What are Conservatives Conserving?
by Bruce Webb
Over at Open Left they are revisiting the concept of Conservatism and whether it is a coherent philosophy. And after concluding that Conservatives by and large have failed to come up with their own definition proceeded to advance some of their own, that it is about enabling aristocracy, or institutionalizing suffering, or whatever. What is Conservatism: Conservatives Have No Idea. Well I don’t think we get very far simply dismissing conservatism as a pathology, in particular it doesn’t get us very far in explaining small town and rural conservatism and particularly that of people who are not really in a socio-economic position to oppress anybody, the normal explanations based on race and economic class more or less breaking down in places like North Dakota.
Is it possible to come up with a common denominator of Conservatism, one that doesn’t reduce to institutionalized capitalist racism (which conclusion unfortunately is where too many of us liberals tend to gravitate to)? Well I think so, and probably not surprising anyone who has read my stuff, I locate it in a time and a place far detached from 20th century America. More in extended entry.
The first step is to separate Conservatism from its modern variant Reactionism. Political and Religious Reaction was a general response to the larger movement we associate with the European Enlightenment starting roughly in the late 17th century and a specific response to the historical developments associated with various revolutions from the Dutch, to the American, and most dramatically the French and then to the subsequent Continental/Napoleanic Wars. After the final defeat of Napolean the European Powers very consciously set up a system of institutionalized Reaction where the clear enemies were the interlinked movements of Revolution, Nationalism, Liberty, Democracy, and Socialism. To which you could add Free Thinking and such things as Deism. All of these were threats to a political and social system based on hereditary monarchy and aristocracy. Nor were these threats idle, within a hundred and ten or so years of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 imperial and royal houses whose histories could be traced back up to a thousand years were for the most part in Marx’s Dustbins of History.
While clearly the kind of Authoritarian Reaction that dominated the 19th century, or at least went down fighting, consciously drew to itself the elements of Conservatism and as noted can be seen as a varient should not be identified with it. Because most Conservatives are not Kings and Princes, or even Popes and Priests, and while there are reasons why Conservatism is most comfortable within a econo-political system based on authority and hierarchy they are not I think its motivating force.
The key question for me in tracking down Conservatism is whether it existed in recognizable form prior to the Enlightenment? If so it can hardly be a product of the latter even though it might have been (and in my opinion was) reshaped by it. And I think the answer is clearly yes, as far back as we have evidence of Western Civilization to which might well add Asian Civilization we see some particular shared characteristics that I think are the basis of Conservatism (I don’t know enough about Oceana, Africa, or Pre-Columbian America to even venture a guestimate on this in relation to them. Feel free to fill in in comments.)
So to answer the title of the post, what are Conservatives conserving? I suggest it is the Household, here seen as a socio-economic unit headed by the Householder (in English the ‘hus-bund) ‘with certain authority delegated to the Wife (O.E. ‘hus-wif’). In this context we can’t separate out ‘house’ ‘household’ ‘family’, each has a literal and figurative center or centers and a defined boundary, and defending that boundary figuratively, legally and often physically was the responsibility of the ‘family’ under command of the householder. And of course the concept of ‘hold’ is integral to both ‘householder’ and ‘holding’ as well to the legal terms of ‘possession’ (cognate with ‘seize’ itself ultimately identical to English Law-French ‘seisen’).
If we had to find a general European translation of ‘household’ we can hardly do better than Latin ‘familia’ which means more than the biological unit, but extends to all human and even animal occupants of the household, all of which are ultimately under control of the head of the household. Now viewed from the outside through our Enlightenment eyeshades all of this looks like a dictatorship, from the inside out that makes no more sense than asking why ships are generally not directed by committee, when the storm hits someone has to be in command.
If we take the European household back to its origins we can see that the authority of the householder extended most definitely to religion, indeed in very ancient times it seems that each householder was his own family priest, each family having its own religion tying it together (‘religio’ possibly deriving from ‘religare’ ‘to bind fast’ cf ‘ligature’). And in such matters precision and continuity were all important, it is characteristic of European religion from its beginnings to the Reformation that change in ritual is not only not welcome, it is potentially disastrous to the household.
Seen from this perspective much that seems primitive in Conservatism is simply natural in context. Patriarchy, emphasis on property rights, rigidity in religious belief, unwillingness to sacrifice the family’s economic interest to outside demands, all can be seen as simple defense of the physical and human boundaries of the family/household.
If we extend our view outside the individual household other aspects of Conservatism come into focus. First no household is a total island, each of necessity is associated with others in a system of mutual defense and with that comes the need for internal conflict resolution (law), military command (kings), and community ritual (priests) all of which are necessary to protect the joint boundary in the same way as the individual householder protects his own boundary. On the other hand this commitment to law, common defense and religion might not necessarily extend to the general welfare. While this will seem heartless from the perspective of universal humanism or the specific tenets of Christianity and other faiths, there is nothing intellectually incoherent about privileging the family and then the larger tribal interest to extra-familial individual interests inside and outside the tribe.
So can Conservatism exist outside Capitalism? Of course, defined as protecting the Household it did so for centuries and millennia. Is Conservatism inherently dependent on racism? Well no, not everything needs to be viewed through the lens of American Exceptionalism and the Peculiar Institution, identifiable Conservatism existed in both European and American contexts where issues of race hardly came into play at all. Or class for that matter. On the other hand Conservatives are by nature suspicious of outsiders, who are by nature a potential threat to the family. Which may leave them very open to classifying the Other negatively by race or religion, after all from this perspective Conservatism is all about drawing and protecting boundaries.
This is by no means meant as a defense of the organized Conservative project as that is seen working its way in the media and Congress, just an appeal to separate out what can properly be seen as a Reactionary attempt to exploit Conservatism to advance an anti-Enlightenment agenda from a Conservatism that was never fundamentally exposed to the Enlightenment at all but instead stuck to a belief system hundreds and perhaps thousands of years old. Some guy wanting to provide for his family and protect what is his may express those beliefs in ways foreign to Liberalism but is not by that token simply open to condescension and disrespect in the ways seen in the linked post from O.L.
I guess I got confused. I was going to say that I admire your knowledge of history, and that there might be something to be learned from a history of “conservatism.” But the modern american political parties that call themselves conservative don’t necessarily have much to do with the conservatism of the european royal families… who were not always as conservative as the lesser nobility. Both of those classes were interested in preserving their prerogatives, but the actual royals were often a good deal more enlightened, and liberal, about how to accomplish that.
as for racism, i don’t know much about north dakota, but certainly there was plenty of racism in northern michigan and the chicago suburbs. racism was made famous by the South, but it has always been there in the north. it is more or less a constant of phylogeny. more or less aggravated by people who feel themselves threatened by members of an identifiable “other” group, or cynically pumped up to by the politicians who need their support in the conservative enterprise of stealing from the poor.
certainly there is a basis for “conservatism” in the family. everyone tries to protect what he has got. and the family has been the essential core of self protection for about a million years.
where the modern american right has stolen a march on the pathetic left is to convince the poor that their families are threatened by the liberals. and some liberals are only too happy to help the right by running around attacking “religion” and “family values”.
oh fools. the right wants you to attack religion and family values. that’s how they get the poor to vote for their destroyer.
or is this what you were saying?
