From Jonah Goldberg in National Review, When We Say ‘Conservative,’ We Mean . . .
This points to one of my greatest peeves with the liberal caricature of conservatism. We’re constantly told that conservatives are opposed to change. And, to be sure, we’re opposed to some changes. But conservatives embrace change more passionately and eagerly than liberals ever do in the realm of life that most directly touches the most people: the market. The free market is constantly transforming society in profound ways. And who stands athwart history yelling “Stop” at this unceasing tide of change? The Left. The entire left-wing economic agenda is geared towards slowing or stopping economic change. Just look at their opposition to free trade, Uber, GMOs, fracking, and now driverless cars.
No conservative worth the name would say that every product of the free market has been an advance for humanity, but we understand that a free society isn’t free without a fundamentally free market. Liberals resent the free market and are constantly trying to argue that free enterprise isn’t a freedom like, say, free speech (not that they’ve been too keen on free speech either of late). The reasons for this animosity could fill libraries, but among them is the fact that free markets must generate material inequalities and material egalitarians think that’s a crime. Conservatives are for the most part comfortable with material inequalities — so long as the system that produces them is fair and open — because we understand that’s how life works. Indeed, it’s how life should work. If you put in the work, if you have the great idea, you should do better than someone who doesn’t. We’re comfortable with this contradiction.
Philosophically and psychologically, this fact is offensive to the socialist mind. Philosophically, because it seems unfair. Psychologically, because it is un-fun. In a socialist economy, the socialist intellectuals and bureaucrats have the power (and, truth be told, the wealth). In a free economy, the socialist intellectual is a performance artist and the socialist bureaucrat has to work for a living.
“No political philosopher has ever described a conservative utopia,” Samuel Huntington writes. That’s because there is no such thing as a conservative utopia — because there’s no such thing as a utopia (the very word means “no place”). The socialist cannot accept this and he spends his days arguing that it is better to constantly try to kill the two birds in the bush with one stone than to be grateful for the one bird he already has in his hand.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/420055/conservatism-definition-difficult-produce