Friday, November 21, 2008

"Centrist by Definition"

I have reprinted this essay because it is too important ever to lose a link to. May the copyright gods forgive me. It will be permanently listed under "Conservative Arguments" at the top left of the front page of this blog.

If I was smart enough, and a good enough writer, I would have written this. It is precisely what is needed: A clear, concise description of what Conservatism is, and logically why it can never be "fascist", or "theocratic". And in such a few words, it tells us what we believe, why, what's wrong, and how to fix it. Not bad for a single page article!

Tony Rubolotta is my new hero. (A good Italian boy!)

Here's the link. It's the least I can do. Visit New Media Journal, where this essay was published. It's a great site.

The Gunslinger

Centrist by Definition

by Tony Rubolotta

I have always viewed conservatism as the centrist position between the extremes of left wing totalitarianism and right wing anarchy. Conservatives have always had the more difficult task of defining the balance between the interests of the individual and the interests of society. From this viewpoint, communism, theocracy, monarchy and their derivatives are left to extreme left. Anarchy is a virtual impossibility since any collective action by anarchists to promote anarchy is oxymoronic. Hayek’s idea of spontaneous order works against anarchy.

The human desire for social interaction and the obvious benefits of cooperation compete with an irrepressible desire to remain distinctly individual and to exercise free will. Conservatism’s challenge is to reconcile these competing desires. Unlike leftist ideologies and ideologues, conservatism makes no claim to create paradise on earth but only to create an environment where individuals can enjoy relative happiness from their own efforts and freedom without denying others the same rights. Indeed, conservatism recognizes a collective responsibility to assure individual freedom.

Conservatism is antithetical to theocracy, but its principles must be theistically consistent and informed. Submission to a higher authority provides stability of principle. Hence a belief in God is not required to be conservative, but a belief in unchanging truths of decent behavior is a must. How we are informed is equally important, which is why conservatism rejects the tyranny and brutality of Islam and atheistic communism. These deny and suppress free will and individuality, enable the happiness of some men at the expense of others and ultimately devolve to the law of the jungle in the struggle for supremacy in the upper echelon.

How we are informed of our principles also determines our sense of justice. The Judeo-Christian ethic has served America and conservatism well as the source of governing principles. Leftist criticism of America rings hollow when compared to the savagery and cruelty of the communist workers paradise or the Islamic caliphate. Even the charge that conservatives are racists pales in comparison to the racism exhibited by leftist totalitarian governments. Any effort by government to enforce or apply racial preferences or discrimination is anti-conservative and left leaning. Conservatism informed by Judeo-Christian ethics is anti-racist. Jews and Christians do not have religious instructions to kill Muslims, Hindus or atheists for that matter, or discriminate based on color or ethnicity.

Conservatism informed by the Judeo-Christian ethic puts forward a clear and consistent message which is exactly what our founders expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We are equal in our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and join together to protect those rights against anyone or any interest that would deny them, including government. That is the Golden Rule of just governance. We are not all equal in our abilities or ambitions and it is not the role of government to suppress or equalize those differences. To do so requires government to make some men the slaves of others and give some men preferences over others. Justice is then not equal but the province of a ruling elite emplaced by a mob to arbitrarily decide the beneficiaries of this unequal treatment.

Limiting the power and size of government is also a principle of conservatism and clearly expressed by the Constitutional doctrine of enumerated powers. Our government today has evolved over history to become the master, not servant of the individual, usually under the premise of achieving some collective good. This has been accomplished through judicial chicanery, legislative excesses and executive abuses of power. Our government is now more remote, both literally and figuratively, than it was ever intended to be. Access to that government is bought and sold as part of the political process. That needs to be reversed and is a goal of conservatism.

When people are given the choice between clearly expressed conservative principles and the totalitarian principles of the left, regardless of what disguise they wear, most choose conservatism, the centrist position. When people are given a choice between leaders who cherish morality and those who cherish power, most will chose morality, the conservative and centrist position. The challenge conservatism faces today is to find the leadership most capable of expressing and living by those principles.

The Republican Party needs leadership that is inspired to win elections based on conservative principles more than fear of losing power to totalitarian Democrats. Until Republicans become the champions of conservative principles, the centrist position, all they can offer is the diluted totalitarianism of the left. I would like to vote for a representative, not a master, and that is where Republicans must make a distinction.


  1. Gunslinger, that is the best definition that I have seen so far of the word "conservatism". Thanks for reprinting the essay.

  2. Agent, thank you my friend. That's just what I thought. Too good to miss.

  3. You talk about being for individual freedoms and responsibility in one breath and legislating standards of morality in another. When it comes to social issues I'm libertarian. I don't see why prostitution, drug use, adult pornography, etc. should not be legal and can see a lot of reasons that they should be. I believe in gun control, but only enough to keep mentally unstable, criminal, or unskilled people from getting their hands on them (by federally requiring background checks and proficiency/safety training+licensure for ownership of a gun), since statistically there is usually more gun-related crime in areas with either total gun bans or few gun laws.

    I also like how you paint those to the left you with one brush. (See for a look at what I'm talking about.) Overall, I'd say that the Democratic Party and in general represents the more centrist view, with social democracy (represented well in Scandinavia, Australia, and Britain) in the center-left, purer socialism as straight left, and communism (both totalitarian and libertarian/anarchist) as far-left. Right now, our system's basically center-right, but conservatives and libertarians are wanting to pull us further right, and turn a blind eye to those who end up in the gutter....

  4. Smith, darling, I know. Honestly. I know.

    You are a proud Lefty. It's clear. It's undoubted. I get it.

    We all get it.

    Everything you say proves it.

    I see.

    We see.

    We understand that you cannot, because of the Leftist veil, see that you speak nonsense.

    But I can only try so many times to get through. And I'm done. I leave it to other braver, younger, more patient souls to deal with your incessant silliness.