Intellectual Conservatism: (2022)

Before coming to college and having a greater exposure to conservative thought, I think liberals have a particular view of what conservatism looks like and the reasoning behind its ideals. This perception, at least in my own mind, is the idea that conservatism is rooted in cruelty and ignorance and as such the ideas that come from it are not only grounded upon a shaky intellectual foundation, but are also explicitly or implicitly designed to hurt people. Preached by those who while unequipped with the facts, still steadfastly cling to their positions. So coming to college, as a liberal myself, and being more able to explore the landscape, I figured that a more comprehensive look at the conservative intelligentsia would introduce me to a more intellectually rigorous ideology and persona, even if I disagreed with the overall premises. However, the more I’ve learned about the supposed intellectual foundations for the conservative movement, both its past and present, it has become more and more apparent that rather than just the public figures of conservatism being absurd, which you can expect from people whose main job is performance art, in actuality the movement itself is and has been lacking.

Despite the fact that Trump’s open bigotry and stupidity defines convservative priorities and standards in the modern day, there is still the opinion among people, intellectual or not, that because the movement has been around so long, it has had some solid intellectuals and reasonings at its founding. Let’s take William F.Buckley, the founder of the National Review and a conservative media icon for decades. Although viewed today as an example of a by-gone era of conservative intellectualism, his record illustrates the same ignorance that we associate with the modern-day face of conservatism. One of his first publications was a book he wrote titled “God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of “Academic Freedom.” In the book, he echoes the same claims of university bias that is so common among the right today, arguing that Yale was giving insufficient attention to Christianity and too much attention to a liberal attitude toward the economy. And according to historian Heather Cox Richardson, “The book was a sophomoric diatribe against a long intellectual tradition of honest examination of facts and arguments. It cherry-picked quotations …taking…..comments out of context and showing them in the worst possible light. It imputed sinister motives to administrators…..it defended Christianity and individualism not through a well-reasoned argument but by misrepresenting the opposition, posing as a persecuted minority, and smearing opponents as tools of socialists and atheists.” Modern day conservatives make the same intellectually bankrupt claim that, rather than teaching ideas that have been supported by evidence, universities are biased against conservative values, with this sentiment usually followed by inadequate evidence to support the proponents claims. However, on racial matters, we again witness Buckley’s incorrect assumptions. In an editorial from 1957, he wrote “The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes -the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro : but it is a fact….” In this, Buckley plays into the hollow foundation of segregation– the supposed inferiority of black people. Later in the piece he tries to soften this stance by playing into another false assertion, “So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization….” In this we see the bigoted infantilization trope, the idea that black people just aren’t “ready” for equal treatment and influence in society. While he was still editor, Buckley’s magazine continued to propagate bigotry, and while racism in modern day conservatism is in some ways more muted than this, we can see the roots of an intellectually bankrupt and dangerous “Us. vs. Them,” mentality, with the false idea of people’s superiority over others, justifying preferential societal treatment, cropping up at our own institution.

But beyond the intellectual dishonesty of “cultural” critiques, conservative economic/social theory has also relied on a shaky foundation. As an example, let’s look at Milton Friedman’s propagation of the idea that a business’s only duty is to itself, as he writes “…there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Friedman bases his claims on the idea that because a business is owned and operated but its shareholders, it would be societally unfair for both business executives and shareholders to take into account “social responsibility” when considering their actions because that responsibility often goes against the engine that produces their’s and others profits. However, this analysis is at best weak and at worst malicious. The ability to live in a decent and sustainable society rests on the foundation that people will respect the values of others. Morally, and pragmatically, it’s the duty of humanity, individual people and businesses alike, to act on the belief that our rights end where others begin. Under Friedman’s philosophy, all manner of corporate action becomes justifiable so long as it’s in the self-interest of the business. According to UChicago law professor Eric Posner, “There are …all-too-familiar ways that Friedman Esq businesses can maximize their profits. They can (like Facebook) break promises to respect their customers’ privacy. They can (like Twitter and Google) generate ad revenue by facilitating the transmission of hate speech. They can (as Exxon used to do) propagandize against climate science. They can (like Jimmy John’s) use illegal contract terms to deter their low-skill workers from quitting low-paying jobs. They can (like the tobacco companies and now the tech companies) push addictive products onto children, or (like Purdue Pharma) create a generation of drug addicts.” And beyond just the more immediate effects of putting this ideology into practice, this slavish devotion to selfishness leads conservatives today to talk about things like welfare reform and excessive tax cuts, with the idea of resting on the fairly primitive thinking of “why should I give my hard-earned tax dollars to support someone else?”