Modern conservatism has little to do with history or the basics of our country’s social institutions. Current day conservatism is little more than a reactionary ideology and its base is diverse because each has their own issues that they are reacting against. The rich don’t want to pay their fair share to support the government. The poor each have their own fears about the ever changing world immediately around them. The common element is that each is reacting against something they fear and the government is the safest thing on which to focus and become cohesive. The less educated amongst them are easily manipulated and the wealthy, having such complete control over the popular media, can shape the general nature of the co-called conservative philosophy. They have many “treacherous pens and tongues” on payroll to carry their distorted view and message to the masses.
I think you’re overthinking things. Most people who view themselves as conservative don’t have any understanding of the history that you’ve discussed at length above.
Moreover, “conservative” is just a label for a mindset, not a philosophy (although there are philosophies that are decidedly conservative). George Lakoff tried to distinguish between the mindsets of liberals and conservatives in his “Moral Politics,” but I think he failed, in part because he went too high up in the chain of cognition.
Fundamentally, I think whether you identify as conservative or liberal depends on how you deal with uncertainty and risk. Using Kahneman’s Prospect Theory, “conservatives” tend to come at things from the left of the y-axis, and “liberals” tend to come at things from the right of the y-axis. Conservatives prefer certainty for fear of losing what they have, while liberals prefer uncertainty with hopes of gaining something new. These preferences are hardwired into each individual’s dopamine system, which guides how we react to the unexpected. Jonah Lehrer discusses the dopamine system (although not my interpretation of how it fits into this topic) in “How We Decide.”
These hard-wired preferences greatly change how we view the world. We can see the same things completely differently, which is the primary reason communications can break down between liberals and conservatives. The fact is that liberals and conservatives are really not all that different in what we want, which is a fair chance to earn our way through life. To conservatives, “fair” generally means keeping the rules the way they are because they know how to navigate life with those rules (i.e., fairness requires certainty above all else). To liberals, “fair” is a more abstract concept that is intertwined with justice; that is, “fair” means that the same rules ought to apply to everyone (e.g., equal justice under the law). The key for liberals and conservatives to get through to each other is to understand the underlying perceptions that drive disagreement. Unless we can demonstrate that we understand each other’s legitimate concerns, we can never have a productive conversation.
In closing, both conservatives and liberals have a history of treating the other with condescension and disrespect, and I think it has become much worse in the last decade. This is as much due to an impending sense by everyone that something is wrong and it’s getting worse. And it doesn’t help that we have all this propaganda floating around to drive our fears and passions.
I don’t have anything of substance, other than to say this post is something to chew on. I like the question a lot.
Those European royal families were pushing an explicitly Reactionary agenda pushing back on Revolutionary concepts. Something that exploited traditional Conservative support of church and king while not actually advancing Conservatism.
I didn’t choose N. Dakota by accident. The racism there is direct at Native Americans who by and large are already isolated on reservations. Daily life in N. Dakota forty years ago was as close to lily white as you can get in this country. Northwest Washington is full of people who left the Dakotas and moved where they could find plenty of their Norwegian American cousins.
Jack, the question I am addressing is why that reactionary ideology that I agree underlies Movement Conservatism still draws such strong support in rural and small town America. I don’t think it all reduces to fear, there is a sense in which the Enlightenment remains an existential risk to traditional Social Conservatism of the type I am referencing here.
I might not be the only one “overthinking” this, at least I am not bringing dopamine reception into the equation.
I do not believe that small town conservatism draws its appeal from differing views of risk. Instead the conservative tends to appeal to age old slogans: “good family man”, “good church goer”, “I just want to provide for my family”, “a man’s home is his castle”, “earning my own way” and fairly unsophisticated concepts of property rights “I should be able to do what I want with my own property” while ignoring such things as externalities.
Nor do I think the dividing line is to be found in concepts of ‘fair’ that are rooted in ‘equal justice under the law’. Conservatives tend to think that we have that already and that the liberal project is fundamentally based on one of redistribution of goods and equal outcomes along the lines “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”. And while modern liberalism has detached itself significantly from this flavor of socialistic thought, that was more or less a conscious compromise away from the revolutionary currents that underpinned events from 1789 to 1848 and extending into later Populist and Labor movements.
The ADA style anti-communist liberalism that came to dominate the post-war Democratic Party was not necessarily typical for the Party pre-war, not at least in its northern urban and industrial portions. The over the top ridiculous red-baiting of the 50s should not blind us to the prevalence of actual Socialists and Communists in this country in the 1920s and 1930s.
I don’t find the “family”, at least our modern nuclear family, a useful unit for analysis. Some families are more important than others. Conservatism and liberalism are social phenomena.
Sparta vs Athens is where I usually start. Rent/resource extraction vs trade and conquest.
I use “liberalism” as a shorthand sometimes for “openness to change” and do connect liberalism, as Hudson may do in the link below, to risk-taking, expansionism, imperialism.
The Julians did very with Empire. Other Romans not so much.
The weakness of liberalism here is that it assumes that you can explain conservatism simply as a top down mechanism and ‘run of the mill’ conservatives to simply be manipulable sheep.
I would add we had rural conservatives for many decades and centuries before they were exposed to any kind of controlled popular media. What ‘media’ there was tended to be locally generated or delivered by travelling individuals and troupes who generally were regarded by the wealth as the dregs of society. Off hand I wouldn’t think it was until the late 20s that radio, the ‘talkies’, and truly popular magazines started opening up small town and rural audiences to this kind of manipulation by the wealthy.
Mike says: “I like the question a lot.” And Bruce is looking for some understanding of what makes a modern conservative. And, I, a modern day conservative, am modestly bemused. From the comments over time it appears that conservatives more readily understand liberals than libverals can understand conservatives.
I tried explaining the difference in the other thread, in that it is about the way we look at protecting our families first, personal responsibility, and little to nothing to do about fairness.
In the current context, “conservatism” is not interesting. We are all liberals now, and the important question is what aspects or kinds of liberalism, what consequences or liberalism, are destructive or unsustainable.
The Spartan did not seek accumulation or expansion or progress in any way shape or form. As Hudson says, in conservative societies the “surplus” is intentionally wasted (pyramids) so as to prevent disorder. That is conservatism. Everything else is liberalism.
Bob, I as a modern conservative, think that the “family” and centering of thought around it, makes the one major difference.
As to liberals threatening “family values”, I think we can underplay the entire range of the liberal agenda as it came out of the 18th/early 19th century Revolutionary movements.
The Enlightenment Project was much tied in with ideas of atheism, deism, scientism, socialism, modernism, women’s rights, universal suffrage, and among the Avant Garde deliberate flouting of all social norms including various Free Love movements from the 1820s to the 1920s.
To this day religious marriage in France are subordinated to civil marriages, you have to have the latter to have your marriage recognized by the State.
American liberalism backed off this trend in the fifties only to revive it somewhat in the last 60s and early 70s. I am not asking anyone to identify with the Conservative Project, but only to understand why such things as Vatican II came as such a huge shock to it.
talk about overthinking.
we are all conservative when we have something to protect. even your liberal thinks he is protecting his right to free love.
i can take a liberal and turn him into a raving racist by putting him in an inner city. even better i can take a liberal and turn him into a raving racist who doesn’t even know that’s what “pc” : racism in a mirror.
the mistake the liberals and the conservatives (conventional meaning) make is they look at each other as “other.” you are a liberal because you grew up ignert among people who thought they were liberals because they read liberal books. you are a conservative because you grew up among people who listened to radio by people who wanted you to think the liberals were going to make your son marry a boy and your daughter marry a …
so kindly don’t make me laugh. a hundred million liberals didn’t turn into conservatives because something changed in their dopamine systems. no more that ten million americans suddenly got too lazy to find a job after the conservatives crashed the banks.
“open to change” is the definition of liberal. the question is why in a given situation is one person open to change and another is not. the answer is perceived ‘something to lose.’
which is where you go hugely wrong. the left prates about fairness without regard to other people’s property. but without fairness you haven’t got a hog’s chance of defending your own.
and you need to be a little careful about “i understand you better than you understand me” how in the hell could you know?”
and it’s damn easy to look at a guy in a ditch and prate about personal responsibility.
i am conservative enough to remember the point of the good samaritan.
probably not the same hudson who said “every nation has the government it deserves.”
don’t look around, but you wont’ find many honest liberals. just a bunch of people with a different name to their brand of provincialism. a real liberal… someone who sees a need for a change… has a tough row to hoe selling it to either side. cept perhaps those with nothing to lose.
What counts as “conservative” depends ultimately on cultural norms. I think that’s the case regardless of the historical era or the cultural norms themselves. Conservatives are driven to keep things the way they were taught they are. Liberals are open to questioning whether things really are the way they ought to be. I don’t believe that there is any higher cognitive function at work here than an individual’s own, hard-wired predisposition to accepting that his expectations of the world may be wrong. The more open you are to questioning your assumptions, the more uncertain your life becomes. And if you question your assumptions too much, you could learn that everything that you believed in was wrong, which can lead to unhappiness and despair.
I certainly didn’t have to go into the discussion of the dopamine system to make the argument that conservatives and liberals are hard-wired differently. That was a freebie. 🙂 I just think you are putting way too much emphasis of the current incarnation of American conservatism and its historical underpinnings. Conservatives regardless of historical era or culture always fight to maintain their historical conception of the way things ought to be. The only way to explain this universally is by looking to the one thing that has remained the same since there have been human cultures, and that is the basic functions and operation of the brain.
Dale said: “and you need to be a little careful about “i understand you better than you understand me” how in the hell could you know?”” because we do not write articles like Bruce just wrote. We don’t need to!
Bob the definition of ‘familia’ used here is explicitly much wider than ‘nuclear family’ and would apply quite well to Athens, if not to Sparta.
Bob if you don’t think the intersection of Movement Conservatism, Social Conservatism, and Neo-Conservatism with the modern Republican Party to be “interesting” in the context of explaining why Socials vote against what would seem to be their own class interests then I can’t help. Kind of funny in a guy interested in Marxism, but whatever.
CoRev of course you understand liberalism.
Because you just read your own projection off the nearest blank white wall. In cartoon form.
I enjoyed your take that the ‘conserved quantity’ in traditional conservatism is the family/household. I think Lakoff’s “Strong Father” frame vs. “Nurturant Parent” frame offers a pretty good explanatory mechanism. In neither view does the individual need to have any conscious awareness of what motivates their beliefs. I tend to the view that political orientations are hard-wired in us. Somehow our political viewpoints rest on different ‘axioms’ which dictate what aspects of a debate strikes us as most salient, most critical to a decision.
There are two ways to perceive a Necker cube, and with a little squinting and tilting of our heads, we can all switch between them. Unfortunately, we lack this facility of seeing things both ways in the subjects that most matter. Worse, most of us don’t even perceive the need to acquire such ‘double vision’: we have always cracked the little end of the egg first, and that’s how we’re going to go on doing it forever, thank you very much!
And THIS response
“because we do not write articles like Bruce just wrote. We don’t need to! “
is exactly what is wrong with American conservatism.
They dont need to modern sociologists and psychologists to explore morality, THATS what the Bible was for, just read it every day, once in the morning and once before bed and youll KNOW how our moral compass is supposed to be oriented.
They dont need academic economists trying figure out how to improve our economy, Adam Smith already discovered the invisible hand that we cant do anything about.
They dont need to ask any more questions, all the important ones have already been answered. The liberals just dont like the answers, thats why they keep rousing the rabble.
It’s hard to pin down modern American conservatism ideologically as it is an amalgam of a collection of interest groups and demographics that have little in common. There are the ultra wealthy (e.g. the Scaifes and Kochs), the military imperialists (e.g. William Kristol), the social darwinists (e.g. the ideological descendents of William Sumner), the religious bigots (e.g. Pat Robertson), and the racists (e.g. David Duke). There isn’t much that all of these strains of conservatism have in common aside from one very important point: all of them believe that they should have the power to make other people suffer.
The wealthy and the social darwinists want to make the poor suffer by removing social services and employment protections. The imperialists want to make non Americans suffer by bombing or invading them. The religious bigiots want to make gays and non-Christians suffer through everything from legalized discrimination to burning at the stake. The racists, of course, want to make non-whites second class citizens–or even eliminate them entirely.
If there is an underlying ideological thread that ties American conservatism together, it’s sadism and a desire for unlimited power over what they view as lesser people.
Bruce I have pretty much the attitude toward reactionaries that Robespierre had toward the Bourbons and Lenin had toward the Romanovs. Lenin did not waste his time refuting the Divine Right of Kings.
Now, “liberals”, those who believe private property can be compatible with social justice, are a more interesting and ultimately productive target.
Martin Wolf is being quoted all over the blogosphere today.
Martin Wolf “makes the case that America’s future depends on the rapid destruction of the Republican Party and its replacement by an alternative opposition party to the Democrats” BdL
There is no reason to talk about Republicans. We need to destroy them.The philosopherws and economists are not the ones to be tasked with that mission.
We need to talk about the principled left oppostion to the Democratic Party.
None of those six adequately capture small town and rural conservatism or even suburban conservatism. Yes there is an element of racism and another of religious orthodoxy but none of that captures the totality that keeps this country roughly split between ‘conservatism’ and ‘liberal/moderate’ even if you accept that moderates tend to be dem leaners. Is North Dakota really loaded with plutocratic racist theocrats? Or just middle class monoracial Lutherans who vote conservative?
your description of human obtuseness pretty well describes most people most of the time, including the conservatives who think they are liberal. stop patting yourself on the back.
do you suppose the French revolution was run by folks with a disinterested curiosity about the real truth?
and if you ever take the trouble to read the part of that bible called “Matthew” you will meet a real liberal.
ah Robespierre. now THERE is a role model.
and you wonder why conservatives are afraid of you?
It is hard to reconcile the hard wired theory with the clear correlation between conservatism and rural/small town/suburbanism. It is a lot easier to accept an argument based on socialization or simply socio-economics.
i always crack the side end.
funny how all them nurturant fathers got hard wired to strong fathers between 1950 and 1980.
kind of reminds me of the liberal pc witch hunters i worked with.
you could look at all of those people trying to protect what they think they have. it ain’t easy to reassure them enough so they can watch a change long enough to find out it won’t hurt them. but you’d better try to learn how. unless you like losing elections.
or winning them and turning around to meet the new boss same as the old boss.
but here is a sort of hint…
if you are scared, and the man on the radio tells you he agrees with you and the the things that scare you are librals, and the consurvatives will pertect you… who you gonna vote for?
the very word “conservative” becomes the idol of the tribe. it doesn’t have to mean ANYthing.
Society changes over time, circumstances change, reactions may or may not.
Easy example: in 1750, most people died well before reaching their 70’s, most people worked until dying (or within days of dying), barely a handful had the sort of income and living conditions that would make possible what we regard as “comfortable retirement”, neither cultural tradition nor economic production would have allowed “retirement” for the masses. So when mass retirement schemes came in, with Bismark or FDR, the general notion was that they should apply only to a relative handful of people who had demonstrated their worthiness by long life and prior long employment. Let people retire at 65, let them die at 67 or 68 or so, and the cost to society in the form of taxation was bearable. 70 years after Social Security began and most of us still have that notion of late-retirement early-death as “normal” — although it no longer is. Liberals have adjusted to a reality in which people absorb social security for a decade or more after retirement and in which society foots the bill; conservatives haven’t — deep in their guts, they see retirement as something that belongs to people who “earned” it, and as something that should be paid for by retiree’s, not by government. We’re in a new position, in other words; it’s going to take a century or so for everyone to internalize the new reality, and conservatives are … being conservative.
Harder example: in 1750, people born with spinal bifida could be counted upon to die within a year, even seemingly normal children died early from infections and childhood diseases, and this was something that God chose to inflict — it wasn’t a matter the state could alter or medicine improve, it was just the common experience of the rich and the poor, the high and the low. Today, medicine and care make a difference, but at a cost. And while liberals take the cost for granted and are willing to see society pay the bill, conservatives are still convinced that (a) people with expensive-to-pay-for birth defects OUGHT to die quickly, (b) such people DO die quickly, and (c) such people are rare and should not be considered in determining public policy; effectively such people do not exist.
Expanding upon this, conservatives simply cannot conceive of misfortune striking at random. Misfortune due to birth simply does not exist. Accidents occur only to the unwary, who show their unworthiness for good forture by their bad behavior — being uninsured, for example. The good that happens to me is proper and deserved, conservatives think; the evil that strikes others must also be proper and deserved.
Psychologists can write books about this kind of thinking. (They can probably write books about flaws in liberal thinking as well, but that wasn’t the topic.)
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think racism has a lot to do with suburban conservatism. American suburbs got going in a big way in large part due to “white flight:” more properly known as fear and/or hatred of black people. Monoracial suburbs (be they white, black or hispanic) are not havens for racial tolerance.
Capturing small town and rural conservatism means only adding another category: regional xenophobia and hatred of city dwellers.
Quibbling over the constituent strains of American conservatism, however, doesn’t undermine the basic point. Conservatism is woven together by a rejection of the concept of equality and a belief that some class of people, somewhere, should be punished. Adding more strains simply means adding more groups who hate (e.g. rural conservatives) and groups who are hated (e.g. urbanites).
I highly recommend George Nash’s, The Conservative Intellectual Tradition In America Since 1945. It sorta picks up where Kirk’s Conservative Mind leaves off.
Nash depicts modern conservatism in America as an amalgamation of 3 groups: 1. the libertarians/Austrians in the tradition of Mises, Hayek, Chodorov, Nock, et al, 2. the traditionalist/value conservatives that were largely a phenomenon of the South, and 3. former communist sympathizers who became disillusioned with what was happening in the USSR and became ardent anti-communists (think early neocons). He notes that often the three strands were in conflict with one another. He saw William F. Buckley Jr. as the grand unifier of the three strands (though it was only partially successful).
Chapter 7 of the book is entitled, “What is Conservatism in America? The search for a viable heritage.” it addresses the question being asked here. As one might expect, it doesn’t really reach much of a conclusion. Conservatives more or less “invented” a heritage based on anti-majoritarianism, decentralized government, and constitutionalism which translated into practical ends of individual freedom, private property rights, and states rights. That’s about the extent of what they’re trying to preserve since there never was an inherited aristocracy in America as in Europe.
Mike you are making a common mistake that confuses longevity at birth from mortality at age 65. In neither Bismark’s or FDR’s time was it he fact that people who lived to 65 typically died by 67. There have been improvements but they are the order of 10 years being extended to 15 years and not the 2 to 20 the raw mortality tables suggest.
Bruce–It all beats the bleep outta me. Look at the majority of Americans today. They function perfectly well outside their families. I mean that they can go out into a country united by a universal highway culture, malls and businesses, the usual churces and other religious centers, and so on. Nothing that is going on now threatens the basic structure of society. Nothing threatens religion and peoples’ rights to Freedom of worship. People can carry firearms openly with no apparent risk of arrest.
Yet, many conservatives say that everything they love is under attack. Who told them this? True people who disagree with them politically tell them they’re wrong but it’s just words, not guns and mounted police. I am wondering if they aren’t being sold a bill of goods. There is a lot of money on the line. If this country is about anything, it’s money. So, who profits from this situation? Presumably the Republican party and other interest groups solicit donations from their supporters. And, many Republicans contribute to individual candidates and their state parties.
But, we know from information we glean from the web that there are some big money guys who have an interest in everything conservatives think and contribute to. These people are not the most family values type of guys. Peterson is, I am sure a faithful and loving parent and husband. But, he wants to get his hands on the TF and SS’s revenue stream. That’s just not nice. So, I suspect the Republicans front for these people and encourage this sense of threat.
So, if I were a conservative, I wouldn’t trust any of the people who say they are my friends. True, there may be some way that a better health care system might be based on a socialist concept. But, as long as we are here and working as a society, how dangerous can it be? I think conservatives conspiracy theories need more sophistication. It may be that the liberals are not the dangerous ones. It may be their friends. Nancy Ortiz
I don’t think I have actively deleted a post in months, in fact I suspect I brought one of yours back a couple of weeks ago. Without divulging secrets Dan and I dismiss you automatically
Rich none of those three strands explains the kind of rural conservatism that dominates states above the Mason-Dixon line and extending into Eastern Washington State. We don’t have the Jews or Blacks needed to explain either end of that equation.
I guess I missed the conservative power trip bandwagon. Sounds like it would have been fun to ride.
I am a conservative for one reason … after teaching for 25 years I have observed that people of all types become the best they can be when they must struggle to succeed. People treasure what they have worked hard to accomplish. People who scratch and claw their way out of difficult circumstances are mentally tougher and far happier than those in the exact same circumstances who were given their possessions. I was in that boat myself. I lived in a rat infested room for years before getting enough schooling to make myself successful.
The core tenant of liberalism as I see it is that a societies success is based on how comfortable the poorest citizen is. From my point of view, raising the comfort level above a certain minimum threshold reduces motivation.
I don’t mind paying taxes. Since I grew up poor, even a small income is enough. I think the fact that 47% of workers pay no Federal income tax is a tragedy. Everyone needs to feel the pain of supporting our government, even if it is only $100 a year. I will not mind if they let the Bush tax cuts expire, as long as they do it across the board.
Finally, I am surprised that many of you do not understand what it means to be the Christian “head of the house”. By edict, the man has the final say in decisions. In the rare case where a decision cannot be made by consensus, the well being of the wife and children must come first.
my mother was a fighter for civil rights before the term was invented. yet she moved out of chicago’s south side when the other race moved in. reason had nothing to do with the color of their skin.
those of you who think that people of diffrent cultures and different economic circumstances can live side by side without serious friction have never tried it.
racism was not an invention of some evil white guy.
Greg, we are constantly surrounded by liberal writings/writers and media presentations. It’s intuitive! That’s also why I think Bruce keeps looking for an answer, because there is so little conservative framework to which we are exposed.
my note about liberal pc witch hunters was a response to the power mad conservatives comment by curmudgeon and not to nancy’s which js kit decided to put it after.
“society” does not pay the bill for Social Security. the workers pay for their own goddam retirement.
that was the whole point of FDR’s version of Social Security. but don’t feel bad, you and the President and the Congress and the liberal policy experts don’t understand it either.
and bruce is right about the life expectancy issue. i wish people would stop repeating the dumb lies they have heard without doing a little thinking or at least fact checking.
and there is no reason in the world “universal health care” can’t be designed as insurance. but as it is the “liberals” are all for “society” paying for it. they mean they want the rich to pay for it.
and while the rich… people who pay taxes… might benefit from such a scheme, and there may be some cosmic justice to it, the rich actually, can you believe it, think of their money as their “hard earned money” and they don’t want to pay for your viagra. the rich having more political power than you do can keep you from imposing onerous taxes on them to pay for your charity. all the while telling themselves that they are merely encouraging “virtue.” and probably contributing more to actual charity than you are.
sorry liberals, on a good day i am mostly on your side, but the self satisfied crap coming in from the liberals who think they have a corner on virtue by the simple expedient of forcing the rich to pay for everything even makes me angry. you have no idea what it does to them.
hell there ain’t.
what you are looking at with “conservatives” is an ideology that sells. it sells by making contact with peoples core fears and simple minded ideas. not a whole lot different from the liberal ideology that makes contact with another set of core fears and simple minded ideas.
i should have said amalgamation of ideologies.
Logis 101–The Christian “head of the house” is a tricky concept. Is it the Mormon concept of the Father and Husband as Priest for the lesser members of the household? Well, ideas of this kind ignore the history of such denominations of the Baptists and other Protestants in which not just individual congregations but also individual believers are equal in the eyes of God.
Remember, that in large part, there exist such nonconformist groups such as the Baptists, Amish, Mennonites and many others who reject the concept of the Apostolic succession and are not part of the many denominations which arose during the Reformation. This is a matter of great significance to many Christians. I do not think this is the forum in which to raise the issue of the primacy of the patriarchy. Nancy Ortiz
in general people who call themselves logical are not worth talking to.
much of what you say is true. it’s what you leave out that some other Christian might have said puts you in danger of hell fire. see the parable of the sheep and the goats.
Sure, our perspective of how to survive at a time when there was fair distance between groups (regardless of size) can lead to interpreting social structure as “father knows best”. The structure of the household being the most familiar experience do to distance and thus being the model and experince base for larger social order.
Yet, as I understand it, some of the Founders and early enlightened thinkers here in America learned a thing or two about communal structure from the native Americans. Communal in the sense of democracy, shared property (no private ownership), and even woman in leadship rolls. Tribal as the Native Americans were, there were some that were not singular male authority.
This suggests there is something more than just the stage setting upon which the ideology of either conservative or liberal are based.
Conservatism allows for a singular, central perspective. It does not matter how old or young, how rich or poor, how religious or not, a conservative mind perspective can always find themself a position of authority and a position of submission. They are both at the same time. It is that there is alway s place inwhich the individual can considered themself in a position of authority that is the invitation to the ideology of conservatism. Thus you have Vitter in diapers while being in congress.
Re: rural conservatism – This is just frontier philosophy. A very crude form of libertarianism. Basically, people who live far enough apart from one another such that externalities rarely come into play and who live in an area where land and natural resources are abundant enough to make the Lockean fable seem credible will tend to reify the rugged individualist myth. Combine that with a good dose of fundamentalist religion and an education level that trails the urban centers, and you have your rural conservatism.
Logic says….”people of all types become the best they can be when they must struggle to succeed”
And yet leaves out as examples those who inherited wealth and such. Good grief logic….what do you teach?
i see, them rural conservatives just aren’t as eddycated as us urban liberals.
but if your eddycation was more than indoctrination into whatever was convenient for the owners to have you believe, you might have learned that the rural west was settled by people who worked together to build communities where natural resources were sometimes hostile. so hostile that the kids often had to go to the wicked city to earn some money and learn to get along with strangers, sort of.
does that make pol pot a conservative?
I think you and rdan are the same person. You’re know to share the same user login. I’m smarter then you and make better arguments. That’s why you delete my posts. It’s as simple as that. It’s easy to sound superior when you abuse the administrative aspects of being a moderator to use it to delete opinions that refute yours. Pathetic.
Hmm, most of the actual population in the upper Plains lived in railroad towns set like a string of pearls along the railroad lines. Certainly the economy was driven by ranches and resourse extraction away from those settlements but you can only deliver livestock,timber and minerals a certain distance from transportation. And Upper Plains style Lutheranism is quite removed from the type of Fundamentalism you posit.
Ten seconds of Googling would tell you Dan’s full name, occupation, and place of residence. None of which would match mine.
Dozens, maybe hundreds of people are in regular e-mail communication with the poster you know as RDan, a smaller number are in regular communication with me. None of them confuse us.
DOLB. The social structure I describe was just as much characteristic if not more so of the densely populated city states of Greece and Rome as the distributed populations of Northern Europe. So I don’t see social distance between households as being particularly operative here.
Plus I have three blogs in addition to front page post privileges here. One of which people actually read! And link to! And not just my Mom! (though she tracks both AB and the BW, hi Mom! Love ya!)
Boy I have spent time in rooms inhabited by mice. And mostly kept them under control by mouse traps baited with peanut butter. It takes a real ascetic to stick out years in rooms infested by rats.
Drama Queen much?
I haven’t read the thread. I think that this is an excellent contribution. To me the challenge, which the post addresses only briefly, is to explain two aspects of modern conservatism — relative hawkishness and relative hostility to the welfare state. To me, these don’t follow logically from the love of the family.
War is terrible for families leaving widows and orphans, yet conservatives seem to fear it less than non-conservatives. The military must weaken ties to all other institutions to achieve discipline and esprit de corps, yet conservatives tend to approve of the military.
Social welfare can strenthen the family, in particular, welfare spending directed at husbands who are temporarily unable to win bread. AFDC may have weakened families, but it was always a program with a tiny budget and TANF is tinier. There is something very strange in hostility to tax and transfer programs which help most families and support for a draft which, literally, tears families apart (temporarily).
So what is going on. I think Bruce has clear ideas on these topics which weren’t spelled out in the post which aimed for brevity. First the point that placing one’s family first is inconsistent with universal love of all humans equally. Of course we all place our families first, that is human nature, but Conservatives celebrate this while others feel a bit guilty about it. Here, as Bruce noted, there is the seed of dividing humanity into us and them and deciding that we should work together and not care about their interests. This is a very important part of conservatism. It makes it easier for conservatives to become racist. It explains their love of cruel punishment of convicts and their weak support for due process. Note the arguments on those topics. They call the ACLU the criminals lobby. Why indeed, professional criminals benefit from due process. If you see all human interactions as wars between us and them, you side with the prosecutors who are, usually, not criminals.
Second consider “captain of a ship in a storm.” Conservatives certainly always seem to think we are in a storm, that is in danger, so we must be disciplined and act together quickly. One key aspect is that this means that we must have a eader and follow him. That is conservatism contains strong authoritarian strain. In a ship in a storm, dissent is not just disloyalty, it is close to suicide.
I’d say a possible key to conservatism is seeing the world as a war between us and them (with the exact extent of us unclear and varying depending on the issue). This means that people who support universal principles are too willing to support “them” and semi-traitors to us. It also means that we must be disciplined and act quickly so we should obey our leader, do or die and not reason why. I’m not sure the family is the ur-us, that loyalty to the family is the origen of the division of the world into us and a potentially hostile them. It could also be the clan (a larger group) or the city state or the village or whatever. I think all such particular loyalties to a threatened group lead to conservatism which is strong, because it is abstract enough to appeal to many people who fear “them” for different boundries between us and them.
Here is a bit on Christianity that I wrote but moved down here, because it was a tangent.
Obviously the teachings of Christ are a radical attack on conservatism. Basically, Christ asked so much that he had to challenge all other loyalties. Really its just that Christ was a radical and, as such, had no choice but to fight conservatism. For example,
placing one’s family first is plainly anti-Christian (search the gospels for the phrase “let the dead bury the […]
Boy, I came in late on this. But a couple of words about protecting the family:
1) Yes, it looks like this approach covers a lot of territory and links together many of the avowed features of modern conservatism in the thoughts of grassroots conservatives.
This may in fact be the default human pattern in forming functional and self-protective groups, something we have done very well for 200,000 years or more.
But such patterns make assumptions about the world the tribe lives in — there will be freedom of movement, there will be enough land or herds for sustenance, and there will be few enough people so the resources won’t be overused. Today, none of these assumptions is valid. There is hardly perfect freedom to travel and live anywhere, even within a single country. Resources are not freely available for the taking, and if all 300M Americans became nomadic hunter-gatherers the country would be eaten up. To tell a modern human to live off his wits without connection to the larger body politic is like telling birds in a cage to go find worms if they’re hungry. Protection of the family MUST include a revenue/nutrient stream as well as requiring defenses. In fact, the nutrient stream is far more important than the defenses.
2) In addition, there are 2 kinds of conservatives: conservatives as per the description, and then people who use and bend the mottos of conservatism (useful because they are built-in and appear self-evident) to achieve their own ends. These people are parasites and predators, not conservatives.
While no one can excuse the excesses of the French Revolution and the Jacobins in particular, much of what M. Robespierre said and wrote was clearly in defense of the masses against the extreme abusiveness of the aristocracy and the dire circumstances of their lives. As Mr. Dickens said, it was both the best and worst of times. It was a revolution which followed a prolonged effort on the part of the third estate to come to terms with the aristocracy and the clergy on a more equal basis. The violence followed the failure of that effort. A failure due mostly to the recalcitrance of the ruling elites. Appreciate Robespierre for what he tried to accomplish rather than what the turbulence of the times made impossible to achieve.
True, but out of both there was some form of representative government. When I stated distance, I was thinking much older. Conserving a house hold or a city state, same thing as you noted.
Yet, within such structure comes ideas at times that lead to a collection of thoughts labeled liberal.
So let me go at it from the opposite direction: “Which may leave them very open to classifying the Other negatively by race or religion, after all from this perspective Conservatism is all about drawing and protecting boundaries.”
Is not Liberalism about drawing and protecting boundries? Liberalism addresses the boundaries of authority also. The boundary for both is always based on the issue of authority even when we are talking physical boundaries like the wall of China or city walls.
This is why I stated that the draw, the elixir to conservatism is authority. It is inviting because it is protecting the self, the boundary is the self and no further. And, with the understanding of authority comes the acceptance of submission. That is your consistency. The authority is to all that I stand upon (thus ever expanding) and the submission is to all that stands upon me (preferably ever reducing the source of aggression and libertarianism). That is why we can have members of congress seemingly inconsistent as in being a member and in diapers. A seeming dichotomy often presented in various forms within the conservative world.
In contrast, liberalism is about reducing the boundry of authority of one. Or if you prefer, expanding authority beyond one. The source of secular boundaries. God can not be when authority is expanded beyond one.
All of it has to do with how one assesses and resolves danger not fear.
Maybe. I doubt it. Why do siblings so often take wildly different views? The one who is happy living down on the farm, or in the small town, etc. stays, the one who does not moves to the city.
“people who use and bend the mottos of conservatism”
I get the distinction here (say between a random small-town Kansan on the one hand, and Karl Rove on the other), but I wonder how clear-cut it is. Don’t all members of a community “use and bend” the lingo of their tribe? Maybe it’s a question of how much “bending” of the usage they indulge in?
What you say is BS. Rdan does not exist as a real person. You can’t find him. You’ve told us that you have a masters degree in history (Sorry if I missed a PhD) and live somewhere in California. You have another web site. You also have an alter ego that you share your user name with. When rdan comments he tends to be cryptic so as not to reveal a personality. Being this blogs admin is a one person job yet you claim you share this responsibility. You’re not credible.
siblings take different views. this is evidence of hard wired differences?
is there any room in your philosophy for human, as opposed to mechanical, differences?
i had an invasion of mice last year. being a true liberal i live trapped them, they like soap, and transported them to austraiia, where they are happy. in fact after the word got around, they lined up in pairs to get on the ship.
in fairness to logic man
this may be the thread to talk about patriarchy since Bruce brings it up as one of the seven pillars of conservatism. but the primacy of the husband is likely an over reading of Paul. Paul was talking to an audience that assumed the primacy of the husband, so telling the wives to obey their husbands was not telling them to be slaves, but telling them to avoid useless strive. Paul uses the occasion to tell husbands to “love” their wives. Since Jesus says the first commandment is to “love” god, and which is like the first, to “love” your neighbor, there is a heavy burden to find out what that means.
in modern times i suspect it is a reminder to those who still have a husband-rules relationship… and my understanding is there i lots of women who prefer that, though i have never met one… that the husband has an obligation to think of his wife’s happiness first.
and this may even have been what logic man was trying to say.
you should see them conservatives respect the authority of the President. not to mention the authority of the scientists who tell them the world is warming dangerously. and as every one knows Protestant Christianity is an expression of revererence for the authority of the Pope.
I think you are confused by what everyone else is confused by. “conservatism” is a label that has about as much relation to historical conservatism as it has to the Founding Fathers (famous rebels). What you have is a thread of loose word associations that are artfully designed to connect people’s primitive emotions to someone else’s political agenda. It might be fun and even useful to track down those threads but don’t expect much “logical consistency.”
While you are looking at the bad behavior of “conservatives,” consider the way the French Revolution developed, the mindless obedience of Communists, Pol Pot, and the followers of Mao. It’s not conservatism that drives this madness of mobs. It is primate behavior either sponteneouly responding to perceived threat… enemy attack… or cynically manipulated by those whose profession is the cynical manipulation of mobs.
I don’t think Christ would have minded your calling yourself an atheist. He was after something more important. But thinking you are an atheist may make it harder for you to find it. Though perhaps no harder than for those who think they are an Agent of God.
yes. yes. yes.
but be a little careful. “protecting the family” may be “conservative” but it is really basic to all humans not alienated by the failure of their own families. the politicians manipulate “protecting the family” for their own ends.
“liberals” are pretty stupid to let “conservatives” get away with stealing that issue.
not a question of how much. but who for. if you are a “liberal” you think a left bend is straight, or at least an elegant curve. if you are a “conservative” a right twist strikes you as “upright” and strong.
Liberals seem to allow a lot of bifurcation of the naming of what are actually human needs. Odd.
no, actually the Terror followed the success of that effort.
Dale I think it is you that is missing the point. When rural and small town Americans self-identify as ‘conservative’ it has little to do with Wm F Buckley and the National Review, for that matter it has little to do with Burke. Now it is true that practitioners of what I call Movement Conservatism in all of its 18th to 21st century manifestations have striven, often successfully, to tap into this much older family and religion based conservatism, as for that matter did Fascists in Italy, Spain, and Germany, this doesn’t mean that every adherent of ‘kinder, kuche, kirche’ is some sort of proto-Nazi. Your reduction of conservatives to ‘mindless’ ‘primitive’ people driven by ‘the madness of mobs’ is exactly the trap I am trying to warn against here, and I must say rather odd in a person that often describes himself as ‘conservative’.
Plus if you look at the basis of electoral support for the current Conservative Party in Britain or the various Christian Democratic Parties of Europe you will see a “direct relation to historical conservatism”, all of them supplementing a political leadership mostly drawn from the upper classes with a solid base drawn from shop keepers and farmers. Or pretty much the same as it ever was.
“But such patterns make assumptions about the world the tribe lives in — there will be freedom of movement, there will be enough land or herds for sustenance, and there will be few enough people so the resources won’t be overused.”
Noni, I don’t see this at all. The kind of conservatism I describe has survived many, many cycles of famine and overpopulation in the past. And the reaction of people in the face of tribulation is rarely to turn away from what they would see as the verities of family and faith, if anything you expect the opposite reaction.
There is snark all over this thread, mean spirited, false, and in the form of petulance.
Your a hypocrit!
Allowing the promotion of clear a Double Standard…….I am not impressed!
Mean spirited snark on the Intertubes? Who knew!?
Dude that has been a feature and not a bug since the first Usenet Newsgroup flame war. The smelling salts and fainting couch are over there.
I am not the one who has problem with the snark, I have a problem when only one side is allowed to trade in it!
I don’t see vany editied or deleted comments here = double standard = bad for everybody.
please read what i said. i said the “conservatives” of today (note the quotes) have learned to link the primitive emotions (which i think are often quite valid, if too stupid at times to be trusted in their manifestations) to the agenda of the politicians doing the manipulating. i think i also said that “liberals” were just the same, only their thought leaders linked the same primitive emotions to another agenda.
as far as i can tell, you had i have been saying the same thing.
and while i sometimes call myself a conservative on television, i am not, nor never have been, a card carrying member of any organized political party.
I think Noni was saying that the adaptations that made sense to a family living by its wits more or less alone on the Serengeti, will not work in the city, or even in an empire made of many nations.
But I thought that’s what Jesus was saying, too.
Fortunately humans are relatively intelligent and can evolve new adaptations that preserve the old “truths” while accomodating the new.
what’s wrong with our “conservative” (note quotes) friends is that by exploiting the old ideas and denying the new circumstances they run a good chance of destroying the family they claim to be saving, not to mention the earth it stands upon.
if i have a case against the “liberals” it’s that while they give lip service to intelligent adaptation, when push comes to shove they always turn out to be the same tribal savages their “conservative” enemy is.
“Is not Liberalism about drawing and protecting boundries?”
Well I would say no, not historically and certainly not rhetorically. Instead the liberal project has always been about breaking down barriers and most particularly those barriers established by traditional authority. I would associate the Conservative intellectual project with the Renaissance with its emphasis on Classicism while aligning the Liberal project with the Enlightenment and Modernism.
Classicism sought perfection in the past, its version of ‘progress’ rhetorically linked with ‘re-birth’ (the literal meaning of ‘renaissance’). Modernism/Enlightenment sought perfection in the future, even if it admitted with Newton that is we see farther it is because we are “pygmies standing on the shoulders of giants”. If you had to reduce the Enlightenment to an image it would be something like “Throw open the shutters and let the sun shine in!”
“liberalism is about reducing the boundry of authority of one. Or if you prefer, expanding authority beyond one”
It is hard to align the concepts of “reducing” or alternately “expanding” boundaries with “drawing and protecting”. In either of the former you are breaking that boundary of authority while perhaps redrawing it. Or as with the French Revolution simply discarding it all together in favor of entirely new structures. The French Revolution as originally conceived was amazingly totalizing, it threw out such fundamental things as names of the days of the week and months of the year while abandoning weights and measures that had developed over a couple of millennia. In comparison liberalism is pretty weak tea but still I think incorporates the idea of stretching and breaking boundaries and remaking the world in the name of progress.
Being a really, really true liberal I prefer the more advanced and modern invention: the guillotine.
Vive la Revolution!
“Burke ever held, and held rightly. that it can seldom be right . . . to sacrifice a present benefit for a doubtful advantage in the future . . . It is not wise to look too far ahead; our powers of prediction are slight, our command over results infinitesimal. It is therefore the happiness of our contemporaries that is our main concern; we should be very chary of sacrificing large numbers of people for the sake of a contingent end, however advantageous that may appear . . . We can never know eough to make the chance worth taking. There is this further consideration that is often in need of emphasis:it is not sufficient that the state of affairs we seek to promote should be better than the state of affairs which preceded it; it must be sufficiently better to make up for the evils of the transition.”
John Manyard Keynes
so I guess i am a Keynesian conservative.
what makes your project so difficult, is that the people calling themselves conservatives today are seeking to overturn a state of affairs that has worked very well for 75 years. I think you could gain clarity by identifying the difference between “conservative” as a politial slogan, a word to fool the people, and conservative as a basic human point of departure.
Socialization of siblings is presumably “the same”, while there is genetic variation. Admittedly, hard to separate. Just another chapter of nature vs. nurture.
Human differences meaning exactly what? Direct inspiration from Zeus? Socialization? Maybe infestation by memes? I got the “liberal” virus, but my brother got the “conservative” virus? That’s essentially the problem. People aren’t persuaded by logic because logic draws conclusions from premises. Where did the premises come from? That’s like asking “where does personality come from”? Sure it’s a “human” thing, but then sleeping pills work because of a “dormative virtue”. The problem is to explain causation, not simply to coin a name for something.
My main point is that “small towns make people conservative” doesn’t work because people self-select out of that environment. The selection bias is that people who are risk averse don’t seek out change as readily as those who are more adventurous.
I don’t think you are using the word ‘bend’ the same way as Noni was. L and R have different shibboleths/jargo/mottos. L’s just don’t often say ‘as a God-fearing Christian, etc” or “Obama has a problem with white people”, for example. The ‘bending’ is between saying such things ‘honestly’ vs. using them to gull others into thinking you are on their side.
Two different dialects are being spoken, and the tribes identify each other by which key phrases they employ. False flag leaders then pick up phrases popular with their ‘base’ and ‘bend’ them to draw political support.
That said, I’m not sure contemporary Christian identity (at least of the outspoken ‘conservative’ variety) doesn’t involve a pretty routine use of ‘bending’ by the so-called authentic participants. If you are trying to be more-Christian-than-thou in order to impress your new friends, that probably involves a little extra zeal in the use of jargon phrases like “God revealed to me that I needed to do …” rather than “I got an idea …”. (I expect examples of ‘more-Liberal-than-thou’ PC speak could be identified.)
They feel no shame about the Fascism. It is something you just have to “roll with the punches” about. This site is about promoting a political and social agenda that fits their minority Ideology. The point of most of the posts is to attempt to find new ways to nuance the debate that fits an outcome that they want, which is fine, but if you come here to learn about current affairs in economics, your making a mistake, all your gonna learn is how to become a good Socialist. Bruce has clearly and openly proclaimed his need for a Social Democratic Agenda and Government, which I can respect, at least he finally came out with it!
Your not only one that has dealt with this, and it is better to just roll with it, rather than be banned, which after three years here, I’m sure I’m next one on the chopping block, one of a long list.
Just use the site, the same as we do, and that is a forum to help you study up on your political opponent.
I doubt Rdan and Bruce are the same person….but if it turns out to be true…I wouldn’t be surprised.
you don’t see the deleted comments because they’ve been deleted. we have explained this to you before.
my heart isnt in this fight. i have the same contempt of the people calling themselves conservatives these days as you do. i have been tryint to get you/us to distinguish between them and the great mass of humanity that is fundamentally conservative, so we don’t make enemies of the latter. and it would help if the liberals here didn’t go around telling themselves how smart and pure they are.
which is why we think you are thick headed. anyone who can’t tell bruce from dan by what they right probably couldn’t tell them apart if they met them. not because they look alike. they don’t. but because your glasses are too dark.
and speaking of thick headed, social democracy is not socialism, though i admit the words sound similar.
“sounds like” is pretty much what passes for logic among your kind.
I’ve clearly done a poor job explaining, and if that makes you laugh, please do so. No skin off my back.
Let me try again and simplify for you.
The difference between liberals and conservatives is how they react to fundamental expectations that are not met. Liberals roll with things much better than conservatives do in the sense that liberals try to explain and understand why expectations were not met whereas conservatives try to force a square peg to fit into a round hole (which was expected to be square).
Bottom line is that conservatives try to force reality to fit their expectations while liberals try to understand reality for what it really is.
If you reject that premise, and you probably do, just as I reject your premise that “we are all conservative when we have something to protect,” which is a silly statement, then you need go no farther. Please, though, feel free to laugh.
By the way, your penultimate paragraph is a hoot. You realize that you’re arguing that there is no free will, that there is no nature, that there is only nurture? That seems like an immensely limited point of view. Well, at least you went beyond false dichotomies and selected only one possible choice. The best thing for you is that your expectations can never be foiled because you will ignore all facts to the contrary. I wish that I could say the same.
A good samaritan is a distinctly liberal idea.
Conservatives tell us that men are inherently evil. Libertarians express this as unbridled self interest, aka “there is no society.”
Jesus was a liberal. Sorry.
coberly: No fighting going on … at least btw the two of us.
A key strategy in physics is identifying “conserved quantities” (as in “conservation of mass”) so I find it entertaining (and maybe even useful) to think of “conservatism” as a term intended to refer to something being conserved. And I think Bruce is right in identifying it as the family unit (broadly construed to include clan/tribe).
Tribes use shibboleths (the term is biblical as you will know, and is used in precisely this sense) to distinguish friend from foe. When we talk about L’s and R’s (using just the initial keeps it more neutral) we’re talking about people who speak dialects with overlapping, but distinct vocabularies. So far, there is perfect symmetry. Neither side has any moral edge over the other.
The most compact form of Jesus’ message I can come up with is: “don’t be tribal” (shortened from “love thy neighbor as thyself” with the parable of the Good Samaritan rendered more literally). But this is in profound conflict with our (universal) conservative tendencies. Again, L’s don’t do this better than R’s, so no invidious comparison is intended.
Where the L/R symmetry breaks down, perhaps, is in irony. R conservatism is more unselfconscious. This is what my ‘family’ wants, so I want it. Full stop. L conservatism is full of ironies. My minority group needs this, but is that really fair to this other minority group? Or at what point does affirmative action become reverse discrimination? Sometimes attempts at liberalism (“don’t be tribal” Christianity) degenerate into just another parochialism — established liberal/democratic interest groups lobbying the same way any conservative group does. Hard to distinguish the Animal Farm pigs from the farmer they replaced. But the L language is stuck with all the baggage of attempting to bust out of the tribalism of the past. Then this baggage is parodied, mocked, or taken out of context (think Shirley Sherrod) by R’s to hogtie the L’s. We’re told that L’s are elitists who overthink things and won’t take their own side in a fight. That’s true to the extent that L language won’t take sides in a fight: it wouldn’t be PC! (Of course, now I’m talking about the more cynical R’s — some R’s are better Christians than others, and are less prone to throw stones, etc.)
Enough for now! But none of this is intended as some kind of objection to your comments, Coberly. Just my musings.
i think we agree. just some rough spots with the language. my basic point here has been that liberals make enemies of the common people by calling them names. and fool themselves into believing that they are any different when it comes to tribalisms. yes, it complicates things when you are arguing about being intolerant of intolerance.
There is far too much individualization of definition, and it is occuring even in this prolonged discussion, to allow for a coherent discussion of “what a conservative is.” Focus instead on the current crop of so=-called spokes people for what they describe as the Coservative Movement.
What is there about their ideology that “protects” the family? Only their narrow definition of family is presented as what a family should be. Any one elses description of family is discarded and abused. “I am a conservative” And in so being I knnow that my ideas are more correct than are yours. That is the credo of current conservatism as it is presented and expounded by its leaders. And review that cast of leadershhip. Motley’s Crew had no less valid reason for being. They confound, obfuscate and out right lie in their efforts to prove their superior ideology, but, in fact, they have no clear cut ideology unless, as noted previously, one sees their ideas as reactions against any change in their perception of the world around them. It need not be a change in reality that they react against. Any perception that the so-called conservative perceives is their basis for reaction. There is a black man in the White House is equal to there is a socialist as President. They are ignorant in that they obscure their own vision of their world. They are ignorant so long as they accept the pronouncements of others based only on their adherence to a particular political and/or social ideology. Sherrod is a racist because Breitbart showed that to be true. These subervsions of reality in the service of a perverted ideology are frequently occuring because they have a willing audience. Whether liberals are any different or not is not the issue. That too is too amorphous a term to have any real meaning. I’d be satisfied to hear people talk about being a modern day American with strong democratic ideals. You can look up democrat in the dictionary and compare their words and behavior to that definition.
You are wrong…Social Democracy is Socialism…just a lighter form than the pure Marxist Version. Social Democracy uses the Capitalist System as the mode of production, rather than the more pure form of dictatorship.
Social Democrats believe in gradulism, where Free-Market Capitalism is modified in small steps over time.
The end result is almost the same where all the wealth created is centered in a central democracy where it is distributed based on the ideals of social justice.
Don’t pretend like your the smart one in the conversation, because obviously you don’t know what the hell your talking about, and anybody who doesn’t see this agenda taking place right in front of their face as we speak, doesn’t understand that elections have consequences, and doesn’t understand that the economic pain we are feeling is being forced upon us to fit this agenda, and not because of the evil conservatives.
No, the Terror was only a continuation of a continuous series of rabid fighting between groups and eventually within the ascending group. The Terror did not simply jump out of
a victory by the masses. The Revolution was under attack from both within and without the borders of France. The Terror was the response to terrible and violent times pitching all manner of people against one another all fighting to retain their positions or cast off their oppression. That’s the nature of war, especially revolutionary war. Our own, fortunately, was less an internal revolution than it was a casting off of an external government.
no, actually the Terror followed the success of that effort.
Yesterday, 12:16:15 PM–
No, the Terror was only a continuation of a continuous series of rabid fighting between groups and eventually within the ascending group. The Terror did not simply jump out of
a victory by the masses. The Revolution was under attack from both within and without the borders of France. The Terror was the response to terrible and violent times pitching all manner of people against one another all fighting to retain their positions or cast off their oppression. That’s the nature of war, especially revolutionary war. Our own, fortunately, was less an internal revolution than it was a casting off of an external government. –
“….bifurcation of the naming of what are actually human needs. Odd.”
Huh?? You’re going to have to explain that little trick. What exactly do you mean by that?
Not sure, but I can guess if you want.