Are Conservatives Actually Counter-revolutionaries?

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  1. My Esoteric profile image91
    My Esotericposted 9 months ago

    From The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin (as a counter to The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk.

    Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk like to think conservatism is an ideology of Prudence and Moderation (as well as Prejudice - as in prejudgment)

    However, Michael Oakeshott (1901 - 1990), political theorist, noted conservative, and author of "On Being Conservative" (1950) states that:

    "To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss. "  In other words - Prudence and Moderation.

    Yet we find this to be true as well:
    "Yet the political efforts that have roused the conservative to his most profound reflections - the reactions against the French and Bolshevik revolutions; the defense of slavery and Jim Crow; the attack on social democracy and the welfare state; and the serial backlashes against the New Deal, the Great Society, civil rights, feminism, and gay rights - have been anything but that." -

    Robin claims this is actually Counter-revolution.

    What do you claim?

    1. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 9 months agoin reply to this

      In the conservative's mindset, h/she feels that h/she is a revolutionary in that h/she believes that the majority of Americans are liberals, even leftists.  The conservative feels that his/her conservatism is going against the American grain.  Many conservatives are proudly declaring themselves to being part of the new counterculture.  They vehemently contend that they are individuals in the midst of the sheeple.

      1. My Esoteric profile image91
        My Esotericposted 9 months agoin reply to this

        And wouldn't that be an example of self-deception since the latest Gallup polls show 25% of Americans identify as liberal, 36% as conservative (the Trump base), and the remainder as moderate or something else.

  2. Nathanville profile image93
    Nathanvilleposted 9 months ago

    There are a number of points which needs untangling before I can give my answer to the question.

    The main strands, not all of which are directly related to each other, include ‘political ideology’ and ‘political spectrum’; cultural and social changes over time; and to some extent cultural differences e.g. UK vs USA.  I shall cover each separately, as below:

    Political Ideology
    The basis of Conservative Political Ideology (in Britain) has always been, and still is “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”.

    Cultural and Social Changes over Time
    At the time of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), a British MP in House of Commons, a member of the Whig Party (forerunner to the Liberals (Democrats)), “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership” was the norm, so the political philosophy of the Tory Party (forerunner to the Conservatives) was to ‘Conserve’ e.g. keep the status quo.

    Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was an American political theorist (writing about American politics); nevertheless, his book ‘The Conservative Mind’, published in 1953 (post world war II), was written at a time when great ‘Social’ (Liberal) reform was still relatively ‘new’, and the old status quo was “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”.

    Likewise, Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990), English political theorist, published his book “On Being Conservative" in post war Britain in 1950.  This was at a time when the Labour Party had won a landslide victory in the British General Election in 1945, and by 1948 had pushed through great social reforms in Britain e.g. the creation of the Welfare State, the NHS and a massive nationalisation programme.  So this was at a time when the British Conservative Party vehemently opposed these changes and wanted to conserve the old ways of “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership” e.g. keeping the ‘status quo’.

    In contrast, Corey Robin (born 1967) is an American political theorist, who writes about contemporary forms of American Conservatism and neo-conservatism; at a time when Liberalisation through the Democrats in the USA and the Labour Party in the UK has become the norm.

    Therefore, although the Conservatives have not changed their political ideology of “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”, Society has changed ‘overtime’; and therefore, to get back to the old ways does require more radical policies.

    UK vs USA Cultural Differences
    My understanding of American Politics is limited, so I can only speak from a British perspective; although, it seems obvious to me that there are some fundamental differences between the UK and the USA.

    Political Spectrum
    On the political spectrum, Conservatives are ‘right-wing’ politics; and as such do oppose revolutionary ideas of more ‘Liberal’ and ‘Socialist’ politics; so in that sense they could be described as ‘counter-revolutionary’ e.g. opposed to ‘Social Reform’.

    However, the Conservative Party (at least in Britain) is a ‘broad church’ e.g. represented by MPs with a wide political spectrum of views from ‘soft left’ (Liberal views) to ‘hard-right’ (Nationalistic views).

    So in Britain, a large minority of MPs within the Conservative Party e.g. the ERG Group, are Nationalists; and as such are very revolutionary in their politics (Brexit).

    In recent years the ‘Press’ has made claims of ‘Populism’ sweeping the western world (Trump included).  Whereas historically populism may have been the main preserve of left-wing politics against the elite e.g. the French Revolution, communism etc., in recent times it’s been more of the preserve of right-wing politics e.g. Nazism in Germany just prior to the 2nd world war; the Trump election and recent politics in countries like Hungary.

