1. The belief in the inalienable right of every man to succeed or fail, based on his own talents without undue interference by the state.
2. Belief in the standard of merit is the only viable standard when considering people for any position, public or private.
3. Belief in the idea that the best way to defend the rights of the masses, is defend the rights of the individuals who make those masses up.
4. Belief in the idea that mankind is the most valuable resource the planet has.
5. That the previous 4 pillars are interconnected and dependent one upon the other.
Conservatism has long suffered from an identity crisis. In spite of it’s adherents desire to see things in a very much black and white way, they still fall victim to nebulousness because of the wide variety of ideas surrounding what it means to be a conservative in the first place. Since there are no hard and fast rules, I have put forward what I think are five bedrock concepts that conservatives can all agree on as being the foundation of what being a conservative means.
So lets take a moment and look at them in turn.
First is the idea that your success or failure is totally dependent on you. No life isn’t fair, but no one said it would be. If you want to take the credit for your successes, you then must accept responsibility for your failures. While it is true that no man is an island, each man must row his own boat. Achieving success, however you define it is in itself one of lifes greatest rewards when it comes after a long hard battle filled with missteps, mistakes, hard lessons learned and the personal growth that comes from it. This simple but fundamental principle also has at it’s heart the idea that the sate has no place in the daily affairs of the people outside that of maintaining the peace. In other words, it is up to you whether or not you succeed or fail in life. It is up to the state to make sure you answer to the courts if you break the law while doing it.
The second bedrock concept you must accept if you wish to wear a blue tie, is the idea that when it comes to selecting through various methods, people for positions of power and control, the only and I do mean only way the choice is made is by the strength of the qualifications of the candidate. No influence by race, creed, colour religion or gender ever enters into the mix. This is called the merit system and anything else is simply unacceptable.
We often hear about doing things for the benefit of the “people”, or the “masses” for their benefit. This concept is rightly identified as communism and has no place in the conservative camp. While we all want the population as a whole to have rights and freedoms, the single best way to defend those rights on behalf of the “masses”, is to ensure and defend them at the individual level. This has been expressed time and time again by people far more learned and wise than I. As writer and philosopher Jonathan Sacks puts it:
“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.”
The fourth principle needs to be stated vigorously in light of the widely held idea that somehow mankind is a parasite and that earth would be better off without us. This flies in the face of reality. The truth is that mankind makes the planet a better place because of his ingenuity and creativity. Consider the following example.
In the American mid west, there exists the single most prolific forest on earth. It grows four times faster than any other region like it. It has been a constant supply of high quality lumber for generations that have allowed prosperity for millions of people through jobs and opportunity created by the lumbering industry. Sadly, this is no longer the case today. Because of environmental socialism, many mills now stand silent and countless people have left for better opportunities elsewhere as their way of life disappeared before their very eyes. Besides the economic devastation that has brought, it has also been a disaster from the forests point of view. Now that logging has been virtually eliminated, an acre of forest that used to contain 50 to 60 large healthy trees, now contain 300 spindly, sick or dying ones that are so densely packed together that when they do die they can’t fall over to rot on the forest floor as they would have when logging was king. The trees die, dry out and are fuel for forest fires made far more intense than otherwise would be the case, costing millions of dollars in otherwise unnecessary firefighting, loss of private property and the death of wildlife.
This isn’t the only case one could point too, but is is a powerful one. Man makes the earth a better place when he works with it and applies his mind to how to expand on natures capabilities.
Lastly, all four of these principles are interconnected. You cannot separate them and treat them individually, you must treat them as the cornerstones of a philosophy that provides the most freedom and the most opportunity for the largest number of the people, most of the time. Conservatism, and those who adhere to it need to work together to promote these ideals if they ever want to attract people to the fold. It is only when you can stand and say “This is who I am, this is what I believe in, come and follow me.”, that anyone will actually do it. And that is what it is going to take if being conservative is ever going to move back into the mainstream of social consciousness.