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September 15, 2013 / Congau

Transformed Conservatives

The conservatives change. The most fundamental and eternal conservative values of today are not the same as they used to be.

In the past the demand for democracy was considered an ideology of radicals and revolutionaries, but today the conservative mindset is hardly less democratic than their liberal or socialist counterparts. How is this to be explained?

A prominent feature of conservative ideology is to emphasize the need to adjust to social developments in order to preserve the more basic traditional values. But if that’s the reason for the change of attitude toward democracy, it would mean that democratic values are not values in themselves, but only a means to defend what has a definitive intrinsic value.

The conservative rulers of 19th century Europe undoubtedly made those gradual concessions to democracy in order to prevent what they considered to be worse; a total dissolution of society into revolution and chaos.

But that was then. I’m sure the conservatives of today consider democracy to have an intrinsic value, and that makes them genuine and honest converts. So again I ask: Why have they changed?

It could not have been in order to save the more fundamental values, for evidently those values have themselves changed. Democracy has become a fundamental value.

I just called them converts, but of course the individual conservative has not transformed his personality. It’s the conservatives as a group who are different today. Their spiritual ancestors from the 19th century probably lived in their original belief until their death. That proud aristocrat who had grudgingly admitted democrats into the government of his country probably never ceased to lament the development. Only the subsequent generations of conservatives, people who had been born into a different reality, would view it in another way.

An individual usually retains his fundamental values throughout life, and those values partly originate from the society where he happened to be born. However, we should also assume that a part of our personality is innate and then it seems reasonable to ask: If the conservatives of today had been born in another period of time, what would their attitude toward the democratic ideology have been? There is reason to believe that they would have been just as skeptical as their ancestors. Democracy, their fundamental value, may not be so fundamental after all.

One Comment

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  1. I love Sophie / Sep 15 2013 12:48 pm

    Reblogged this on I love Sophie.

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