Are You A Traditional Conservative But Don’t Realize It?

The other week someone called me a “traditional conservative.” I had to look it up to see what exactly he meant. The Wikipedia page was a bit messy but it did lead me to a dense essay called Classical Conservatism (pdf). It reveals that I share some beliefs with the ideology. Here are the essay’s highlights…

The traditionalist conservative’s first feeling, the intuition that constitutes his or her moral source, is the sense of loss, and hence, of nostalgia.


While in possession, we take our good for granted and thus often fail to recognize it. But in the face of loss, the human good is vividly revealed to us. We lament the loss of goods, not the loss of evils, which is why lament illuminates. Is it not striking that whereas antebellum Southern writers championed both the economic and moral superiority of the “peculiar institution,” postbellum Southern conservatives typically did not lament the loss of slavery? Rather, the latter lamented the loss of gentility, gallantry, domesticity, and the virtues of yeoman agriculturalists.


The traditionalists’ touchstones for the human good all lie in the past, not in some glorious visionary future.


…no one would disagree that Wal-Mart and free trade spell lower prices and often greater choice for Americans as consumers. But, to take the case of Wal-Mart, is not something lost, some kind of social capital, when the proprietors of a small town’s chamber of commerce are  “converted” into corporate employees? Is not something lost, as well as gained, in the proliferation of broadcast media? Is more choice always better? Does life in a consumer society perhaps promote superficial “lifestyles” structured by purchases and ephemeral fashions rather than “ways of life” structured by lasting commitments?


The sun too will set on the era of American exceptionalism. When it does, those who have placed their fondest hopes in the promises of ideological politics may feel themselves dispossessed and demoralized; but those who have hearkened to the teachings of the traditionalists may find themselves, at last, at home.

Traditional conservatives can be boiled down into believing that not all change is good. They look to the past for what was lost and how to recapture it while liberals look to the future for what more can be gained in the form of  expanded rights, new privileges, birth control subsidies, and dole money. Both offer a counterbalance to society, with one side hitting the brakes while the other hits the gas.

I think it can be argued that in the past 30 years all we’ve done is hit the gas, with very little thought of how that progress impacts human behavior. The pedal is now to the metal while we all race down the highway in the dark of night without wearing out seatbelts. Traditional conservatives highlight the deadly accidents and say, “Look at this, we need to slow down!” while the left yells, “Fuck it, we need to keep going!”

The line for me was drawn with smartphones, a disruptive technology that came about in my late twenties. I was able to see first-hand how this invention degraded society, not just in America but later in Eastern Europe. I then began to think: what else has had a negative effect without us realizing it? How has pair bonding eroded with each new innovation or policy that have been heralded by our corporate masters?

While I don’t place as much concern in the evaporating family unit like mainstream tradcons, I do believe they understand what it takes to create a stable family unit. The left has done a great job in labeling them as gay-hating crackpots, ensuring that the brakes won’t be applied anytime soon.

Don’t Miss: Amusing Ourselves To Death: The Degradation Of American Culture

38 thoughts on “Are You A Traditional Conservative But Don’t Realize It?”

    Things like this were enough to turn me, back in college. My experience through years of schooling with few exceptions involved zealots posing as neutral educators who insinuated, insisted, and shrieked without end that no reflective, sane, humane non-liberal view is possible. When I observed how quickly those claims are shredded by honest inquiry I could not longer trust liberalism in any form.

  2. Recently, we’ve heard a lot of liberals harkening back to the economics of the 1950’s (Krugman and others). This indicates that they prefer the economics of the past. On the other hand, they advocate consistent moral “innovation” through feminism, gay rights, etc. Economically, they want to preserve and expand the welfare state, hence economic stagnation (and yes, regulation DOES stagnate the economy, even when such regulation is necessary).
    Conservatives, on the other hand, prefer the creative destruction of free markets and technological innovation. However, they believe that economic innovation must be tethered to traditional morality.
    So, you’ve got moral innovators/economic stagnators on one hand, moral stagnators/economic innovators on the other.
    The smartphone would not be nearly as destructive if women retained their traditional sense of feminity.
    As a socially conservative libertarian, I favor the freedom and prosperity of the market, but if we loose our moral bearings, we’ll just use our freedoms to more freely head straight to hell.

