Sunday, April 29, 2007

Conservatism and Progressivism

Have you ever asked yourself what makes one progressive and the other conservative? Why we can call some politicians reformers and some conservatives? What is the difference about the individuals belonging to these two seemingly different camps?

Reading history one cannot help noticing the paradoxical nature of individuals who advocate the ideals of these two different streams. For example let’s look at Petian and de Gaulle. One is the ruler of Vichy who advocated the ideals of extreme right, governed as a dictators and collaborated with invaders of his country. The other was a rebellious brigadier who went to exile to fight that invader. Petain joined those who blamed democracy for France’s defeat in 1940. De Gaulle never accepted power from any institution but democratic ones.

Two men could not be more different as individuals. Petain married a divorcee in a government office and his marriage was not blessed by the Church until he became the Head of French state. Although he headed an authoritarian regime that advocated some of Catholic Church principles, he himself could not be considered a devoted son of Church[1]. On the other hand de Gaulle was raised by devoted Catholic parents, married a devoted Catholic woman and lived his life according to standards of a catholic family. Yet he advocated democracy.

Today there are many such individuals in any establishment including socio-economic institutions of Iran. One wonders where is the line that divides progressive forces of a society and the forces that stall its progress and growth. May be it is time to measure them with regards to their accomplishments and achievements, rather than their beliefs. Prejudice from any group and any side is certainly a reactionary attitude.

[1] See Charles Williams, 2005, Petain: How the Hero of France Became a Convicted Traitor and Changed the Course of History, Palgrave Macmillan.

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