The True Conservatism
Added: 2017-10-30
Added: 2017-10-30
4 października 1927


From: Na drodze walki, Warszawa 1928, p. 170-172, 4 October 1927.



The consolidation of conservative elements, the ultimate organizational purpose of which is to create a great, homogeneous camp capable of influencing the future development and the fate of the state, is under way. This process is a dictate of the situation and follows from a natural evolution of relations and not from any individual, egoistic idea. Consequently, except for the few representatives of the preying demagogy full of empty slogans and its press and except for the subversive factors, there is nobody in Poland that would not consider it rational or even necessary, at least in their mind, to balance our social and political system with a strong, creative, and truly conservative wing.

Truly conservative! This phrase must be emphasized and repeated, as “conservatism” is fashionable nowadays, growing quickly and having too many neophytes who believe that they are full-blooded conservatives because they have tactically renounced their National Democracy beliefs and adopted a friendly stance towards the rule of Marshal Piłsudski. We may perhaps be displaying pessimism that deserves condemnation, but we cannot help but notice that the issue of this opportunist “friendly stance” in many cases plays a capital role and sometimes too capital a role.

Can such a hastily built and opportunism-based conservatism rise up to the great challenges of this undoubtedly crucial moment in the history of our reborn Fatherland? Definitely not! Effective cooperation in the task of reforming the Republic, in the task of a rational transformation and strengthening of the mental and political organization, which was so many times failed by entire generations, cannot be a product of temporary opportunism, but of iron will and thought, aware of itself and its purpose, independent of the momentary constellations and events.

Conservatism cannot be a ball that anyone can use to play a match in a field between the Camp of Great Poland and the Belweder Palace, watching carefully that the ball does not get too close to either of the goals, at the same time leaving both options open since who knows what future brings!... No, such a sport is not conservatism and only discredits it. If this is what conservatism is supposed to be, it would be better for it not to exist at all!

The cardinal basis of and the reason for the existence of conservatism, which gives it all of its value and gravity in society, is its own real and resolute program stemming from the state-building idea that goes beyond the temporary benefits. The government and society have to feel that in their positive work on the growth or reform of the state, they can always count on unwavering support from conservatism—a support that is honest, unfailing, but also that refuses to be unquestioningly harnessed to any chariot and that contributes the relevant qualities of its own, independent thinking, initiative, and work. Without these bases, this independent nature and strong, unshakable beliefs, conservatism ceases to be itself and loses all of its value, even in the eyes of those who would genuinely like to utilize it in their work for the state and entrust it with a significant role to play. I cannot imagine a true conservative hesitating whether to be one or not, observing from where the wind is blowing, and molding his “beliefs” and “orientations” after a long and laborious analysis of the domestic political chessboard!

At the same time, political realism, which is one of the bases of conservative thought and tactics, prohibits engaging in fiction and impulse, instead calling for work for the state as long as there are conditions for such work and actual prospects in this respect. This is why conservatism always has to take into account the actual state of affairs in the state, consider what is, and not what, in someone’s fantasy, should be, and therefore has to adjust its actions to the real creative factors that rule the state—it cannot operate in a void like doctrines do. If conservatism wants to achieve anything, it has to support these factors and not combat them, provided that, naturally, it is certain that these factors wish and are able to work for the state productively. This is why conservatism will readily support any government that thinks creatively and wishes to cooperate with it, regardless of the differences in beliefs that may exist between them, as principled opposition is fruitless and inactivity is not a feature of a true conservative.

Therefore, it is not a symptom of servility or opportunism if the conservative camp announces its firm readiness for positive state-building work initiated by Marshal Piłsudski, who is currently representing both the actual authority and the will, as well as, undoubtedly, the ability to carry out useful reforms and normalize the relations within the state, which he has already demonstrated in a number of fields. But this cooperation may be of value for the state and may lead to success only if conservatism stands firmly and independently on its platform and shows not even an appearance of doubt or opportunism in its program or tactics that the critics could prey on.



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