Originally Posted by stephanie
It seems like you are focusing just on economics and a libertarian approach to them in particular. For a variety of reasons, libertarianism and libertarian economics don't define conservatism, even in the US sense. There's merely some overlap.
You asked for my definition, and I'd look at the philosophical tradition historically, starting with Burke's writing against certain types of change based on ideology over tradition. That's one reason why I think it's funny when people try to argue that libertarianism is the right definition of conservatism -- Libertarianism is above all else the promotion of a particular ideological view over tradition. In some cases the outcomes argued for would be the same as that argued for based on tradition. (Both tend to support the free market all else equal for that reason, although there are tons of traditional exceptions which Libertarianism wants to disrupt and I don't think conservatism supports.) Even more importantly, both libertarianism and conservatism ended up defining themselves as anti-communist (given the Cold War and all), so the clear differences got somewhat blurred, but the basis for the positions aren't the same.
More significantly, economics isn't at all the only important focus on conservatism. Looked as both historically and as an overall movement, the social aspects are as important.... .
You make some excellent points. I pulled out my survey of philosophy to look up Burke and what you say about upholding tradition and being suspicious of change are true of him and his writings. However he was not the last word on conservatism. All of these movements of political thought have been morphing during the history of our country. I guess the right and the left have been somewhat stable since FDR.
So with that in mind I will say that my list of beliefs was incomplete to be sure and I think I stated that at the offset. But I continue to think that the beliefs I attributed to modern conservatism are attributable. I will also cede that those beliefs definitely overlap with libertarianism.
It would be incorrect to assume a political philosophy will follow a straight line. If that were so the Democrats would still be wearing the mantle of segregation.