Is this your image of a conservative?
I’m not knocking stalwart ladies in tweed suits, but you needn’t be quite so prim to be a conservative. A conservative is not always a hatchet faced killjoy or a prim and parsimonious puritan. A conservative is simply someone who wants to conserve what’s good from the past to build a good future.
A conservative doesn’t just look back with affection and forward with fear. He looks look back with criticism and foward with hope. He wants to learn what was imperfect about the past so he doesn’t plunge into a more imperfect future.
A conservative looks to the past not because everything in the past was good, but because he wants to see what good things from the past have stood the test of time.
He is, if you like, a connoisseur of durable ideas, a cultivator of mature thoughts, a collector of vintage philosophies and venerable traditions. He eschews the ephemeral, the shallow, the gimmick, the gimcrack and the gadget. He favors the solid, the sure, the universal, the ancient, the tested and the tried.
As such he is a sort of scientist of society. He is critical of that which is only a theory. He is doubtful about that which has not been proven or tried, and questions whether any innovation is possible, preferable or necessary.
This attitude may make a person prim, pious and pinched. He may turn into a bigoted, suspicious, narrow minded prig. He may yield to the temptation to build an artificial antique world, or a quaint sect of like minded eccentrics.
However, the true conservative is none of these. He is not bound by the past, but bound for the future. The true conservative is creative. He uses the past not as a prison, but as a springboard. For the creative conservative the past is not an easy chair, but a trampoline. From the past he builds a dynamic present, and from that present he launches confidently into an exciting and unknown future.
The word conservative has become as much maligned as the word orthodox. As if either were tiny confining things.Of course conservatism is creative, and properly ordered many conservatism is also procreative.
This is the irony. Conservatism, which seems narrow and po faced is actually pro life while libralism which seems open and fun promotes the culture of death. The skull wears a permanent grin.
Having been freed by the words of this blog, what do I do with my tweed suits now?
Keep the tweed suit. Add a tweed hat, put on another 200 pounds, grow a moustache, buy a pince nez and go on tour doing a G.K.Chesterton one man show.
I looked at the pic and thought, Hillary Rodham (Clinton). Flaming liberal deconstructionists can wear tweed and appear prim. In fact, mid 20th century liberals looked more like this than anything else.