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The Evolution of Conservatism

Isn't it ironic that the social conservatives in the US today got they way they are by way of evolution? The disposition of being fearfully averse to strange people or unfamiliar situations is instinctive. The people who behave the most instinctively in our society are the ones who wish to deny evolution. =-]

I HAVE THIS THOUGHT
that at the tribal level we humans ought to be able to satisfy our instinctive craving
for peace and familiarity
but at the public level we Americans are asked to be
tolerant of other tribes on a daily basis
is there some standard by which all tribes would agree to meet on equal footing?
is there a public type of behavior that would straddle the line
between taking offense and being tolerant?
how might we get those who take offense easily to relax a little, to be lovingly tolerant?
how might we get those who offend easily to keep their tribal rituals more private?
to respect the goodness of those who attempt to repress them?
can we all keep our tribal rituals private?
can we keep the largest tribes from squashing the smallest?
can we, as a nation of many tribes, learn to respect other tribes
even though their practices are bizarre to us
strange and uncomfortable?

Conservatism, true conservatism, which is sentimental conservatism, and by those who have no powers of observation to see what sort of men conservatives are, is often called stupid conservatism, an epithet far more applicable to the false conservatism that looks to see on which side bread is buttered — true conservatism, I say, means not trusting to reasonings about questions of vital importance but rather to hereditary instincts and traditional sentiments. . .
--Charles S Peirce
from http://www.arisbe.com/detached/?p=11

and one more quote

Man is instinctively conservative in the sense that probably millions of years of experience have taught him that a stable environment is the best for peace of mind, present and future security, automatism of action (that action which requires least thought), and a ready command of material and artificial circumstances. It is the genial innovator, or the lunatic, who disturbs peace of mind by introducing an unaccustomed and unaccountable element into life. It is the dislocation of economic conditions that makes the present and future doubtful. It is the repeated introduction of new instruments, new weapons, new methods, and needs for fresh adaptations, that makes automatism impossible. And it is the complication of life by novel contributions to life's interests and duties that makes a ready command of circumstances difficult.

The influences which make mankind instinctively conservative are, therefore, the love of safety, the tendency to indolence, and the preference for the known before the unknown.

In this sense conservatism is of enormous value; because it is only in a stable environment that the slow work of heredity can build up family qualities, group virtues, national character, and racial characteristics. And if these things are desirable, a stable environment and consequently conservatism are desirable.

But the popular mind knows nothing of the need of a stable environment lasting for many generations, for the building up of character, capacity, virtue and prejudice. It knows only that it loves stability, because reckoning is impossible without it. And there is perhaps no country more fond of stability than England. Indeed, so intense in England is the attachment to what is known and established, that it is perhaps the only country in Europe where it is still possible to cause people to titter and laugh in the open street by talking a strange language fluently in their presence, or by wearing peculiar clothes. And this has long been so. Pepys noticed it. French and German visitors have noticed it in the past and recently, and anybody can observe it for himself in any thoroughfare in any town in the land.

Perhaps England's greatness is due in a large measure to this trait among her people. Because, since it points to a long habituation through many generations to the same conditions it also points to character, capacity and virtue.

--Anthony M. Ludovici
from A Defence of Conservatism, 1927
http://www.anthonymludovici.com/dc_01.htm

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