The Future of Conservatism in Europe

Date of event: 1.12. 2016

The event took place with the participation of John O’Sullivan, a British conservative political commentator and former senior policy writer and speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher; Czech political scientist Stanislav Balík; and publisher, commentator, and journalist Alexander Tomský. The PCTR Director Alexandr Vondra opened the lecture and moderated the event.

According to John O’Sullivan, conservatism together with classical liberalism has a more realistic future than any leftist ideology. Left is currently losing its traditional voters and it is under defensive against the rise of populist parties. While socialism is in its nature international, conservatism is always essentially a national idea. John O’Sullivan in this context talked about French historian and sociologist Emmanuel Todd who traced the origins of different political systems in diverse family models in each country.

The European Union is therefore mistaken in constructing one united system because every society has a different history. We can see the divisions for instance in different approaches to immigration. Moreover, a significant part of the workforce is currently losing jobs due to globalization and especially the autonomous revolution. The socialist solution is in paying compensation but it does not solve the issue. Our aim should therefore focus on incentives for “kitchen table capitalism” which is in fact return to the tradition of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

John O’Sullivan’s contribution was followed by Stanislav Balík. According to him, there is a belief that the most important political cleavage is the socio-economic one. While the competition between Right and Left still dominates it is fading into the background because of other issues. Western society accepted heavy taxation and gave up the ability to protect its own country with a gun in its hands. The state is more and more interferes with family dynamics and supranational chimera decomposes the principles of the sovereign state.

Nonetheless, political conflict is not over. Stanislav Balík in this context recalled how former main competitors of the Czech politics of their era – the so-called Old Czechs and New Czechs – formed an alliance against newly established parties. Likewise, traditional Right and Left could find a way to each other. The forthcoming opponent will be progressivism that has the ultimate goal of destroying everything private. That is why conservatism must protect privacy.

Alexander Tomský summed up both speakers. In doing this he emphasized the problems conservatism is facing. According to him, conservatism always had to defend and react to utopian projects. Conservatism represents common sense against attempts to construct new humans but it does not produce a single uniform ideology. He also stressed that the Left is in crisis right now and that at the expense of human nature there is a stronger and stronger invasion of state into family, community, or church.

Debate with the audience followed and the questions on for example the possibilities of promoting conservative ideals against the adversity of the vast majority of mainstream media. Stanislav Balík recalled the success of the newly elected President of the US Donald Trump who succeeded despite the negative media campaign against him. It is, therefore, necessary to follow his tactic and go to talk to ordinary people like Czech President Zeman is doing. In answer to another question, John O’Sullivan said that the progressives enforce their agenda outside political debate and therefore do not go through the election.

The public lecture and debate were concluded with a book signing of John O’Sullivan’s book “The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister” that could be purchased during the event.

The event was held because of the kindly support of partners: Hanns Seidel FoundationNew Direction, and Vydavatelství Ideál. We would also like to thank media partners: Centre for the Study of Democracy and CultureCEVROCivic Institute, and Pravý břeh.

Media coverage of the event can be found via the following links: