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Thursday, 8 September 2016

Intro to 'Why Conservatism'

I am begging a new and lengthy blog series that will be tentatively be called 'Why Conservatism' I hope it will be a useful foundation akin to my 'Conservative Standpoint' Series. Like that Series I hope to make small changes and publish the manuscript at a later date in slightly altered format, so far now the blog will get the raw treatment, which I hope, will lead to a more refined and interesting piece going forward. However in the meantime, here is the intro (for the blog) and I hope you enjoy it and understand the intent. 


I am writing this book, with the express intent of responding to a handful of natural questions I believe would, and shall arise, for anyone choosing to take intellectual conservatism seriously in the modern world. The conservative impulse is a naturally confusing one to the modern man or woman, and one in which I wish to devote my time and study, despite, many of my thoughts on the matter becoming highly heterodox: see the later chapter ‘Can You Be A Pure Conservative?’ I will regardless be attempting to layout, essential commonalities to the conservative experience. This work, in essence, may very well be akin to ‘my’ ‘Mere Christianity’ of C.S Lewis, in that it focuses on the common and the intelligible facets of conservatism and tosses into the ditch the esoteric and the isolated.
I intend to draw the lines between conservatives and bind the thoughts tightly together by first engaging in a form of examination of primary texts and supporting works, and then following this up with a thorough summary of the conservative notions within those text. I hope I will be capable of detailing the way in which a number of different thinkers’ slot themselves into the conservative tradition; others, we will see, are not formerly part of the conservative tradition, yet have something to teach: they emphasize conservatism beyond party lines and outside dogmatic notions of party affiliation and overt association. Much will be made of classical authors, modern writes, and the uniqueness of American conservative liberalism.
Once the outlines have been drawn and the context established. Once the reader knows intimately what, by association best displays conservative thought. Once the values of the, virtues, and concerns of the philosophy have been made clear the reader will be exposed to a synthesized whole, which I hope, will expose him to one of the more comprehensive and organic understandings of conservatism.
Together my readings and those of others will be united and applied to a critical examination of modern self-professed ‘conservatives’ by this I mean the Republics, and the Conservative Party of Canada, the British Conservative Party, and potentially other examples throughout the Anglo-sphere. Global readings will be bypassed except nominally due to limitations of time. However, given the foundation laid we should be able to, with certainty examine the recent actions and policies of these political leaders and expose them as warped and degenerate.
Therefore, wherever I personally deviate or express highly heterodox opinions I shall deliberately attempt to contextualize them and make known that in these particular areas more than others I am providing a personal take, and expressing opinion with the intention of showing how as long as certain principles remain paramount the conservative themselves can differ by orders of magnitude in what is considered doctrine without themselves actually seeing it necessary to abandon the conservative label.
Lastly, the knowledge uncovered in the first two thirds of the book will be applied to higher questions. Namely, what is the nature of conservatism’s relationship to freedom, and how exactly do we conceptualize that freedom? Is individual freedom different from political freedom? How does society bind us? Can we prohibit licence and still be free? The it will be on to morality and ethics; I wish to approach the topic in two ways: one, asking how virtue ethics fits with conservatism, and understanding its ties with natural law theory; second, asking if deontological ethics can function in a conservative society or if it must, necessarily, lead itself to universalism and political cosmopolitanism. From here the final question will need an answer. The final question being is conservatism sufficient for a unified, cogent, intelligible, and moral framework? Important questions that will hopefully receive an adequate answer later on.
This book will not be an academic exercise. Rather, it may very well be considered a romantic one; full of oughts and shoulds and coulds and not, what is or what may be, because this is a conservative work on a personal level one of necessary flaws closer to a Socratic dialogue rather than an academic treatise laden with footnotes and a robust bibliography. This is deliberate because I truly believe that conservatism is a natural impulse a feeling, a ‘Persuasion’ as the late Irving Kristol called it, and I’d like to distance conservatism, so far as is possible, from the contemporary and the particular in order to expressly address its natural and universal nature. Conservatism as far as this conception goes is a projection of the self-upon the world and should be viewed as such a place where the heart and the memory extend themselves over all facets of the life. A conservatism intelligible to the layman and infused with feeling and passion. 
My writing will not be preconceived, or stripped to the barest and most direct, satisfying, and concise answers, but rather handled in a format similar to a stream of consciousness. This will naturally be divisive, but regardless, useful to my purposes and the audience I wish to address. This audience necessarily includes those who do not define themselves as conservatives, and perhaps such individuals are curious about the nature of conservatism, in which case I desire to expose them to the thoughts of a conservative in a colloquial and relatable fashion.
I must make final admission and disclaimer: This piece of writing is not representative of all conservatives, but rather represents a limited interpretation of a line of thought that has been characterized not only by philosophers, but by journalists, lawyers, politicians, economists, artists, novelists, and so forth. I cannot do justice to this plurality of interpretations, but rather assert to modestly represent them by recognizing that conservatism is more than a political stance, but a sovereign force welded to the mind but originating in the heart. I hope that readers accept my limitations and still enjoy the work that follows I know I will try my best to do so, and I truly believe that in the absence of perfection everyone is improved by trying.
Cole Dutton

September 10, 2016 

The Chapters or sections shall be as follows:

Table of Contents
Conservatives' Shared Principles 
Intro to the Founders 
The Founders: Pre-Modern
The Founders: Modern
The Founders: Conservative Liberalism
Conservatives: the Individualists and Communitarian Strains
Conservatives: the Rationalist and Anti-Rationalist Strains 
Conservatism and Nature
What is Conservative Economic Policy?
The Problems with Contemporary Conservatism
Conservatism: Beyond Politics
Conservatism and Freedom: is Coexistence Possible
Is Conservative Morality Sufficient?