Conservatism based on Russell Kirk and Phyllis Schlafly’s Works
Conservatism can be defined as a social and or political philosophy that favors the retention of traditional social orders and institutions. This means that in a typical argument between liberals and traditionalists, conservatives would vote for the retention of established dogmas, principles, and institutions, emphasizing the importance of continuity and stability. Following the Second World War, countries, not just the United States, have made great progress in making reforms, either to their existing social, economic, and or political orders. While this may be something that would immediately alarm the conservatives, both Russell Kirk and Phyllis Schlafly presented good points of explanations as to why they, in particular, and majority of the conservatives often oppose the radical and dramatic changes brought about by liberalists and supporters of other political and social philosophies that support movements such as globalization, modernism, and the formation if Unions (e.g. the European Union) involving their countries.
Both Russell Kirk and Phyllis Schlafly are renowned conservatives. Each of these two has made significant contributions to the United States’ political and social order and structure today. Phyllis Schlafly, in one of his many posts published by the Christian Science Monitor, evidently shows how her conservative ideologies often go against that of the liberalists or in the case of the United States, the democrats. For instance, in her previous published works, she showed great opposition against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 70s (ERA) suggesting that the proposed amendment to the existing legislation could be a factor that could lead to the removal of the then existing gender specific privileges that women during that time were currently enjoying such as the typical dependent wife benefits, and tax exemptions from the Selective Service registration, among others . She also participated in various movements against the proposed reforms on immigration policies referring to the idea of reaching out to the illegal Latino and other immigrants from different racial descent a great myth because policy makers should reach out to the whites instead of the Latinos. If Phyllis Schlafly’s being a conservative would be compared to that of Russell Kirk’s, it can be argued that Phyllis Schlafly’s arguments are more specific. That is, she addresses socially relevant and real-life issues in the society based on or using her conservative ideologies. At some point, her works may lead to the conclusion that she is a political activist and not just a plain traditionalist.
In Russell Kirk’s work, the Ten Conservative Principles, he outlined the different core principles that he thinks most conservatives or traditionalists follow. According to Kirk, conservatism is neither an ideology nor a religion. He preferred to classify it as a train of thought that is composed if various principles, specifically, the ten principles he outlined in his work. In his work, he argues that conservative beliefs are based on an enduring moral order and that men are included to follow a certain set of moral truths and a single moral order, a permanent set of which at that for they signify and stimulate harmony and without such stimulants and symbols, society would plunge into oblivion.
Kirk also pointed out one of the biggest issues that Republicans have over conservatives: their appetite for change. Conservatives are the ones that one can usually see on news reports about a pending policy change voting against the radical and dramatic reforms, especially if such reforms would lead to huge changes in the status quo of major sectors in society. According to Kirk, “conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know over the devil they do not know” . Kirk acknowledges the fact that there are devils and loopholes in the society that conservatives are trying so hard to protect from changes and reforms. However, as mentioned in the quotation lifted from his work the Ten Conservative Principles, conservatives would prefer to have devils that the know over the ones that they do not know in the system. However, this does not mean that conservatives are totally against any form or type of change. According to Kirk, most conservatives, based on his ten principles, can accept and adopt to societal changes and reform so long as these changes would not damage the integrity and continuity of the current system; otherwise, the entire system plunges into anarchy and chaos. What Kirk may be pertaining to in that point would be very minute changes and reforms in society.
Based on Kirk and Schlafly’s works about conservatism, I cannot see why majority of the social movements and political developments that took in the 1960s and even in the past years are mistakes. Sure, some may be considered mistakes but certainly, not all of them were mistakes. Change can be perceived as practice that exposes an individual or an entire society to risk. Without those risks, society would be stagnant. And given the restless nature of human beings as evidenced by their continuous lack of contentment, a stagnant society would crumble and fall should it be dominated by conservatives and traditionalists with no liberalists and democrats to counter oppose them some time in the future.
Kirk, R. (2014). Ten Consevative Principles. The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
Kolbert, E. (2005). Firebrand: Phyllis Schlafly and the Conservative Revolution. The New Yorker, 134.