Sunday, February 09, 2003

Brief thoughts on conservatism ...

...which will hopefully be updated with greater regularity!

OK, here we go again with another instalment of what must be the laziest right-wing blogspot in earth. Yes, I have been truly and pathetically useless with this page, and I deserve to be banished forever from the ranks of the right.

In case any of you are not from Australia and do not understand how one can be liberal and rightwing at the same time, let me explain. In Australia, we have two conservative parties – the Liberal Party and the National Party. The latter claims a near-monopoly on the conservative vote in rural and regional Australia and is the voice of the bush. The Liberal Party is meant to be a broad church consisting of liberals (in the small ‘l’ US and EU sense) and urban conservatives. These two parties formed a coalition years ago, before I was born.

Confused? Well think about this. Conservatism is a political ideology which seeks gradual change in society. It is not against change and reform, but seeks such change in a gradual evolutionary way. That is, we do not compromise our core beliefs.

In a secular context, core beliefs are expressed as broadly and inclusively as possible. A secular conservative democracy cannot have, as part of its core beliefs, that evolution must not be taught in high schools or that abortion must be banned. Similarly, it cannot demand that certain religious groups confirm to cultural or dress norms.

In a secular conservative democracy, if a woman chooses to wear a mini-skirt then that is her right. If she chooses to wear a headscarf (because she is a nun or an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim), that is also her choice.

If a man chooses to shave or grow a beard, that is his choice. If he chooses to wear a Jewish yarmulke or a Sikh pagri, that is also his choice. There is NOTHING conservative about forcing Sikh men to take off their pagris or Muslim or Jewish women to take off their scarves.

Makes sense? Of course it does. So why is it that more and more conservative activists in Australia, the United States and elsewhere are calling for cultural and faith communities to ‘confirm’ and ‘assimilate’?

And why is it that, notwithstanding that it is 2:45am, I still am not in bed? Seeya all later!