|Submitted by:||Brutus on May 16, 2000 at 23:47:02 EDT|
I also began a life long study of the Constitution, upon entering the service I made an oath to 'protect and defend' it. I figured if I might have to die for it I should at least understand the principles cited in that document.
Therefore, after years of personal research I came to the following decisions, which I would like to share, with all of you, they are,
That Conservatism encompasses the accumulation of experience and wisdom over many generations, enlightened and guided by Divine Revelation. Much of the knowledge embodied in conservatism cannot be put into words but consists rather in certain dispositions and habits of the mind and heart.
However, there are certain fundamental truths that have been articulated within the Conservative tradition with increasing clarity and certainty. To many Americans, these truths may seem mere truisms or platitudes ("self-evident", as Jefferson put it), yet it is vitally important to remind ourselves periodically of what we know, to ensure that this body of wisdom can be passed on without loss to a new generation.
Conservatism as a philosophy does not produce a laundry list of policy recommendations, nor does it represent the interests of this or that class or special interest. Nor is conservatism grounded in a reflective reaction to change, nor in a nostalgic attachment to the past. Rather, it begins by rejecting what C. S. Lewis called "chronological bigotry": the foolish notion that contemporary thinkers have a monopoly on the truth, simply because they are alive today and not in an earlier, "less enlightened" era.
However, Conservatives do draw on the accumulated wisdom of the past to form a comprehensive and coherent view of the world, from which we derive certain principles essential to the promotion of the common good. As every philosophy has certain basic propositions upon which everything else is based.
Conservatism envisions a society in which each human being, no matter how humble in origin or apparently ordinary in talents, is treated with sacred respect. We see the drama of each unfolding human life as rich in meaning and significance. Consequently, we treat each person's life as inviolable and are unwilling to sacrifice the few for the good of the many.
We Conservatives affirm the existence of natural law, defining and protecting the natural rights of each person. These rights are inalienable and endowed to us by our Creator. They are, therefore, not subject to revision or repeal by any political coalition, no matter how powerful.
True Conservatives are not swayed by transitory intellectual fashions of the academy or the salon. Confidence in the power and reliability of common sense translates into stable, consistent and effective social policy. At the same time, we learn from scientific research when it is conducted according to sound methods and without political bias.
However, time and time again, genuine science confirms the wisdom of traditional ideas, such as the importance of faith, character, the nuclear family, and the classical tradition of education.
Real social, cultural and political progress is possible, but only when conservative ideas predominate. In Conservatism, hope is tempered by realism, leading to patient and measured action in support of virtue and justice.
Conservatives look for opportunities to strengthen the good that remains in existing institutions. Like Hippocrates, conservatives remember the wisdom of the principle: first, does no harm. We must always resist the temptation to launch large-scale untested schemes for reform.
As a Conservative I understand that it is individuals working together in voluntary association must take the leading role in social improvement. I truly look to faith-based charities and mutual aid societies that were proven so successful in improving social conditions in 19th century America, to again provide proven models for reversing the social decay resulting from generations of failed leftist programs.
Also personal moral virtue is invaluable in itself, meeting a natural human need, and is not merely a social construction or a means to other ends. Individual human beings receive from God individual callings or vocations, which they must each be free to pursue.
The Natural Law (as stated by our Fore Fathers) provides each of us with Archimedes' fixed point, to which we can appeal against the injustice of the powerful. As Conservatives, we therefore, are not easily cowed into submission to any tyranny. Instead, our conservative thoughts and practices provide us a principled limitation of the power and the scope of human government, as embodied in the Bill of Rights.
Therefore, as a conservative I do reject the following Leftists philosophies, each of which is part of the intellectual foundations of the Liberal consensus of today's academic, media and political elite:
Atheism and materialism -- the notion that human life is the accidental and meaningless result of mindless material processes.
Racism and chauvinism -- that certain races or classes of people are inherently superior in ultimate value.
Collectivism -- the thesis that individuals are important only as parts of society, that their lives have no significance or meaning beyond that assumed to them by their society.
Secular humanism -- that we human beings must define the meaning and purpose of our own existence.
Deep ecology -- the belief that the labor and technical achievements of mankind are inherently evil, and that only the undisturbed wilderness is good.
Animal rights anti-humanism -- that non-human animals, despite their lack of will or conscience, are on equal moral standing with human beings by virtue of their capacity for pain and pleasure.
Relativism -- that what is good or right varies fundamentally from time to time or place to place, that there are no universal truths of morality and politics.
Constructivism -- that what is right and just is nothing more than the product of social forces and historical accidents.
Subjectivism -- that what is good or right for an individual is determined simply by that individual's feelings or inclinations.
Cultural determinism -- that human nature is infinitely malleable by culture.
Nominalism -- that nothing has any definite nature, other than that which we ascribe to it through our invention of words or concepts.
Post-modernism -- that science is merely the expression of political ideology, and that the difference between good and bad science, or between science and pseudo-science, has no objective validity.
Scientism -- that there is no knowledge outside science, and that nothing is real that is not scientifically verifiable.
Empiricism -- that nothing exists beyond what can be verified by our five senses.
Skepticism -- that we know nothing with certainty.
Utopianism -- belief in the infinite perfectibility of man.
Positivism -- the denial of the fundamental reality of evil, attributing all human evil to superficial causes, such as poverty, maladjustment, lack of education, or distorted socioeconomic conditions.
Pessimism or cynicism -- the view that mankind is so corrupted that there is no hope for relative progress or improvement.
Ethical dualism -- attributing evil exclusively to some particular group or class (i.e. the Descendents of White Europeans, the Fundamentalist Christians, the bourgeoisie, Jews, the corporate elite, etc. etc.).
By disavowing all those identified human destructive beliefs of the left and embracing the enduring truths of Conservatism does gives me optimism about the future. It won't be easy but than nothing worthwhile ever is.
Even today, as bleak as the indicators of social and cultural health may be, we conservatives should look forward with hope to a restoration of the family, the community, and a civilized culture.