What does modern conservatism mean?

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The political ideology of conservatism deals with the preservation of traditional beliefs and cultures. Although it might seem to be detrimental for a progressive and modern society, yet it was the prevailing culture, ideas, traditions, and belief systems that shaped current political thought processes. Modern conservationists believe that knowledge of one's roots and traditional customs are essential for progress. Conservationists theorize that the success of any society lies in the acknowledgment of the complicated relationship between man and community. The community helps man to gain a collective identity and, at the same time, develop his individualistic thought process. Although this seems to be paradoxical, it has been found that man must be well-integrated with society to create his identity. This idea becomes apparent when the views of Edmund Burke, the foremost theorist of modern conservatism is studied. Burke opposed the French Revolution but supported the American Revolution, despite the fact both Revolutions were uprisings of the common man against authoritarian rules. He believed that the French Revolution was bound to produce disastrous results because The revolutionists refused to acknowledge the complexities of human nature. According to Burke, the French revolutionists did not fully conceive the changes that the Revolution would bring and the changes that society needed to incorporate, to make the Revolution a success. However, in comparison, the American Revolution was a success because it sought to remove an authoritarian rule which and it was aimed at achieving independence. The philosophy behind the American Revolution was equal rights. Thus, conservatism is not about adhering to traditional practices, but incorporating these in modern society. Some of the essential features of contemporary conservatism are as follows:

Reducing government interference in the economy of a nation

To help the economy of a country thrive, it is necessary to minimize government intervention. This is a popular notion held by liberal conservationists. This notion is pro-capitalism, and it has been found that the most robust economies of the world are those that follow a capitalist form of economics. In such an economy, the price of goods and services are decided by the market forces. The balancing of the two market forces will help achieve equilibrium. However, to reach a market equilibrium, the free market economy should be promoted. This can be achieved if the government reduces its interference in the economic activity of the country. The United States of America (USA) had always promoted economic individualism. However, the pursuit of individualism must not disturb the foundation on which the American community and society are built. Thus, the combination of individualism and free-market economy has helped develop the traditional background of economic conservatism in the USA. It is only natural that this particular political thought process in a pro-capitalist economy will be considered economic conservatism concerning the USA. Thus, the types of conservatism will also depend on the background, political history, and the traditions of the nation.

Conservatism relating to cultural and social orders

A modern form of conservatism can be understood by studying the political thought processes behind cultural and social conservatism. The cultural background of a nation goes a long way in helping citizens develop their own specific identities. For example, the culture and traditions prevalent in the United States are termed as 'Western Culture' by people living in the Eastern Hemisphere. Western Culture refers to the specific traditions and cultural beliefs of the people of the US. The upholding of these cultures and traditional ideas form the primary objective of cultural conservationists.

Similarly, there is a section of social thinkers who believe social conservatism is essential for a society to progress. They believe adhering to the traditional structure of families, community ties, and social associations are necessary for a community to thrive. The upholding of these social connections has become essential in the modern age. Specific changes must be incorporated even in this thought process to make sure that social conservatism survives. For example, the definitions of family have changed over time, and social and cultural conservationists must acknowledge this. These acknowledgments have modernized the political thought process of social and cultural conservatism.

Developing a society based on equality

Conservatism strongly believes in developing a community where all men are considered equal. Modern conservatism seeks to remove all forms of discrimination based on caste, color, creed, race, and gender. Political thinkers, social scientists, and leaders have always spoken against racial discrimination. They always perceived discrimination and segregation as being extremely harmful to society. Yet discrimination based on color, creed, race, and gender still survives. Politicians who believe in modern conservatism do not believe in preserving this form of discrimination. Instead, they support the development of egalitarian societies.

Moreover, the notion of equality traces its roots back into history. The French Revolution was an attempt at setting up a society based on equality. It was the removal of the feudal system of government that discriminated against the poor. Similarly, The American Revolution traces its roots to the setting up of an egalitarian society. Modern conservatism and its political thought consider that man is created as being equal, and it is the fundamental right of a man to live freely, without the fear of persecution. Any form of persecution and segregation that is based on the color, race, creed, caste, social standing, and gender of an individual must be removed.

Thus, modern conservatism might seem like a paradox, but it is not so. It is primarily a political thought process that deals with upholding the traditions, cultural faiths, and beliefs. But at the same time, it ensures that the modern thought process is acknowledged and incorporated in its philosophy. This means a balance between both traditional values and the contemporary political thought process must be struck as this alone will help society progress. Modern conservatism seeks to keep the traditional value system of any society intact. Nevertheless, it is a part of the political thought that even while doing socapitol, modern norms and beliefs should also be upheld. 


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