“Since it is the understanding that sets man above the rest of sensible beings, and gives him all the advantage and dominion which he has over them; it is certainly a subject, even for its nobleness, worth our labour to inquire into….”
Is conservatism an ideology? Is it a set of rigid ideas and beliefs requiring strict adherence? Or is it something else altogether?
Recently, Dr. Mark Levin spoke with a student from the University of Chicago who did not agree with Levin’s notion that conservatism was not an ideology. I was enlightened after listening to Mark Levin’s response to the caller. Levin did a great job, in my opinion, of pointing out a fundamental and all important distinction between ideology and conservatism. There’s a reason they call him the “Great One.”
I find it immensely helpful to clearly define terms when delving into a thought-provoking topic like ideology versus conservatism. What exactly is ideology? Here’s Merriam Webster’s definition:
Definition of IDEOLOGY
1 : visionary theorizing
2 a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute sociopolitical program
Of course, the personification of ideology is the ideologue. Once again, Merriam Webster’s definition:
Definition of IDEOLOGUE
1 : an impractical idealist : theorist
2 : an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology
By the way, it’s comforting to know the president has reassured the nation he is not an ideologue.
Well, good to know Barry is not an ideologue. Besides, he can do one better than that: let’s try demagogue. Once again, Merriam Webster’s definition:
Definition of DEMAGOGUE
1 : a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power
2 : a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times
So, we should be pretty clear on what the definition of ideology is now–with some demagoguery to boot. But what about conservatism? Is it a set of ideas and beliefs–an ideology? Or is it, as Levin so eloquently states, experience, reason, tradition and thought?
It really boils down to the inalienable rights of the individual, as opposed to the merciless will of the collective or the tyrant. For experience, reason, tradition and thought flows forth from the individual, and may be embraced by other individuals as a “collective experience,” but not dictated by a “collective.”
Levin goes on to point out that “organized man,” i.e. government, has primarily been a history of tyranny, with few exceptions–the U.S.A. being one of them.
Will the United States continue to be a land of freedom and liberty for the individual? Or will we allow ourselves and our individual liberties to be trampled underfoot by ideology and demagogues?
h/t: Noisy Room