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  1. #1

    Default What are the differences?

    Between a cultural conservative and a social conservative and do you think a liberal or left winger could be a cultural conservative?

    I started thinking about it while reading a wiki:-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_conservatism

  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    From the description here, a left-winger could be a cultural conservative if their country/culture has a long-standing tradition of being left-wing.
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  3. #3
    Sniffles
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    A social conservative is more focused on authoritative social institutions such as the family, guilds/unions, the state, communities etc. A cultural conservative is more focused on underlining mentalities. It parallels the basic distinction between a society and a culture.

    Can a liberal and leftist be a cultural conservative? Yes and no, it kinda depends on which variation of the concepts you're talking about. Plus the Left has often had a paradoxical attitude towards cultural traditions; on the one hand trying to connect with them but at the same time trying to break free from them as well.

    Hugh MacDiarmid may serve as a possible example; a leftist who also did work in trying to preserve and revive Gaelic literary traditions. Another example could be how East Germany used to boast that they were more authentically "German" than their counterparts in the West who were seen as more Americanized; especially when it came to German military traditions. Orwell called himself a revolutionary in love with the past. So it is possible on some levels.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    A social conservative is more focused on authoritative social institutions such as the family, guilds/unions, the state, communities etc. A cultural conservative is more focused on underlining mentalities. It parallels the basic distinction between a society and a culture.

    Can a liberal and leftist be a cultural conservative? Yes and no, it kinda depends on which variation of the concepts you're talking about. Plus the Left has often had a paradoxical attitude towards cultural traditions; on the one hand trying to connect with them but at the same time trying to break free from them as well.

    Hugh MacDiarmid may serve as a possible example; a leftist who also did work in trying to preserve and revive Gaelic literary traditions. Another example could be how East Germany used to boast that they were more authentically "German" than their counterparts in the West who were seen as more Americanized; especially when it came to German military traditions. Orwell called himself a revolutionary in love with the past. So it is possible on some levels.
    I definitely do think that the left is schizoid about tradition and history, most of the earliest socialists, ie before marx, proudhon or anyone else could put a stamp on or describe them as a movement, have been theorised by many as wanting to preserve traditions which were anti-capitalist by being pre-capitalist, or uncapitalist properly so thought of, or to introduce the values of an earlier age into their present.

    On the other hand there's nothing at all of that kind of mentality about later socialists, Marx was a total progressive, he thought that all the old institutions would go and should go and totally attacked socialists in the communist manifesto for getting in the way of capitalism while it was doing it. Since the sixties, although maybe it was earlier I dont know, its been about supporting the underdog come what may and cultural amnesia is a big part of it too, an attack on memory as all being about a betrayal of the cause and conservative nostalgia.

    MP is right that by that definition its possible, that definition has a lot to do with it though, I wonder if its accurate or acceptable?

    It's a curious thing, I remember speaking to someone once who told me that capitalism would be tolerable if all the people working it were socialists, that sort of idea pervades the "chapters on socialism" by John Stuart Mill.

  5. #5
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I definitely do think that the left is schizoid about tradition and history, most of the earliest socialists, ie before marx, proudhon or anyone else could put a stamp on or describe them as a movement, have been theorised by many as wanting to preserve traditions which were anti-capitalist by being pre-capitalist, or uncapitalist properly so thought of, or to introduce the values of an earlier age into their present.

    On the other hand there's nothing at all of that kind of mentality about later socialists, Marx was a total progressive, he thought that all the old institutions would go and should go and totally attacked socialists in the communist manifesto for getting in the way of capitalism while it was doing it. Since the sixties, although maybe it was earlier I dont know, its been about supporting the underdog come what may and cultural amnesia is a big part of it too, an attack on memory as all being about a betrayal of the cause and conservative nostalgia.
    This indeed true. Proudhon certainly could be considered a cultural conservative, since he was supportive of local cultural traditions and even believed in the traditional family. He also detested the kind of sexual libertinism of his fellow leftists. William Cobbett was a political radical but also tended to believe in agrarian traditionalism. Then there were the Luddites. This was common in early 19th century radicalism and even goes back to the French Revolution with the Jacobins claiming to be latter-day Spartans and Republican Romans, as well as aligning French identity more with its Gallic heritage(contrast with the Royalist emphasis on the Frankish heritage dating from Charles Martel) and urging women to bear sons for the Republic. It's after the 1848 Revolution does a shift more towards the cultural amnesia theme you mentioned really becomes more prominent. The idea of "progress" became more deeply embedded at this time so it shouldn't be too surprising.

