What’s wrong with being a conservative?
To take a pragmatic “conservative” approach to life (mainly politics and economics) is to look at the world cynically. Pragmatically, yes, but cynically all the same. Think about it.
People left to their own devices will be driven to fulfill their own marginal values. Whether or not those marginal values are self serving depend on the individual. Even those who do things that do not benefit them directly are ultimately performing a self serving act, because a person who performs an altruistic act does so in order to satisfy their marginal value (the altruism paradox).
Of course, this is an oversimplified view of human nature, but I would argue that the model is accurate in all the areas that count. People are self serving, but in their quest to serve themselves, they benefit not only themselves, but society as a whole. A self serving society, among other things, is an efficient society.
Again, to look at the world pragmatically is to take a cynical view. Cynicism actually comes from reality, when one is awakened from the utopian dream world they’ve been working so hard to fight. Yes, reality leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths, but it also shows us a path to satisfaction. As selfish as the pursuit of our own interests are, it allows people who want to achieve something to achieve it, despite whatever social constructions may get in their way.
In fact, the word for cynicism comes from an ancient Greek word meaning reality.
*Note: I’m pretty sure the word for cynicism doesn’t come from an ancient Greek word meaning reality, but it sounds cool in an argument.