      1. Oh, he’s perfectly fine within his pale of expertise. The problem is when he tries to be a “public intellectual.” I find Tom Wolfe’s definition particularly apt.
        Same thing that happened to Chomsky. Great linguist, horrible political mind. And I don’t now how much longer I can go calling them “well-intentioned” when those “good intentions” extend to covering for people like Pol Pot and Chavez.

    1. The term “moral stagnation” is a red herring term similar to the misnomer “progressive”. The traditional conservative moral codes of the west evolved over thousands of years according to what best served greater society, other social structures being cast aside. They are the product of human social evolution that accompanied the evolution of nation-states. Their beginnings are from the distant past and led us out of the primitive, brutal, nation-less individualism that existed before the family unit evolved. The hair- brained notions of liberal morality, which are endorsed by people who have no sense of political theory, social evolution, nor long-view history, are without credence in comparison with the social pedigree of conservative social values.
      Moral “progressiveness” is not moral evolution but moral devolution. It is a deconstruction of our social evolution. Liberalism is not a legitimate political movement, but only a weapon used to deconstruct political groups and social codes. It is not a legitimate political movement because it fosters no political power (through enhancement of group co-operation) but rather can only destroy political power, primarily through family unit deconstruction, and therefore community deconstruction, via moral deconstruction.
      Last, only the basest of political commentators don’t understand that economic policy has nothing to due with conservatism, other than indirectly. Even if it did, “free markets” aka “liberal markets” are, as the names imply, a liberal value that rewards individuals and not groups. All conservative values and actions reward the greater group (with political power, economic stability, social stability, etc.). Liberalism is the politics of the individual, and individuals are rewarded at the expense of the group (but, of course, not rewarded with political power beyond what money can buy).

  3. About a year or so ago, I saw signs that Roosh was on his path to embracing traditional conservatism, or traditionalism. When one is no longer subject to the constant wail of liberal propaganda, and one elects to search for the truth, an embrace of traditional views is in the offing.
    For Roosh and anyone else interested, you must avoid nearly all conservatives alive today, except those who would characterize themselves as traditionalists. The rest of the right are merely opponents to the latest leftist program.

  4. I will echo Basil’s warning to stay away from mainstream conservatives.
    Even so-called “traditional conservatives” are best avoided. Basically, in any fair consideration of right-wing thought, limit yourself to contemporary bloggers like myself, Foseti, Mangan, Steve Sailer and Mencius Moldbug. Emphasis on the last.
    Also relevant, here’s a reactionary reading list cribbed from the MM archive:
    Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France.
    Henry Maine – Popular Government.
    W.E.H. Lecky – Democracy and Liberty.
    Walter Lippmann – Public Opinion.
    Edgar Lee Masters – Lincoln the Man.
    Albert Jay Nock – Memoirs of a Superfluous Man.
    John T. Flynn – As We Go Marching.
    Bertrand de Jouvenel – On Power.
    Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn – Liberty or Equality.
    James Burnham – Suicide of the West.
    Reading them last to first would be fun for someone with a brain can handle long books, but for the reader whose attention span has been raped by the 21st century, Burnham and Nock are probably the most concise and readable.

    1. I will echo Frost’s post and say that “reactionism” is probably the closest term that identifies us, instead of calling ourselves “conservatives” which lumps us in with some fairly nutzoid individuals of today.
      Mencius Moldbug’s blog is…well, nothing less than astounding. Highly recommended that you take a look at it and give his posts a little time and thought. Clearly the most red pill of all intellectual red pill political blogs I have ever seen. Le Rois is/was clearly a reader.

  5. It really is sickening to listen to most “conservative” pundits these days. They’re caught in the subtle language games the left created to trap them. They get defensive when called racists and sexists instead of just laughing at the absurdity of it all. Their policies are nearly indistinguishable at times, and would certainly not bring some great renaissance were they to be implemented. The whole political landscape is a giant shit tornado.

  6. Roosh – my belief is the progress you are talking about that you don’t like (smart phone obsession, facebook, etc) are simply outputs from the “progress” inputs that don’t bother you (breakdown of the nuclear family). Athlon’s essay the other day on Black America was outstanding, and a dire warning for the rest of the country. I am a libertarian (socially liberal), but even though I believe a citizen can do whatever they f*ck they want (as long as they are not harming others), empirical evidence is clear that society functions much better with traditional nuclear families vs any other family unit. But given perverse government incentives, that traditional family unit is long gone. I will be drinking my Corona poolside watching the destruction…(as they say)

