Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why is it socially acceptable to be a conservative?

You generally don't see many people go around and say "I am a fascist!" or "I am a racist!". And yet there are plenty of people who proudly declare themselves to be conservative.

Let's take a brief look at the history.

Spanish Inquisition's goal was to suppress heresy - or, in other words, preserve traditional religious beliefs. It was a conservative movement that resulted in executions of thousands of people.

US itself was founded by progressives - conservatives were known as Loyalists at the time.

Over the last couple hundred years conservatives, standing athwart history (in the words of William Buckley), have opposed most of the civilization advances that we now take for granted:
  • emancipation of slaves
  • women's suffrage
  • 8 hour workday
  • limitations on child labour
  • desegregation and racial equality
  • Social Security
  • Medicare

And you don't have to go too far back in time - it is probably safe to say that in 1960s most conservatives supported segregation, and that in 1920s most of them were against women's suffrage. You just cannot say the same about liberals.

Today, history is repeating itself with conservative attitudes towards everything from torture and gay rights to healthcare reform.

So why is the conservative brand still acceptable in the mainstream society after all of this? What am I missing?


Anonymous said...

It's sad that we have to pick between social freedom (supported by liberals) and economic freedom (mostly supported by conservatives). We shouldn't need to make this choice.

Sudarshan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sudarshan said...

"US itself was not founded by progressives"

The "not" looks like a typo to me

Anonymous said...

My roommate in college and I developed a simple answer to this type of question. It is an unfortunate answer, but it seems to hold true fairly well:

People Are Stupid

Илья Казначеев said...

"US itself was founded by progressives"
Is it a reason why there are no more native americans in USA?

Spanish, conservative, inquisition, a lot of indians in Latin America.
English, liberal, "democracy", trace amounts of indians in USA.

They've just killed them all, and no "democracy" and "liberalism" has prevented them from that.

Anonymous said...

Here in Germany conservatives also opposed safety belts obligatory use in the 70' and smoking ban in restaurants now.

They call it "freedom instead of petarnalism".

Kevin said...

Agreed the conservative movement is bankrupt. But so are democrats who have a long heritage of racism. Go look at Sen. Robert Byrd for a terrific example.