Philosophy

Tenets of a Viable 21st Century Conservatism

I have been researching whether conservatism is a philosophy or an ideology and came across a speech by Jordan Peterson that he presented in Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada in 2017. Peterson suggests that “conservatism be presented as a manifesto of fundamental values instead of “Thou Shall Not” statements”. Dr. Peterson presents a philosophical view of conservatism rather than the dogma that typically is espoused.

The main benefit I see is these tenets provide us with a positive way to talk about conservatism. Instead of it seeming to younger adults that liberals are for things and conservatives are against things, these tenets of conservatism give us a way to explain conservatism as a positive philosophy based on real-life experiences over hundreds of years.

These are the 12 tenets of conservatism discussed in the presentation:

  1. The fundamental assumptions of Western civilization are valid.
  2. A peaceful social being is preferable to isolation and to war. In consequence, it justly and rightly demands some sacrifice of individual impulse and idiosyncrasy.
  3. Hierarchies of competence are desirable and should be promoted.
  4. Borders are reasonable. Likewise, limits on immigration are reasonable. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that citizens of societies that have not evolved functional individual-rights predicated polities will hold values in keeping with such polities.
  5. People should be paid so that they are able and willing to perform socially useful and desirable duties.
  6. Citizens have the inalienable right to benefit from the result of their own honest labor.
  7. It is more noble to teach young people about responsibilities than about rights.
  8. It is better to do what everyone has always done, unless you have some extraordinarily valid reason to do otherwise.
  9. Radical change should be viewed with suspicion, particularly in a time of radical change.
  10. The government, local and distal, should leave people to their own devices as much as possible.
  11. Intact heterosexual two-parent families constitute the necessary bedrock for a stable polity.
  12. We should judge our political system in comparison to other actual political systems and not to hypothetical utopias.

The one thing I would add to his 12 tenets is this one from Russell Kirk:

  • Permanence and Change must be reconciled in a vigorous society.

I think reconciling change is the biggest weakness of the Republican Party. They are always in reactive mode to the Democrats wanting to change things. We should be changing things that need to be changed, but using a conservative philosophy. We have to be on offense as much as we are on defense.

Are there any tenets you think need to be added?

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