Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

What is a Conservative?

by rdf Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 07:24:45 AM EST

I suppose I should be asking this on a conservative forum, but I've yet to find one which is open to discussing abstract principles.

Here are some of what one commonly hears are conservative principles. I will discuss why I don't think some of them are below.

Fiscal

  1. Low taxes
  2. Small government
  3. Laissez faire commerce policies
  4. Free trade
  5. Regulation by the market

Social
  1. Support for the traditional family structure
  2. Belief in a hierarchical structure for social organizations
  3. Strict regulation of human behavior
  4. Personal liberty
  5. Opposition to compensatory programs for the disadvantaged
Promoted by In Wales


Let's tackle the fiscal ones first. The first four are not principles, they are techniques to achieve an end. What is the end? No one is in favor of high taxes and what is high or low varies from time to time and place to place. So when people say they favor low taxes or small government what they really mean is compared to the present level. How will they know when they get to the right level? There needs to be some criteria. This is lacking. One cannot base a philosophy on being against something, one also has to be for something else.

Regulation by the market (instead of by government) is also a matter of degree. Only the most rabid libertarians favor removing all regulation. So, once again, it boils down to a matter of degree. Do we want the government to regulate drug purity? If so, how much regulation is needed? There is no standard to measure against.

On the social side points one and two belong together. Both are manifestations of a belief that "father knows best". This is another way of saying that the rigid gender, race and class distinctions that existed before should be favored. In the US that has meant white Anglo-Saxon men. This is also a group that is closely associated with the current conservative movement. In other societies the favored group has also tried to hold on to their power. Many justifications have been given over the centuries from the divine right of kings (and the aristocracy), to the innate superiority of certain ethnic groups. This is a "conservative" principle: I've got mine and I want to keep it.

From this principle follows the need for control of behavior. To allow others to do as they see fit is to allow a weakening of the power of the elite. What these restrictions are varies. At one time practicing the wrong religion was persecuted. More recently this has shifted to gender issues and reproductive freedom. The chance that power will have to be shared is also why compensatory programs are opposed.

The support for personal liberty (a typical statement is: "the law shouldn't control what I put into my body") is not a conservative principle, it is a libertarian one. The two groups sometimes find common cause on things like taxes, but are mistaken if they think they have similar social philosophies.

Now what are liberal principles?

  1. All persons have equal rights within a society
  2. The people are best able to handle their own affairs

These simple ideas lead to many things. Among them are that there shall be no privileged group within a society that is based upon birth or inheritance. This implies no racial or gender discrimination. It also implies that society can set up rules for how the disadvantaged are treated.

The second principle leads to a democratic form of government. The people get to chose the laws and how they are to be administered. There is no ruling elite that sets things up for their own benefit. If the majority decide that harmful drugs are to be regulated in a certain way, then that's what is to be done. Those who prefer letting the "market" decide are really saying the don't want democracy to work.

Many of the policies presently condemned by "conservatives" which I have listed above can be seen as examples where democracy has worked (in the past) and the decisions disfavor the privileged so they want to do away with majority rule. The people have chosen the level of government or taxes that we have now.

There will be objections that the people haven't actually chosen many of the present social conditions, that this has been done by special interests. To the extent this is true it represents a failure for democracy to perform as well as it might. It is not a condemnation of liberal principles, it is a sign that democracy needs to be strengthened. In a situation, as at present, where we are in a quasi-plutocracy, restoring balance may be difficult, but that doesn't mean that the principles are wrong.

So what is a conservative? One who wants to see their privilege restored or maintained.
What is a liberal? One who wants to see all treated fairly according to rules established democratically. Everything else is implementation.

Display:
Well, I would approach this from the other side.
Conservative, from latin conservare: bewahren, retten.  Sorry, Latin-German is still easier than Latin-English. ie preserving and rescue.

the German dictionary also brings nichtoperativ - non-operational and zurückhaltend restrained as translations for conservative.

So it has something to do with finding something in existence, and wanting to preserve it in its current perceived form. As such it can sometimes be Retropian (don't know if that is a propper word, but I take it as a retrospective Utopia). You look into what you think is the past and built your future out of it. Yesterday was always better, lets re-enact it.

hmm, have to think about what this means in connection with your diary.

on other thoughts:

The people are best able to handle their own affairs

that sounds libertarian, rather than liberal to me, or?
by PeWi on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 11:24:53 AM EST
that sounds libertarian, rather than liberal to me, or?

