What are you trying to conserve?

Growing up, I never thought much about the meaning of the word conservative. Among my friends and family, it usually means voting Republican. And to a certain extent, that made sense. But that shouldn't be it.

About a year ago, I was talking with a friend, and he began dissing the liberal arts. We were on the same page while he was complaining about the leftist takeover of American universities, and the obvious flaws of a system where people go into debt for degrees with little or no economic value. But as the conversation continued, I realized he actually thought painting, orchestra music, philosophy, and poetry were completely useless.

It got me thinking about what it means to be a conservative. What exactly are we trying to conserve? For example, I value capitalism because it simultaneously respects human rights, and uses self-interest as fuel to better the collective. But pursuing economic efficiency as the only goal, as in “it’s cheaper if we build all the buildings to look like boxes” doesn’t seem to me like a conservative thing to do. After all, being a conservative ought to be about conserving something, and there's even more to the West than our useful inventions and good prices.

So, what is it we’re trying to conserve? Out of the many possibilities, here are two things that have been on my agenda lately.

- Gun ownership. I don’t like guns, I don’t enjoy firing them, and I keep a bat rather than a gun by my bedside for self defense. But a sense of civic duty led me to buy a rifle, learn to care for it, and practice shooting regularly.

I think that knowing the populace is armed is one of the few things that can help prevent a government from becoming totalitarian. Live in a gun-control state like California or New York, then move to Alaska or Wyoming, and the difference is astounding. It doesn’t mean everything’s perfect if people are armed, but it does make the government a bit more careful about how far they push people.

- Our ancestral languages. I’ve been around a few immigrant communities that preserve their old world language in the home, while speaking English with the outside world. When I was younger I thought it was weird; why not just speak English all the time? Now I’m starting to think that if non-Anglo European-Americans like me can’t be bothered to conserve our languages, then it’s little wonder we’re failing to conserve anything else.

Your language is your heritage, and speaking it in the home connects you to your past and preserves a sense of separation from the stupidity happening in English outside. So I’ve been learning the language that my grandfather grew up speaking. This one is more doable in some places than others: if you’re trying to speak Basque in Yakutat, you might be on your own. But if you’re trying to speak Greek in Tarpon Springs, you've got a community for it. If you’re stuck living in a large city (God help you), one positive to the situation is the ability to find meetup groups for different languages.

There are a lot of other things worth conserving, and these are just the two I’m working on right now. This thread is for sharing what you want to conserve (gothic architecture, common law, the KJV, folk music, anything), why, and how.
 

Elipe

Woodpecker
But as the conversation continued, I realized he actually thought painting, orchestra music, philosophy, and poetry were completely useless.
The sad thing is, a lot of conservatives really do think that the arts are unimportant, but they are not. The arts are a reflection, an outpouring of the collective soul of a community. Traditional Western arts have always been very grand, and displayed the proud spirits of strong, ascendant, and optimistic men and women. Grand cathedrals spoke to the riches and strength of Western nations, governed by kings that stuck their chests out. Paintings of men and women emphasized the strength and poise of men standing tall, and the grace and beauty of women as they gallivanted around meadows like innocent children. Western art really captured a view of Europe that was almost very much like the Garden of Eden... at least, compared to the world we live in today.

But now? Modern art tends toward the vulgar and degenerate. Modern art tells you to look down at the dirt, rather than up at God, at the heavens, at the grand clockwork of the universe. Modern art is pessimistic, classical art is optimistic. Modern art is... brown and gritty. Classical art is bright and vibrant. Classical art inspires, modern art discourages. Classical art also emphasized the development of technique to capture as much meaning as possible, whereas modern art emphasizes subjectivity to the point of meaninglessness.

Art should inspire. Art should encourage men to be greater than the sum of their parts. Art should inspire women to strive toward high standards of beauty. Art should point us to God, the arbiter of perfection. Art is necessary to give civilization life and breath.

Conservatism would rather we all lived as grease-covered factory workers manning the assembly lines. Conservatism is the dead view that utilitarianism is the greatest good (hint: liberalism isn't utilitarian in any sense of the word). What I described above is a traditional view that is consistent with my position within the dissident Right.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
I've come to realize that the drive to conserve only appears after revolution. Healthy societies do not 'conserve', they continue. There were no conservatives in the middle ages, only after the renaissance. Political conservatism in particular arose as a direct response to the revolution in France - and their aim was not to go back, but to make compromises and slow down the change. Conservatism is from the start a sort of losing battle, at most it's the activity of the fossil collector and the museum administrator - what you are conserving is barely alive if at all. And while I think it should be done, and we should conserve classical music, classical architecture, etc, we should realize that we are conserving the remains of a dead civilization: a noble pursuit, for sure, but not a way forward.
 

godfather dust

Ostrich
Gold Member
You can't really be a conservative today because there is nothing left to conserve.

I believe we need to role back society to the American 1950's.

We can either choose to do it (won't happen) or life will force us to do it when the hard times come.
I agree there is nothing to conserve.

