Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition

Author: Roger Scruton
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by ggahSoO   2019-11-17

Good post, only have time to read the 13 points and opening paragraph right now but will finish later. Reminds me of when I read Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition, it's good to hear it straight from the horse's mouth.

by Lone_Wolfen   2019-11-17

Conservative Republican Ideology:

  • Faith in supposedly God-ordained tribal customs, rituals and the ability of prejudicial common sense to emotionally recognize truth without the need of critical thought.

    • Fundamental to conservatives is NOT philosophy and science, but dogmatics - a system of principles laid down by tradition and religion as incontrovertibly true.
    • Natural intuitions and "common sense" prejudice - combined with strong will power and charisma - are what is essential to perform one's duties in life.
  • Conviction in a transcendent order based on natural law, tradition, and religion: That society requires hierarchy - the naturally inherited orders and classes of authority, obedience and wealth.

    • The proliferation of liberal, democratic values necessarily undermines competition and the “cultural” distinction of the worlds superior elites.
  • Commitment to keeping innovation constrained by these convictions in the familiar, with skepticism of the puzzlingly rational, mathematically calculating theorizers.

  • Belief that conservatives are victims of a modernity in need of a literal “revolution” - a return to an ideal, natural way.

    • Lead by the media and universities, the modern condemnation of certain ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’ - viz. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. - is an onslaught against the “traditional categories and natural way of describing things…” and a witch-hunt against the conservatives who defend as much (Scruton, 128-129).
  • A disposition to fight for their communities faith.

    • A “gut-response” mentality of bivalent absolutes (e.g. good/evil, yes/no, true/false, us/them etc.) with a large set of non-negotiable traditional faiths and a skepticism of rationality leaves the conservative with little but aggression and hostility when challenged.

Conservatism seeks a neo-feudal society with a "natural" hierarchy of authority determined by the inheritance of wealth amongst those "proven" to be strong (not theoretical ideals guaranteeing everyone equal rights), along with a small government with a fierce military power to maintain the order and protect the property of the wealthy, superior class. It is the epitome of a pessimistic mentality formed by peoples faithful, anti-rational commitment to traditional institutions and their hierarchy of authority and obedience.

Conservatism emphasizes authority over individual liberty or equality, and duty over rights. It is pessimistic in its philosophy of human nature, believing it is unalterably ignorant, weak, corruptible and selfish. Hence, acting according to this assumption is not a vice but the virtue of being a “realist”; contrarily, vice is held to exist in those “idealist” who hold an optimistic philosophy and believe the world can be improved and that such human qualities can be checked. Correspondingly, a nearly universal quality of conservatives is an instinctive fear of change and a disposition for habitual (not creative or thoughtful) action. And from this conjunction follows a harsh skepticism of abstract, intellectual reasoning.

Truth is believed to exist solely within the revelations they inherit from their traditions. Beyond that, the world is understood to be mysteriously complex and beyond any individuals further understanding. Thus, says conservatism, it is not possible that anyone could rationally produce any principles that would improve upon tradition and the operation of societies “natural” order. Any attempt to do so by the radical intellectual is rebuked as arrogant and regarded as offensively corrosive to our very existence.

Once one understands this, the actions of Trump and the Republican party make much more sense. And so does the need to openly combat their political blitzkrieg on Western liberal democracy.


Scruton, Roger "Conservatism: An Introduction to the Great Tradition"

Heywood, Andrew "Political Ideologies: An Introduction"

Conservatism by nature is an obsolete ideology.

by rsj_hn   2018-09-22
I think most conservatives defer to and value tradition and customs because they feel this, even though they may not articulate it in the same way. Roger Scruton gives a nice summary, in his book on conservatism:

Similarly liberals who say things like "all men are created equal and have the same rights and can institute whatever practices seem right to them" may not know anything about Rousseau and blank slates, but they are expressing these views.

Thanks for the Chesterton quote. Chesterton is awesome. A bit of a lunatic, but also insightful and fun to read.