When I first got to the other site, it was a bit if a rude awakening. My view of what conservatism was was very different from the very moderate ideas of The Other Place. It has taken me some time to figure out what was so off, but I think I have enough for a broad sketch.
Modern Conservatism is very libertarian. It promotes the ideas 0f free markets and individualism to extremes that the founding philosophers of these ideas did not hold to. Their promotion of limited government is more in keeping with traditional conservatism, but there appears to be a very undefined blurring between federalist and anti-federalist in that small government thinking – and small seems to predominantly be limited to domestic governance, not foreign policy.
My concept of conservatism was some blend of latent nationalism and tradition that, from my limited exposure, sounds Burkean. It is borne of the Chesterton adage that we don’t remove fences without knowing why they are there in the first place. I’d like to add understand why they were necessary to that. It seems that as long as we know there’s a bull behind that fence, it’s ok to remove it, regardless of how destructive that bull is. Maybe he’s Ferdinand. Maybe he’s not. (This is how I view modern conservatism).
To me, the Old Testament principles given to Israel to preserve their nation are not just precepts meant to benefit Israel. Yes, God took special interest in her preservation to work out his will, but it is not obvious to me that other nations are excluded from following similar procedures in order to preserve their nations. The rules governing Israel to preserve her integrity, faith, cultural values, and independence ultimately defined my concept of nationalism and, ultimately, conservatism. In fact, whenever Israel strayed from these precepts, she suffered calamity. It was only God’s faithfulness to this nation that preserved her where others ultimately disappeared. His grace, not some special quality she possesses.
If I believed, then, in the historical significance of America as a Democratic Republic, constitutionally constrained government for the benefit of securing the rights of Americans and that she is worth preserving, then it only serves that following Isrsael’s rules for preserving her nation should be used to preserve ours.
That is, that citizenship should be constrained to only those who have demonstrated faithfulness to what America is, that she was defined as to be the inheritance to the descendants of the founding population, that we would promote cultural values and a common moral foundation that provide the necessary philosophy to preserve our constitution and governance, and that we would limit foreign entanglements so as to maintain our independence for the benefit of our own people.
Along side that overarching view is the anti-federalist side of it which seems to be far more in keeping with Locke than libertarianism’s radical individual and that is that, through free association, local governments very well may reflect the character of the people who have chosen that government. By keeping the federal government tightly defined and limited in scope, states and municipalities may be more broad in their governance as the people see fit.
I’ve been doing a bible study by a DC pastor, David Platt. He is the author of Radical and is an incredibly challenging pastor on what it means to be a Christian. He said something that surprised me, because I think nations and the church have suffered by failing to acknowledge such a simple, but hard, truth:
The church as a whole defines who is a member of the church. A member does not define themselves as a member. (Derived from 1 Corinthians 3. https://radical.net/sermon/defining-church/)
From this concept comes the preservation of identity as a group; the preservation of values, beliefs, and teachings; and from where the concept of church discipline springs.
If this idea were to be recaptured, the church and the western nations could revive.
In a nut shell, modern conservatism is thoroughly beholden to such a concept of individualism and free trade (which isn’t the same as free markets) that they have thoroughly convinced themselves that all else can be tolerated in service to that. This was demonstrated by the TPUSA demonstrations.
The reaction to that by myself and apparently quite a few others is the idea that conservatism used to include an awareness that there was a common culture, values, and mores that made limited government possible and that having a national identity creates the means by which you preserve those foundational values.