The Conscience Of A Conservative Book Summary By Barry Goldwater

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The Conscience of a Conservative, written by Barry Goldwater in 1960, is one of the most influential and timeless statements on conservatism ever written.

In an era when government was expanding rapidly and bipartisan support for large government was common, Goldwater's manifesto reignited a passion for smaller government and shied away from big bureaucracy.

The book describes topics such as taxation, education, and welfare from a conservative perspective and these views quickly became widely accepted amongst those on the American right.

This book set the stage for the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s and will remain an important source of insight into conservative ideologies for years to come.

The Conscience Of A Conservative Book

Book Name: The Conscience of a Conservative (A classic statement of the conservative mindset)

Author(s): Barry Goldwater

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Politics

Author Bio

The author of the classic work, The Conscience of a Conservative, is Barry Morris Goldwater.

He is best known for his five-term tenure as the United States Senator from Arizona from 1953-1965 and 1969-1987, during which he was widely considered one of the most influential conservative voices in U.S.


His successful campaigns also helped spark a surge in conservative ideology across the country – something that has continued to resonate over fifty years later.

Goldwater sadly passed away in 1998 but left his mark on politics with this classic book and continues to be remembered today.

Exploring Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience Of A Conservative” And How It Changed The American Right

Barry Goldwater's

A crash course in conservatism can help us understand why Barry Goldwater published The Conscience of a Conservative in 1960.

This political manifesto gave the American right a renewed identity and allowed them to reclaim the White House before the decade was over.

Fundamentally, conservatism is based on traditional values and beliefs, such as commitment to limited government, personal responsibility and market-driven economy.

Conservatives view the state’s role in the economy as small – taxation should be low since individuals are responsible for generating wealth; unions should represent voluntary members so that businesses can thrive free from influence; and welfare systems should focus on providing opportunities instead of instilling dependence.

Finally, Goldwater believed that beneath these political ideals lies something more: an appreciation for truth and morality that stands unaltered by fashion or convenience.

Through his book, Goldwater sought to establish conservatism’s integrity while clearly illustrating that it stands for something much deeper than wealth and status.

The Holistic Nature Of Conservatism: A Creed That Values Economic And Political Freedom For Flourishing Lives

Unlike liberalism, conservatism takes into account the entire person when defining a political philosophy.

Whereas liberals are mainly focused on economic needs – such as providing food, clothing and shelter – conservatives also understand that humans are spiritual beings, and that there is more to life than just materialistic satisfactions.

To properly nurture the human spirit, they argue, it’s important to recognize that every individual is unique and has different wants and needs.

This means respecting each other’s choices, rather than attempting to impose our own beliefs on others in order to set universal standards.

Furthermore, conservatives acknowledge that these two freedoms have limits; there must be social order for everyone to live peacefully together, so certain duties like paying taxes become a necessary part of this balance.

In conclusion, therefore, conservatives focus on the full-bodied individual by recognizing their spiritual needs as well as their economic ones.

Limited Government Is Necessary To Prevent Corruption And Ensure Freedom

The United States Constitution enshrines the core principle of limited government into its very foundation.

This means that the state has authority to take action and carry it out, but only to eliminate any powers beyond those granted by the Constitution.

Although this fundamental agreement was largely adhered to for several centuries after its initial drafting, in the twentieth century both major political parties disregarded these principles as they began to expand their control over almost every sector of society.

In order for citizens to remain truly free they need a point of restraint on unchecked power – which is exactly what limited government provides.

A well-functioning government is necessary to ensure that individuals can go about their day and pursue their interests without fear of danger or harm.

The separation of powers into three distinct branches: executive, legislative, and judicial; helps ensure that each branch could serve as a check against each other should they try to overreach in terms of authority.

Looking back at the events leading up to 1960, it’s plain to see that regardless if politicians were democratically elected or acted like tyrannical leaders, either way there was an increasing trend toward greater concentration of power within federal institutions.

Annual budgets had skyrocketed from $30.5 billion in just thirty years up to $100 billion (equivalent today’s value at around $874 billion).

Not only did this lead tax burdens start becoming increasingly difficult for many American families, but decisions about agriculture and schooling started being made by the government who now controlled a great majority of the wealth generated in country.

It’s important that citizens always remember why limiting government was so important historically and continue fight against any attempt at further expansion of power beyond what is listed in the Constitution – especially during times where security appears more important than freedom ever could be.

The Key Message Here Is: The Erosion Of States’ Rights Also Erodes Liberty

Erosion Of States

The erosion of states’ rights has had, and continues to have, a detrimental effect on fundamental American freedoms.

The Founding Fathers established a Constitution that clearly outlined the respective roles of the federal government and state governments.

They believed it was important for political issues to be handled locally rather than by an Washington.

However, as time has passed, this framework has been steadily eroded as the federal government reaches its ever-extending tentacles into areas traditionally left to the states.

One example of this is grants-in-aid, which are funds provided by the federal government to help states fund local projects in health care, education, welfare and conservation.

This unconstitutional “blackmail” requires states to comply with certain conditions or else lose their funding – leaving them no choice but to accept terms imposed from above.

This type of interference usurps power from the people who should rightfully be controlling and deciding policy; locals in each state who know better than anyone else what their particular area needs in terms of services and infrastructure.

