Two Social Conservatisms

There are (at least) two kinds of social conservatism.

Let’s call the first “Hot Button Social Conservatism.”

Today, social conservatism is commonly assumed to be about opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage (the two hottest button issues at present). Other warm-to-hot issues are opposing marijuana use, doctor assisted suicide, contraception, eugenics and transhumanism, the teaching of evolution, and legal prostitution.

If these issues define social conservatism, then for the most part its popularity is declining, and is probably doomed to further decline.

Though these are focal points of dissensus and political tribalism, I would say that these are not the most important elements of social conservatism.

Let us call the second one “Classic Social Conservatism.”

Classic social conservatism is about maintaining, or promoting, social capital (families, religion, charity, law and order, social trust, and patriotism) and human capital (the work ethic, intelligence, character).

Classic social conservatism has two big advantages, First of all, it is less controversial, less in hock to political tribalism, and often more generally popular even among the liberal-minded. Secondly, classic social conservatism may well be more important because closer to what has allowed successful societies to thrive.

In the end, though, what really matters is figuring out what has enabled societies to thrive.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Two Social Conservatisms

  1. “Classic Social Conservatism” is healthy and well in continental Europe, where it is known as Christian Democracy.

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