    Yet in the aftermath of WWI, an interesting paradigm shift occurs as the idea of "progress" seemed discredited by the carnage of the war. One result of this is a greater emphasis on cultural and historical heritage. So both the Left and the Right would compete with each other over who more authentically represented that heritage. Both sides agreed with what that heritage was, they differed on its meaning. But in the aftermath of WWII and the onset of the 60s, the idea of "progress" revives and that cultural amnesia returns with a vengeance in Western society. Orwell again rejected this, and thought memory was a powerful revolutionary weapon. His character Winston Smith in 1984 makes toasts to the past.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    This indeed true. Proudhon certainly could be considered a cultural conservative, since he was supportive of local cultural traditions and even believed in the traditional family. He also detested the kind of sexual libertinism of his fellow leftists. William Cobbett was a political radical but also tended to believe in agrarian traditionalism. Then there were the Luddites. This was common in early 19th century radicalism and even goes back to the French Revolution with the Jacobins claiming to be latter-day Spartans and Republican Romans, as well as aligning French identity more with its Gallic heritage(contrast with the Royalist emphasis on the Frankish heritage dating from Charles Martel) and urging women to bear sons for the Republic. It's after the 1848 Revolution does a shift more towards the cultural amnesia theme you mentioned really becomes more prominent. The idea of "progress" became more deeply embedded at this time so it shouldn't be too surprising.

    Yet in the aftermath of WWI, an interesting paradigm shift occurs as the idea of "progress" seemed discredited by the carnage of the war. One result of this is a greater emphasis on cultural and historical heritage. So both the Left and the Right would compete with each other over who more authentically represented that heritage. Both sides agreed with what that heritage was, they differed on its meaning. But in the aftermath of WWII and the onset of the 60s, the idea of "progress" revives and that cultural amnesia returns with a vengeance in Western society. Orwell again rejected this, and thought memory was a powerful revolutionary weapon. His character Winston Smith in 1984 makes toasts to the past.
    I think that's an important point there about memory, I loved the extent to which memory political in 1984 and its destruction by the regime and its movement is to be resisted, although Orwell does protray Smith as struggling to remember and the regime as ultimately successful even if the joke is on Big Brother because all that remains is a broken man.

    The sort of destruction of memory which has become the norm on the left if it occured in an individual would be highly neurotic or worse, although I think that the right wing engages in its own destruction of memory too in valourisation and historical revisionism, even comparatively recent history, I think the reasons for the wars since the Gulf and that historical period has been revised a number of times and I've felt the effect myself, from out right opposition at the time, to supporting the wars, to regretting that support, to wondering what that was all about anyway and forgetting it all pretty much, definitely in a way that those effected parts of the world will definitely not have been able to forget it all.

    There's a chance that hypermedia, technology and communications innovations influence all this too but cultural relativism and ideology I think are the main culprits.

    There is then the question of whether or not you could be a social conservative, ie state protections for institutions like the family, but not a cultural conservative or whether or not the true distinction is on the role of state vs. society in a sociological sense.

    Nisbet, who I know I name check all the time but what the hell, suggested that the truest sort of conservatism was anti-state and anti-individualism in an attempt to explain this same ontological society and norms idea.

  7. #7
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    There is then the question of whether or not you could be a social conservative, ie state protections for institutions like the family, but not a cultural conservative or whether or not the true distinction is on the role of state vs. society in a sociological sense.

    Nisbet, who I know I name check all the time but what the hell, suggested that the truest sort of conservatism was anti-state and anti-individualism in an attempt to explain this same ontological society and norms idea.
    Well I guess theoretically it's possible for one to be a social or cultural conservative but not the other; but their concerns overlap on so many levels(with only different focus and emphasis), I don't see how this is entirely possible.

    Now concerning society vs state, there are difference of views concerning that issue. Nisbet represents the form of anti-statist form of social conservative that wants strong social institutions to help keep the state in check. Whereas another form is more about such social institutions being extensions of authority; ie each institution has its own proper sphere of authoritative power and it's wrong for one institution to interfere with the sphere of another.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Well I guess theoretically it's possible for one to be a social or cultural conservative but not the other; but their concerns overlap on so many levels(with only different focus and emphasis), I don't see how this is entirely possible.

    Now concerning society vs state, there are difference of views concerning that issue. Nisbet represents the form of anti-statist form of social conservative that wants strong social institutions to help keep the state in check. Whereas another form is more about such social institutions being extensions of authority; ie each institution has its own proper sphere of authoritative power and it's wrong for one institution to interfere with the sphere of another.
    That's the principle of subsidiarity in the European Union? That no institution will be established to expressly perform a function which is already being performed by another pre-existing institution?

  9. #9
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    That's the principle of subsidiarity in the European Union? That no institution will be established to expressly perform a function which is already being performed by another pre-existing institution?
    That is the principle of subsidiarity, indeed. How well the European Union embodies that principles is another issue, one which I prefer to avoid discussing.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    That is the principle of subsidiarity, indeed. How well the European Union embodies that principles is another issue, one which I prefer to avoid discussing.
    On paper it does great, its good that its even a founding principle too and I always thought the EU could potentially approximate a true confederation but I doubt it'll survive the nationalism and neo-imperialist visions which are on the rise as the US is on the decline.

    The EU's ideal is soft power anyway, not hard power, I seriously doubt if a member state was attacked or annexed by neighbouring states that there'd be an EU response, its by Turkey and Georgia were not admitted to the union as quickly as other states at other times.

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