The Instigator
JohnnyC
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Stephen_Hawkins
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Conservatism is against progress and moving forward

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Stephen_Hawkins
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/8/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,080 times Debate No: 29001
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

JohnnyC

Pro

I believe that right-wing politics is based around the refusal to move forward when others would prosper from the move and the denial of objective facts which support liberal viewpoints.

Definitions:

Conservitism: the disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and limit change
Liberalism: favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs
Progress: a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage

The first round doesn't have to be for acceptance. I don't mind if Con explains their view in Round One so the debate starts quicker.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I accept. I will defend the well-known Conservative view of Benjamin Disreali, but also some of Oakeshott. A couple quotes by Oakeshott will summarize my case:

"To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss." -- Oakeshott

Conservatism is a view of political activity. "In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel; the sea is both friend and enemy; and the seamanship consists in using the resources of a traditional manner of behaviour in order to make a friend of every hostile occasion." -- Oakeshott

Conservatism is not Conservativism. That is, Conservatism is not about keeping all things the same. In the words of Burke, "We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature, and the means perhaps of its conservation." Change is necessary. Indeed, "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation". However, "It cannot at this time be too often repeated; line upon line; precept upon precept; until it comes into the currency of a proverb, To innovate is not to reform." Change is not necessarily good. Changing for the worse should be avoided. However, we are inclined to rapid random change at the slightest agitation. Thus, change is something to be wary of, and analysed, before accepting.
Debate Round No. 1
JohnnyC

Pro

Benjamin Disraeli:
I am actually a great admire of Benjamin Disraeli and I know that he said "Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future." Disraeli created the One Nation philosophy which wants to unite a nation split between the rich and the poor. Conservatism at it's very core would want to widen or keep the social gap the same rather than narrow it. Disraeli may have been a member of the Conservative party but I don't believe that he was a Tory at heart.

On what Oakeshott said:
Oakeshott's unwillingness to accept change because he perfers the familiar to the unknown is, to be quite blunt, cowardly. It is based on the fear of what might come and how it might affect him. If he is not saying this because of cowardise that it is because of an irrational God complex. I'm using this definition of God complex to describe how he is unwilling to try other alternatives because he perceives his way of doing things as right. To quote George Bernard Shaw “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." What I'm saying is that an approach to politics with a policy of not changing anything (whether because of fear, egotism or subborness) will not lead to progress. Conservatism is fundamentally against change.

The unkown can be better than the known. Yes, changing for the worse should be avoided but changing for the better shouldn't. That is what's wrong with a status quo. Too many times have governments not changed to what would be better because of their untouchable conservative mind that things are better to be left the way that they are. The doctrine of conservatism is simply incoherent. Conservatism is a bundle of beliefs, prejudices and vague sentimental attachments rather than an organised, unified philosophy. Of course change should be analysed before being accepted but most conservatives won't analyse change simply because they want to stick to their conservative beliefs.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Disraeli

Is Disraeli a Conservative? The solution to this question is most easily answered by the fact that there is no political philosopher who truly counts him as anything else.

For the example, the quotation by Benjamin Disraeli on Conservatism is interesting, but not relevant. It is from his book Coningsby, book 2 Chapter 5, in which he criticises the other wings of the Conservative Party: the Peelites and the Conservationists. The specific quote criticises the Peelites. The Peelites are either liberal conservatives or liberals, depending on how one views the isue, specifically arguing for conservation of traditional authoritarian government coupled with a free market. Almost all Peelites were previously Whigs, and eventually joined with the Whigs to form the Liberal Party. Finally, Conservatism meaning what it does today only came about gone 1840, many years after Coningsby, and the quote, originated[1]. Previously, it meant people who held to an ideology. So in short, the quotation is not about Conesrvatives as we know them, but Peelites, but also the term 'Conservative' meant different to what it did when the book was wrote.

Oakeshott

Is it cowardly to believe in testing something before applying it? Conservatism is at its core empirical: test a theory before applying it, as speculation alone doesn't mean it works in all circumstances. It is an opposition to ideology: Conservatism is a state of mind, not a completely rational theory. Progress should be made hesitantly and warily, looking for signs of wear and tear and fixing it up as time goes by.

Furthermore, my opponent's suggestion taht he has a 'God Complex' because of his opposition to change is comical. Instead of doing precisely what Conservatism fears, that is conjecturing, making up, and then following through full steam ahead, why not test the hypothesis against the thoughts of Oakeshott? Because clearly, the evidence shows that his justification is the ship analogy. There is no forward and backwards to society: there is no goal or aim, and my opponent needs to prove one for his idea to be correct. It is about changing with one's situation, and making the lives of the seamen better by adjusting to the new circumstances. This clearly addresses my opponent's comical idea that his view is based on a God Complex: the justification is rationally founded.