Disagree on the 1950s. Things would have to go back to the 1910s at the latest (federal reserve act, World War 1) or ideally the 1500s or so (prior to all the revolutions in Europe.)

Not saying that either is at all realistic. For one thing there are no monarchs (who are of more significance than dope/sex fiends who get chased by the paparazzi, who wish to document their degenerate lifestyles.)
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
...
I think that knowing the populace is armed is one of the few things that can help prevent a government from becoming totalitarian...
Strongly disagree.

Do you think the U.S. government couldn't easily put down any sort of armed citizen rebellion if they wanted to? The U.S. military has weapons and a level of organization that is far superior to anything that could be put together by citizens with guns. Hell, the military could even decide to nuke the rebels if they wanted, but it won't even come to that.

I mean, American conservatives love to talk about how they all have guns and could take up arms against the government if they wanted to. If that's true, then why haven't they done it yet? Is the total subversion and destruction of religion, family values and sexual morality (among other things) not enough to motivate them to fight back?

Of course it's enough to warrant a violent response from the citizens. It's just that such a response is doomed to fail.

As @ilostabet has pointed out, the war is lost. The war has been lost for a very long time.
 
I agree there is nothing to conserve.

You can't really be a conservative today because there is nothing left to conserve.

You guys really think there's nothing worth conserving? There's no books you'd hate to see every copy of burned? No laws you think are a good idea? No churches you'd hate to see torn down to make room for another walmart? There's absolutely nothing in the world that you see as worthy of keeping?
 
Do you think the U.S. government couldn't easily put down any sort of armed citizen rebellion if they wanted to? The U.S. military has weapons and a level of organization that is far superior to anything that could be put together by citizens with guns. Hell, the military could even decide to nuke the rebels if they wanted, but it won't even come to that.

Looking at all the other times the US military has gone up against armed peasants, the odds don't look that bad. Yeah, they could end everything real quickly by nuking the populace, but then they'd have no one to tax. And at that point, foreign intervention seems likely.

I mean, American conservatives love to talk about how they all have guns and could take up arms against the government if they wanted to. If that's true, then why haven't they done it yet?

It happened it 1776 and again in 1861. I have no idea what will push people over the edge again, or when. Right now, only the left seems interested in having a war.

Is the total subversion and destruction of religion, family values and sexual morality (among other things) not enough to motivate them to fight back?

Sort of like many of our labor laws, the government policies regarding marriage and sexual morality follow the changes that have already been made in our culture. Not that people were more chaste before the sexual revolution, but they flaunt their sins a lot more.

The only thing you mentioned that the government is preventing right now is religious gatherings. And really, if the Churches - I don't mean a parish here and there, but the major denominations as a whole - kept having services, I doubt the government would have the balls to stop us. The blame for people not being at church on Sunday falls squarely on us, the Christians.

The fact that conservatives aren't currently revolting does not mean that guns are useless.
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
Looking at all the other times the US military has gone up against armed peasants, the odds don't look that bad. Yeah, they could end everything real quickly by nuking the populace, but then they'd have no one to tax. And at that point, foreign intervention seems likely.



It happened it 1776 and again in 1861. I have no idea what will push people over the edge again, or when. Right now, only the left seems interested in having a war.
1776 was a different time. The British government did not have advanced weaponry the way they do today. It was still the early stages of the Industrial Revolution.

1861, the rebels were defeated precisely because the North had superior weaponry.
Sort of like many of our labor laws, the government policies regarding marriage and sexual morality follow the changes that have already been made in our culture.
These days, culture is driven from the top down.

The more degenerate parts of the culture are promoted and legalized, while the more conservative parts are ridiculed and ultimately shut down.
...Not that people were more chaste before the sexual revolution...
Yes they were.
 
Conservatism doesn’t even really mean much. If a political conservative was a real conservative, they wouldn’t allow corporations to destroy and pillage the earth in search of greater profits.

The negative externalities are not factored in to the costs of our products. They are essentially stealing from the commons.

A real conservative would attempt to conserve all great facets of our society and natural world, even though change and adaptation is inevitable.
 
My soul.

If job, money, title and relationships were a hindrance to my relationship to God, I would give all those up in a heartbeat.

It had recently come to my attention that some of the services my job provide are use aborted fetal cells. Now whether these are freshly harvested or a line maintained from the original 1973 sacrifice is quite honestly splitting hairs; even though it's not me in the lab, nor have I ever seen these cells it still gives me a crisis of conscience because this job is the only thing keeping me productive; but at the end of the day, it's money being payed by a player in The System whose use is to sustain me in The System that is now ushering in what I believe may be the Great Persecution of the End Times.

I don't love God as much as I could or should but I trust in His mercy. These events right now are forcing me to evaluate what's really important and my hope is that whatever I lose in pursing His glory will be recompensed in the life to come.
 

questor70

Ostrich
There were no conservatives in the middle ages

Monks "conserved" culture and knowledge in monasteries during the plague years.

