept the fact that slavery, racism and white supremacy is embedded in conservatism.

"His scathing attacks on conservatism and it’s principles, Russell Kirk, F.A. Hayek’s views on conservatism and direct attacks on Mark Levin’s conservative beliefs clearly indicate a lack of any understanding of conservatism, Kirk and Hayek."

I'm afraid you're going to need to offer more than your word on this. Simply claiming I have a lack of any understanding of conservatism doesn't demonstrate the truth of your comment, especially since all of my comments come directly from conservatives themselves. I simply look at what they say. Hayek seems to agree with me. You might want to take this up with him.

"Cicero, Burke, Bobbitt, Disraeli, John and Samuel Adams, Jefferson, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis. One could go on and on, but Mr. Brown take a page from your own advice of “believing in something doesn't make it true” given your socialist belief system and read Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” and open your mind son."

I don't have a belief system. Thats the difference between you and I. And I have read Kirk...son. That's why I wrote the critique of him. Kirk is rehashed Burke. In his chapter on southern conservatism, Kirk writes "that while human slavery is bad ground for conservatives to make a stand upon, YET ( here comes the appologist) the wild demands and expectations of the abolitionists were quite as slippery a foundation for political decency" Describing "Negroes" as the "menace of debased ignorant and abysmally poor folk", he argued they must tend to produce in the minds of the dominant people an anxiety to preserve every detail of the present structure, and an ultra-vigilant suspicion of innovation". Thus..Kirk presents an apologia for racism, slavery and segregation on White Supremecist and Burkean principles of so-called "tradition" and stability. Yes son...I've read Kirk. They're his words. Not mine. Conservatism and Racism are the same thing.

"While I have you in the mood please actually read Kirk’s 10 principles, which started out as 6 and you will see how Kirk states,"

Already did that. I thought you said you read my website? His 6 canons are listed above and critiqued and I also have done a critique of his 10 principles. It doesn't appear that you actually read anything here.

"“The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata.”

I know he said that. It's one of the things that I find most laughable about him. It's as hypocritical as everything else with conservatism. He's about as dogmatically ideological as it gets. Russell Kirk made an awkward attempt to use the ideology of Burke as a justification for conservatism. Do you not understand that when you claim that you are proposing "canon" as in his 6 Canons of conservatism, you are proclaiming an ideology? A Doctrine. The very notion of a canon has an ecclesiastical bearing to it. It IS Doctrine. He has created his own dogma that is to be the definition of conservatism. It is the essence of the conservative mind. That's why he titled his book The Conservative Mind! He later expanded on that with his 10 principles. He draws from Plato which I covered above. You obviously didn't read anything I wrote and yet you offer this assesment. Wow! I guess I'm very impressed.

"You see Mr. Brown, conservatism respects, venerates and learns from the vast history of tradition"

Yes. We all know that already. Give me something that I don't know. The vast history of tradition doesn't justify your tradition as having any basis. Just because we always did something doesn't prove that what we did was right. And that is the bottom line. What PROVES that your tradition is based on Truth? Which is more important? Truth or adherence to your tradition. They aren't necessarily the same thing you know. Or didn't you know that? Slavery was part of the tradition. Does that make it right? Segregation was a part of the tradition? Does that make it worth keeping? Is your conservatism so right and true that it can justify slavery? Or did you get it wrong back then? What say you sonny??

"Kirk was very resistant to memorialize these canons with the fear that people such as yourself,"

Oh really?. So that's why he called them the 6 Canons of Conservatism. Do you understand what a canon is? .

1.an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope.

2.

the body of ecclesiastical law.

3.( this one is good )

the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art: the neoclassical canon. the conservative canon.

4. ( so is this )

a fundamental principle or general rule: the canons of good behavior. the canons of conservatism.

5.( and this )

a standard; criterion: the canons of taste. the canons of conservatism. Kirks own description.

Kirk called them Canons. And you are saying that he didn't want them memorialized?? Then why did he call them Canons?

"who are mesmerized by ideology and need ‘steps’ to be provided to them by their idols, i.e., Obama, Lenin, Castro, Hitler, etc.,"

