Thursday, June 27, 2013

Social Movements: Progressive, Conservative, Restorative, Preservative

At any given moment in our Olympian society, there are always four movements afoot: progressive, conservative, restorative, and preservative. They vary in relative strength. Sometimes one is more popular, sometimes another. They also vary in relative creativity. At times each is creative and sometimes each is destructive.

Relative popularity depends on where people believe the golden age lies. For progressives, the golden age lies in the future. They believe we can work hard now and attain a more peaceful and just society. One example of a progressive movement was the French Revolution of 1789.

For restoratives, the golden age lies in the past. Our present corruption causes the problems we face. We need to purify our society of that corruption to reverse our decline. After the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 exemplified a restorative movement that strove, as far as possible, to restore the societies and cultures of 1788.

At the same time, both the Renaissance of the 1400s and the Reformation of the 1500s were restorative movements. The first sought to recapture the creativity and vitality of classical culture. The second sought to remove harmful practices that had crept into the Church by returning to biblical basics.

For conservatives, the golden age is now. Even if society still has problems, we solve these best through small reforms. Conservatives value stability above all. This movement enjoys its greatest popularity during times of relative peace and prosperity when the status quo works well for most people in all four social classes (upper, middle, working, and marginal).

The least familiar of these four movements is the preservative. For preservatives, there is no golden age. There are only golden creations from many ages. Preservatives seek to save what is best from destruction, whether by progressives, restoratives, or conservatives. One example of this movement is today’s practice of preserving significant historical buildings. Another was the practice by Latin Christian monasteries of preserving and copying Greek and Latin texts after the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the 400s.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.