(Video) Book Tour - Intellectual Conservatism

It seems more obvious in current times that the conservative movement invests its time in intellectually and morally irresponsible people and ideas. We see an interpretation of the facts that is anathema to the realities or conclusions that can be drawn from them. Take Dinesh D’Souza, an “intellectual,” to put it generously, whose main claim to prominence is arguing that the historical profession and their cohorts in liberal institutions have obscured knowledge about the Democrats being the real racists, and that Republicans are the ones who really deserve black people’s votes. This argument has become so obviously full of holes that it’s basically a twitter tradition now when Princeton professor Kevin Kruse provides basic fact-checking to his arguments. But this same kind of vacuous reasoning extends beyond more clownish figures and again seeps into the heart of the supposed conservative intelligentsia. Going back to the National Review, here’s what the current editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry, said in response to when President Trump called certain nations shitholes, “….the level of freak out about this, I think goes to just how the elite on both the right and the left of this country has got so disconnected on common sense on immigration. These countries he was referring to, they are basket cases. They are disaster areas. And the point he was making within the context of the immigration policy discussion is we’d be much better off with people with higher levels of education and skills coming here.” His echoing of Buckleyite reasoning fits perfectly with his employment, as its astonishing the level of ignorance on display. It’s not about whether or not the country’s in discussion have issues, it’s about how describing those countries as “shitholes” ignores the value that the country and its people do offer while offensively reducing the issues in majority-minority countries to a ‘them’ problem instead of addressing the actual roots of the issues at hand, that being structural and institutional deficiencies.

A serious re-examination of the political landscape in America needs to take place because I fear there’s psychological “both siderism.” The idea being that because such a large part of the country believes in a system, and have believed in it for so long, there has to be some logical merit to their ideology and those who preach it. However, it’s pretty obvious that the boofinish and offensive version of conservatism that is preached by more public figures today rests on a belief system that has always been based on a lack of validity espoused by ignorant individuals.

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Haven Lerner - Interview Editor

Haven is a junior from Scarsdale, New York studying political science at the college of arts and sciences. He's a member of the Penn Political Review interview staff and the co-host and co-founder of the Penn Political Review podcast "Let's Talk Politics." He's the chair of the Liberal Caucus with the Penn Political Union and likes audiobooks, browsing Youtube, and talking with people.

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FAQs

What is conservatism in political ideology? ›

Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions and practices. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the status quo of the culture and civilization in which it appears.

What are the Conservatives beliefs? ›

7 Core Principles of Conservatism
  • Individual Freedom. The birth of our great nation was inspired by the bold declaration that our individual,God-given liberties should be preserved against government intrusion. ...
  • Limited Government. ...
  • The Rule of Law. ...
  • Peace through Strength. ...
  • Fiscal Responsibility. ...
  • Free Markets. ...
  • Human Dignity.

What is conservatism according to Burke? ›

Edmund Burke describes conservatism as an "approach to human affairs which mistrusts both a priori reasoning and revolution, preferring to put its trust in experience and in the gradual improvement of tried and tested arrangements."

Who is Suan Sonna? ›

Suan Sonna is a senior philosophy student at Kansas State University and a Baptist convert to Catholicism. He runs the podcast and YouTube channel Intellectual Conservatism, and has appeared on channels like Pints with Aquinas, Capturing Christianity, Gospel Simplicity, Truth Unites, and many more.

What is conservatism in simple terms? ›

Conservatism is a type of political belief that supports emphasis on traditions and relies on the individual to maintain society. The term was first used by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1818, during the Bourbon Restoration, which wanted to roll back the policies of the French Revolution.

What is a synonym for conservatism? ›

temperance. nounself-restraint; abstinence. abnegation. abstemiousness. asceticism.

What is right wing and left wing? ›

Ideological groupings. Generally, the left-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "ideas such as freedom, equality, fraternity, rights, progress, reform and internationalism" while the right-wing is characterized by an emphasis on "notions such as authority, hierarchy, order, duty, tradition, reaction and nationalism" ...

What are liberal views? ›

Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support private property, market economies, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), liberal democracy, secularism, rule of law, economic and political freedom, freedom of speech, freedom ...