Liberal is - for me - a descriptor of the level of the permissiveness of my relationship and especially, negotiated interaction with the other.

That has nothing to do with being conservative or not. If it is past habit to preserve the environment, than me allowing my neighbour to sprinkling around rubish is liberal?

by PeWi on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 11:34:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The people are best able to handle their own affairs

I think I will have to clarify this in the future. Libertarians think that they can best handle their own affairs individually. Liberals think that this is done collectively.

One leads to anarchy the other to democracy.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 11:47:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder - is that mutually exclusive? Ie, is the only way of doing things collectively through the government? Can't a free association of individuals even without the force of government accomplish something?
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:30:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they agree to work together, and are like minded enough to actually work together, or at least to perform their appointed roles at the right time and in the right place, then yes, they can.

Historically, such situations have been common in cohesive communities, and non-existent in atomized social structures like the US.

I see bits and pieces of coherent community action in Japan to this day, although there is a very widespread sense that this is disintegrating and that the younger generations don't pull their weight.  As an example, parks in Japan don't have rubbish bins of any sort.  So, everybody takes their garbage home.  They all want to keep the park clean, so they all act appropriately.  

It's rather amazing, actually, in that it relies on everybody following the rules, and for the most part, everyone actually follows the rules.

I think the turn by conservatives to the government regulation of personal behavior stems from the general breakdown of any sort of communal social regulation.  You used to be able to rely on the community to uphold moral standards, and so the government wasn't necessary.  In such a situation, actually, one would oppose government intervention, because it could only get in the way of communal regulation.  I think you can see traces of this way of thinking in conservative rhetoric.  However, now that those communities have fallen apart, desparate moralists look to the government to do the stigmatizing and punishing that nobody really has the stomach for.

Part of the problem we face in the US is that traditional community standards are, often enough, so horribly puritan and patriarchial that they are justifiably rejected.  However, in throwing out the bathwater, we have also thrown out the baby, and embraced the notion of anonymous, atomized individuals as the ideal.  I worry, though, that this is simply not a viable situation, either socially or individually.

by Zwackus on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 09:01:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't a free association of individuals even without the force of government accomplish something?

The coallition of US social conservatives, neoconsm major corporations, media, neocons, libertarian and conservative think-tanks acts quite as a "free association", each contributing substantially to the common good (most accepting a meager status), and acting very effectively in the US politics, at the expense of so-called liberals (and a mass of out-mortgaged folks).

by das monde on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 03:34:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't a free association of individuals even without the force of government accomplish something?

Absolutely.  In fact I would argue Bottom/Up local organizations - "local" = 'tight communication link(s) - are superior on any value criterion to its Top/Down competitor.  

Now let's add the caveat: When they are allowed to compete on an equal basis.  

That's the trick.  The State has the power to enforce privilege and that power is (mostly) used to benefit the Ruling Class.  That's why they are the Ruling Class ;-)  The best example is the privilege granted to corporations by the State.  In effect, these economic entities have been given greater legal rights than the individuals comprising the entity.

As a good little libertarian-socialist I distrust the State.  As a person living in the real world I have to resort to the political mechanisms available to me for self-defense.  One of the mechanisms is legislation either beating back privilege or ensuring that privilege is made available to everyone.  

When the plutocrats, predatory capitalists, and parasites stop using the State to piss down my back - and my brothers and sisters in the producing class - while telling me it's raining I'll cheerfully give-up using the State to build umbrellas.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:46:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
Absolutely.  In fact I would argue Bottom/Up local organizations - "local" = 'tight communication link(s) - are superior on any value criterion to its Top/Down competitor.  

I don't agree. The real jobs of healthy government are to:

  1. Manage strategtic infrastructure development
  2. Invest in long term R&D and fund academic, scientific and creative research
  3. Keep the economy mixed and mobile to prevent wealth stratification and economic stagnation (which includes preventing monopoly consolidation, and promoting wealth redistribution through taxes) and managing social services
  4. Husband national and international resources
  5. Provide a final resort for enforcing the rule of law
  6. Arguably, manage national security

Although you can add bottom-up elements to all of these, the outline structure and strategic planning have to be made and enforced centrally to be effective. Some projects are just too big, or need too big a stick, to be managed in an ad hoc way.

