Today, little is seen of true conservatism in the West. The respect for sovereign nations and non-interventionist strategies that characterized founding conservatives like Edmund Burke stand far from the sentiments within, for example, the U.S. Republican Party. Or in the words of Roger Stone – political strategist and former adviser to presidents such as Nixon and Reagan – in a 2016 interview about his book "The Clintons' War on Women": "The Republican and the Democratic party in this country have become one party. It is the Endless War party, the party of the erosion of our civil liberties. It is the Big Debt and Big Borrowing party. It is the party of high taxes; it's the party of Wall Street – both parties are infected with Wall Street money."
In "Liberty and Tyranny," best-selling American author Mark Levin offers quite a brilliant understanding of what modern conservatism should have been. The task of the government, he states, is not to make decisions for people, but to facilitate a society with as much individual freedom as possible, while still safeguarding collective interests. This implies that each person should be made aware that he or she has a duty and a moral responsibility to do his or her best to better society. To be conservative is to fight for the rights of the individual to make his own choices and not be choked by a custodial state, yet steadily perform his duty toward his fellow man. The ideal is not conformity, but a pluralistic society where individuals are allowed to explore their talent and succeed, to the betterment of society, states Levin. And nothing is detached from morality. For example, the original form of capitalism did not function devoid of mercy, detached from ethics, but quite the contrary – it depended on trust and reliability.
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Discussions on how to limit the abuse of power in democracies are addressed by early philosophers such as Charles Montesquieu (1689–1755). He spoke of the need for the separation of powers between the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches of government, thus limiting the elites' possibility of corruption and abuse. If too much power is in the hands of the very few, a democracy may easily slip into totalitarianism. In order for a democracy to function properly, the courts must be free; there must be a free press, an independent private sector, an independent parliament where various perspectives are respected and temporarily elected governments whose power is limited.
The problem with growing government control has been addressed by many. In 1944 Friedrich August von Hayek, one of the 1900s most influential economists, wrote a book entitled "The Road to Serfdom." Its main aim was an outline of the opposition to growing government authority with a firm belief in the need to uphold the individual rights to personal freedom of choice. The book aroused enormous interest.
In short, Hayek argued that socialism and social democracy eventually would lead to a totalitarian custodial state that chokes freedom of citizens. Where the socialist government systems develop, elites also seize power and develop an increasingly centralized authority. Hayek lived during the rise of National Socialism in Germany. He watched its grip on the people, its stern propaganda, the culture of fear and consensus, the desire to quench intellectual dissidents.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath has somehow pushed for the current Russian resurge toward traditional roots, and cultural strength marks an ideological shift in the nation's current political leadership. Pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin in churches, attending mass, traveling to Mount Athos in Greece as the spiritual center of the Orthodox Church, illustrate the Russian political push towards a reimplementation of traditional, historical values. The Western 1960s social movement has pushed Western culture in the opposite direction, as we have launched a culture war against Christianity and European historical traditions, to cite Pat Buchanan in "Suicide of a Superpower."
It has been very easy to limit the freedom of thinking in democracies. Freedom of speech has today become the citizen's right to concur with the arguments of the establishment. Many fear the severe repercussions if they step out of the politically correct narrative. The initial Marxist goal to remove the power-hungry bourgeoisie elite led only to the emergence of a new, neo-Marxist ruling upper class who in many ways departed from their initial goal of supporting the working class, fighting for international justice and solidarity. It seems to be evident that power corrupts, regardless of class, gender or religious affiliations.