Attribution Michael Ford Wikimedia Commons
Note: The Conservative Standpoint Book is done, the manuscript is under revision and updates will come from this blog. I am immensely happy to have worked on all these posts and I hope what is written on this blog will remain of interest to other conservatives and thinkers/learners like myself. It has been an immense exercise and a great deal of fun working on these posts and any errors and opinions are my own I hope you all have enjoyed what I have worked so hard to write.
To conclude in general what positions and basic truths are necessary for the conservative to make decisions about what best constitutes their understanding of policy positions and politics in general? The conservative can propose three basic hypotheses that are the origin of conservative thinking in relation to what constitutes proper political decision making.
Firstly, that we cannot have autonomy without virtue, this is perhaps the key lesson of the American conservative tradition espoused by Kirk, Kristol, Madison, Et al. That despite our profession of liberal values being positive or having their origin in western societies these thinkers recognized that such positions had their foundation on a recognition of metaphysical and moral assumptions we no longer hold. These assumptions were largely embodied in understandings of Roman Republican Virtue and recognition of Biblical Authority. To have any sense of liberty as a conservative is to have a sense of positive self-government of knowing what your duties are not just your rights. To the conservative good in the community must originate in good people and good people are built by timeless institutions.
Secondly, that human reason is fallible, limited, and perhaps broken: reason is thing upon which no one should rely. Additionally, conservatives should be skeptical of anyone who proposes answers to anything. Rather our best position is to recognize both the eternal or recurring problems of mankind and simultaneously do our best to draw from the “wisdom of the ages” in ameliorating their hardships. We cannot remedy the human condition, we cannot truly try, but we can do our best to live within the confines provided to us by the nature of our humanity recognizing the strength in the past conservatives can forge our own shelter from human frailty.
Thirdly, and lastly, the individual originates in the community. We are as Aristotle said, “political animals” and we direct ourselves toward the discovery of the “authoritative good.” The conservative knows that prior to our birth we are shaped by the past; the same past shaped our parents and their forefathers the great tradition in which we live is a cumulative gift not to be disposed of arbitrarily. Likewise, we cannot disconnect the decisions we make from social impact. Individuals may claim that they cause no great harm through their pursuit of misguided values and desires, but if one digs deeply enough long enough they will uncover that this is not so. The actions of individuals’ shape society in every conceivable way and society likewise shapes individuals the normative is inseparable from the descriptive and an amoral and undirected politics cannot exist.
If these various considerations are understood and applied to the analysis presented in the earlier chapters of the book it is my sincere hope that we can find valuable conservative positions that are intelligible and consistent and may guide us in moving beyond the various shallow interpretations of political conservatism.