Conservatives take a dim view of progress. They are not so foolish as to deny that great advances have been made in science, technology, medicine, communication, management, education, and so forth, and that they have changed human lives for the better. But they have also changed them for the worse. Advances have been both beneficial and harmful. They have certainly enlarged the stock of human possibilities, but the possibilities are for both good and evil, and new possibilities are seldom without new evils. Conservatives tend to be pessimistic because they doubt that more possibilities will make lives on the whole better. They believe that there are obstacles that stand in the way of the permanent overall improvement of the human condition.
PROGRESS: WHICH DIRECTION?
Progress is largely about correcting injustices throughout society, and to correct them, we must be aware of them. This is one of the ultimate differences between progressives and conservatives; progressives are under no illusion that we are living in a just and fair society, while conservatives, for the most part, are. When it comes down to it, injustices can only be truly addressed when the majority of citizens and leaders become aware of these injustices.
These differences are not insignificant, nor are they insurmountable if a decision is made to cooperate and compromise to expand opportunities for more of us, and thus create a more stable and secure future. Overcoming the obstacles caused by the former and accepting the latter are crucial to that better future. It’s a choice, one made with full consideration for, and an understanding of, the differences.
[There is] the commonly held notion that conservatives are especially likely to value tradition, conformity, social order, and consensual adherence to rules, norms, and conventions….It is also consistent with the assumption that it is generally easier to establish common ground with respect to the status quo than with respect to its many possible alternatives and to communicate effectively by transmitting messages that are relatively simple and unambiguous rather than reflecting the kind of complex, nuanced, and perhaps ambivalent cognitive and rhetorical styles that seem to be more common on the political left than the right. (links/citations in original) *
There’s much to be said for adherence to tradition and social order. A society changing its rules and principles on a regular basis is a society going nowhere fast. In a world as interconnected, advanced, and formidable as the 21st Century, maintaining the framework of established norms, laws, expectations and a high level of the existing status quo seems perfectly reasonable. Chaos deliberately chosen is almost never a wise course of action for any undertaking!
Kekes argues that ‘the fundamental aim of conservatism is to conserve the political arrangements that have shown themselves to be conducive to good lives’. And, he continues, ‘the conservative view is that history is the best guide to understanding the present and planning for the future because it indicates what political arrangements are likely to make lives good or bad’
Conservatives … have a stronger preference for things that are familiar, stable, and predictable….
Conservatives—at least, the subset prone to authoritarianism—also show a stronger emotional sensitivity to threats to the social order, which motivates them to limit liberties in defense of that order….[Cited researchers on the subject – my note] … concluded from a meta-analysis of this literature that the two core aspects of conservative ideology are resistance to change and acceptance of inequality. [other references and citations in the original]
The connection to the conservative inclination to resist change is consistent with Kekes’ assessment. And consistent with the conservative personality’s intolerance for ambiguity and the related need for closure, little justification or substantiation is offered. Preservation of existing “arrangements” is to be accepted as an incontrovertible fact, premised on the belief that what worked before will continue to work well. Period.
If only. That may have been a quaint thought decades ago in simpler times, but that ship has long since sailed. How about a Plan B which recognizes and appreciates the value of change and pursues the best avenues to move us forward, rather than knee-jerk opposition? We’re not bringing back the 1950s….
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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings here [see the links above] and at Peak Oil Matters, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will continue weekly throughout the summer
NOTE: This series runs on Thursdays
~ My Photo: Rockport, MA – 08.13.15
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
* Political Ideology: Its Structure, Functions, and Elective Affinities by John T. Jost, Christopher M. Federico, and Jaime L. Napier at Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2009. 60:307–37 [online at psych.annualreviews.org] Copyright 2009 by Annual Reviews. p 311-312
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Our contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
As each side bordering the political chasm digs in ever deeper to engage in skirmishes whose intensities and potential consequences seem to have no end point in sight, we should be wondering with greater urgency what sort of “community” will emerge from the wreckage. How are we preparing ourselves to pursue opportunities and provide for the well-being of our families when so much energy is dissipated in battles where nonsense is the primary weapon?
Assuming the future still matters to at least most of us, perhaps a momentary pause to consider where current choices will lead is called for….Ignoring legitimate real-world challenges, denying they exist, or making absurd, ignorant claims to defend unconscionable political tactics will not affect the arrival of those problems in the least. Widespread impacts will be following close behind. Do we continue the ideological battles, or decide to meet the challenges by cooperating as needed?
That there’s no chance whatsoever of gaining ground in any meaningful way seems to be routinely overlooked. So too do these battles offer nothing but the creation of more problems for us all in the years to come.