The Left has never understood conservatism because the Left has never wanted to. To them, their ideology of egalitarianism leads directly to Utopia, at which point there will no longer be conflict between humans and everyone will be accepted. Any deviation from this is a moral sin punishable by death, in their view.
That explains why the Left does not want to understand conservatism: they have zero room for it in their pantheon of ideologically-tinted symbolic representations of reality. This is because while conservatism is voiced as an ideology, fundamentally it is anti-ideological because it bases its perceptions on reality.
Conservatism comes from the term “to conserve,” which means that we preserve successful means of achieving excellence. In human terms, nothing can be preserved in a static sense, but must be regenerated anew in each generation, so “conservation” means not physical things but principles, methods and ideas.
As written here before, that means that conservatism has two attributes:
Consequentialism. We judge success by end results and side-effects, not by human intent, feelings, judgments, universal symbols and emotions. Reality is external to us; internal focus is solipsistic.
Transcendence. There must be some goal higher than material reaction, like excellence, beauty, goodness and truth, and we discover it through intuition, which is within but not personal.
This contrasts with Leftism, which has only one attribute: egalitarianism, or the equality of people, which is presumed to lead to pacifism and universal acceptance, and from there to Utopia. Leftism works through negative actions, or things it wishes to remove; conservatism requires restructuring society around positive goals, or things we want to achieve.
For this reason, in our Leftist time, our Leftist media has trouble understanding why conservatism does not translate into Leftist terms. First they want to make it an ideology; then, they try to import egalitarianism — the core and principle of Leftism — into it, despite for conservatism, egalitarianism being at most a means to an end and not an end in itself.
As a recent article demonstrate, our society is now struggling to understand conservatism which is as distant as a foreign land to a society brainwashed in two centuries of Leftism:
Nash presented an influential portrait of conservatism as a river fed by three tributaries of thought: Christian traditionalism, anti-Communism, and libertarianism (or classical liberalism). Although each could be rendered as a popular impulse or unthinking reflex of the mass mind, Nash insisted that all three were fundamentally intellectual traditions, nourished by a cast of characters who deserved both respect and extended study, among them James Burnham, the former socialist turned anti-Communist; Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian classical economist; and Russell Kirk, America’s answer to Edmund Burke. In Nash’s telling, these were the men (and they were almost all men) who created conservatism in the postwar years.
This article is patent nonsense. Conservatism is not a material ideology, but a timeless principle. It can be found in “Christian traditionalism, anti-Communism, and libertarianism (or classical liberalism)” but they are not its constituent components. Rather, as a principle, it is found many places, and those are the ones we recognize — “observer bias” — because of their recent relevance.
A conservative is someone who likes what works. Because the question then arises “How well does it have to work?” he has to pick either bare minimums (utilitarianism) or best case scenarios, and that latter leads him to the goal of excellence. That in turn picks out the principle of nature: all works to produce a hierarchy that advances the best over the rest, and this extends to metaphysical principle.
For all that modern people know of conservatism, the above passage might as well be in ancient Greek. However, as we enter into a conservative area with Brexit rippling across the USA and Europe, we might want to understand the path out of the Leftist mental ghetto and how we can use it to save ourselves from the moribund inertia of liberalism.
Tags: anti-communism, classical liberalism, consequentialism, conservatism, edmund birke, george h. nash, james burnham, leftism, liberalism, libertarianism, russell kirk, traditionalism, transcendentalism