    In Conclusion
    So in conclusion, Conservatives can be just as ‘Revolutionary’ as left-wing politics, but instead of pressing for ‘Social Reform’, can instead be pushing for ‘Nationalism’, which by many is viewed as ‘isolationism’; and in the eyes of the EU, Nationalism has historically been the root cause of European wars for over 2,000 years.

    1. My Esoteric profile image91
      My Esotericposted 9 months agoin reply to this

      To me "Conservative ... has always been, and still is “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership” implies that Liberals oppose such things.  Is that really true in Britain (save for the very far-Left)

      A few characterists separate America from Britain:

      1. How you describe the British Conservative party today as a "broad church" (which implies the Liberals are not) is how our Republican and Democratic parties were prior to 1994.  With the advent of the Gingrich and later the Tea Party Revolution (they are conservative), the Republican party became, effectively, a singular party having driven out moderates and liberals.

      Surprisingly, that revolution had a similar effect on the Democrats, even if unintentionally.  When far-Right took over the Republican Party, similar minded Democrats (mostly from the South) switched parties.  Many others were voted out of office.  The result was moving the Democratic Party from being somewhat balanced to one that was weighted to the Left.  With the 2018 Midterms, however, that balance was somewhat restored.

      As to “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”, save for the extremes, there is no real difference between our two parties.  Both are fervent believers in capitalism; the differences arise as to how much regulation is needed to protect people and the environment.

      Given that last statement tells me that in America, anyway, there is a more fundamental difference between Conservatives and Liberals.  I am becoming convinced that the difference lies in the struggle between those that have power over others and the "others" striving for equality.

      1. Nathanville profile image93
        Nathanvilleposted 9 months agoin reply to this

        Hi ‘My Esoteric’; I guess the main stumbling block to avoid misunderstanding between people from two different cultures, when trying to explain one’s own culture, is getting the language just right to give clarity on both sides.  Not an easy task.

        For clarity, to say “Conservatives” [believe in] “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership” doesn’t imply other political parties don’t.  As an analogy:  If of husband and wife (Bob & Alice) it was said that Bob liked apples, it doesn’t automatically imply that Alice doesn’t; the meaning of the answer is dependent on the question ‘in context’.

        For further clarity:  In Britain (and the EU) all ‘political parties’ support the principle of “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”, but it’s to what extent and in what context that differentiates between the different political parties; which I shall try to clarify as simplistically as possible below:-

        Conservatives (aka Tories)
        In Britain, the Conservatives do firmly believe in “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership” in all respects e.g. that all Industry, Commerce and Public Services (such as the Utility Companies) should all be in ‘Private’ hands. 

        Although, the British Conservative Party does NOT believe in Laissez-faire Government; other than perhaps a handful of Conservative MPs on the far right of the Conservative Party.

        The Conservatives do NOT believe in Nationalisation of Public Services such as the NHS, the Railways, Electricity Companies, and Water Companies etc.

        Liberal Democrats (Liberals/Democrats)
        In Britain, the Liberal Democrats believe in a ‘mixed economy’ e.g. full support for the principle of ‘Private Industry’ and ‘Commerce’; but fully supporting Nationalised Industry where it’s appropriate e.g. the NHS and any Public Service where they consider it would be in the National Interest to be in Public Ownership e.g. Education and Health etc.

        Labour
        In Britain, the Labour Party recognises the importance of ‘Private Enterprise’, but their political agenda is to Nationalise ALL Public Services.

        Nationalisation
        For clarity, Nationalisation is where an Industry (usually a Public Service, such as Water, Electricity, and Transport etc.) is owned and run by the Government.  The prime example currently in the UK being the NHS (National Health Service) which was created by the Labour Party in 1948, following their landslide victory in 1945.

        Broad Church
        In Britain, the Conservative and Labour Parties are both ‘Broad Church’ e.g. MPs in both political parties with a wide spectrum of political views.

        In Britain, the Liberal Democrats is NOT a ‘broad church’ because it’s squeezed in the centre by the other two big political parties.  The left-wing of the Conservative Party (soft left) overlaps with Liberalism (the Liberal Democratic Party), just as the right-wing of the Labour Party (soft right) overlaps with Liberalism (the Liberal Democratic Party).

