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What is Conservatism?

Simply stated, conservatism is the conviction that governments should consider past practice and the historical record—not untested theories and dynamic “solutions”—as they approach problems.

For example, the individual ownership of property has been a boon for humanity. When developing taxation schemes and social programs to address perceived societal ills, governments should consider private property’s record of success instead of relying on abstract socialist philosophy or capitulating to the confiscatory instincts of the masses. Thus, the conservative is reflexively opposed to proposals for a wealth tax—a challenge to the sanctity of private property.

Recognizing the long list of failed government interventions, the conservative sees only two types of federal action as legitimate: that which protects the citizens’ lives, liberty, and property or ensures the survival of the nation in perpetuity. Even within these parameters, the government should act in a way that intrudes only minimally upon the citizenry.

Statue of Liberty

The conservative believes that history is conclusive on one point: Man is a fallen creature capable of unfathomable evil. Thus, the conservative, unlike the libertarian, is willing to concede a modicum of his liberty to ensure his safety from threats foreign and domestic, whether they emanate from the ayatollah of Iran or violent insurrectionists in Portland, Oregon. Responses to these menaces should be vigorous, definitive, and conclusive. In that sense, a conservative government—recognizing that collective defense is better equipped to defeat threats than individual action—monopolizes legitimate force.

Unlike the progressive, the conservative sees the properly-oriented individual—christened by the Creator with agency and rationality—as the cornerstone of a flourishing society. In fact, the government exists so that the individual can utilize his faculties as he pursues and achieves happiness (i.e., liberty). Government action that exceeds its mandate, co-opts the sphere of freely-acting individuals, or otherwise impedes upon liberty is illegitimate.

A conservative government is one of realism and limitations, and it allows individuals to simultaneously protect themselves from the aggressive power of the unchecked individual and the compulsive force of an unchecked government. The conservative sees these tyrannies as equally antithetical to liberty and believes that his ideology is most consonant with human nature.

All unsigned FDL Review content is the product of Declan M. Hurley.


  1. All of this is practically meaningless apart from the part about wanting systems to be tested prior to implementation and “wealth tax bad”.

    first, most if not all conservative-opposed plans (including wealth tax, healthcare, etc) have been tested in other countries and work well.

    Second, wealth tax does not “threaten the sanctity of private property”. Has the wealth tax in european countries destroyed all private ownership?? As this claim is central to your “argument” I would have hoped you supported it.

    Next time, I recommend writing with more substance and less fluff.


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