Conservatives, reactionary conservatives, those who reject not just this or that aspect of liberalism, but the whole of liberalism, are rare these days. For the most part, the modern west has fully imbibed liberalism, even those who identify as conservatives (e.g. The GOP), nevertheless profess belief in liberal principles like the idea that freedom should be a political priority, or the idea that the legitimacy of governments derives from the consent of the governed. As it is, all political thought within the Overton window, and much outside of it, is liberal.
For a definition of liberalism, I prefer to use the definition Zippy provided on his blog, which is that “liberalism is the political doctrine that securing individual freedom and equal rights is the primary purpose of government”.
Another definition could be the idea that the legitimacy of government is derived from the consent of the governed. However, I tend to think that this idea flows from the former, rather than the other way around.
By this point, most people coming across this blog probably have no idea what I’m talking about. They have been raised to believe that liberalism is the only possible alternative to utter tyranny. And that the only legitimate political disagreements are between different types of liberalism, some of which, as I mentioned, do not self-identify as liberalism. However, these presumptions are not true, there is a system of political thought which is neither tyrannical nor liberal, it is reactionary conservatism.
Consider the (now radical) idea that things have natures, and consequently natural ends. And that these natural ends are the basis of the moral law. Consider that the authority of the state does not derive from the consent of the governed or from a social contract, but from the very nature of human society.
Consider also the idea that societies are organic. A common modern idea is that societies are constructed artificially by their members, however this is absurd if you think about it for a moment.
No society has created itself by directed will, rather every society forms through accident of history. This can be plainly observed on a small level. Most of us have people in our lives who we consider friends, we didn’t hold interviews and decide to pick certain people as friends because it seemed most efficient to pick those specific individuals, but rather we have friends by virtue of circumstances in our lives which for the most part are unplanned.
Now, if societies form themselves without a directed will, then clearly the idea that there is some sort of social contract directing society is exposed for the nonsense that it is. As far as what does bind us to obey the laws of our country, start with the very reasonable idea that things have natures, as mentioned above. From this it can reasonably be extrapolated that the nature of things directs them toward certain ends, and that the fulfillment of these ends is what defines the correct standard of good.
Now consider the case of societies, we’ve established that societies are organic, that they are actual things. So, it follows that they have natural ends. It should not be hard to figure out that the purpose of a society is to direct the actions of its members to good. Therefore, to obey the laws, is good.
Now, what is the good which society should direct its members toward? Clearly, it is the fulfillment if their own natural ends. Now freedom is always a means to an end, since it is by definition the ability to choose one’s actions without interference. Thus, freedom itself cannot be this end.