Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
I guess that what I should say, truthfully, is that I want to be conservative. I want to be of the conservative disposition. Because being of the conservative disposition means that I am content with the status quo. It means that the world around me exists in a state that I see no reason to change or alter. To be of the conservative disposition also means that I value and appeal to the experiences of the past. I trust that history has many lessons to teach me, and that careful observance of what has come to pass can inform what actions I and others should take in the future. It is in this sense that I am indeed a conservative.
I do not, however, subscribe to the contemporary conservative movement. I do not subscribe to that movement in the same way that I do not subscribe to the liberal movement (despite title of this column), or any other movement that espouses a political agenda. To do so would oversimplify my perspective; it would associate me with the mindless and the ignorant. Those movements are labels, as constricting in their definitions as they are vacuous in their content.
If I were to describe the political climate among humans, it would be that they are misled and confused. The number of times I have heard someone claim to be a liberal and subsequently make arguments steeped in conservative reasoning, or heard someone claim to be a conservative and tout progressive and radical reforms, is beginning to outnumber the amount of political theory classes I’ve taken. And I’ve taken way too many of those.
It is as if building a border fence is somehow not radical. Or as if the slow yet methodical transition into equal marriage rights for all sexual orientations is not conservative in nature. The conservative temperament does not fear change, it does not reject new developments. It simply holds that change, when it occurs, must happen slowly. Because if change were to be radical, if there were to be a sudden and unprecedented shift, chaos would ensue.
I cannot fault someone for having this attitude, and in many instances, I believe such an attitude to be valuable. I cannot condemn the mentality that holds the appeals to history or principles of conservatism are more convincing than the appeals to rationality or opportunism of progressives. In fact, if there is fault to be found in either, it would be in the neglect of the other as a legitimate method of thought.
Our collective conception of political ideology is historically and inherently exclusive. This is wrong. We have been taught, and indeed our current political landscape reflects our assumption that: conservatives and progressives, conservatives and liberals, conservatives and radicals stand at odds with each other. The political spectrum has only two vectors, left and right. We are fools to hold it to such constraints.
The game of politics and the puzzle of government cannot and should not be simplified to such a dichotomy. There is value in political prudence, just as there is value in experimenting with risky governmental reforms.
Yet here we are, with a deadlocked political system that barely understands the underlying concepts it claims to employ. Each side touting that their way is the path to utopia, while at the same time stifling the movement of another group, which in turn stifles half the population.
They, you and we, must wake up. We must understand that there is more to our ideologies than a mere line that places us on one end or the other. The conceptual barrier we have placed between these two sides has necessarily created enemies of our brothers. Simplistic and uninvested attitudes, subscriptions to fleeting movements with poor philosophical comprehension, dogmatic faith in the mobs that are political parties — all of these contribute to a toxic outlook of the world and create an inhospitable environment for all. Be complex in your beliefs and challenge them every day. Hold yourself and others to a greater political and philosophical standard. Understand the difference between a conservative attitude and the conservative movement.
Because I want to be conservative. I want to feel as though the world around me need not change. Because I know that you desire to be comfortable in your environment, too. But it is because the world around me is so rife with issues for myself and others that I seek out changes to the status quo. Does this in your eyes make me a radical? Does it make me a progressive? Well, first you have to explain to me what those concepts even mean. And from there, we’ll work out the solutions together.
This is Zachary Antoyan, telling you to read the article before you read the send-off. You know who you are. Have a fantastic week, everyone.