Awareness of Commitment

[01.01.2001, Peter Zajac, CONSERVATISM]

After 1989, conservatism in the post communist countries found itself in a paradoxical situation. The conservatives’ objective was a conservative-liberal constitutional revolution. The revolution, conservative, in the sense of a radical return to the European traditions and liberal, meaning the establishment of the rule of law representing foundations of modern Western civilisation.

This paradox is obvious even from the words that I have used at the very beginning: revolution, radical, modern. None of these words belong among the key terms of conservatism. Conservatism is in principle evolutional, middle-of-the-road and traditional.

The paradoxical nature of this situation came as a result of the fact that on the way from the reality of the communist system to conservative values, it was necessary to overcome the greatest difficulties which required more radical manners. In contrast to the social democratic, as well as the liberal ways of thinking, the conservative way of thinking demanded the greatest extent of discontinuity.

To believe that conservatism lies and in near future will lie in a bed of roses would be an illusion. Only if because the present conservatism is based on the values which are contrary to the publicly respected, or at least, accepted norms of instrumental policy of power. Conservatism is a synonym for stable values and cultivation, for fostering during a time of instability of values and lack of refinement.

The article deals with the situation in Slovakia since the fall of communism, during which time conservatism has been active, and analyses Slovak conservative values.

Author is the President of the Conservative Institute of M. R. ©tefánik.

The article was published in the magazine Conservative Views on Society and Politics (Autumn – Winter 2000).

The full text is available here as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.