The European Journal
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Hannes H. Gissurarson

Understanding Conservatism

Conservatism is a paradoxical phenomenon. Conservatives defend their beliefs, which sometimes are unmodern, but to defend them they are engaged in discussions which are necessarily modern. Conservatives are well known for their critique of ideologies but they themselves are ideologues. They are engaged in modern ideological discussions, but do not believe that these discussions have any serious meaning. Once conservatives become adherents to ideological thought, their situation becomes even worse. From its very beginning conservatism is a reactionary ideology, and for this reason conservatives should not follow the path of their opponents. Their calling is to show the problems of their opponents. By attempting to stay relevant in contemporary political discussions, conservatives have to fulfill two tasks: (1) to show the weak spots in the positions of their opponents and (2) to prove that the attempt to solve modern problems requires conservatism. The purpose of this article is to present a new challenge to the political philosophy of liberalism.