From John Ray's shorter notes
4 January, 2017
Are conservatives moral?
They are certainly not the unprincipled authoritarians that the active Left are but are they consciously concerned about morality? Dennis Prager (below) says they are but he speaks both from his own religious background (Jewish) and from the background of the United States, where conservatism and Christianity are closely linked. And there is absolutely no doubt that Christianity focuses heavily on morality and moral improvement, partly on sexual morality but also on morality in one's dealings with others generally. And, as Prager says, Christians are constantly being urged to improve their behaviour and to avoid sin.
But I live in a very conservative country by world standards that is also irreligious. There is for instance no homosexual marriage in Australia at the time of writing -- despite frantic pushes for it from the Left.
From its foundation in 1788, Australia has always been a traditionally unholy place with a very low rate of churchgoing. Americans trace their founding fathers to religious zealots but Australians trace their foundations to convicts. And other major population elements in the white settlement of Australia -- such as goldrush "diggers" and Irish rebels -- did little to alter the culture originating from our convict origins.
A majority of Australians have some religious affiliation but only a tiny minority go to church regularly. When I was young, it was still common for official forms to ask your religion. My father never set foot in a church after he was married in one but he would always put on the forms as his religion: "C of E" (Church of England). So census statistics tell you nothing about religion in Australia. More revealing is that Australians rarely know and rarely ask about any religious affiliation of people they deal with daily -- let alone people they encounter casually.
So an irreligious conservative is both possible and is the norm -- in Australia.
Prager's stress is on moral improvement rather than morality as such. There is a difference. Because they are basically contented with their society, conservatives tend to adopt its values. And as a post-Christian society, Australian values are largely Christian. The Ten Commandments are respected if not always obeyed. Additionally there are some other, purely Australian commandments that have never been officially promulgated in any way but are generally accepted in a quite heartfelt way. To breach them is to expose oneself to scorn. Here is one formulation of them:
* Thou shalt not dob in thy mates
* Thou shalt not bung on an act.
* Thou shalt not be a tall poppy
* Thou shalt give everyone a fair go
* Thou shalt be fair dinkum
* Thou shalt not crawl to the boss
Translating these into standard English yields APPROXIMATELY the following:
* You must not incriminate your friends to the boss, the police or anyone else. Loyalty to your associates is all-important.
* You must not be ostentatious or pretend to be what you are not.
* You must treat others as your equals. If you are seen as being better than others in anything but sport you will be made to suffer for it.
* You must be fair and permissive in your treatment of others.
* You must not be insincere or dishonest.
* You must not be hypocritical towards you employer or try to ingratiate yourself with him.
And wherefrom come those commandments? From nowhere in particular. They are just values that most Australians have had from the early days: Particularly working class Australians. We just absorb them daily from other Australians that we interact with. Australians will, for instance, generally be rather tolerant of a man who commits adultery but will be utterly contemptuous of a man who crawled to the boss or who bunged on an act.
So Australian are in fact highly moral despite being irreligious. But the idea that they seek to improve themselves morally is basically unknown outside the churches.
So what Prager says about conservatism is probably pretty right about America but not right about conservatives generally. I would juxtapose to the Leftist desire to change society a conservative satisfaction with the way things generally are -- requiring only minor adjustments -- mostly adjustments to get rid of Leftist attempts to tyrannize us into becoming something that we are not.
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