        In the Conservative Party, MPs political views are a wide spectrum from soft-left (Liberalism) to the hard-right (Nationalism).

        In the Labour Party, MPs political views are a wide spectrum from hard-left (Democratic Socialism) to the soft-right (Liberalism).  Within the Labour Party a hard-left Labour MP is called a Corbynite and a soft-right Labour MP is called a Blairite.

        Because the Liberal Democrats don’t have a ‘broad church’ (due to being squeezed in the middle, by the other two (more extreme) political parties, they speak as one mind, and don’t have the political divisions, splits, and in-fighting that exists within the Labour and Conservative Parties.

        Also, the other political parties in Britain, DUP, Sinn Fein, SNP, Plaid Cymru, The Green Party, and the ‘Change UK – The Independent Party’ are all smaller political parties, and as such all have a narrow political ethos.   

        Reference Your Comment
        As to “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”, save for the extremes, there is no real difference between our two parties.  Both are fervent believers in capitalism; the differences arise as to how much regulation is needed to protect people and the environment.

        In Britain, only the Conservatives are ‘fervent’ believers in capitalism; although they do believe in Government Regulations on controlling capitalism, and therefore don’t support the Laissez-faire approach e.g. Theresa May’s Conservative Government imposed a ‘CAP’ on electricity and gas prices this January to prevent the Utility Companies from overcharging customers for the purpose of ‘pure-profit’.

        In Britain, the Liberal Democrats do believe in capitalism as part of a ‘mixed economy’ e.g. they fully support the NHS and ‘Free Education’ as being controlled and run by the Government; whereas the Conservatives would much rather privatise health and Education.

        In Britain, the Labour party recognise the importance of capitalism for private Industy, but fervently believe essential Services, such as Transport and Utilities should be in Government Control (Nationalisation).

        Reference Your Comment
        “…. in America, anyway, there is a more fundamental difference between Conservatives and Liberals.  I am becoming convinced that the difference lies in the struggle between those that have power over others and the "others" striving for equality.”

        Since the Labour landslide victory of 1945, in Britain, the ‘power’ has alternated between Labour and Conservative, with the Liberal Democrats (and to some extent the other smaller parties) holding the ‘balance of power’ from time to time.

        For example:-

        •    In the late 1970s the elected Labour Party was a ‘minority Government’ e.g. not enough seats for overall control; and therefore could only stay in power with support from the Liberals, who gave their support in exchange for Labour supporting some of the Liberal policies.

        •    From 2010 to 2015, The Conservatives was a ‘minority Government’, and could only stay in power with the support of the Liberal Democrats (Coalition Government) e.g. power sharing.

        •    In the 2017 General Election, Theresa May lost her majority, and was only able to stay in power initially with the support of the 10 DUP MPs.  However, not only has relationships between DUP and Theresa May broken down, preventing her from Governing (because she no longer has a majority in Parliament), but also four Conservative MPs have resigned from the Party (three joining the newly formed ‘Change UK –The Independent Party’); so now the Conservative Government has NO power to Govern (a lame duck) e.g. Parliament is in Paralysis.

        The Moment when a Conservative MP resigns his Party in Parliament: https://youtu.be/aM2XWT8NaFg

        Three Conservative MPs resign to join Independent Group:  https://youtu.be/oNYX7qs7Ehk

        I hope I have given some clarity to British Politics!

        1. My Esoteric profile image91
          My Esotericposted 9 months agoin reply to this

          You have, thank you.  But of course it generates more.

          1.  Why doesn't the Conservative Left-wing and the Labour Right-wing matriculate over to the Liberal Democrats?
          2.  Likewise, why didn't the 3 Conservatives who resigned join the Liberal Democrats as opposed to forming a new party?

          As mentioned before, our recently formed Centrist Party is trying to do what the Liberal Democrats are doing, at least in the Senate.  They don't seem to be going anywhere though.

          1. Nathanville profile image93
            Nathanvilleposted 9 months agoin reply to this

            Very good questions ‘My Esoteric’, in answer:-

            1.    Conservative left-wing and Labour right-wing MPs who decide to defect from their party do end up in the Liberal Democrats Party from time-to-time; but it’s generally a two-step process:- 

            •    The prime example being the formation of the SDP (Social Democratic Party) in 1981, when a small number of Labour MPs on the right of the Labour Party broke away from the Labour Party to form a New Centralist Political Party called the SDP; and shortly afterwards a few Conservative MPs on the left of the Conservative Party, resigned from the Conservatives to join the newly formed SDP.


