Everyday Conservatism

[01.01.2002, Peter Zajac, CONSERVATISM]

Conservatism is connected with respect towards traditions and with an aversion towards change. The Conservatives are enemies of the modern 'carousel' based on continuous exchanges of the old for the new where the new becomes old and gets exchanged for the new new, gets older, becomes old ... and all this over and over again.

Conservatism contemplates every change and explicitly refuses revolutional changes. The French revolution with its violent and social character opened the way to socialism; the American constitutional revolution with its constitutional character opened the way to democratic conservatism. This fundamental difference between the United States and Europe remains until now.

The Central European conservatism is in a paradoxical situation. To gain the character of the Western type conservatism, it had to become a supporter of the most radical changes since 1989 in order to enable the creation of something that can be fostered and cultivated.

Conservatism cannot be replaced in this role. Our everyday dispute with the Slovak liberals, not with some ideal liberal human beings, but with actual people made of flesh and bones who are experiencing everyday practical situations, starts when they start saying: if the others lie, cheat, corrupt and manipulate and let themselves get lied to, cheated on, get corrupted and manipulated, we also must lie, cheat and manipulate otherwise we could be disadvantaged.

Contrary to this, we say: although the others lie, cheat, corrupt and manipulate we will not do so because it is not only abnormal, it is a real mistake. It is a mistake because it is impossible to create something which would last and have permanent validity on such foundations.

The article deals with the position of conservativism in the permanently changing world, and the application of conservative ideas in everyday behaviour in both public and private life.

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 2001).

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