An interesting fact, even though not a surprising one, is that the rate of people suffering from clinic depression in the west is the highest one. These chronically melancholic people are usually not depressed ones – as far as external circumstances goes. They don’t need to worry about their basic human rights and necessities. And even so, it’s an epidemic.
It’s seems as if this is a symptomatic phenomenon in a society that does everything in its power (or so it appears) to supply individuals with the maximum ability to express their self freely. This fact might be implying an explanation to the current fragility of liberal paradigm. The western society always acts based on the assumption that expressing one self uniquely, freely and “maximalisticly” is a good and scared thing. Even more, this society is confident that the only alternative is suppressing its citizens – with or without the help of a strong leader with a mustache.
But in fact the very essence of this assumption (the more free one is, the happier he becomes) is being challenged and doubt by allot of western citizens and by the citizens of countries that suppose to join the western way of life. The anti-globalization sentiments, the reaction toward fundamentalism, the global terror and the magnetism of the far left and right-wing are just part of the results of this crisis. The progressive conservatism is a more balanced expression of it. Even though in its best it seeks stability through an internal moderate conflict and not through crystallized fix theory.
Three cultural struggles that progressive conservatism fits into:
The new progressive conservatism (not to be confused with neo-conservatism in the American sense and with the trendy tendency to move back toward old-fashion conservatism) is not a movement. Rather it is a wide frame-work of ideas, trends, ideologies and cultural phenomenon that usually share at least three fundamental doubts:
1. Does the human being seeks freedom or a restraining – but reassuring – structure, and to what extant.
2. Is there a fundamental basic human nature that one has to pay attention to or are we just the products of cultural constructions regarding the society we live in.
3. Does the visual image controlling our life till there is no place to a solid truth that doesn’t being grasped or comprehend in terms of representation.
The understanding that in the long run the human being wants limitations to be applied on him – in facts he needs them – is essential to progressive conservatism. Liberalism, by its nature, always looks toward freedom; conservatism toward a restraining and ordering frame (or structure). Progressive conservatism comes from a more mature dialectic level – it doesn’t seek regression but synthesis.
To be more precise, in its best progressive conservatism rejects dialectic as a hole, it dismisses the naïve promise to gain utopian stability through the ultimate synthesis. Rather it tries to underline the border of the mental ever-lasting conflict between archetypical internal oppositions. It tries to restructures a balanced “tilt frame” that in its boundaries edgy phenomenon, like the “free” but cold-blooded and distanced American liberalism or the collectivism of totalitarian societies, will not exist.
The next battle between liberalism and conservatism is also involving allot of metaphysical blood. Within its context some of the liberal forces are trying to make social constructionism a dominant dogma. On the other hand the conservatives support the idea of essentialism.
Progressive conservatism (or may we say “progressive essentialism”) tries to lead the world of metaphysics side by side with the empiric-scientific world – that had long ego reveled the delicate balance between qualities that are rooted in one self from birth or so, and ones that are culturally constructed. They even go further than that as to dismiss the potentially dangerous connection between essence descriptions and moral convictions. Taking the task of intellectuals those scientists – as Steven Pinker – shows how statistic and other essential differences between people cannot be logically use to justify discrimination or racism.
But the fact that progressive essentialists tendto make a measurable tern back toward essentialism is indeed a matter of moral sort. When progressive essentialists talk about essence they don’t talk only about specific individuals or groups, they talk about the universal human being (not in the simplistic “we are the world” attitude that presumes to be culturally blind). This retro-discourse in fields of ethic and aesthetic that tolerate terms like “human nature” is a kind of blasphemy in the academic cathedra that scared cultural-constructivism, masks and self-aware artificialness.
The third conflict that progressive conservatism interferes in deals with the power and validity of the image (especially the visual one). Economical liberalism gives the image its actual strength (through multi-channel media infrastructure and commercial-related content). Postmodernism, which flourish on this background, supply the image with ontological and intellectual confidence – it sees the image in the same level as other manifestations of reality.
Porn directors that request to make their movies forbidden in public channels; gays that stand against the sexually-obsessed gay culture; feminists women that doesn’t hesitate to speak about the womb and the instinct of motherhood; urban play-boys that seek true love are all, to some extent, part of the progressive conservatism, that actually has always been there – a conservatism that is part of human nature.
But above all its other characteristics, progressive conservatism is an effort to avoid the reduction that allot of contemporary conceptions reflecting on modern life and humans.
Putting it under the tag-line “conservatism” – and not, for example, “moderate liberalism” – is intentional. Progressive conservatism bears within a kind of protest, protest against the anthem of freedom that become repressing itself. On the other hand it’s also standing against the impulsive need to run to the other pole of strict conservatism in order to be distinguished from western liberalism.