            •    Then the SDP merged with the Liberals in 1988 to form a New Centralist Party, which was renamed the ‘Liberal Democrats’.


            2.    Exactly why moderate Conservative MPs and Labour MPs have a preference to forming New Centralist Parties first, which invariably ends up merging with the Liberal Party, rather than joining the Liberals in the first instance, must be a British thing!!!

            Nevertheless, the political ideology of the ‘New ‘Change UK – The Independent Party’ and the Liberal Democrats is the same; so it will only be a matter of time before the two parties do merge; so as not to split the ‘centralist’ vote in future General Elections. 

            In this respect, both these political parties are in close contact with each other, and closely working together to co-ordinate a common policy on Brexit; and since December 2018 (months before the New Party was formed) both parties have been in close conversations with each other about prospects for a possible eventual merger.

            One technique, which is under discussion between the ‘Change UK – The Independent Party’ and the Liberal Democrats, in the event of a General Election in the near future is ‘tactical voting’ e.g. where the ‘Change UK – The Independent Party’ wouldn’t field any candidates in seats where the Liberal Democrats are strong, and in return the Liberal Democrats wouldn’t field any candidates in other seats; so as not to split the centralist vote.  It’s a technique used by smaller parties in the past with great success.

            1. My Esoteric profile image91
              My Esotericposted 9 months agoin reply to this

              Very interesting, good luck with defeating Brexit.

              From 1834 to 1860, we had the Whig Party, the resurrection of the defunct Federalist Party.  Democrats would not vote for Whigs nor would they vote for Republicans, founded in 1854 and the Whigs shortly thereafter disbanded.  Lincoln was elected the first time under the Republican banner.  By the time the second election came around, he was in a major fight with the very liberal Radical Republicans and they withdrew their support for his second try.  Lincoln's friends then formed the National Union Party in order to draw in war Democrats who wouldn't vote for a Republican.  It worked and the Lincoln-Johnson ticket won by a landslide.

              After Lincoln's death (he was still a National Unionist and not a Republican as conservatives would like you to believe) Johnson became president and remained in the National Unionist party.  He tried to make a go of it as a national party, but failed.  The Republican's who joined with Lincoln went back to the Republican Party.

              In the 1930 era, the right-wing of the Republicans started becoming more dominant while the left-wing of the Democrats took over that party.  The switch was completed in 1994.

              (BTW, that was the simple story, the real one is much more complex with other little parties coming and going)

              1. Nathanville profile image93
                Nathanvilleposted 9 months agoin reply to this

                In British Politics, Parliament was first formed in 1215 (to advice the King), and at that time only consisted of the House of Lords.  The House of Commons wasn’t formed (as a 2nd chamber) until 1341; and at that time there was no political parties.

                Following the English Civil War (1642-1651), in 1678 a rift arose between the parliamentarians in the House of Commons on the issue of whether to support a Catholic king.  Those who wished to exclude ‘James Duke of York’ (a Catholic) from becoming King where called Whigs, and those who supported the concept of a Catholic King were called Tories.

                Both were derogatory terms e.g. Whigs is Scottish Gaelic for ‘horse thief’, and Tory is Irish Gaelic for ‘outlaw’.

                The Tories came to support the Anglican Church and Gentry (upper class), while the Whigs came to support non-Anglicans e.g. Presbyterians and the middle classes.

                In 1834 (at the start of Social reforms being pushed by the Whigs), the Tories rebranded themselves as Conservatives, to fight to conserve the Status Que e.g. to resist Social Reform and to maintain the concept of “Free Enterprise and Private Ownership”.

                In 1859 the Whigs rebranded themselves as Liberals, as part of their political ideology to push for Social Reform.

                In 1900 the Trade Unions launched their own political party; the Labour Party, which to this day is still largely controlled by the Trade Unions e.g. the Trade Unions have a major say in electing the Labour Party Leader, and a 50% say in the Party’s Policy Making; which is done at the Labour Party Annual Conference each October.

                The Labour Party came to power for the first time in their landslide victory of 1945, winning 393 of the 640 seats (61.4%), while the Conservatives only won 197 seats (30.8%), with the other 13 political parties winning 50 seats between them (8.8%); which took everyone by surprise because it was assumed that the Conservatives would win the 1945 General Election because it was Winston Churchill (Conservative) who won the 2nd World War for Britain.

