The progressivism of conservatism

Take a society that goes from being unselfconsciously patriotic to being skeptical of the value of patriotism, like most European societies before and after WWI or America before and after the 1970’s. In the old society, being patriotic was to go with the flow, fit in, and avoid looking weird or set apart; and in the new society all this now applies to irony or skepticism of patriotism.

Arguendo, let’s call someone conservative when they hang onto the patriotism and accept going against the flow of society, and someone liberal when they go with it. The liberal therefore preserves the naturalness and cohesion of the old life while the conservative preserves the object. The change in the liberal way of life is obvious, but the change is also very radical for the conservative since he now holds a value that makes him weird and set apart. The conservative position necessarily becomes more rigid since it is defined in defiance of social pressure. He accepts his status as a weird outsider and even celebrates it as the mark of his authenticity. The dangers for each way of life follow these differences: the liberal risks all the dangers that come with the loss of some object and going with the flow of society (dangers that once came with patriotism) and the conservative risks all the dangers that come by defining oneself as an outsider and lacking the power that comes with going with the flow of society.




  1. Lucretius said,

    November 14, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I have a question, Mr. Chestek:

    I’ve read some of your posts and St. Thomas’ thoughts on happiness, virtue, and freedom, and your posts especially seem to imply that (imperfect) happiness is found basically in the freedom to act as one likes without the interior resistances of the passions and conscience, which result from vices and sins. Am I correct that this is how you view happiness?

    Christi pax.

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