I'm not the one


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 4 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

cont:...that clings to some canon, tradition, or principled value that I can't demonstrate as being true. That would be you. I'm open to unlimited ideas. I'm not trapped by a canon or a tradition. Some traditions are really nice and I enjoy them. But I don't require anyone to observe them. I don't allow faith or belief systems to cut off rational debate. You however, are closed to them. Yet you claim that I'm the one that is closed minded. Your claim is obviously ridiculous. Look at this statement by you;"By the mere fact that Kirk increased the principles (not ideologies) from 6 to 10 supports the fact that conservatism is an open-minded view of the world." That alone is ridiculous. Each of his principles is what makes up the larger ideology. They are not stand alone ideas. They represent parts of a larger idea that is conservatism. They are the necessary ingredients that go into the soup that is conservatism. The fact that you actually attempt to separate them from the whole is laughable and a clumsy attempt to justify conservatism to me. It doesn't demonstrate that conservatism is an open-minded view of the world. What it clearly shows is that it's restricted itself from 6 Canons to 10 principles. Not 11. Just 10. But restricted nonetheless. So it can't be more than 10? That's it?? That's what defines you?? Sorry but I don't think I want to limit myself to 10 principles laid out by some fallible human that I never met. I've already pointed out where the flaws in his thinking are. Rather than simply attack me for "not understanding conservatism" why don't you stand outside of yourself for once, and ask what's wrong with this picture? Could he be wrong? Can you offer something original to consider? Is Russell Kirk fallible? His entire world view is flawed. Why would I accept that as a doctrine to organize my life around?? Why would anybody?

What you're looking for is a positive methodology to run your life for you. Positive methodologies are automatic. They tell people exactly how they must judge the truth, so that they need "not" judge the truth. So..you ride on the coat-tails of Russell Kirk or some other variatiion on the same theme. They've already done the heavy lifting of thinking ( except Kirk is just warmed over Burke )

"BTW Mr. Brown, Hayek characterized himself as an “old Whig”.

No sh*t Sherlock. It's from his essay titled "Why I'm Not a Conservative". I mention that in my book. When are you going to give me some new information. Something I don't already know. All you've done here is attempt to defend a bunch of ideas that have already been disected with reasons for why they don't work. Instead you attack me without offering a single reason as to why the critique isn't valid. You claim that I don't understand it, while my entire criticism is based on the ideas expressed by conservatives that they use to define themselves by. You haven't defended conservatism at all. You basically said, Conservatism is right...because its right. You resort to circular reasoning and expect me or somebody else to accept that as a rational argument.It isn't. Your argument is incredibly weak...son. I think you need some remedial work.

"Maybe then even you and will open your mind to truly understand the body of sentiments we call conservatism."

Well...Son, the problem with that is that it requires me to close my mind and limit it to 10 principles that are supposed to guide my view of the world. That, by definition would be a closed minded view of the world. I would need to reduce my view to the traditional aristocratic anti-Enlightenment view of Burke. Can't do that, I'm afraid. It's too cramped for me.


Nathan Orf profile image

Nathan Orf 2 years ago from Virginia

What an entertaining and thought provoking article. You really know your stuff. I have just one question; how do you define the Tea Party movement? You have implied here that conservatism believes in authority. Apparently, the Tea Party movement has rejected authority (in the form of government, or officials) or at least their idea of authority. Considering the trouble the Republican Establishment has had in reigning the movement in, would they not have some resemblance to liberals, who also tend to resist notions of authority?


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

Thanks for the comment. I'd hesitate to define the Tea Party. I avoid defining others, and prefer to let them define themselves and then hold that definition up to criticism. One thing is clear however, it's a "populist movement". Or at least began that way. Today it's got massive funding by outside sources that find something to be gained financially through their support. I think it's misguided, and rooted in some very extreme ideas about the country. It seems that the most extreme elements have racial issues that guide their thinking. They seem to entertain a romantic notion of what they think the country was set up to do and the proper role of government. They're very conservative in their thinking and seem to feel that we aren't conservative enough. I find that to be out of the mainstream of American society. They also seem to be prone to conspiracy theories and romanticize the idea of insurrection and revolution to install their extreme ideas.

I wouldn't say that liberals totally reject or resist authority. Hayek put it this way; "The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people – he is not an egalitarian – but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are. While the conservative inclines to defend a particular established hierarchy and wishes authority to protect the status of those whom he values, the liberal feels that no respect for established values can justify the resort

to privilege or monopoly or any other coercive power of the state in order to shelter such people against the forces of economic change.


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 13 months ago

Interesting article. Has your opinion changed since you've written this article?


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 13 months ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

Robert: Fundamentally, no. The Conservative ideologues do appear to me at this point in time to have become more extreme and narrow in their interpretation of Kirks Canon, and more belligerent in their desire to impose that interpretation.


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 13 months ago

Thank you. When I see a political article with some years on it I like to see if the author's opinions have changed.


adagio4639 profile image

adagio4639 12 months ago from Brattleboro Vermont Author

That's really due to the fundamentals of the ideology. It resists change, especially any change that challenges Conservative Orthodoxy. Conservatism preserves existing institutions and traditions. That's basic to conservative thought. Any challenge to that ignites a conservative response. Over the past two elections, Conservatives have complained that the reason they lost was that the candidates weren't conservative enough, so what we see are more extreme versions of the ideology coming forth, assuming that the country supports these extreme views. They pander to racist elements in the electorate, failing to recognize that the demographics of the country have changed. Insulting minorities won't get you the White House.

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