    1. I’m libertarian in that I believe government’s role is to protect individual liberty and that no man has the right to enforce his morality upon another. However, even though I don’t have the right to enforce my views, certain behaviors are objectively more productive than others. A strong moral foundation is essential. Even though I recognize the government hasn’t the right to do it, it still has to be done.
      Freedom includes the freedom to make mistakes, even en masse. Conservatives from prior eras made the mistake of restricting economic freedom because they knew that prosperity can lead to bad behavior. Noble perhaps, but still paternalistic.
      Smartphones lead to spoiled obnoxious chicks. However, MY droid makes my life a hell of a lot easier, and I refuse to give up my freedoms because other people can’t handle them. Nevertheless, I will use whatever influence I have (not coercive abilities outsourced to the govt, mind you) to encourage more effective moral codes.
      But we’re already spoiled brats, so the battle will be forever uphill.

    I’d say this description definitely fits myself, especially with the post election anti-gun legislation talks. While I’m against many of the traditional Republican Views, anti-gay, pro rich tax breaks, I am also very much anti government handouts, and very much so pro gun, it’s in the constitution. The problem is main stream media tends to follow conservative or liberal and they fail to recognize the gray area. At least now I’ll know what to call myself. Furthmore I am a history major, so any major event or comparison usually has me drawing from past information, primarily of the major societies, Egyptian, Roman, Mayan, etc.

  8. “While I don’t place as much concern in the evaporating family unit like mainstream tradcons, I do believe they understand what it takes to create a stable family unit. The left has done a great job in labeling them as gay-hating crackpots, ensuring that the brakes won’t be applied anytime soon.”
    You got that right. But also bear in mind the truism that states : “Destroy the family and society collapses” which means the tradcons also understood what it took for societies to thrive. And no doubt the libtards had seized the reins, for the time being anyway.

  9. Roosh, you MUST READ Jerry Mander. He’s written a few books including “The 4 Arguments For the Elimination of Television” and “The Case Against the Global Economy.” One of his main arguments is that technology is not neutral. Though the people who benefit from it only discuss its positives, many technologies are not all what they’re cracked up to be. Cars, telephones, tv, computers, etc. Instead of examining both the positives and the negatives of an up and coming technology, and deciding on accepting it into our lives…we are told that each new technology will usher in a new era for humanity. Your smartphone example is a great one, but, there are many more that have had a much deeper impact on the world as we know it.

  10. I agree with Frost’s reading list above.
    America does not have a real conservative movement because America was born out of a liberal / Whiggish desire to cut the cord that bound it to king, country and culture across the Atlantic. What you are lacking is Toryism, in all its various shades. The Canadians got the Tories when the Revolution happened.
    The Americans do not have a real conservative party because the Democrats want social libertinism, the Republicans want capitalism. Both of these ideologies were born out of the liberal thought of the Enlightenment – they both serve to undermine traditional class, gender and individual roles.
    Another reason why the American right self sabotages is that it seeks to rally around a Protestant Christianity that basically birthed the modern progressive movement. You cannot be conservative if you are trying to conserve a liberal ideology.
    Want real conservatism? Say no to both capitalism and Jesus. Call for individual liberty- which also means living with the consequences of that liberty.

  11. Toryism is an attempt to perpetuate a class system that our country rejected two hundred and fifty years ago. For an American, to be a conservative is to be a classical liberal. That’s our glorious past. For a Britton to be a conservative is to be Peter Hitchens, and he wants to nationalise the railroads.
    And I’m not even sure if Thinkaboutit can be called a conservative at all, if we accept that traditional conservatism is defiend as a sense of loss and a sense of nostalgia for the good parts of the past. He seems to be advocating for a class system like the squirarchy of pre-war Britain without the Anglican Church. In my view the two really go hand in hand. It was a society run by Christian gentlemen, wasn’t it? To leave the Anglican Jesus out of such a social arrangement would be a radical departure from the past. It would be something very new.
    To say that Protestant Christianity birthed the modern progressivism is true to a certain extent; the Social Gospel movement of the late 1800’s is proof of that, but I can’t see how rallying around Evangelical Christianity, the Christianity of the Tea Party, supports Progressivism. The two are very much opposed. Evangelical Christianity is very much a product of the Scotch Irish culture of the South; suspicious of government, pro-gun, anti-tax, individualistic, somewhat puritanical… I can’t see it. What am I missing here?

