Skip to comments.Who was the father of Conservatism and other questions
Posted on 08/23/2011 4:46:35 PM PDT by madmominct
Last night I got into a huge discussion with a liberal drone who thought he knew everything (don't they all?). Among his claims were that Hobbes was the father of Conservatism - who was an elistist who felt that people should be ruled by a strong government and allowed to participate as little as possible. He also claimed that Reagan was the first president to take money out of social security. He also kept referring to something called the "happiness index" and claimed that according to this index, people in Western Europen socialist democracies are the happiest. I intend to look this stuff up myself, but thought I might put it out there and see if there are some thoughts/arugments I could make and good websites for solid data. This guy also felt that money is the biggest problem in government - especially campaigns, and that the Supreme Court just passed something that will allow big corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns and that Republicans are responsible for more campaign money than Democrats - in spite of Soros. Needless to say, I had a headache after talking with this guy. Any thoughts, sources, websites appreciated!
The father of modern Conservatism would be Barry Goldwater.
>>He also kept referring to something called the “happiness index” and claimed that according to this index, people in Western Europen socialist democracies are the happiest.<<
Tell him to go to Western Europe — that will increase his happiness index and increase the USA happiness index as well.
Or maybe William F. Buckley?
Yes...Goldwater - and Buckley too, no? But it seems to me that as far as the true father of Conservatism - wouldn’t that be Edmund Burke? It seems to me that Levin has talked about Hobbes negatively and described Burke as the father of Conservatism.
“Tell him to go to Western Europe that will increase his happiness index and increase the USA happiness index as well.”
Good point. Why do these people never go live in these wonderful utopias they so love to tout?
My thoughts: get a new friend.
Lol...he wasn’t my friend, but a friend of a friend. She had warned me about him, and I had promised not to get into it with him, but he brought up politics and it was downhill from there...
“and that Republicans are responsible for more campaign money than Democrats”
Obama raised multiple millions from credit card donations under $25. I heard some guy from the middle east named Mickey Mouse donated $25 more than 200 times.
Hobbes was a monarchist which hardly makes him a conservative.
There was never any money to take out of Social Security by design so the question is a non-sequitur.
I agree with all you say. You could also say Ayan Rand because she was a great inspiration to Buckley.
Aristotle, the true father of the individual mind.
The father of conservative philosophy is Edmund Burke, the father of the modern American conservative movement is William F. Buckley, “Standing athwart history, yelling STOP!”
Reagan signed the first ever tax on SS benefits. Clinton increased the taxable amount from 50% to 85%.
+1, now go back to who Rand was inspired by.
The founders of conservatism are our Founding Fathers...per the Constitution. Nuff said.
To every bald assertion of a liberal twit, your response should be, “I don’t believe that for a minute. Show me the data. And ‘everyone knows’ doesn’t count.”
"If money is the root of all evil, what is the root of all money?"- Ayn Rand
Money is just a tool. Who uses it and how it is used is a reflection of the user. You can't blame the user.
correction, you can’t blame the tool...
Mises and Smith, but I intended to limit this to modern conservativism because I didnt think the lady was looking for history lesson on free market economic theory.
Philosophically, socialism and communism can be traced back to the French Revolution, as can modern liberalism, with populist elements added based on American experience. Notably, the liberal idea of Progress harks back to Rousseau and the French Revolution in seeking to transform human nature into a better and purer form.
In contrast, Burke's ideals of prudence, reform, and the exercise of prescriptive rights guided by experience and faith are evident in the American Revolution and in the Constitution. The Revolution was grounded in the assertion of specific legal and political rights against the usurpation of the English Crown, with the Constitution later intended to secure those rights and liberty itself through limited, orderly self-government.
With that in mind, American conservatives correctly look to the country's founders and the Framers of the Constitution for inspiration. As they do, Burkean reasoning is evident. Federalist Number 10, for example, like Burke, takes a practical view of human nature instead of the romantic and revolutionary view adhered to by the Left and American liberals.
For further reading, I suggest Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot."
