Conservative alerts are confronted by the existential question of their philosophy: what is left to conserve? Indeed, is there anything worth conserving? There are positive answers to this, the nation being the foremost. Still, that is a concern for another time. Here, let’s discuss the very concept of conservatism and what conservative alerts can do for you.
The concept of conservatism in the 21st century is fundamentally tough to identify. Turmoil, ethnic cleansing, technological revolution, population boom, globalization all cut loose the vast majority of humanity, physically, spiritually, or both. What served for conservatism in 1920 could not suffice in 1950, nor could it in 1980.
Conservative alerts are likely a temperament, a vision not of the world but of life and change, and how the two can be circumnavigated successfully.
There are two foes of conservatism today: neoliberalism and progressivism. Occasionally they work in tandem, without realizing their hatred, but the significance of their existence is the same: the demolition of culture. The prior denies inspiration in any respect and makes our commitment one of material condition; the latter corrodes the spiritual ties of the world, excavating our identity until it is merely a shell that can be shattered.
Neoliberalism is an idea of the world dependent on two principles: individualism and materialism. Individualism is predicated on a liberal assumption that the individual is a self-contained being. Someone capable of knowing who, what, and how, all without reference or some external body of knowledge.
The concepts of individualism of neoliberalism are dangerous. They neglect the significance of community, not as the consequence of independent entities but as the very foundation of the individual, in his requirements and ethical knowledge. Neoliberalism states that we can only achieve that transcendent gift in the pursuit of tangible, physical goods.
A certain agitation arises from the mistaken belief that only buying things can give us that sense of satisfaction that community can. The fashionable idea of “retail therapy” expresses the problem of seeking an answer to moral restlessness in material goods.
The two complications with this belief are, first, that it’s impossible to remove oneself entirely from the circumstances in which one lives and that the knowledge required for this universalization is impossible to achieve.
Progressivism rejects the influence of the historic community that has created the option of an “us” existing in the initial instance. It acts as though it is possible to “start again” to pursue some idealized objective.
But to do this is to rob us of the origins of our individualities and misunderstand the corporate nature of the community. Joseph de Maistre stated, “a constitution made for everywhere is made for nowhere.”
None of this is to say that conservative alerts in the 21st century should add to the past biases. Or, as Edmund Burke puts it, we must not tear away the foundations of a great castle because some of the bulwarks are in ruin.
What we must do, first, is arrest the seemingly unstoppable chaos of energy that neoliberalism and progressivism have unleashed. We can make conservative alerts relevant again by recognizing the importance of tradition derived from a transcendent view of society.