  12. Since this is a political post I figure I will get on my soapbox for a second. Traditional conservatism is appealing but reactionary and thus it doesn’t really stand for anything. We can see how easily conservatism is morphed into accepting the liberal frame of belief. Once, conservatives stood opposed to the New Deal, now an overwhelming majority of conservatives support programs like Social Security and Medicare. Conservatives once stood for civil liberties and now they love the Patriot Act. Conservatives once stood against foreign meddling wars, now they love every war from Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq. Conservatives were only upset about bombing Libya because a liberal did it.
    Conservatives have no principles besides reacting to what the liberals propose. I advise anyone unsure about their political beliefs to have a look at the Rothbardian libertarian position. Rothbard was ahead of his time on dissecting and castigating the “wymyn’s” movement in 1970. Enjoy:

  13. Doug, your points are an apt description of modern conservatives – but that’s hardly an indictment of conservatism itself. I have long admired libertarians for adopting unpopular positions because they were consonant with their philosophy; opposition to anti-discrimination laws is a great example.
    In practice, libertarians make freedom the highest good, to the exclusion of all else. “Freedom” steamrolls all other priorities. If you could definitively link say, the decline of the nuclear family to the advent of televisions and smartphones, conservatives* would start to consider whether such technologies should be limited. Libertarians would never propose that. Libertarianism is always prone to embracing the alternative, the pariah, the outcast, the strange, just to defend one’s ‘right to choose.’ While they may have a personal opinion about what’s good and right, this inevitably becomes sublimated to their demand that everyone have the right to choose for themselves. Regardless of their personal beliefs, they desist from criticizing anything too harshly, lest they abridge someone else’s inviolate ‘right to choose.’
    An example I like to consider – what if we banned soda tomorrow? Many people would crow about this great ‘loss of freedom,’ about the ‘intrusion of the nanny state.’ Yet what would we really be losing? Many people would get thinner, we might save money on healthcare and even spend the savings on something more constructive. To me, the fact that someone would no longer be able to poison themselves doesn’t concern me much, especially if the consequence is a thinner, healthier, handsomer populace. Among the conservative, leftist and the libertarian, it is only the libertarian who is agnostic as to the outcome – his prime concern is the procedure, and he feels he can’t complain about the consequences if the process was suitably ‘free.’ The conservative and the leftist each have their own visions of the ideal society, though the conservative believes the methods for achieving them are the preserve of tradition, and even then cannot be expected to yield a utopia. If you believe as I do, and as Roosh seems to, that women should be feminine, it’s hard to reconcile that with being libertarian, which doesn’t care about how things play out. That’s because when people are given the freedom to choose, not everyone will make the right choice – so libertarians get bogged down defending every possible choice as tenable (except violent, aggressive ones).
    One of the issues with conservatism is: at what point do you freeze time and wish to ‘progress’ no further? When were we last leading upright lives with sound beliefs? There is no agreement among conservatives on this point. Plenty of American conservatives would point to the 80s when Reagan was in office; if you asked them that in the 1980s, I’m sure plenty would point to the 50’s. In the 50’s they might pick the 20’s, before FDR reached power. There’d be constant retrenchment, at least until the rule of George Washington in America. In Britain… to the Magna Carta?
    *Not American conservatives, who worship at the altar of corporatism and consumerism, and are altogether too mixed up with libertarianism. Some of the staunchest conservatives were passionate critics of America, for its embrace of democracy, for its elevation of the market above all else and for its disdain for high culture.

  14. “Freedom” to a reactionary is not abstract, it is concrete. In summary it is this: The freedom to raise your sons and daughters without input from any government agency of any kind.
    When fathers take hold of their God-given authority, heaven help the liberals.

  15. What about paleoconservatism?
    I read a number of traditionalist/paleocon columnists and bloggers, such as Patrick Buchanan, Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, Dennis Mangan etc. I also occasionally peruse more “far right” stuff such as Alternative Right. I don’t necessarily agree with all of their positions but it is certainly intellectual food for thought.

  16. The problem of the conseravatives is that they know only how to press brakes. But they should also activate reverse and sometimes even turn the car around and press gas vigoriously then.

  17. I faintly recall some wise man stating that anyone under 30 who’s a conservative is heartless and anyone over 30 who is not a conservative is a fool.