What is the difference between liberalism and conservative quizlet? ›

Liberals believe the government should be more involved in our economics and less involved in moral concerns. Conservatives believe the government should be less involved in our economics and more involved in social issues. Liberals are considered relaxed. Conservatives are considered serious or professional.

Who created neoliberalism? ›

Neoliberalism began accelerating in importance with the establishment of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, whose founding members included Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Karl Popper, George Stigler and Ludwig von Mises.

What is the libertarian ideology? ›

Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, and minimize the state's encroachment on and violations of individual liberties; emphasizing pluralism, cosmopolitanism, cooperation, civil and political rights, bodily autonomy, free association, free trade, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom ...

When was the rise of conservatism? ›

Although conservatism has much older roots in American history, the modern movement began to gel in the mid–1930s when intellectuals and politicians collaborated with businessmen to oppose the liberalism of the New Deal led by President Franklin D.

Who were Conservatives? ›

Conservatives believed in traditional and cultural values. They were the people who supported monarchy and nobility. They believed that privileges of the monarchy and nobility should exist. After the French Revolution, they contended that gradual changes should be brought in the society.

What are the different political ideology? ›

Contents
  • 1 Anarchism. 1.1 Classical. 1.2 Post-classical. ...
  • 2 Authoritarianism. 2.1 General. 2.2 Other. ...
  • 3 Communitarianism. 3.2 Other. 3.3 Regional variants.
  • 4 Communism. 4.1 Leninism. ...
  • 5 Conservatism. 5.1 General. ...
  • 6 Corporatism. 6.1 General. ...
  • 7 Democracy. 7.1 General. ...
  • 8 Environmentalism. 8.1 Bright green environmentalism.

What is the opposite of conservative approach? ›

Opposite of averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values. liberal. progressive. radical. broad-minded.

What is conservatism Brainly? ›

Conservatism is a political philosophy which believes that if changes need to be made to society, they should be made gradually. You can also refer to the political beliefs of a conservative party in a particular country as Conservatism. heart outlined.

What does the meaning of prudence? ›

1 : the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. 2 : sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs. 3 : skill and good judgment in the use of resources.

Is Labour right or left wing? ›

Labour's status as a socialist party has been disputed by those who do not see the party as being part of the left, although the general consensus is that Labour are a left-wing political party.

What are 5 political rights? ›

Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the ...

Is conservative left or right in Canada? ›

The party sits at the centre-right to the right of the Canadian political spectrum, with their federal rival, the Liberal Party of Canada, positioned to their left.

What are Democrat beliefs? ›

The Democratic Party (whose logo is a donkey) generally represents left-leaning, liberal and progressive ideological values, thus advocating for a strong government to regulate business and support for the citizens of the United States.

Who is liberal person? ›

: a person who is liberal: such as. a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways. b capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political party (see liberal entry 1 sense 6)

What is difference between liberal and moderate? ›

Liberalism is the predominant left-leaning ideology and conservatism is the predominant right-leaning ideology. Those who hold beliefs between liberalism and conservatism or a mix of beliefs on this scale are called moderates.

What sector do conservatives generally favor? ›

Apart from some right-libertarians, American conservatives tend to favor strong action in areas they believe to be within government's legitimate jurisdiction, particularly national defense and law enforcement. Social conservatives—many of them religious—often oppose abortion, civil unions, and same-sex marriage.

How are liberals and conservatives similar? ›

Liberals and conservatives relied on the same 3 moral foundations: For both groups, promoting care, fairness, and purity-but not authority or loyalty-predicted moral judgments of the targets. For liberals, promoting authority negatively predicted moral judgments.

What is the main difference between liberals and conservatives moral foundations? ›

Moral foundations research suggests that liberals care about moral values related to individual rights such as harm and fairness, while conservatives care about those foundations in addition to caring more about group rights such as loyalty, authority, and purity.

What is the opposite of neoliberalism? ›

Post-neoliberalism, also known as anti-neoliberalism, is a set of ideals characterized by its rejection of neoliberalism and the economic policies embodied by the Washington Consensus.

Is neoliberalism an ideology? ›

Neoliberalism is the dominant ideology permeating the public policies of many governments in developed and developing countries and of international agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and many technical agencies of the United Nations, including the World Health ...