I can't really see Hobbes as the founder of conservatism. There were conservatives of a sort before he came along -- supporters of local and national traditions. Hobbes was pretty unreliable in that regard, a supporter of powerful government in a way that most conservatives today would be uncomfortable with.
Applying "liberal" and "conservative" to anything before the French Revolution is pointless. Who was the true conservative, a king who represented the nation and stability but forever increased his own power, or a nobleman who fought centralized monarchical power to the point of elevating his own whims over everything else? It's hard to say.
I'd always heard Lyndon Johnson first "raided" Social Security. Actually what he did was to count Social Security receipts as government income to make it appear that the budget was already balanced, when he was actually running a deficit.
Some people say Reagan, followed by Bush and Clinton, first borrowed from Social Security. Others say that the program was always pay as you go and the "trust fund" or "lock-box" was a myth, so the answer would actually be Franklin Roosevelt.
If you want an answer try "answers.com." They have five different ones. One of those must be right.
Rockingham and Valpal1 are dead on correct.
Conservatism begins with Burke.
In fact, as Russell Kirk points out the term “conservative” was first used in the politically descriptive sense by French writers of his time in describing Burke and those of his “Old Whig” positions. That term was not used in a political sense until he showed the world the idiocy of the French Revolution.
As the leader of the Rockingham Whigs he stood up for America, impeached Hastings for India criminality, and was a huge force when out of power. Read him even though it will be hard at first.
Rockingham makes a good suggestion about Kirk’s book.
Another Kirk book I would suggest is “The Roots of American Order” which shows what principles we inherited that led to our nation’s founding.
An interesting fact that I got from Forrest McDonald was the Blue and Buff that Washington and the Continental Congress picked for the Revolutionary Army offices were the Whig political colors. This was so well understood at the time that it was rarely explained or written about.
While Kirk, Meyer, Weaver and Buckley were influencial in the 50s, it was Goldwater that lifted the conservative banner that the Robert Tafts left buried for 20 years.
In that amazing speech, Burke lays out well-documented numbers and facts about the astounding economic activity and progress of the Americans, attributing it to the "spirit of liberty" which was thriving and producing opportunity and wealth. Remember, this was a year before our Declaration of Independence.
Many who call themselves "conservatives" may not possess a true passion to preserve (conserve) the ideas of liberty encapsulated in the Declaration of Independence and structured into a form of self-government in the Constitution, but all who are dedicated to preserving those ideas and principles are, in fact, "conservatives," whether they identify with the label or not.
and you can never go wrong in relying on input from x who was posting as I typed
Thank you so much - just the great info I was looking for here on FR...
Excellent, excellent - will get the book. Thank you!! Btw, where does Locke fit in? This guy also claimed that Locke was the father of liberalism and progressivism...
Fantastic - thanks for all the suggestions and information. I knew I could count on my buds at FR - you guys are great!
Very good point about how the meaning of terms change so much over time as the context changes, so really, how relevant is to talk about conservatism and liberalism of 200 years ago? I think it’s mostly relevant in terms of the basic view of human nature and maybe in a general sense what constitutes a civil society. Thank you so much for your input - it’s very helpful!
Your friends friend is an idiot who believes everything he reads on DU.
National Review had an article in the print version “The Four Horsemen of Progressivism” that identifies Richard Ely, John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Herbert Croly as major influences and founders of the American Progressive movement.
The “Leviathan” was hardly a conservative concept, however, listening to progressives bash the Tea Party and their assumption of some power by democratic means, one might argue that the left is Hobbesian.
It should be kept in mind that American conservatism and the right wing of the modern British Tory Party incorporate and carry on the ideas of classical liberalism -- limited, representative government, free markets, and individual liberty. Burke in his time was described as a liberal, meaning liberal in the classical sense.
In contrast, modern American liberalism negates classical liberalism through its advocacy of socialism and radical egalitarianism. Locke would utter reject those ideas and the modern liberal belief that human nature is pliable and can be transformed for the better.
