Can our society be broken?

7 12 2006

Often it’s difficult for liberals to understand why conservatives don’t want to change too many things and vice versa — conservatives don’t understand why liberals want to change so many things.  I read an interesting explanation for this on a blog by Buster B (who was once a liberal and later became a conservative), and I’d like to share it today for you to ponder.

Many years ago I had an interesting conversation with the owner of a wine-making shop here in Vancouver. He was a staunch liberal (although I don’t know how he voted — I mean in terms of his outlook on the world) and I was getting more conservative by the month.

“I have an archly conservative friend,” he said, “Who opposes almost every progressive reform to society. I just don’t understand what there is to object to. I don’t understand what he’s afraid of.”

It was one of those few times when the right words came to me at the right time.

“Maybe he’s not afraid of anything,” I said. “Perhaps the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that society is so robust that it can’t be broken. Perhaps liberals believe that you can make any change at all to society and that it will continue to thrive. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that society can be broken, that you can make a change or changes so damaging to society that the thing falls apart.”

The idea, in effect, is that liberals consider order and peace to be the natural state of affairs, and so have no fear of reform, because reform can only make society better.

I believe, on the other hand, that the natural state of affairs is barbarism and chaos. Society certainly is robust, but it is also an artificial construct that can be destroyed, either by a single cataclysmic event or by a series of ill-conceived “progressive” reforms. The latter belief, I think, is one that liberals do not share.

He might be on to something.  Of course there is more to it than what he said, because people also vote according to their morals.  But I have to agree that the natural state of affairs is closer to chaos than civilized society.  It may be difficult to think that, but consider how bad society would be if there were no laws and no punishment.  Look at how bad it already is with laws and police officers!  I’m not insinuating that everyone would be really bad — I certainly hope not! — but more people would be.  And none of us are angels to begin with.  If we look at history (e.g., ancient Rome), we will see that a civilized society can collapse into barbarism.

What do you think?




One response

8 12 2006

Wow – that’s a really good perspective and I totally agree. As Conservatives, we do not want to keep society from advancing (if that were the case, would we own TV’s, PC’s, MP3’s, and DVD’s?), but rather we want to keep society from being *broken*.

For example, if we allow abortion then what are the limitations on that? You can only have an abortion after 1 week of discovering your pregnancy? 1 month? 3 months? After the baby is born??! You can “liberally” apply the rules to whatever extent you wish if you choose not to “conserve” life….

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