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Its reputation is bad, but its potential is gigantic: in praise of conservatism

Progressives are committed to diversity and inclusion and are often just equalizers. The new conservatives are the counter-model to this: they are sometimes a bit slow, but they turn out to be the real keepers of diversity and dissidence.

The conservative is the notorious loser. That is all of its tragedy. Its story is a humiliating succession of abandoned ideological positions. What he regarded as eternal certainty the day before yesterday was already questionable yesterday and is today an anachronism even for avowed conservatives: the idea of ​​a God-given order, the class society, the inviolability of marriage.

The list could go on. While the political left has relentlessly proclaimed its eternal mantra of equality for all people for two hundred years, conservatives - what an irony of history - have had to permanently change their worldview.

First: isolated

That presupposes a certain ability to suffer. Born into a world in which flexibility and spontaneity have advanced to the highest virtues, the conservative clings to consistency and continuity. So you run the risk of going from a tragic to a ridiculous figure. The conservative is increasingly clownish.

But clowns are at least weird. The conservative, however, is seen as a bad-humored spoiler, grouchy and narrow-minded. In a hedonistic affluent society in which fun and enjoyment have become the key currency, these are not attributes with which one can succeed. In addition, the conservatives are wafted by the Gout of the anti-democrat and freedom contemptor. Accordingly, he is under constant surveillance by left-wing liberals and open-minded people.

The classic values ​​of conservatism, that is, the orientation towards the traditional, the constant and the traditional, have become worthless outside of politics, in everyday social, cultural and economic life. The new ideals of western societies are innovation and creativity.

The innovative and creative has become the idol of entire industries and milieus. This applies to the small-town provincial theater as well as to the boardroom of any large corporation. Incidentally, the conservative has lost an old ally at the same time: the executive from the executive floors of the economy. Nowadays they prefer to be so-called progressive, pay homage to the colorfulness and diversity and unabashedly flirt with the neo-left zeitgeist.

In short, the conservative is not just the perennial loser in history. Furthermore, he was never more isolated than he is today. Robbed of his social milieus, without any relevant ally, he waits for the final blow with which the coalition of conformist opinion leaders and political activists buries his milieu of thought.

Second: helpless

It is therefore not surprising that many conservatives no longer trust themselves and mutate into opportunists. Quarreling with his ideals, the late modern conservative has begun to adopt left-mainstream positions. He no longer has an independent stance on content, but enjoys wanting exactly what the mainstream has always wanted, just a few years later. But nothing is more shameful and superfluous than the procedural conservative who has capitulated to the zeitgeist and meekly implores a short reprieve.

This is not conservatism, this is philistineism. Then prefer a radical left society right now and immediately. That at least has format. Nobody needs rabbit feet.

The structural deficit of the currently cultivated conservatism lies in its parasitic ideological existence. A political ideology whose main motivation and legitimation is simply to prevent what others want will sooner or later die in beauty.

One cannot prevent that by pulling the last teeth of conservatism and reducing it to a kind of dignified bourgeoisie. Anyone who trustingly evaporates conservatism on meaningless phrases such as “high-tech and home” and a handful of values ​​such as diligence and honesty has already internalized the cultural sovereignty of those who think progressively. Conservatism that wants to develop charisma must present itself as a fundamental alternative to new left-wing social dreams.

So: throw off ballast

To do this, it is first necessary to break through the prevailing framing. A conservative program, the language of which takes into account the sensitivities of the prevailing zeitgeist, will never gain the intellectual independence that makes political ideas so fascinating and attractive. Those who constantly apologize for their language are rightly attached to a loser image. Rather, it must be made clear that classic conservative values ​​such as traditional family, home and tradition are not prisons, but shelters that give individuals the opportunity to be happy according to their own ideas.

Conservatism will only be viable if it confronts the prevailing social fantasies with a narrative that speaks of quality of life, of a free, humanly proportioned community without paternalism, for which traditions are not a burden but a necessary framework for unhindered personal development. This is another reason why conservatives would be well advised to throw cultural and intellectual baggage overboard.

In particular, their fixation on the supposedly timeless is an ideological block on the leg. Of course, collective identities, social roles or cultural norms are human constructions. But that doesn't make them any less valuable.

The conservative counter-program

A confident conservatism knows that the concept of social construction is not a malicious left invention, but an anthropological reality. National cultures, rituals, social roles and institutions such as marriage and family come from the social laboratory of history. Precisely for this reason, however, they are more valuable, more humane and more appropriate than the artificial products of fashionable social engineers.

Above all, conservatives should say goodbye to their latent anti-individualism. The most important conservatives were great individualists. And whoever professes conservatism today is anyway in view of the hegemony of the cultural left. To be conservative nowadays means to be internally free and spiritually independent and not allow yourself to be impressed by the apparent certainties of the opinion makers.

This courageous individualism is a much more attractive offer in free and liberal societies than the authoritarian and fearful world happiness fantasies of those who are constantly worried. Freed from the suspicion that it is merely the ideology of rule by old elites, modern conservatism can finally develop the subversive potential that has always been in it.

This is all the more true as the freedom of every individual is equally threatened by technological development and the ideological encroachments of those who think they are progressive. Liberals in particular should get rid of the naive illusion that corporations and business associations are their natural allies. This is window dressing. In a suspicious alliance, business-oriented think tanks and left-wing social planners dream of rebuilding Europe and the world into a settlement area free of tradition and flexible, post-national and hybrid patchwork existences that are globally interchangeable and functional in a world without borders.

The conservative has to counter the inhuman nightmare of a level global society with the attractive and liberating image of a world of the most diverse cultures, values ​​and ideals, in which one is proud of one's own and finds the foreign exciting and exciting, precisely because it is foreign and completely different. After all, individualism and cultural pluralism are essentially conservative values ​​that are more attractive and fascinating for modern people than the boring, uniformity of fashionable visions of equalization.

Alexander Gray is a PhD philosopher and author. Most recently, he wrote the books Politischer Kitsch. A German Specialty ”(2019) and“ Kulturpessimismus. Ein Plädoyer »(2018) published.

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