                The Labour Party’s National Anthem is ‘Keep the Red Flag Flying’:-

                •    Singing Red Flag and Jerusalem at the close of the Labour Party Conference 2017:- https://youtu.be/-SHhXMzXFl0

        2. GA Anderson profile image92
          GA Andersonposted 9 months agoin reply to this

          Just a quick note. After following your first link the "next up" video was about Parliament's Brexit votes.

          If you aren't British, you really should watch this.

          Parliament rejects all 8 Brexit Deals

          I am not making a determination about the content, but I enjoyed the video and will just note my first thoughts and things that popped into my head as I watched.

          It made me smile, and sometimes even chuckle, it seemed more honest than our U.S. C-span performances, I thought of parody, and maybe even scripted comedy, I particularly liked the Speaker's demeanor and performance, and to repeat, it seemed more honest and less pretentious than our U.S. C-span performances.

          Yes, those harrumpts. here-heres, and moans and groans were fun to watch. But ... I like the honest presentation of approval or disapproval.

          GA

          1. Nathanville profile image93
            Nathanvilleposted 9 months agoin reply to this

            I couldn’t have put it any better GA.  During the Thatcher years, Margaret Thatcher was a rich source of raw material for British satire and parody comedies.  Popular weekly British TV Comedy Series at the time included ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’ aired on BBC from 1979 to 1982 (a spoof of the BBC’s own News at Nine O’clock), and the very popular weekly ITV Comedy Series ‘Spitting Image’ which was aired on TV from 1984 to 1996.

            •    I Did It My Way (‘Spitting Image’ satire of Margaret Thatcher after 10 years in office):  https://youtu.be/R1jY5fYjV-U

            However, ever since Theresa May lost her majority in Parliament, in the General Election (which she didn’t need to call) British Politics has increasingly become more and more stranger than fiction; more entertaining, and more hilarious; so much so that no comedy fiction writer could use his imagination to wright satire or parody comedy sketches based on British Politics, and make them appear more unbelievable than the real life events currently being played out in Parliament.

            •    PMQ's: SNP MPs Walkout (Full Unedited Clip):  https://youtu.be/vEhZjYMV4M0

            •    Chaos in Commons over Brexit white paper:  https://youtu.be/Xk7uA1v8TWM

            1. GA Anderson profile image92
              GA Andersonposted 9 months agoin reply to this

              Now your links were just too damn funny Arthur.

              Order, orter, orderrrrr...

              Wait. I am laughing with you not at you. I am/was an avid watcher of Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister, and these real clips are as good as any of those show's writer's scripts.

              But even still ... I come away with the impression of honest expression, not like the disingenuousness I get from our political shows, (legislative sessions).

              GA

              1. Nathanville profile image93
                Nathanvilleposted 9 months agoin reply to this

                Yep, the debating chambers in Parliament do seem to bring out good honest debates.  The two red lines (one on either side), are exactly two sword lengths apart (when holding swords at arm’s length); historically intended to reduce the risk of physical abuse during heated debates. 

                In this brief video clip below, where a disgruntled MP removes the ‘Mace’; as the sergeant-at-arms puts the mace back you can briefly see (for a few seconds) the sword she’s wearing.  The ‘Mace’ is more than symbolic e.g. under the British Constitution, laws passed in the House of Commons are only legal if they are made while the mace is in position on the centre table.

                Labour MP grabs the mace during parliament:  https://youtu.be/UQiYm9DPnyY

                Yep, the major part of British Humour is ‘self-deprecation’; we Brits love to make fun of ourselves, and ridicule ourselves; which is reflected in our popular British TV Comedy Series such as:-

                •    ‘The Liver birds’: The misfortunes of two friends; unemployed Liverpudlian women (one from the working class background, and the other from a middle class upbringing).
                •    ‘Faulty Towers’:  The misfortunes of an unsuccessful Hotel owner.
                •    ‘Only Fools and Horses’:  The misfortunes of two doggy street traders.

                This video gives a good and detailed explanation of British Humour:-

                British Humour Explained:  https://youtu.be/F5wz77P_C70

                •    The Liver Birds (Series 3, Episode 2) ‘Birds on the Dole’ (Good sample of traditional British Humour):  https://youtu.be/dI8uwtkRfKw

 
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