[Ads-l] antedating malignant conservatism (1866)

James Eric Lawson jel at NVENTURE.COM
Tue Mar 23 05:01:33 UTC 2021

I've observed a increase in use of the 'malignant conservatism'
collocation (not in OED) in the 21st century. I can't imagine why, but
it seems  especially common after 2016.

Here are some earlier uses. Context specifies the sense:

26 Jan 1866: _London Evening Standard_, p 4 col 4, "The Reform Question".

It is quite possible that the newly-admitted electors of these boroughs
may make a common cause one with another, and with the very lowest, and
hardest, and narrowest, and most malignant Conservatism.


26 Oct 1880: _The Standard_ (London, England), p 4 col 7.

The Government cannot complain that fair play has not been allowed them.
The Opposition has been most honourably distinguished by the fairness of
its attitude, and it is impossible for any one to attribute the
unquestionable miscarriage of the Ministerial policy to the strategy of
a malignant Conservatism.


Jan 1880: _The Sunday School Helper_, p 40 (#46).

The new Kingdom could be set up only in face of human opposition, and
enmity, and persecution. It had to contend with most malignant
conservatism, which proved, by its evil spirit, the inadequacy of mere
law to inspire the soul with nobleness.


Jul 1892: _Official report of the Eleventh International Christian
Endeavor Convention_, p 216 (#228).

Around him in awful distinctness are represented the characters of the
world. There were the scribe and the Pharisee, who represented a kind of
stupid and malignant conservatism in the church, jealous of any
interference and selfishly hating any one who aspired to usurp their


25 May 1896: _Barrier Miner_ (Broken Hill, NSW), p 2 col 1,
"Twenty-Fourth O' May".

A few years ago Democracy and Republicanism were bracketed. Those
intervening years have been a time of disillusionment. We turn to the
United States and find the most malignant Conservatism habitually
employed to aid in the fleecing of the crowd.


Nov 1896: _Educational Review_, p 399 (#415), review of Essays on
Scandinavian literature.

As a leader in thought and a molder of public opinion, he has been
persistently vilified and assailed. But the absolute fearlessness with
which he has for years faced the arrows of a malignant conservatism is a
lesson in moral courage.


Jul 1920: _American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record_, p 48 (#562),
"Pharmaceutical Insurgency".

The wheels of progress in pharmacy have turned quite too slowly.  Too
much power is used up in getting nowhere. An "enlivener" in the form of
new blood and great vision will help pharmacy to recover from years of
malignant conservatism. Things have been too nearly static for so long
that any sign of dynamics is called insurgency.  We like the word. It at
least lends hope and courage to the younger lives in pharmacy.


10 Oct 1923: _The New Republic_, p 173 (#217) col 2, "A Mild and Massive
Sphinx", by H.G. Wells. (Quote reprinted 1924 in Wells' _The story of a
great schoolmaster_.)

Sanderson meant to teach and wanted to teach; he was quite unlike that
too common sort of schoolmaster who has fallen back into teaching after
the collapse of other ambitions; like all really sincere teachers he was
eager to learn, open to every new and stimulating idea, and free
altogether from the malignant conservatism of the disappointed type.


18 Mar 1937: _The Manchester Guardian_, p 22 col 6, "A Retiring
Proctor's Reflections".

The undergraduate, if one was to accept the eviaence of his periodicals,
endured these rules as the irritating legacy of a senile and malignant


1962: _Man, Morals, and Education_, p 16 (#20), by Frederick Mayer.

The tragedy of old age is not so much physical weakness as malignant


1965: _Fisher Ames, Federalist and Stateman, 1758-1808, p 352, by
Winfred E.A. Bernhard.

As the era of Federalism gradually ended and Jeffersonian democracy took
its place, historians increasingly looked upon Ames as a self-appointed
prophet, wringing his hands and wailing behind the fortifications of a
besieged city. He was now the personification not only of
arch-Federealism, but also of a malignant conservatism.


07 Feb 1971: _Chicago Tribune_ (Chicago, Illinois), p 10 col 1, "Voice
of Youth" column section by Anne Randolph [Macomb, Ill., Senior].

How sad the college and high school crowd cackles at the mention of Abe
Lincoln, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. How sad they dismiss their
permanent purposes as irrelevant and impractical. How regrettable they
label patriots as victims of malignant conservatism, of philosophical
myopia, of chronic status-quo.


17 Oct 1977: _The Charlotte News_ (Charlotte, North Carolina), p 7 col
1, "Nazi Uniforms: They're a Hot Item".

"There have been two major totalitarian movements in this
century--communism (in the Soviet Union) and fascism (in World War II
Germany and Italy)," he said. "Some have called fascism malignant
conservatism and communism, malignant liberalism."


11 Aug 1991: _The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), p 112 col 5, "The
public woe", letter to the editor by Barry Cutler.

Yet again, certain senators are attempting to increase funding for the
"Star Wars" grotesquery. Not only is this Ronald Reagan synaptic snap
unnecessary, it is anally atavistic.
    When are we going to grow beyond this malignant conservatism and
evolve into humanitarians? How much longer are we going to misuse our
wealth toward the creation of public woe rather than public weal?


James Eric Lawson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list