Friday, August 08, 2003

Who is the modern day American Conservative Party?

In determining whether a certain Party is "Left" or "Right" or "Conservative or "Liberal", a vast amount of information most be cleared up so that one can truly understand the difference in the differing ends of the political scale.

The first issue that must be addressed, is what is the Classic European Conservative. Generally, a far right European "Conservative" is one who believes in monarchy with complete control both of the political and economic processes in one central government. On the opposite end of the spectrum, is anarchy, that is, the idea that individuals control their own economic fait, security, and are generally "free" to carry out any activity he or she desires limited only by the laws of God. The latter, is what John Locke and Thomas Hobbs believed to be the state in which all humans are born. Those two believed that people give up freedom in this natural state to form a "Social Contract" therefore giving up some natural "rights", such as the right to seek justice, to a government in order to protect individual life and property. Generally, this "Contract" is called a Constitution and is considered a liberal government. On the various levels on the "left" there is also Democracy. A pure democracy, that is, all government activities being voted on by the people, is closer to Anarchy in that individuals have more control over the activities of the government. A Representative Democracy is a bit "right" in that the people vote for a representative to make governmental decisions.

In the American sense of government, "the people" give up individual liberties and rights to the states in order to protect life and property. The states, in turn, give up some of their delegated rights to a Federal government. On both the State and Federal level, "the people" vote for representatives to make governmental decisions. Therefore, the United States utilizes a representative democracy in a federal republic. This is, in essence, a "liberal" government but not the most "liberal" or "left" nor is it anywhere near the right end of the spectrum.

However, in the 19th century, the term Conservative gathered a different meaning. Following the Napoleonic Wars, there was an effort to erase many of the "Liberal" reforms that resulted from the various revolutions that occurred in Europe. This effort was lead by the Austrian Prince Klemens von Metternich
who sought to put back in place many of the monarchies that were deposed as a result of the wars. This is where the modern concept of Conservative comes from, that being, an individual who seeks to preserve the past or the status quo. At the same time, "Liberal" also developed a different meaning. The term "Liberal" now has become synonymous with "progressive", or advancing to a forward looking goal.

The late 19th Century idea of Communism adds a whole different aspect to the classical political scale. What few people understand is that this world has yet to see a true communist government. Generally, Communism occurs in two stages. The first stage consists of the middle class or proletariat taking over the means of production from the owners and the government, creating one group to run both. This can be considered a classical European "Conservative" government. The second stages consists of the larger government, who had controlled business, withering away and turning over power to control both to the "people" at an extreme local level or commune. The final stage is an extreme form of democracy and since both economic development and all government occur at a Micro-level, this is close to anarchy on the classic political scale. So far, most of what we consider Communist nations have never advanced beyond the fist stage.

In the 20th century, Fascism also added to the classic political spectrum. Fascism is generally, the idea of the corporate state, which is, that every industry should be governed by representatives of the owners and of the workers, under strict regulation of the State, an extreme form of nationalism; social Darwinism, and anti-positivism, the idea that human beings are motivated not by logic and but by myths, intuition and emotion. Also, Fascism is characterized by a "heroic" figure in which all decisions making authority is given. Fascism does not utilize the idea of popularly elected leaders.

Now, how does this fit into the modern American Political spectrum? What is commonly considered the modern American "Conservative" party, the republicans, stand on a platform dedicated to small Federal Government, maintaining a true republican government, that being leaving much of the power to the states, Low taxes, and a free flow of business and economic development limited only by a moderate government interference. The Modern Democrat party believes in a larger central government, higher taxes paying for more services provided by the Federal government, and strict governmental controls of business and economic development.

The modern Republicans are trying to preserve the classical liberal Lockean/Hobbs form of government that our Nation was founded on. In one sense, they are conservative, in that they are trying to preserve the past, on the other hand, they are liberal in that the government they are trying to preserve is a classically liberal form of government. The modern democrat party is on one hand a classic conservative party in that they are trying to concentrate power at the federal level, further removing decision making authority from
"the people" and on the other hand "liberal" in that they are trying to advance, what they consider, a forward looking goal.

So, who is the Modern Conservative Party in America, it depends on ones perspective.