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Conservatism 101

I have been trying harder with writing a post here than I have done for any post at my own blog  for a long time, in fact this is my third attempt to write something meaningful  and thought provoking. To be honest I feel some pressure to produce  a sound argument by way of introduction here given the amount of animus that my putting a hand up has evoked. So instead of focusing on the Abbott /  Gillard bout scheduled for Sept 14 perhaps I should take as my starting point this comment from Silkworm:


February 13, 2013

Will someone please explain to me what a conservative is, and how this differs from being right-wing?

What are the three top conservative values?

How does being conservative differ from being progressive?

Is conservatism the opposite of progressivism?

Does conservatism necessarily involve being religious?

Can one be a secular conservative or atheist conservative?

Of course I can’t speak for everyone  who calls themselves a conservative so all I can do is try to explain why I consider myself one and what that means for the way that I see the world and the politics of our country.

Will someone please explain to me what a conservative is, and how this differs from being right-wing?

  I was not always a conservative, like a lot  of us I began with a great deal of piss and vinegar about changing the world and I was rather attracted to the notion of  social revolution during the late sixties I was just young enough to avoid the draft, Gough happened and I was proud to say ” its time ” along with so many others. Like so many others I was distressed and devastated over the dismissal that was a real shock to my system and I was a good little lefty so of course I hated Fraser with a real passion in the approved manner.  There was lots of attempts to change things under Gough , things like universal health insurance has largely endured and noble aspirations like making tertiary education  more open to the working class was something I took advantage of  and it was may time at Queensland University that kick-started my cynicism about Left wing politics.  to get back to the question, Conservatives like me don’t totally disavow social change but we do want any changes to be slow considered and incremental. Personally I take a “do no harm” approach to most social issues and think that it is folly to constantly change things in the pious hope that radical change will bring about improvement. I am horrified that Labor and Coalition governments have both been so keen to radically reshape big parts of our society oblivious  to the very real possibility of nasty unforeseen consequences.  As I see it extreme right wing views are pretty similar to extreme left-wing views insofar as they both have a very hefty amount of totalitarian compulsion involved and a large  amount of utopian desire to radically remodel society. Conservatives look at our society and see the glass half full and think that the need to put our beverages in another unproven cup is not worth the risk.

What are the three top conservative values?

Of course that varies from individual to individual but for me it begins with personal liberty and autonomy  and respect for the same for all people  as long as they are willing to do likewise which frees us from having to respect any totalitarian ideology that would curtail our personal liberty.

Secondly it is social civility and good manners that make a workable society.  I know that amongst many progressives the idea of manners have all kinds of forelock tugging connotations but good manners does not have to entail undue deference its really about respect for others as one would want respect for yourself .

Thirdly there is the importance of family and the biological imperative to make  and nurture our children because without making children we have no future and the sort of society have becomes nihilistic and   irrelevant.

How does being conservative differ from being progressive?

Let me answer this by first pointing out where they are the same. Both Conservatives  and Progressives want to have a better society where they differ is how they want to achieve that. We conservatives want to build upon the foundations in our society that are sound and work with human nature in fact we are rather like a renovator who looks at the fabric of an old house and asks how can I make this place better and do I really need to make big changes to get big improvements. The Progressive, on the other hand, tends to think that the most important tool at his disposal is the wrecking ball and the demolition hammer and they think nothing of living in an eternal social  building site. Mainly though we conservatives think that making the most of how things are now trumps the empty promises of a “better future” that never seem to arrive.

Is conservatism the opposite of progressivism?

In some respects it is because the former is all about building upon what is socially virtuous and proven where as the later is about the promise of constant change , often just for the sake of change . I am a very strong advocate for the “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it” school of thought and to my mind progressives are the ultimate example of “built in obsolescence” that so blights our industrial society.

Does conservatism necessarily involve being religious?

