Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lucia Principles of Conservatism

DPF has written a post on the family friendly ratings Family First have given to NZ's political leaders. In the course of the discussion, the question was asked, what is conservatism? Is it or is it not synonymous with being on the "right" side of politics.

The best explanation of what I consider to be conservatism are summarised by Russell Kirk in The Ten Conservative Principles. I've made a condensed summary of that summary, which will give those of you that don't want to read the expanded definitions a quick idea of what the principles are. However, I'd recommend reading the article as I've just picked the sentences that best represented the idea, but in doing so each point is incomplete.

1) There exists an enduring moral order - order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.

2) Adherence to custom, convention, and continuity - order and justice and freedom are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice.

3) The principle of prescription - of things established by immemorial usage, such as rights to property. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.

4) Principle of prudence - any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity.

5) Principle of variety - for the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality.

6) Principle of imperfectability - Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination ..

7) Freedom and property are closely linked - upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth.

8) Uphold voluntary community and oppose involuntary collectivism - a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities.

9) Prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions - Knowing human nature for a mixture of good and evil, the conservative does not put his trust in mere benevolence. Constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws, the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetite—these the conservative approves as instruments of freedom and order.

10) Permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society - The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression.

3 comment(s):

Seán said...

Nice, thanks for that Lucyna. Now I have the single Principle of Social Liberalism: "Me! Me! Me!"

Unknown said...

A "rating" like this reduces a voter's judgement of a politician down to a number and makes them lazy.

nyokodo said...

If only most people who call themselves "conservatives" lived up to these principles!

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