Hannes H. Gissurarson

Why Conservatives Should Support the Free Market


There are many ways of classifying political positions, ideologies and parties. A common one between ‘the Right’ and ‘the Left’ arose during the French Revolution: In the French National Assembly of 1789, supporters of the king and ‘ancien régime’ sat to the speaker’s right and supporters of radical change to his left. This was thus a division between conservatives and radicals: conservatives were right-wing, radicals left-wing. It should be noted, though, that in the French Legislative Assembly of 1791, supporters of a constitutional monarchy sat on the right, moderates in the centre and revolutionaries, the Jacobins, on the left. Some supporters of a constitutional monarchy and limited government who now sat on the right, in particular the Girondins, would previously have sat on the left. Incidentally, this may resolve a paradox in Danish politics. The party which calls itself “Venstre” or the Left Party, is in fact rather rightwing: It may have been formed to bring about radical change, in accordance with the ideas of 1789, but once this was accomplished, it wanted to preserve it, in accordance with the ideas of 1791. In other words, it was ‘Girondin’ throughout. While the French Revolution, leading to terror and then to Napoleon’s military coup and war in Europe, scarcely can be considered a success, in France herself there is still a discernible divide between right and left, although it is sometimes difficult to identify and understand the cleavage factors...