Well that depends very much on how you define religious doesn’t it? I tend to think that most people have some sort of belief in a greater power and a vain hope that there is some afterlife for the deserving. That said it seems to me that many progressives get tied up in arguing about the improbabilities of the supernatural aspects of religion instead of seeing that at the core of most of the great faiths is  a template for a “just” society. Personally I find any notion of the ” supernatural”  to be totally laughable  but I have also found that some very religious individuals  are exemplars of social compassion and   virtue.

Can one be a secular conservative or atheist conservative?

I say that is absolutely the case and I stand before you as an example of that particular combination of ideals. In fact I have never believed in any god or deity because it has just never made any sense to me and I have never felt any need for it either. I do however believe in and value civility and a civil society which is something that must be grown rather than made. In fact when it comes down to it that is the real difference  between a conservative and a progressive , the former wants to help society to grow into something that is better where as the latter wants to make society from scratch time and time again.

Cheers Comrades


This post was written as a contribution to the The Australian Independent Media Network after an request for conservative opinion for that blog made  by Michael Taylor.

Dear Iain Hall, Right Wing Troll – This is why you were banned

You are most amusing Zealots here and of course I am not going to “bleat” about free speech I can and do say what I please at my own blog and elsewhere and I will take great pleasure in critiquing what you write here at my own blog when my muse inspires me to do so.
To that end I respond to the points in turn:

Well, here is your answer:
a check of your comments history on this blog shows that you have been offensive since practically day 1. You were not polite, and were not on topic, you had a hatefilled right wing agenda, and this blog will not be used to further that agenda. The editor took the decision to ban you from commenting, not because of your repeated hatefilled comments, but she feels:

Talk about confirmation bias! This is a very good example of why so many minions of the left have such strong inner totalitarians

a) you are using this blog as a form of free-advertising – every time you get a comment posted you are promoting your own right wing hateful views

The” turn left ” blog is relatively new and I doubt that it gets that much traffic in fact I suspect that the humble Sandpit gets more hits than it does. That said my views may be expressed with some sarcasm but all of the venom spitting hate is coming from the anonymous author of this blog.

b) she doesn’t need to see your right wing hateful views popping up in the comments occasionally

I would think that anyone worth their salt in the discussion of politics should be willing to defend their opinions when challenged rather than diving for cover behind the moderation filter.

c) banning you should hopefully stop you from taking posts from this blog and reposting them on your own blog

Well that is going to be a big fail isn’t it?

This is a left wing blog, proudly left wing. There is nothing that says it must be either fair or balanced. Right wing hate will not be tolerated.

Well you succeed in being precisely what I have emboldened above

When you took a post from this site and reposted it on your own, that was a step too far. You can be abusive as you like in comments, and the editor has the right to hit the “trash” button, but when you take work from this blog, and reproduce it on your own, the editor has no control over what context it is place in.

Are you familiar with the terms of the copyright act? To paraphrase I can reproduce what ever I please if I offer a critique of any of the text that I quote.

Take your hate, and go away.

Clearly the author of this blog has absolutely no sense of humour what so ever.

While there is nothing to stop you from making an anonymous email account and continue to comment, as long as it is not connected to your right wing hate-blog, you will probably get your comments published.

No, I won’t deny my own name to comment at this blog, instead if I wish to comment on any of its posts then I will simply use the repost option as I have done so here and then I can say what I please.

Cheers Comrades

Turn Left 2013

A letter was sent to the email address for this blog from a right wing troll, this is what he said:

Hi there
I seem to banned from commenting at your blog and I would like to know why this is so.
My comemnts were on topic and polite and as far as I can tell they do not contravene your comments policy.

It saddens me that you are unwilling to accept comments that disagree with your political standpoint. So I write to you asking you to reverse this decision.

Yours sincerely

Iain Hall

Well, here is your answer:
a check of your comments history on this blog shows that you have been offensive since practically day 1. You were not polite, and were not on topic, you had a hatefilled right wing agenda, and this blog will not be used to further that agenda. The editor took the decision…

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