Burke, or Change

Again, my opponent posits this view that Conservatives are against change. However, this clearly is false: the quotations by the founder of Conservatism, Burke, addresses this. A nation that does not change is not truly Conservative. A nation needs to evolve. But evolution is a slow process. And we need evolution that works, for one mistake destroys a society. Rushing change simply fails.

1 - http://www.etymonline.com...
Debate Round No. 2
JohnnyC

Pro

Disraeli, Oakeshott and Burke:
I thought that Disraeli was making a comment on what you would call modern conservatism. I still think that what he said applies to modern conservatism. It is cowardly to keep to the known because of a fear of the unkown when the unknown would serve better. Conservatism nowadays is to ignore a theory without testing it. I use the God Complex to explain how one would assume that they are right before observing other possibilities. I disagree with Oakeshott's idea of society. I believe that there is an aim: social justice; political system that is for the benefit of everyone. This is the general view of liberals. We believe that things should change so we can at least pursue this utopia (as some may call it). The definition of (modern) conservatism is continuety and not change which is what I'm arguing about.

Modern Conservatism in the United Kingdom:
Conservatism in the UK means many things will happen and the only change will be backwards. Conservatism means the domination of society by an aristocracy, the poor are treated worse, elites are created, social issues stay the same, rights are restricted etc. Liberalism is much about the people's rights which are restricted by conservatives. For example, The current Conservative government wants to make an already hard life harder for the poorest people in the country by increasing the costs of living. Labour, a left-wing party, are standing up for the poor and asking for a fairer and more righteous treatment of them. Modern UK conservatism is about keeping their values and not mixing with others. Most members of the upper class are Tories. Why? Because Conservatism is continuety and they don't want change where fair treatment of the lower class would mean that they may become slightly less rich.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Modern Conservatism

My opponent seems to be as a whole strawmanning modern Conservatism. This is the simplest way of putting it. As we are referring to Oakeshott's Conservatism, or the modern Conservatism, then the criticism that it is against change is irrelevant: there is no goal to aim for, except the welfare of the passengers of the ship. The fact that he is talking about a different 'Conservatism' which frankly does not exist, as no major Conservative scholar argues wholly against change, makes his criticisms irrelevant. Change is necessary, and should be done when needed, but no more than that. What is the point of changing a working system?

Conservatism in the United Kingdom

I have no reason why my opponent is lecturing on the UK Conservative Party's ideas, as simply put he has them all wrong. Conservatism for one always has had at least a third of the vote of the working class[1]. The Conservative Party works towards Disraelian Toryism, One Nation Toryism, similar to Miliband (though a variant). However, this is still quite irrelevant. His discussion shows how the Conservative Parties makes a lot of claims, but the majority are false. The Conservative Party stands, repeatedly, for the general welfare of everyone on the ship, for in the words of Cameron, "We are all in this together". If my opponent disagrees with their practical method, fine, that is the fact of
politics: people disagree. But the motivation is clear.
However, this interestingly this is extremely moot. For if we even concede that the Conesrvative Party aren't following One Nation Toryism, so what? It simply means they are not following Conservatism proper. This does not mean a massive deal, in reality. It simply means that a party has shifted from a hundred year old ideology, but kept a name.
My opponent, then, has failed to show how Conservatism is for no change at all. I hold to my original position: Change is good, but just in small controlled amounts, not in excessive bursts. The stance of Conservatism.

1 - http://www.guardian.co.uk...;
2 - http://books.google.co.uk...;
Debate Round No. 3
JohnnyC

Pro

Let's get things straight - I am talking about modern conservatism. I was not straw-manning it, rather I was providing a logical point. There should be a goal to aim for. I am against the conservative philosophy that there isn't. You should not base your evidence that conservatism does not exist on what a few scholars said - make the decision yourself. It does not make my criticism irrelevant because from what I have witnessed how modern conservatives in the western world are overly afraid of change. The point of changing a working system is that it only works for some people. The goal that many people aim for is a society where the system is fairer. Systems tend to have those at the top who prosper and those at the bottom who don't.

I talked about Conservatism in the UK to provide an example to back up my argument. The current Conservative government aren't working towards One Nation Conservatism. They make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I disagree with their unpractical method.

