Two Reductionist Arguments: On Conservatism. On Classical Economics.

by Bruce Webb

On Conservatism.
Modern Conservatism = Protection of Property Rights.

The historical process in Northern Europe and Britain from the mid 17th through the 19th century was marked by a sometimes gradual, sometimes violent collapse in belief in the Divine Right of Kings, and for that matter Popes. Conservatism replaced its traditional appeal to Authority with a claim to absolute right to Property. Discuss.

On Classical Economics.
Economics (which as a discipline developed in parallel in time and place with Modern Conservatism) foundationally assumes that Homo Oeconomicus is psychologically motivated by Accumulation and not Consumption/Display. Discuss.

I maintain that a lot of what is baffling in Conservatism to those of us whose thinking derives from Liberal Enlightenment’s elevation of The People to primacy, can be explained by a combination of these two arguments. How do you logically combine Liberty and Patriarchy? Why is debt as a result of war acceptable, while debt as a result of social spending not? Why assume that tax cuts will in all cases increase reinvestment? These questions which seem to come from all over the field all can be answered and made inter-consistent by appeal to the two stated arguments.

The results are almost by definition unacceptable to the liberal imagination, and those of a moral bent might use harsher terms than ‘unacceptable’, but that doesn’t mean they are irrational.

I’ll advance some specific arguments and conclusions in comments. For now consider this an open thread on the historical and psychological foundations of conservatism, or if you like of liberalism.