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What Is a Conservative?

Updated on March 18, 2019
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Robin Olsen has lived for half a century. No experience is a bad experience unless we learn nothing from it.

Good Question - but is it really only conservatives?
Good Question - but is it really only conservatives?

Are conservative governments the ONLY way a free country can be governed?

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What it was and where it started

This is another in the series of articles I am writing which try to explain the ‘bottom line’ of the various political systems we use today in our world. The first article dealt with socialism and its overall effect on our lives. This article will try to do the same for the opposite side of the political spectrum – ‘The right wing’.

This is not to say that the ‘right wing’ is actually right or wrong, there is no real right or wrong with these types of political systems as all of them, except Libertarianism, have the potential to cause massive damage within the target society if they are left to run amok unchecked.

‘Conservatism’ is a political and social philosophy that promotes the preservation of traditional social institutions and values and opposes modernism. Some conservatives like to keep things the way they are or to change things very slowly over time (In Canada, we refer to these types as ‘progressive conservatives’), others see it as a means to return to ‘the way we were’, feeling that the changes we have already made are counter-productive or even destructive. The illusion that conservatism is the government of ‘free people’ is just that – an illusion. In the earliest days of conservatism, it was used to support a hierarchical social structure that saw the monarch as someone who ruled by ‘divine right’. Early conservatives opposed everything from sovereignty derived from the people to freedom of religion and even the authority of an elected parliament. Hardly conducive to a free society ruled by the people for the people is it?

Do you know the individuals you are voting for or do you just vote for a party regardless on who is representing that party?

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What is it today?

Today, I see conservatism as extremely dangerous to us as a people. I am not specifically referring to the corporate corruption we see in conservative societies, like the US and Canada, as corruption happens in every political system and a corrupt system of any type will never work for long as the corruption will rot it away. So we need to ‘imagine’, if we can, what the system would look like if there was no corruption in it in order to get an accurate impression of what it is and what it does.

Typically, most conservative societies are, statistically speaking, more violent than socialist societies. The major cities in a conservative society tend to have higher crime rates and violent crime rates specifically are higher. I believe poverty, or rather how poverty is dealt with in a conservative society vs. a socialist one, is to blame for this increase of violent crime or crime in general. In general a socialist society ‘pacifies’ their poor by ensuring they have access to health care and housing/food regardless on if they actually have any money or not. This actually makes it ‘OK’ – in a sense, to be poor and the poor have no need to resort to drastic measures in order to feed and clothe themselves and their families. In a conservative society, there is far less consideration for the poor in general and therefore far less services available to those with little or no financial capabilities. This increases the need for the poor themselves to figure out how to survive in a society that values money (which they don’t have) over pretty much everything else there is. Since many poor are also uneducated as well as feeling desperate all the time, this approach usually leads to the poor committing crimes in order to feed themselves. They feel they have no other options available to them.

I am not saying it is OK to pacify the poor any more than I am saying it is OK to ignore them and pretend they do not exist. I am simply describing, in my own words, how each political system views poverty and what each system does to address it.

The conservative’s desire to change very slowly or to return to ‘the way things were’ is specifically dangerous to us as a human species and also to the society being governed. Change is what makes humanity strong. The challenge to constantly improve ourselves keeps us moving forward in life and makes life fulfilling in many respects. How many of you have a sense of pride every time you learn something new and implement it? How many of us dread the routine of doing the exact same thing day in and day out? Change = growth and when we do not change we stagnate and become decadent in our methods, our beliefs and our opinions. Eventually, societies incapable or not wanting to change, will rot away and be swept into history’s dustbin.

To demonstrate I would like to share a personal story. I once knew two old men, both passed now. One was a soldier who landed on the beaches of Normandy, he was a firefighter, a police officer, a carpenter and a Prison guard in the course of his life – that’s 5 different careers. I only knew this man in his elder years but he was content and happy. Proud of what he had done in life and the personal accomplishments he had made. The other man left school at a very early age and took employment in a grain elevator, he worked there for 60 years before retiring. He was a drunk, unhappy almost all the time, bored with no real sense of accomplishment. In other words, he spent 60 years doing the exact same thing day in and day out with no real change and no real challenge. Which man would you rather emulate? The second man represents what conservatism is, no change, no real challenge.

Conservatism tends to ignore problems in society which would require massive change to solve, a good example of this is the current health care issues in the US. Since conservatives dread change, especially change that would challenge their positions and power base within a society, they tend to downplay problems not resolve them. They use distraction to keep the focus of the people away from the serious issues that can only be solved by changing how the society is run. When change is finally forced upon them, they do it in the most inefficient ways imaginable which usually lead to even more complications and more serious problems down the road.


Corruption is as probable in a conservative system as in a socialist one. In the US and Canada today, we see corruption in the financial system on a wide scale. Consider, when the US government bailed out the banks for bad debt why were the banks then allowed to repossess houses? If the government had already ‘bought’ the bad debt from the banks then why on earth would the banks then ALSO be allowed to take your house for that exact same bad debt? The banks, in essence, have been paid twice for the same bad debt, once from the government in the form of a bailout and once when they resold that house they took from you. This is simply not right.

So, in conclusion I would like to say that conservatism is probably the worst form of government a people could possibly want for themselves and their society as it promotes stagnation and decadence. Humans are creatures of change as change is how we grow. Without it we rot in decadence and stagnation.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Robin Olsen


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