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This page is about
- the conservative ideal: what's good about conservatism, what it should be under ideal circumstances – in other words, the ideal towards which all who support conservatism should be working.
- traps and pitfalls into which it is easy for those who follow conservatism to fall, thinking that they are promoting conservatism but which are not part of the conservative ideal
- things which conservatism should not be, but is often misperceived to be or misrepresented as being.
This page is not about
- off-hand dismissal of conservatism for any reason, including:
- as a cover for some hidden agenda
- Hidden agendas relate to the following of some other ideal or personal goal; to the extent that anyone can believably pursue such agendas in the name of conservatism, that is a misrepresentation on their part and possibly a pitfall on the part of the believer.
- for its historical faults
- Faults should be studied, and the results used to improve the philosophy rather than discarding it as useless.
what it is
- preserving resources, especially personal resources, rather than spending them impulsively; living frugally and non-wastefully
- suspicion of change, for the reason that ill-considered changes often have a hidden price
- respect for the role of discipline and self-restraint over impulsiveness and personal (especially sensual) gratification
- belief in the vital importance of maintaining civilization
what it might be
- a particular set of rules for assigning loyalty in-group membership:
- family, including extended family, but only as determined by social convention (i.e. marriage and "legitimate" descent)
- those who demonstrate loyalty to the in-group (this can lead to one of the traps, however)
what it is not
- diametrically opposed to the liberal ideal
- the two ideals have significant areas of overlap, and even larger areas where they are merely competing for attention rather than being in conflict
- inherently racist
- conservatives who behave in overtly racist ways are over-applying the principles of:
- in-group loyalty
- suspicion of change (with regard to conservative opposition to the gradual re-enfranchisement of non-whites in the United States, and the accompanying legal and social changes)
- inherently homophobic
- the same principles which can lead to racism when mis-applied can also lead to homophobia.
- accurately represented by any political party under any system of government yet created
- political parties do not represent ideals
traps and pitfalls
- In-group loyalty can lead to problems if the in-group becomes corrupt
- Automatic respect for authority can lead to problems if the authority is not earned