Thank you! Just downloaded Kirk’s book - “The Conservative Mind” and listening to it now...:)
“National Review had an article in the print version The Four Horsemen of Progressivism that identifies Richard Ely, John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Herbert Croly as major influences and founders of the American Progressive movement.
Don’t see how they could leave William James out.
It's crap. There's also 'Gross National Happiness' and 'The Happiness Index' and the 'Happy Planet Index'...
Thanks, Rockingham. For too long in America, we have called Democrats "liberals," when, in fact, they are and have stood for ideas which are the antithesis of "classical liberalism."
Now, and for the past several decades they have morphed into and now identify themselves as "progressives," a term which, in itself is misleading. The so-called "progressive" philosophy is, in fact, most regressive, for it advocates failed ideas which lead to tyranny and oppression, not to freedom, opportunity, productivity, and plenty. "Progressive" ideas are more aptly described by the word "socialist."
In the following quotations from Churchill, we can see thoughts of his on the subject dating from 1908 to the 1950's. Much of what is happening in America today is described within these words:
"When I see the present Socialist Government denouncing capitalism in all its forms, mocking with derision and contempt the tremendous free enterprise capitalist system on which the mighty production of the United States is founded, I cannot help feeling that as a nation we are not acting honorably or even honestly." - Winston Churchill, Woodford Green, July 10, 1948.
"We shall not allow the advance of society and economic well-being of the nation to be regulated and curtailed by the pace of the weakest bretheren among us. Proper incentives must be offered and full freedom given to the strong to use their strength in the commonweal. Initiative, enterprise, thrift, domestic foresight, contrivance, good housekeeping and natural ability must reap their just reward. On any other plan the population of this island will sink by disastrous and agonizing stages to a far lower standard of life and two-thirds of its present numbers." - Winston Churchill, speech, Blenheim Palace, August 4, 1947.
"The difference between what is seen and what is not seen was often noticed by the old economists. What is not seen is the infinite variety of individual transactions and decisions which, in a civilized society, within the framework of just and well-known laws, insure the advantage not only of the individual concerned, but of the community, and provide that general body of well-being constituting the wealth of nations. All this is blotted out by an over-riding State control, however imposing some of its manifestations may be. It is the vital creative impulse that that I deeply fear the doctrines and policy of the socialist Government have destroyed, or are rapidly destroying, in our national life. Nothing that they can plan and order and rush around enforcing will take its place. They have broken the mainspring, and until we get a new one the watch will not go." - Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons, October 28, 1947.
"It is in the interest of the wage-earner to have many other alternatives open to him than service under one all-powerful employer called the State. He will be in a better position to bargain collectively and production will be more abundant; there will be more for all and more freedom for all when the wage earner is able, in the large majority of cases, to choose and change his work, and deal with a private employer who, like himself, is subject to the ordinary pressures of life and, like himself, is dependent upon his personal thrift, ingenuity and good-housekeeping." - Winston Churchill, speech, Blackpool, October 5, 1946
"Liberalism (classical liberalism) has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and aims. Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly." - Winston Churchill, Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, May 14, 1908.
"The British nation now has to make one of the most momentous choices in its history. That choice is between two ways of life: between individual liberty and State domination: between concentration of ownership in the hands of the State and the extension of a property-owning democracy; between a policy of increasing restraint and a policy of liberating energy and ingenuity: between a policy of levelling down and a policy of finding opportunities for all to rise upwards from a basic standard." - Winston Churchill, speech in Woodford, England, January 28, 1950.
"It is curious that, while in the days of my youth I was much reproached with inconsistency and being changeable, I am now scolded for adhering to the same views I had early in life and even of repeating passages from speeches which I made long before most of you were born. Of course the world moves on and we dwell in a constantly changing climate of opinion. But the broad principles and truths of wise and sane political actions do not necessarily alter with the changing moods of a democratic electorate. Not everything changes. Two and two still make four, and I could give you many other instances which go to prove that all wisdom is not new wisdom." - Winston Churchill, speech, Bele vue, Manchester, December 6, 1947.