    1. Traditionally it’s attributed to Churchill.
      At any rate, I’m more towards the libertarian side of things than the reactionary side.
      I believe that gays should be allowed to get married, I believe religion does not belong in government or schools (although I’m cool with private prayer), and I’m in favor of cutting our defense budget, but I think completely neutering the defense sector is a step too far.
      But I’m also opposed to left-wing ideas like a welfare state, and I’m against free and unrestricted immigration.
      It puts me in a bad spot though. Traditional Republicans think I’m morally bankrupt; Democrats, well I’ll put it this way: If you do not agree with them on everything, if you disagree with them on anything, anything at all, they assume you are just like any caricature of the Republican party and consider you the enemy.
      The main problem with modern conservatism is exactly what was mentioned above:
      “We can see how easily conservatism is morphed into accepting the liberal frame of belief. Once, conservatives stood opposed to the New Deal, now an overwhelming majority of conservatives support programs like Social Security and Medicare. Conservatives once stood for civil liberties and now they love the Patriot Act. Conservatives once stood against foreign meddling wars, now they love every war from Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq. Conservatives were only upset about bombing Libya because a liberal did it.”

      1. You are in the middle. Luke Warm, therefore I will spit you out of my mouth. You only have one nut presently; why not go ahead and just cut off the other? It’s not like you need it, you nutless wonder!

  18. Is it not striking that whereas antebellum Southern writers championed both the economic and moral superiority of the “peculiar institution,”
    Moral superiority of slavery? Really?

  19. The best philosophical text ever written about what is to be conservative is precisely called “On Being Conservative” and was written by the english philosopher Michael Oakeshott:
    The most famous excerpt from it:
    “To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”

  20. Your views have had me believe you are a conservative at heart, as I am. The term is quite dirty now because it reminds the brain of Sarah Palin, mitt Romney, George Bush. But these politicians – republicans – are not the definition of conservative in many of their stances, especially when it comes to the unbridled love of all that is corporate. A cultural conservative, a traditionalist, is a rare thing now because “progress” is so lauded. Though no one ever asks if what we are progressing to is likeable or desirable. Masculinity tends to go hand in hand with conservatism because conservatism is about standing for strength in tradition that works. It is about recognizing those fundamentals of western civilization that once made us great and vowing to advocate a return to them or to do one’s best to stop the degeneracy. In essence conservatism is not an ideology, though it appears to be one, but rather it is an attitude, a lack of faith in government and man and instead a faith in something more eternal, whether that is faith or tradition that has proved itself. The left lacks masculinity because nowadays the left is cultural marxism, rather than the once economic populism of the working class. Now, the polar shifts are drawn along cultural attitude lines. left is cultural marxism, and the right is simply tradition. mainstream pundits or politicians say it is “one thing” or “another” but the reality is for us to see, that this is deeper than mere politics.
    Being a conservative is difficult because one is typcast as puritanical, cold, unsympathetic, war-crazy. to me, it just sounds like a woman bitching at her husband for being a man.

  21. I am a traditional conservative as well as being a constitutional (originalist) capitalist. It is no coincidence then, that i’m also a Christian.
    Conservative beliefs as i understand them, are the political extension of your JudeoChristian beliefs, since their goals more often than not, overlap.
    Allow me to highlight but a few brief examples of correlations between faith and the all encompassing conservatism i just mentioned.
    Just as God made a covenant with Abraham, the Declaration of Independence is a covenant of sorts that the FF’s chose to enact with future civilizations, with God being the common denominator.
    The bible speaks of capitalist principles (the parable of the talents for ex) which any modern day capitalist can appreciate.
    While the constitution and the Bible seem to differ in intent, they nonetheless can find mutual ground on basic beliefs: everyone has the right to life and liberty. In the Bible slavery was forbidden among the flock and murder was absolutely a thing of condemnation.
    While there are rare times when my faith clashes with my constitutional principles (marijuana for instance) it is almost always the case that my particular conservative views find a justification in my Christian views.
    To put it succinctly: conservatism is a philosophy that has as it’s bedrock things like morality and common sense, which faith provides in abundance. This differs from the bedrock principles of the so called avant garde left. There is a reason why the “left” has been consistently antiChristian…they represent things and ideals which are not only alien to a Christian nation, but alien to the individual itself. They represent unnatural lifestyles and beliefs and seek to make them normalized through laws which in many cases are pushed forth in unconstitutional ways.
    The legitimate right (not the phony right aka rinos) represents goals and ideals which simply put “make sense.”
    When something makes sense in more than one understanding (constitutional and religious) one is more justified to take that something as legitimately accurate.

  22. Conserving that with is true and good is a noble pursuit. Of course it wants to put the brake on evil and falsehood. But it also wants to hit the gas on the true and good.

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