The Reagan definition of Conservatism is relatively new. There are many older definitions.
The heart of Conservatism is a desire to conserve a given social structure. The former Communists ruling Russia are Conservatives. The Taliban wants to conserve their ideals of an Islamic state. Slave owners in post Revolution America wanted to preserve their peculiar institution. Slave owners saw themselves as wonderful people and praised themselves for the meager care they gave to their slaves.
Royalists in England and Tories in the states wanted to preserve the social order of the monarchy.
The royalists had a vision of the feudal order that is different than we have today. They saw the kings and lords as monuments of virtue that showered bounty upon the undeserving masses. They saw the kingdom as the state as the owner and the bounties of the state flowing through the royalty and lords to the people.
The royalists despised the classical liberal notion of a society built on self-ownership. They believed that people belonged to a social order. The Lords and Ladies of Feudalism did not gain their position by owning and investing, they gained their position from ruling over a region.
The serfs, of course, owned nothing. They toiled through the day and owed with livelihood to their Lords and Ladies. Yes, many serfs adored their lords.
The classical liberalism of the US Founders was a foreign ideology that came from the merchant class. This middle class gained their position through ownership. Merchants, factory owners and professionals would re-invest the gains from their efforts in their business.
Royalists, who dreamed of a return to the social order of the ancient regime, despised people who made built their status through ownership and spared no invective in their scorn of the merchant class.
After the US Revolution, there was a massive religious revival. During this period people seeking shelters from the uncertainties of the business world sought to create Utopian societies.
The Book of Mormon seems to reflex the thought of the 1800s. People wondered about the origins of the native Americans. The pseudo scientists of the day assumed a young earth. Joseph Smith wrote a story on the speculation that the Native Americans were descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
The Native Americans had a conflict driven history (See Hegel's philosophy of history) that reached its climax when King Benjamin (no relation to Benjamin Franklin) granted the people a Democracy. An evil group called "Lamanites" formed a voting block and won the election that led to a big war.
God was displeased and smited the Nephites and turned them into red savages.
On publishing the Book of Mormon, Smith hooked up with Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon who had congregations that experimented with building utopian societies. This conservative movement was using a radicalized religion to built a utopian society that harkened back to the ideals of feudalism.
In early American history, the concept of ownership was considered liberal. Conservative slave owners in the South sought to deny blacks self-ownership. Utopian societies of the north created utopian societies that harkened back to the ideals of the ancient regime.
The early utopian societies tended to build on radicalized religion. A "Young Hegelian" named Fueurbach realized that one could use radicalized anti-religion to the same effect. Another Young Hegelian named Karl Marx figured out how to use the dialectic to frame socialism as revolutionary.
Post a Comment