When Washington steps in and decides these matters unilaterally, it effectively reduces the freedoms that individuals have over their own lives and livelihoods by taking away their right to determine the political direction they would like their state to take.

The Founding Fathers only gave the federal government white control over those policies explicitly outlined within the Constitution – all other matters should remain at a local level where decisions can reflect needs more accurately at any given time or place.

The erosion of states’ rights not only violates this principle but fundamentally erodes liberty as well.

States’ Rights And Civil Rights Are Compatible When They Comply With Federal Laws

When it comes to states’ rights and civil rights, there is often the misconception that one impinges on the other.

However, this does not have to be the case.

In fact, when properly defined there is no need for contact between them whatsoever.

According to the US Constitution, a state has authority over anything that has not been delegated to the federal government or forbidden by the Constitution itself.

Meanwhile, civil rights are also easy to define as they are simply rights protected by valid laws.

Furthermore, any right needs to be compatible with both legal boundaries and the US Constitution itself in order to gain status as a civil right.

When discussing civil rights specifically in regards to African Americans – particularly in those states that previously practiced segregation – some of these rights are clearly protected by law and can thus be classified as such within a legal framework.

These include Accessing voting booths regardless of skin color (enshrined throughthe Fifteenth Amendment), and various economic opportunities (which is enshrined through the Fourteenth amendment).

In other words, it’s important for peopleto remember that what may seem like sensible socio-political decisions at present may not always be seen as equivalent under pre-existing constraints such as those stated above regarding constitutional restrictions– otherwise knownas states’ rights.

Right-To-Work Laws Ensure Workers Receive Representation On Their Own Terms

Trade unions face a dilemma when it comes to representing workers who do not want representation.

While these unions may be fighting for the rights and betterment of their members, they risk perverting their own cause if they attempt to assume authority over those that do not wish to be represented.

The natural role of trade unions is to speak on behalf of employees who desire collective representation during negotiations with employers about the terms of working conditions.

By doing so in a free and voluntary manner, they can become reasonable means of achieving economic justice.

However, by imposing mandatory membership despite some individuals not wanting to join or pay dues, Unions are running counter to an individual’s freedom and right to freely associate with others in pursuit shared goals.

To give an example, if Bob has been an employee at a factory in Pittsburgh for 20 years but disagrees with UEW’s leadership then he is legally mandated to join the union despite his personal opinionm dispelling economical justice for him.

To prevent this kind of injustice from happening, one way forward is implementing Right-to-Work laws which block contracts that list union membership as prerequisites for employment and instead support civil liberties by making association freely available either way.

This allows people like Bob live without being subjected to unfair practices by denying memberships without due consent from the worker themselves.

Taxation Should Reflect Natural Rights, Not Social Engineering

Social Engineering

One of the key messages of The Conscience of a Conservative is that governments do not have an unlimited claim on our individual earnings.

This means that when we are taxed, it should be in a way that does not take more than what is necessary to pay for legitimate government functions, like law enforcement and courts.

In other words, the tax policy being followed should be one that is fair and reasonable.

It’s also important to recognize, however, that taxation can be used as a form of social engineering or wealth redistribution.

An example of this would be the policy of taking 90 percent from the man who earns $800,000 and 20 percent from the man who earns $80,000 – this doesn’t necessarily benefit all people equally and can actually punish economic success.

In addition, there are those who claim that such “progressive” taxation is necessary for revenue purposes; however this simply isn’t true.

Data shows that in 1960, after levying taxes beyond the 20 percent level only collected a total revenue of $43 billion – clearly an amount far too small for government needs.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that when it comes to taxation citizens should not be asked to pay more than what is necessary towards legitimate government functions.

Governments do not have an unlimited claim on our individual earnings and any taxation policies must reflect the idea of fairness amongst citizens.

The Danger Of Welfarism: The Dangers Of Subordinating The Individual To The State

The welfare state is a dangerous form of collectivism that compromises freedom.

It has become increasingly popular as a way to redistribute wealth and provide benefits for those in need.

However, it comes with some serious problems.

First of all, when the state provides relief to people, they are no longer reliant on themselves or their community; they now depend on the government.

A society where individuals rely on the government instead of taking care of their own needs undermines individual autonomy and responsibility – two essential components of freedom.

Furthermore, welfarism can create dangerous incentives which entice voters into supporting policies that involve taxing income in order to provide necessities like healthcare.

People may assume that this will lead to more positive outcomes – e.g., reducing poverty or providing better healthcare – but this is misleading; by voting for these policies, individuals are ultimately taking away other people’s freedom to choose how their money is spent.

The Conscience of a Conservative book summary clearly demonstrates how important it is not just to help those in need, but also to protect individual freedoms from threats posed by well-meaning collectivists who strive for greater equality at the expense of choice and responsibility.

Wrap Up

The Conscience of a Conservative is an eye-opening look at the state of American politics in the twentieth century.

In its pages, readers can see how both Republicans and Democrats ignored Constitutional principles such as states’ rights and imposed taxation that took away the property of hard-working citizens.

Trade unions reduced freedom in the workplace while the welfare state robed individuals of their autonomy by making them dependent on government assistance.

Overall, this book emphasizes that true conservatism is all about seeing and respecting individuals as “whole men,” who should enjoy both economic and political freedoms.

It provides a key lesson for today’s society: if we wish to retain our liberties, then it is crucial to remember to never sacrifice one type of freedom for another.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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