So here I am, getting ready to write a big post on conservativism...trying to wrap my arms around the fundamentals of conservativism. It goes something like this:
Most new stuff is wrong/bad. This is not news. See: Belts (wherein aretae emulates a conservative).
Belts to keep your pants up is a good thing, because then your smelly butt doesn't hang out for the rest of the world to see and smell. Also, pants around your waist let you move properly fast. Newfangled fashion trends where your jeans are worn around your ankles both restrict movement, and air out your bottom. OK if you're a supermodel. Not so good if you're not. This is a trend worth skipping.
The thing that conservatives have figured out, which others seem not to have, is that most ideas, even most good-sounding ideas, have bad consequences. Overall, the change will make life worse. It may take 30 years for the consequences to show up (no fault divorce, Roe v. Wade), or 80 (AFDC), or it may be immediate (TARP/Stimulus), but the consequences (Much lower rates of 2-parent family stability, and out-of-wedlock birth, leading to seriously increased child poverty and overall poor child development, or tanking dollar) are real, and bad.
Given that human the ingenuity of creating solutions basically sucks at sussing out the unintended consequences of changes, we should, on principle, oppose MOST of them. If you are going to support any solution, you need to try it on a small scale, demonstrate that it works, and then attempt to try it on a slightly larger scale (to demonstrate that it scales), and then we could talk about maybe trying it at a whole-state level. Of course, this kind of thing takes decades to make real changes...but that's the price you pay to not break the things that work.
Since the most important things we have are our family (Child development), our community (cooperative neighborhoods make MUCH better places for kids), and our culture (superior anglo norms, rights tradition) we must especially be worried about doing things that can further erode the already massively weakened institutions. Anything that might potentially weaken our culture, our families, or our communities (by raising up other cultures, opposing WASP culture, promoting non-traditional families, or disallowing community choice in many cases) should be vigorously or even violently opposed, as that is the core of what makes this a good place to live.
Changes are usually misguided, and sometimes actively promoted by folks who would prefer to weaken our norms (family, community, neighborhood). While their solution may have some value, their solutions would often be terribly destructive to those things we value most.
If we can't rely on new ideas to solve problems, what then can we rely on? Wisdom and authority. Sure there are sometimes problems with both wisdom and authority, but with the basic human incapability of using reason to solve problems, we have nothing else, and certainly nothing better. Furthermore, both wisdom and authority are good brakes on the general human tendency towards (for lack of a better word) sin.
Conformity is not necessarily the best possible option. However, for weak, easily-mistaken human beings, it leads to much smaller problems than the other available options.
As with most basic positions, this view of the world has a great deal of power. I find it highly convincing in general. And I am constitutionally incapable of being a conservative, regardless the strength of its positions. I personally love the new. A slightly reimagined (kindler gentler) Arioch (MM) is my patron deity.
So...I had that all planned out...and then Kling comes along, and posts about conservativism. Worse, he's largely referencing other posts and an essay, which are drawing a big bold line between conservativism and libertarianism. I find myself somewhat (but not too much) chastened in my attempt to outline conservativism in the face of all the serious thinkers arrayed here, but perhaps this libertarian's view of the good in conservativism is useful to someone.