The problem is that healthy government easily turns into corrupt government, which tries to:

  1. Run the economy as the personal piggy-bank of a small minority
  2. Ignore strategic outcomes
  3. Limit personal freedoms, enforcing them by violence and intimidation
  4. Create self-serving media lies which promote these evils as if they were good
  5. Fight pointless wars

The big political mistake of the last century has been to treat labels - communist, nazi, capitalist, social democrat, etc - as if they're somehow connected to these government styles.

But in fact any nominal system can be made corrupt. The corruption starts as soon a cabals of insiders form, possibly from an existing power base, probably with authoritarian personality disorders, who then try to game the system for their own short-term benefit.

So if you want competition on an equal basis, you need strong government - but it has to be healthy government, which can set mature and thoughtful rules and then get out of the way.

What makes conservatives so invidious is that they disguise their real aims under a fog of rhetoric. So when we they talk about 'reform' or 'small government' or use any of the other cliches, what they really mean is corrupt government for their own personal benefit.

I suppose it wasn't always like this, but today you can be sure that if someone starts talking about freedom and small government, they're either stupid and gullible or corrupt and cynical.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 07:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good points.

Allow me to recast the first part into a broad question: How can necessary and worthy society-wide structures arise Bottom/Up?

I go round and round on this.  

There are solid arguments that can be made that they can arise.  Whether they would arise requires predicting the future, an action I am somewhat loath to do when dealing with something so theoretical.  That such structures have arisen in the past (early Egypt, for instance or, more recently, the internet) is no guarantee they will in the future; that's basic Hume, "The future is under no obligation to the past."

and yet.  And.  Yet.

Humans, when allowed to be creative, are versatile little buggers.  The foundations of modern society were laid by creative individuals working Bottom/Up.  Of course we also have the ability to come-up with the strangest things, some of them necessary and worthy others, not so much.  Any species coming-up the idea of men (Gladiators) slaughtering each other in an arena as entertainment deserves to be studied for its creativity.  Preferably far, far, away and behind a tree.  

As I said.  I go round and round on this.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 12:40:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that's so simple even for US liberals. The too want individuals to, say, 'regulate' the number of children they have individually.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
George Lakoff's Moral Politics is, I think, the best descriptor of the differences between Liberal and Conservative, at least in America, I have seen.  I think it is not helpful to look at it like conservatives care about power and liberals care about fairness.  There are many who would say the very opposite.  Lakoff suggests it's more a matter of giving preference to one method of maintaining civil society over another.  Conservatives prefer authority and discipline and Liberals prefer cooperation and encouragement.   He doesn't say it, but I think if you take this to its logical end, conservatives assume the worst in people (are less trusting), and liberals assume the best in people (are more trusting).  Hard to say if one is more "correct," given that people are both good and bad...  

Those who have not already should check it out.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 12:36:23 PM EST
Isn't it interesting to consider that trusting liberals ostensibly seek more government control and sceptical conservatives less?  In my experience, conservatives love government controls -- of everybody else.
by Andhakari on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:27:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Basic dictionary:
conservative |kənˈsərvətiv; -vəˌtiv| adjective
 * holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.
 * ...

The deep of root of conservativism is keeping the things as they are, being skeptical of innovations. That make some common (and empirical) sense. What is working now should not be taken much for granted, while every innovation is a lesser or greater gamble.

The modern skepticism against government has the conservative basis in that the progressive FDR's style "New Deal" government is a rather recent phenomenon. Governing through wealth, power or authority have much deeper historical roots.

Conservativism has a bias of helping ongoing wealth and power holders most - they are always most happy with status quo. Little wonder that conservativism embraces ideas that help the wealth and power holders to keep their sway, even if ideology has to change through eras (say, religion gets replaced by free market ideology).

Conservativism is vulnerable at the following two points. Firstly, old customs (like slavery) may become clearly intolerable, and better alternatives to ongoing practices might indeed occur through time (say, communication means may improve). More onthologically, the overall conditions may change to a new stage, where usual customs do not function well, or may even be a cause of deep problems. Say, it is one matter when millions of people are using food and energy resources, it is another matter when billions people do the same. Usually, keeping things working the same requires little activity, but (for example) now some hard work is apparently necessary just to keep environment the same. Overall change of some habits can even be a survival necessity.

How to decide when and how to change? You can observe and decide rationally. Philosophical beliefs might also help to break common behavior patterns; they might be appropriate even by chance.