Why is neoliberalism bad for developing countries? ›

Globally, the rolling out of neoliberal policies has led to a plethora of harmful socioeconomic consequences, including increased poverty, unemployment, and deterioration of income distribution (Rotarou and Sakellariou 2017; Collins et al. 2015).

What is the opposite of libertarian? ›

Bottom left – Statism. The opposite of libertarianism, corresponding with those supporting low economic and personal freedom.

Do libertarians believe in taxes? ›

Taxation. Some deontological libertarians believe that consistent adherence to libertarian doctrines such as the non-aggression principle demands unqualified moral opposition to any form of taxation, a sentiment encapsulated in the phrase "Taxation is theft!".

Do libertarians support the death penalty? ›

Most libertarians oppose capital punishment. They argue that capital punishment is an extreme exertion of state power, it is contrary to the values of a free society, authoritarian countries tend to be retentionist, and liberal-democratic societies generally abolitionist.

What is conservatism Brainly? ›

Conservatism is a political philosophy which believes that if changes need to be made to society, they should be made gradually. You can also refer to the political beliefs of a conservative party in a particular country as Conservatism. heart outlined.

What is liberalism in political ideology? ›

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law.

What are the different political ideology? ›

Contents
  • 1 Anarchism. 1.1 Classical. 1.2 Post-classical. ...
  • 2 Authoritarianism. 2.1 General. 2.2 Other. ...
  • 3 Communitarianism. 3.2 Other. 3.3 Regional variants.
  • 4 Communism. 4.1 Leninism. ...
  • 5 Conservatism. 5.1 General. ...
  • 6 Corporatism. 6.1 General. ...
  • 7 Democracy. 7.1 General. ...
  • 8 Environmentalism. 8.1 Bright green environmentalism.

What is meant by conservatism Class 10 history? ›

Conservatism is a political philosophy that stressed the importance of tradition, established institutions and customs and preferred gradual development to quick change.

Which of the following is the principle of conservatism concerned with? ›

What is the Conservatism Principle? The conservatism principle is the general concept of recognizing expenses and liabilities as soon as possible when there is uncertainty about the outcome, but to only recognize revenues and assets when they are assured of being received.

What is socialism in Brainly? ›

Answer: Socialism is a political, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production. It includes the political theories and movements associated with such systems.

What is a libertarian government? ›

According to the American Libertarian Party, libertarianism is the advocacy of a government that is funded voluntarily and limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence.

What are the 4 major ideologies? ›

Contents
  • 2.1 Conservatism.
  • 2.2 Liberalism.
  • 2.3 Moderates.

Who created neoliberalism? ›

Neoliberalism began accelerating in importance with the establishment of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, whose founding members included Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Karl Popper, George Stigler and Ludwig von Mises.

What is fascism in political ideology? ›

Fascism is a far-right, authoritarian, ultranationalist political ideology and movement, characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race ...

What are the 8 political ideologies? ›

Contents
  • 1 Anarchism (kinds of ideologies) 1.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 2 Communism. 2.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 3 Conservatism. 3.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 4 Environmentalism. 4.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 5 Fascism. 5.1 General. ...
  • 6 Feminism and identity politics. 6.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 7 Liberalism. ...
  • 8 Nationalism.

Is religion an ideology? ›

Religions are generally classified as subgroups of ideologies, in that they meet all the requirements and perform similar functions to an ideology, but have unique 'properties' unto themselves.

How many types of ideologies are there? ›

There are two main types of ideologies: political ideologies, and epistemological ideologies. Political ideologies are sets of ethical ideas about how a country should be run. Epistemological ideologies are sets of ideas about the philosophy, the Universe, and how people should make decisions.

Who were conservatives Short answer? ›

Conservatives believed in traditional and cultural values. They were the people who supported monarchy and nobility. They believed that privileges of the monarchy and nobility should exist. After the French Revolution, they contended that gradual changes should be brought in the society.

Who were conservatives write any 3 features of conservatism? ›

1 Answer. (i) The conservatives emphasised the importance of tradition's customs and established institutions like the monarchy, the church, the social hierarchies, property and the family. (ii) The power of the Bourbon dynasty was restored. (iii) Steps were taken to prevent French expansion and creation of new states.

What was new conservatism after 1815? ›

A New Conservatism after 1815

Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, European governments were driven by a spirit of conservatism. They believed that the traditional spheres of the government must be preserved and this rise of nation states must be curtailed.

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