We are talking about modern conservatism - it is still conservatism no matter how far it has drifted from people like Disraeli due to the values that it holds. Change is good and it should come as often as it is needed to ensure that the people prosper.

With all due respect, would you please contribute new arguments instead of only attempting to mock mine. Would you also please make your own opinions rather than saying something because a few scholars said it. Fair enough, they may have influenced your opinion but all you seem to be doing is either quoting them of claiming that what I say is "invalid."
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Let's start with something straight-forwards: different people have different views, even if they fall under an umbrella term. Conservatism has One Nation Toryism, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, as well as pure Conservatism that Popper and Oakeshott espouse as modern thinkers. Liberalism has libertarian, classical liberals, modern liberals, socialist liberals, as well as other ideologies under the umbrella term. Nationalism has Conservative Nationalism (e.g. Ireland), Liberal Nationalism (Rousseau), Religious Nationalism (Qutb), Fascism (Hitler), etc.

One Nation Toryism is the ideology I take because it's a good example. I could easily take Thatcherite neoliberalism, one of the two dominant theories of Conservatism about now (which is frankly undeniable - Thatcher, Reagan, and half of the Conservative Party follow her theories) as a clear example of Conservatism not being for change, but instead I want to point out even the most pure Conservatism is in no way against change.

My opponent claims that we "should not base your evidence...on what a few scholars said" but this makes no sense - we take what Conservatism is by what people explain it to be. It is a political theory, and thus it is an idea. Ideas are learnt by learning the idea, that much is obvious. So why not read what the idea is? Of course, there are people in the Conservative Party who do not follow the strict Conservative philosophy, but that is only to be expected - like everyone, we are not perfect, political parties are not perfectly unified, and their method is going to change depending on what is thought to be successful.

The Conservative philosophy is clear because of how Conservative thinkers and politicians espouse their view. If I asked you what John Stuart Mill's political belief is, for example, you'd look at what he said and what he wrote about his belief, not guess at it from his lifestyle. Going "He's a rich aristocrat so he's Conservative" or with Kropotkin "He's a Russian prince so he's an absolute monarchist" is blatantly wrong. If we go "John Stuart Mill wrote On Liberty, Utilitarianism and On the subjugation of women and promoted liberalism in his work" or "Kropotkin wrote that the state was abhorrent and unneccesary", we have a much more truthful understanding of the ideas.

The fact of the matter is my opponent disagrees with how the Conservative Party, who do not necessarily represent conservative philosophy, is going about things, and as such claims they are against change. My opponent then proceeds to ignore both Conservative scholars promoting change as necessary (my opponent still is ignoring Burke) and wanted for society to propsper, as well as how the Conservatives want to change law - for example, how Cameron wants to change the system - whether it is the welfare system, NHS system, make gay marriage legal, etc. etc. etc. Conservativm clearly isn't purely against change: it is against needless change, and that is the major factor of conservatism, whether my opponent wants to admit it or not.
Debate Round No. 4
JohnnyC

Pro

I was defining Conservatism by its core definition. I was stating that you should not decide whether you like Conservatism or not because a few scholars told you to. I was not stating that you should define it by what scholars said. I was using the Conservative party as an example - my entire argument wasn't based on them.

This debate seems to have been riddled with misunderstanding. I won't refute what you say too much because it's the last round and it would only create new arguments.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

My opponent's summary sums up the debate. "I was defining Conservatism by its core definition", without explanation to why he is defining it correctly. My argument has been "Conservatism is not Conservativism". It is not the policy of conservation of all things good and bad. We have no reason to suppose that Conservatism is about rejecting all changes, and every reason to suggest Conservatives support change. Conservative in theory support change. Conservatives in practice support change. Conservatism is the policy of rejecting unnecessary change: "to innovate is not to reform".

Conservatives promote change when necessary, and when it empirically has been shown to work. It rejects wholesale change without seeing it in practice first. That has been my core principle that I have justified with examples and quotations from Conservative thinkers, none of which has been refuted. As such, I urge a vote CON. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Contra 4 years ago
Contra
If I could defend the right wing (Libertarianism) I would accept this debate, not just defend conservatism.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ConservativePolitico 4 years ago
ConservativePolitico
JohnnyCStephen_HawkinsTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro never satisfied the BOP. While he gave some weak examples mainly in the form of quotes about how some people view some Conservatives against change but he in know way showed how the core ideology fueling conservatism is completely against change. Con refutes Pro skillfully and secured an easy win towards the end of the debate.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 4 years ago
tmar19652
JohnnyCStephen_HawkinsTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had burden of proof and failed to prove that conservatism is against progress.