Conservatism doesn’t even really mean much. If a political conservative was a real conservative, they wouldn’t allow corporations to destroy and pillage the earth in search of greater profits.

The "conserve" part of conservative as it is today is mainly concerned with protecting personal wealth whereas liberals want to redistribute it. This is why the "commons" is more of concern to liberals, because sharing the commons is akin to communism.
 

Sitting Bull

Sparrow
I've come to realize that the drive to conserve only appears after revolution. Healthy societies do not 'conserve', they continue. There were no conservatives in the middle ages, only after the renaissance. Political conservatism in particular arose as a direct response to the revolution in France - and their aim was not to go back, but to make compromises and slow down the change. Conservatism is from the start a sort of losing battle, at most it's the activity of the fossil collector and the museum administrator - what you are conserving is barely alive if at all. And while I think it should be done, and we should conserve classical music, classical architecture, etc, we should realize that we are conserving the remains of a dead civilization: a noble pursuit, for sure, but not a way forward.

To put it another way : conservatism (or "reaction") is good only when it isa means to something else. Conservatism (or "reaction") that stays conservatism is a failure - or worse, it becomes part of a false dichotomy that hinders any intelligent "way forward" : if you don't agree exactly with each item in the conservative checklist, conservatives will call you a liberal and have nothing to do you ; if you don't agree exactly with each item in the liberal checklist, liberals will call you a conservative and have nothing to do with you.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Monks "conserved" culture and knowledge in monasteries during the plague years.

This is true, and they did it in general not just during plagues, but it reinforces my point about conservatism being the task of keeping remains of dead civilizations. They kept a lot of Greco-Roman culture but its influence on Medieval society was not great, which is why when they finally took what was conserved and applied it they called it a rebirth (Renaissance) and dubbed the Christian era the age of darkness.
 
I've come to realize that the drive to conserve only appears after revolution. Healthy societies do not 'conserve', they continue. There were no conservatives in the middle ages, only after the renaissance. Political conservatism in particular arose as a direct response to the revolution in France - and their aim was not to go back, but to make compromises and slow down the change. Conservatism is from the start a sort of losing battle, at most it's the activity of the fossil collector and the museum administrator - what you are conserving is barely alive if at all. And while I think it should be done, and we should conserve classical music, classical architecture, etc, we should realize that we are conserving the remains of a dead civilization: a noble pursuit, for sure, but not a way forward.

Perhaps I did a poor job of explaining it, but this is was part of my point in the OP. Conservativism as in voting to slow down the path to progressivist dystopia, is missing something, to say the least.

But, given the term, you'd expect it to be about conserving things. And that doesn't mean necessarily making everything exactly the way it used to be, but keeping what is good from the past. And I imagine most of us on the forum have something we'd like to preserve, whether it's the Latin Mass, the scientific method, marriage (the way the term used to be used), or any number of other useful or beautiful things from the past.

I should've just kept the word conservative out of the discussion and asked "what is everyone trying to pass on?" as the term conservative seems to open up a massive can of worms that distracts people from the fact that there are many good things worth conserving.
 

Lionheart

Sparrow
The sad thing is, a lot of conservatives really do think that the arts are unimportant, but they are not. The arts are a reflection, an outpouring of the collective soul of a community. Traditional Western arts have always been very grand, and displayed the proud spirits of strong, ascendant, and optimistic men and women. Grand cathedrals spoke to the riches and strength of Western nations, governed by kings that stuck their chests out. Paintings of men and women emphasized the strength and poise of men standing tall, and the grace and beauty of women as they gallivanted around meadows like innocent children. Western art really captured a view of Europe that was almost very much like the Garden of Eden... at least, compared to the world we live in today.

But now? Modern art tends toward the vulgar and degenerate. Modern art tells you to look down at the dirt, rather than up at God, at the heavens, at the grand clockwork of the universe. Modern art is pessimistic, classical art is optimistic. Modern art is... brown and gritty. Classical art is bright and vibrant. Classical art inspires, modern art discourages. Classical art also emphasized the development of technique to capture as much meaning as possible, whereas modern art emphasizes subjectivity to the point of meaninglessness.

Art should inspire. Art should encourage men to be greater than the sum of their parts. Art should inspire women to strive toward high standards of beauty. Art should point us to God, the arbiter of perfection. Art is necessary to give civilization life and breath.

Conservatism would rather we all lived as grease-covered factory workers manning the assembly lines. Conservatism is the dead view that utilitarianism is the greatest good (hint: liberalism isn't utilitarian in any sense of the word). What I described above is a traditional view that is consistent with my position within the dissident Right.
Great post! You study Ayn Rand, don't you?
 

Elipe

Woodpecker
Great post! You study Ayn Rand, don't you?
No, not directly. Unfortunately, I don't really hit these kinds of books as much as I should. My book habits tend to be more focused on skill acquisition than philosophy. But I do know that a lot of the bloggers and the likes that I follow tend to be very aware of, and influenced by, Ayn Rand.
 
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