Monday, June 8, 2009

Conservatism- Intellectual backbone wanted

This article on American Chronicle "William F. Buckley vs. Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand's Revenge" highlights the reasons for demise of conservatives in last 50 years. It shows William F. Buckley Jr.´s antipathy towards Rand and her idea's.

"The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today. Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since."

I think the above argument is equally applicable to a lot of conservative parties around the world. Here in India the BJP which tasted heavy defeat is floundering after a second consecutive defeat by the leftist Congress party. It's vacillation in defining itself as a religious right or a more forward looking free-market one has cost it dear. Although BJP did well during it's tenure, it is this failure to define it's identity in clear and precise terms which today has left it virtually rudderless.


Burgess Laughlin said...

Conservatism, by definition, opposes capitalism. Conservat-ISM is an ideology, the ideology that holds four values as its guide: God (or religion generally), Tradition, Nation, and Family (as in "family values").

Philosophically these values mean supernaturalism, mysticism, and altruism. The step from those to statism is very short -- and it usually involves the nationalistic sort of statism.

Of course, there may be individual conservat-IVES who might be allies on particular narrow topics (abolishing the income tax, e.g.), but they, by definition, will never support capitalism as a political system dedicated solely to protecting individual rights. And there are mixed cases: individuals who call themselves conservatives but take the right position on particular issues.

In general, however, and in my experience, conservatives are enemies of capitalism.