Philosophy and politics are not the cosmos; they are the chaos. It is impossible to derive for philosophy and politics the kind of scientific and mathematical rules that apply to the cosmos— the chaos has been the final end of mankind’s every philosophical and political project. No paradigm, as Thomas Kuhn shows in his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is good forever. Every paradigm descends into chaos, and when that happens, the only solution is to replace the old paradigm with a new one which might offer a more satisfactory outcome.
The philosophical systems devised by the post-Enlightenment philosophers have failed to describe moral and political principles that are universal and incontestable—despite the millions of lines of arguments by the philosophers, the fundamental tenets of morality and politics continue to be unargued. The movements based on the Enlightenment ideas have failed to create a utopia—the Jacobins paved the way for Robespierre and Napoleon; the Bolsheviks paved the way to Stalin and Khrushchev; the fabian socialists and neoliberals created worldwide corruption and nihilism; the free market utopia of libertarianism has been aborted at the embryonic stage; the neoconservatives have created a corrupt and brutal military-industrial complex.
The fate of political actions in the last hundred years have been no better: Woodrow Wilson thought that the First World War was a war to “end all wars”; Franklin Roosevelt thought that the Second World War would lead a “permanent structure of peace”; Lenin and his bolsheviks thought that their revolution would be the last revolution of mankind; Hitler’s Nazis thought that theirs was the thousand years Reich; after the fall of the Soviet Union, conservatives like Francis Fukuyama proclaimed an “end of history,” or an end of the ideological evolution of mankind; the neoliberals and neoconservatives wanted to create a global paradise of liberty and free markets, but they got America stuck in the Middle Eastern quagmire for decades.
In my opinion, there is no alternative to conservatism which seeks to maintain peace and stability by conserving the institutions which are functional and getting rid of those which do not work. When the conservatives overthrow an unworkable institution and build a new one, they are creating a new paradigm (in Kuhn’s terminology). Only the conservatives possess the natural talent and will to replace one paradigm with another and bring order. Conservatism might not lead to great progress, but it will not lead to dissolution of a civilization either.