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December 12, 2016 / Congau

Conservative Fear

The conservatives used to be afraid of democracy. When the revolutionaries of 1848 demanded democracy in Europe, the conservative establishment was terrified by the prospect of the plebs tearing down the age-old order. Now, more than a century and a half later, their fears have since long been proven wrong. The common people are not revolutionaries, they are also afraid of change, and democratic measures have actually been an ally of conservative resistance.

There have been exceptions to this, of course. Radical parties of both left and right have sometimes threatened the established order at the polls, but they have either not been able to uphold their following through consecutive elections or they have fairly soon lost their deviant nature and become a sober part of the establishment.

The conservative have won and the greatest victory occurred after 1989. Now no left wing party in Europe is seriously able to threaten the mainstream. The old left is gone and the post-1989 conservatives are enjoying the wonders of democracy in a way their ancestors of 1848 could never have imagined.

But there are disturbances in the cozy world of conservatism. The nuisance is less systematic than it used to be and less ideological. It is known as populism and covers a chaotic range of movements that simply want change without exactly knowing what this change should consist in. The conservatives obviously see this as a threat, but now they call it a threat to democracy. The world has come full circle…


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