"It is not Parliament that should rule; it is the people who should rule through Parliament." - Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons. November 11, 1947.
"We have to combat the wolf of socialism, and we shall be able to do it far more effectively as a pack of hounds than as a flock of sheep." - Winston Churchill, speech, 1937.
:Athough it is now put forward in the main by people who have a good grounding in the Liberalism and Radicalism of the early part of this century, there can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with Totalitarianism and the abject worship of the State. It is not alone that property, in all its forms, is struck at, but that liberty, in all its forms, is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of Socialism." - Winston Churchill, B.B.C radio address, June 4, 1945.
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill, House of Commons, October 22, 1945.
"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy." - Winston Churchill, Perth, May 28, 1948.
"I do not wonder that British youth is in revolt against the morbid doctrine that nothing matters but the equal sharing of miseries: that what used to be called the submerged tenth can only be rescued by bringing the other nine-tenths down to their level; against the folly that it is better that everyone should have half rations rather than that any by their exertions, or ability, should earn a second helping." - Winston Churchill, London, June 22, 1948.
"Socialism is based on the idea of an all-powerful State which owns everything, which plans everything, which distributes everything, and thus through its politicians and officials decides the daily life of the individual citizen." - Winston Churchill, London, January 21, 1950.
"The British and Americans do not war with races or governments as such. Tyranny, external or internal, is our foe whatever trappings and disguises it wears, whatever language it speaks, or perverts." - Winston Churchill, Speech, Dorchester Hotel, London, July 4, 1953.
"You may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is to increase poverty." - Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons. March 12, 1947.
"Nor should it be supposed as you would imagine, to read some of the Left-wing newspaper, that all Americans are multi-millionaires of Wall Street. If they were all multi-millionaires that would be no reason for condemning a system which has produced such material results.: - Winston Churchill, speech, Royal Albert Hall, London. April 21, 1948.
"Rich men, although valuable to the revenue, are not vital to a healthy state of society, but a society in which rich men are got rid of, from motives of jealousy, is not a healthy state." - Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons, April 24, 1950.
” Btw, where does Locke fit in? This guy also claimed that Locke was the father of liberalism and progressivism...”
Liberals will even claim that the intellectual source of liberalism is the entire body of post-Renaissance thought!
This is because modern liberalism is in fact the contemporary heir of the main lines of post-Renaissance thought and by right considers itself most distinctively modern, and most influential in shaping the post-Renaissance world. But even though the liberal can reach back to a page or two of Locke that might bolster their claim, the conservative can present a contrary file from such as Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and others far stronger; for the liberal, in reality holds title to these intellectual giants work only by adverse posession, due to the liberals present control of the intellectual records office.
Good research and excellent quotes.
Thank you - great quotes from Churchill - this post will be my treasure trove for future reading and research to further my education in Conservative principles.
That’s why Churchill is my favorite historical figure of all time. Modern politicians are not worthy to shine his shoes.
Russell Kirk picked Edmund Burke, with conservatism beginning as a reaction against the French Revolution.
Kirk wrote “The Conservative Mind” back in 1953, before Buckley started the National Review, before Barry Goldwater arrived on the scene. I often used to see Kirk’s book cited as marking the intellectual beginning of the postwar conservative movement. It was certainly influential. You can find it and a lot of other worthwhile books at the ISI website:
Edmund Burke is also the correct answer.
Arguably, Burke had the more crucial role in that he catalyzed opposition to the French Revolution by enlightened opinion in Britain. Until Burke, many in Britain sympathized with the French Revolution, including Burke’s Parliamentary friend and ally Charles Fox. Had the ideals of the French Revolution triumphed in Britain, conservative principles of government would have been consumed there.
Open a window and I'm bustin' through the door and taking no prisoners! I love those kind of openings!
Edmund Burke is the father of Conservatism.
There was one Happiness study by a Brit. It was subjective. The US ranked 23. England ranked 41. Smaller countries tended to rank higher,
Don’t know about the Pres Reagan issue.
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