Coming Out Conservative

Uh, Mum?


*shuffles feet*




Yep, that’s right, I’m coming out of the conservative closet 1.

So, why (I hear you cry) am I suddenly making such a declaration? One that is surely going to see me shot by the Pink Mafia, or lose my subscription to GQ Magazine, or get unceremoniously booted off the secret gay Intarwebz 2. 3

Well, it comes down to a conversation with a friend of a friend recently.

His argument went something like this:

But if we keep refugees here, they’ll just stay on welfare, and be a drain on our resources! That’s why I support moving them on to other countries or not taking them if possible.

At which point, of course, I promptly pointed out that that was a reactionary position, and that the truly conservative position was that they were already here, and so they may contribute significantly to Australian society, or their children may, or their children may, and so why should we act now rather than wait and see?

This, of course, was met by a slightly confused look.

See, the problem here is that we’re dealing with two different versions of the word ‘conservative’.

I, ironically, take a conservative view of the word ‘conservative’:

a: tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions
b: marked by moderation or caution

– Merriam-Webster Online 4

Applying this, the decision to wait and see what contribution these people and their families may make maintains the possibility of future gains and maintains the status quo, in which the people in question remain in Australia living their lives in peace.

Taking this view into account, let’s have a think, shall we?

If you make laws to restrict the rights of states and territories to legislate on the definition of marriage, you’re not a conservative.

States and territories have always had this right, and to take it away from them marks a fundamental shift in the way that our federal system works.

If you are a supporter of Andrew Bolt, and believe in the right to free speech in Australia, and believe that this should be recognised, and thus the RDA changed to make what he wrote legal, you’re not a conservative.

Firstly, there never has been a right to free speech in Australia 5. Thus, a recognition of an additional right would be a significant and far-reaching change to the way that we live and enforce laws in this country. Secondly, advocating a change in law in response to a high-profile case? Big change off one data point.

If you believe in a smaller Government with significantly reduced power, then you’re not a conservative.

Governments have a particular size. That’s the way it is right now. Indeed, I am tempted to the ultra-conservative position – that is to say that Governments should concern themselves with apportioning taxation and precious little else.

The views that I have espoused here are reliant on the assumption that while the current system may not be perfect, may be far from perfect, in fact, it works, and so playing with it as little as possible is probably the best idea.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not advocating a completely static political system. In fact, when people ask me what my political views are, I don’t usually say ‘conservative.’ I’m far more likely to say ‘reformationist’.

For example, I would like to see “gay marriage” 6 in my lifetime. However, I don’t want it tomorrow if that means shoving it down the throats of the Australian populace 7. Rather, I would like to see things happen at their own pace – to see change when it bubbles up through the population and the change is merely a modification of the law to reflect the views of the majority of Australians 8.

I would also like to see changes to the way that race is legislated in Australia – although personally I would more like to see removal of the constitutionally protected right to pass legislation that treats different races differently. I would also like the discussion regarding the ‘bills of rights’ that have been suggested to continue, as I find it both fascinating and informative. However, consensus at the moment seems to be that to properly enforce any such bill would require substantial reform of the Australian parliamentary system, and so I am unable to support the introduction of such a bill at the moment.

I would also like to see the volume of debate in Australian politics, and the ‘politicking’ that is done, reduce. A government is, at its core, a services provision organisation, organised to work for the benefit of the people it purports to represent and their beliefs 9.

I also believe in the conservation of resources, because I do not want the future to be one in which the seemingly inevitable consequences of their squander come to pass. However, this pulls in the opposite direction to my desire for Australia to continue as a prosperous country, driven by the mining that we have relied upon for so long. Ah, well – any complete theory is inconsistent, and so I resort to utilitarianism and stochastics.

But, I digress.

I believe in incremental change. Small, noncontroversial changes that maintain the order that currently exists. Safety in consistency is the ultimate conservative idea, as every change that we make to our system is a chance, however small, of disaster.

Now, I shall abandon my conservatism by turning off my computer, which is currently on, changing my clothing radically and going from awake to that fundamentally different state: asleep.

Because some ideals are made to be broken every day, aren’t they?


  1. Which you would be forgiven for thinking was already occupied by plenty of US Republicans lately
  2. Basically it’s porn and fashion. Sometimes both at once.
  3. NOTE: Two of these things don’t actually exist.
  4. Available here. And yes, I know I paraphrased.
  5. Not even the highly limited right that exists in America, as covered in a previous post
  6. Actually, I’d like to see completely civil marriage, but that’s a topic for another night
  7. Rather like my attitude towards religion, really.
  8. This ‘collective consciousness’ view is usually attributed to Émile Durkheim, the founder of sociology. We don’t completely agree, but he’s a good read.
  9. Not, I hasten to add, ‘the people and the beliefs it purports to represent’. A subtle but important distinction.

Posted in: Blog

Written by David

One Response to Coming Out Conservative

  1. Nothing wrong with shoving things down people’s throats. It just depends on the context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *