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The entire idea of Progress, ever forwards, ever upwards, really reached a climax with nuclear power. It is linked to a belief of centralism, economies of scale, techno-optimism, industrialism, the modern rational impersonal society, and so on.

Green ideology is too a great extent a reaction against these things, or perhaps rather, green ideology managed to capture these strong reactionary  feelings in society.

A good example of this kind of green-conservative thought can be found in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, or more specifically, in the Hobbits of the Shire.

So, how come mainstream conservatism couldn't assemble these reactionary under-currents, but lost them to the emerging Green movements? I'd say it is mostly because conservatism had been influenced by the strong progressivist thinking in market liberalism and socialism. And that's not very strange, given the great success of industrialism, technological progress, reason, economic growth, consumerism and the entire mass society.

It was pretty hard to sit on some estate as a wealthy scholar-warrior-philosopher, and telling the great unwashed masses that they'd better go back to nature. Or if you were that kind of conservative, no one listened to you, and with good reason.

Still, perhaps it would have been better if mainstream conservatism had maintained some of its previous skepticism against progress.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jun 24th, 2015 at 03:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
I'd say it is mostly because conservatism had been influenced by the strong progressivist thinking in market liberalism and socialism.

Progressivist?

Your sentence packs a lot of possible meanings.

I think most conservatives would have warned against giving so much power to finance through cheap easy debt. Living within one's means may be conservative, but it's also common sense. Eco-folk would agree economically, but far more importantly ecologically.

This is why Occupy and the Teabaggers are actually reading different sides of the same page.

Conservatism married high finance (as well as Christian fundamentalism) in reaction to the 60's anarchic explosions, the worldwide reaction to the Vietnam war and the socio-cultural upheaval borne by the babyboomers reaching puberty on the uplift of still expanding first world economies.

The numbers of educated young people protesting with the unions were potentially revolutionary in a political sense so all the elite world-wide joined ranks to resist rapid change, and when possible divert it into harmless hipsterism and fashionista consumerism.

Thanks to advertising dumbing down sentient beings into blobs of greedy Pavlovian protoplasm, their mission to regress peoples' intellectual growth back to a 50's mentality has been hugely successful, it's enough to see whom the republicans in America are touting as the Next Big Thing to realise just how wildly willful their efforts have been.

Collective lobotomy complete with firepower, Hedge fund Jesus with nukes!

In Yurp conservatism is mostly about keeping fat cats fed, plus some blather about 'county' values and grouse moors for show. Thanks to decades of state laicism the pull of religious crazy here is tiny compared to the good ole USA, thank the FSM. Who knows what conservatism means in present-day China, Hong Kong or Taiwan? All these old paradigm supposedly horizontal binaries like right-left, conservative-progressive are going the way of the Dodo, what's left are those who believe in manmade climate change and who are well paid not to, or that hoariest of vertical dualities: rich-poor.

Politics for the poor doesn't pay. :(


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2015 at 08:20:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In this context, I use the word Progessivist not as a description of progressive left-wing politics, but as a description of the thoughts associated with Progress. Upwards and forwards, bigger, faster, richer... these are thoughts which are prevalent within market liberalism and old-style socialism. Not so much in green thinking, or old-style conservative thinking.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I might add, though, that I myself also has been very influenced by this idea of Progress, and hardly am some purely idealistic non-materialist conservative. Migeru once wrote (I can't seem to find it at the moment) that some comment I wrote at the ET made me sound like a salesman for Electrolux. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As an example, consider the smokestack, spewing out thick and possibly noxious clouds and vapours. What is the symbolic value of this icon?

Today, pretty much everyone think of pollution when they it. So did Western conservatives 100 years ago. Liberals and socialists on the other hand, identified smokestacks with wealth, modernity and progress. And they had good reasons for that.

The greens certainly did not have a positive view of smokestacks, and their influence since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring means we don't either.

We also value a clean environment relatively more today because we are richer and do not suffer the absolute privation of yore, but that's another part of the story.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One could of course speculate that one of the reasons why some conservatives opposed materialism, industrialism and Progress is that they already had it pretty good, materially speaking. It is easy to oppose Progress when you know you'll always have hot food and a soft bed waiting for you.

I suppose the same tendency can be found in the current green movement in the West.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:00:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So did Western conservatives 100 years ago.

Western conservatives didn't give a damn about pollution 100 years ago. They didn't like industry because of changes in society. But even there, their resistance vanished sa soon as you told them that the smokestack belonged to a weapon manufacturer.

by IM on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you need to read up on some political philosophy. Also, when I say conservative in this context, I'm not talking about some guy who owns a polluting factory and votes for conservative parties, whose main goal might well be to support the privileges of the moneyed classes.

Rich people who even had factories tended to be liberal - not in the American meaning of the word - rather than conservative. Rich conservatives often were land-owners, priests, officers, academics, and so on. Unlike liberals, they often opposed free trade, democracy, and so on. At least in Sweden.

As the 20th century ran its course, this old-style conservatism was out-competed economically and socially and was absorbed or merged with liberal right-wing forces. The result was often liberal-conservative currents, which were very positive to Progress.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:14:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you need to read up on some political philosophy.

No I don't. If I say conservative I talk about real existing conservatives parties in 1915. And were wasn't any worry about pollution there.

What you are doing is projecting your own political positions back in the past.

by IM on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again, I'm not talking about political parties. If you insist on moving the goal posts, I don't think we'll get anywhere in this discussion.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 12:14:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not moving the goal posts. If we don't talk about conservaties in a political sense, what are we talking about?

As I said: Of course back then the differences between conservative and right-liberals were still visible; but the environment wasn't one.

by IM on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 01:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm talking about political thought and philosophy. If I recall correctly, both Spengler and Heidegger wrote on this, certainly later than 1915. The Heidegger stuff is mostly incomprehensible, but that's just to be expected.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 06:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not conversant with Spengler's stuff, but in what manner does Heidegger differ from every other shill with a degree and a polysyllabic pitch? Isn't he just a liberal Hayek?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, conservative Hayek.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I only ever knew three people who claimed to understand Heidegger.  One understood him once, but had forgotten the details, another went mad shortly afterwards, and the third questioned his own existence and thus didn't say anything.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 05:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Channelling Lord Palmeston... I hope you are not the third?

"The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it."

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 06:13:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had the pleasure, once, of studying existential phenomenology and phenomenological ethnomethodology in which the names of Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Husserl featured. Not one of my prouder academic achievements...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 07:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 07:49:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I always thought the muppets got closer to the meaning of life than most philosophers who seemed to end p getting stuck up their own arse...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 08:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the subtitles are apocriphal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 08:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As related by Ludwik Silberstein, during one of Eddington's lectures he asked "Professor Eddington, you must be one of three persons in the world who understands general relativity." Eddington paused, unable to answer. Silberstein continued "Don't be modest, Eddington!" Finally, Eddington replied "On the contrary, I'm trying to think who the third person is."


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 08:20:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The economic fight Starvid describes was (at least in Sweden) mainly a battle fought in the last 40 years of the 19th century. By 1915 the conservatives had lost on the economy and was mainly fighting to conserve political power against such threats as universal and equal suffrage. (As a sidenote, during the economic fight the liberals were very much split on the question of suffrage.)

If there was a clear difference on smoke stacks connected to conservative versus liberal economics it would be found 50 years earlier then 1915.

I must admit I am kind of fuzzy on the political roots of the conservationist movement so I am agnostic on the smoke stacks.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 04:01:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Rich conservatives often were land-owners, priests, officers, academics, and so on. Unlike liberals, they often opposed free trade, democracy, and so on."

They did and they still were somewhat distinct from nationaliberal parties. But they didn't care about the environment. They opposed free trade to get protectionist tariffs for the agricultural sector.

by IM on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nor did I ever claim that they opposed free trade on environmental grounds. Who would ever argue in such a convoluted way?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 12:15:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe all of you could expand their study to Spain (or Portugal), where industrialists and democracy went hands in hands, during all 19th century, whereas church and conservatives were in favor of maintaining an agricultural explotation against science and education... qualities needed for the industry.

The opposition between industrials and leftist group is, I think, more a consequence of the labor mouvement. (1st and 2nd international?)

by Xavier in Paris on Fri Jun 26th, 2015 at 05:16:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
Liberals and socialists on the other hand, identified smokestacks with wealth, modernity and progress.

I see that scene from Atlas shrugged when our hero looks down on a once-beautiful valley belching smoke.

Starvid:

We also value a clean environment relatively more today because we are richer and do not suffer the absolute privation of yore, but that's another part of the story.

And so is the fact that many (or most?) indigenous people would not choose to have their sacred lands desecrated in return for a microwave and a popup toaster.

But then again those Native Americans getting rich off white mens' gambling may not agree.

Anyone here see 'The gods must be crazy'? It puts forward this paradox of how much modernity makes sense to 'primitive' folk.

Highly recommended! ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 25th, 2015 at 07:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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