Friday, October 10, 2008

Why Conservatism Fails as a Social System

I'm reading a book by Friedrich Hayek written in 1944 called the The Road to Serfdom.

In his preface from 1956 Friedrich Hayek writes,
"Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege.

The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others."
It's important to note that Friedrich Hayek's classical definition of liberalism maintains that freedom of the individual and limitations on government are paramount. I have no idea what the word liberal means in today's society - except that it's something that some Republicans and Conservatives know is scary and that they don't like it. I think we have confused ourselves with a lot of labels which serve to divide people who share common ideas - or at least common goals of continually creating a better civilization.