Modern conservativism is very ideological in the sense that it gets rationalized by such principles as free market ideology (or stealthily, sort of Social Darwinist philosophies) rather than by the root tendency to keep things the same. In particular, the free market ideology is very un-conservative - it causes mad changes, destroys old ways of living. Conservative pundits know that, but they probably expect the escalating changes are within the range of applicability of conservative customs, or do not think a lot about this contradiction.

by das monde on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:21:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The deep of root of conservativism is keeping the things as they are, being skeptical of innovations.

I agree, but with the quite important quibble that they proclaim keeping things as they claim are. Conservatives bring about a lot of change, but almost always by claiming to return to a past that has never been, denying past and/or present. So what you write at the end about changes brought by free market ideology aren't a recent phenomenon in conservatism but a basic feature.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 08:10:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That the underlying goal is really to protect and promote the interests of the ruling class.

In the past, when the system did that structurally, that goal was best fulfilling by keeping these institutions in place - thus the conservatism.

Today that government has more social and redistributive functions, the goal is to take that machinery down, via "reform", and by an assault on "leftist conservatism."

So, like rdf, I'd say that conservatism (the traditional right) is really about protecting privilege and power for a few.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Overall, conservativism is a political package that empirically works for protecting interests of the ruling class (or whatever other "indescribable" purpose). It evolves, but seldom drastically. Even the modern wave of religious fundamentalism, social phobias, war mongering and other extremism is nothing but return to "deeper" mechanisms to keep political control. During Clinton's impeachment, I thought that US conservatives may be committing suicide - but obviously not; they were just committing themselves to an overdrive to overcome the rather successful "third way" of Clinton and Blair. There we just no appropriate counter-mechanism functioning against them.

Embracement of the "anti-conservative" free market is not so strange. First of all, it is perception of what is established as functioning (and what is a new scheme) that is important. Despite its volatile effects, free market  ideology appears to be a "natural" principle - people are kind of convinced that no one has to plan or direct the economy. Even if the economic course is gonna be disastrous, that is probably just a part of the cycle where the conservative political "package" prevails. Hell, the world is approaching all kinds of catastrophes so "skilfully" that you may wonder whether there is an established compulsion somewhere behind, in the character of Western or Abrahamic civilization or in some particular conservativism.  

Progressive politics and breakthroughs are not that well established for the long term. Every progress or revolution is being started from scratch; progressive outcomes are typically discredited (rightly or wrongly), and there is little chance for sophisticated sequences of rational changes to "evolve". The last generations of progressives did not change a lot probably.

by das monde on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 12:37:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my experience Conservative have mush in their heads, in the Formal sense of not being able to construct a rational, let alone Logical, argument but also in the Informal sense of not being able to adequately arrange a hierarchy of value when encountering phenomena.  

Let's get concrete, Conservatives, as a whole, are woefully uneducated - however well trained.  They seem unable to get past the Authorities of the past. This rigidity means they trot out the most ridiculous, exploded, arguments as if they meant something.  The intellectual basis of the 'Intelligent Design' (sic) nonsense is standardly destroyed in every Philosophy 101 class.  

Secondly, they don't understand or fail to correctly deploy the intellectual tools of the fields in which they are trained and supposedly expert.  I go back to my example of quadratic equations having the Property of trifurcation yet Neo-Lib & Neo-Classical economists always derive a single solution.  How can this be?  If something innately does {_a_1, _a_2, _a_3} how the devil can people always get {_a_1} legitimately?  

They can't.  

The result are tons of papers, monographs, pamphlets, and books that are fundamentally flawed or Beg the Question.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we should stop being polite about this, and come right out and say that we're dealing with a sub-group of the population that suffers from cognitive disablities.

That might sound harsh, but of if were dealing with an individual adult who continued to play Halo while their house was burning down around them, you'd at the very least class them as challenged and possibly disturbed.

There is no difference between that situation and conservatives who continue to wage pointless wars, create pointless financial bubbles and squander essential resources.

Sane adults just don't do that stuff. Period.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 08:03:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps we need to organize a Cognitive Pathology Department in the ET Think Lab?   :-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:14:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.


On the other hand, can we grasp "bedevilment" of the other side about us?

Serious studies on psychology of political differences could be intriguing. My interpretation is that the conservative pattern is more archaic, while the "liberal" pattern is a rather recent luxury... just to call a few first stones on me. I do see progressives using the rational brain more adequately, but their subconscious interactions, emotions, and achievement commitment probably are not more "intelligent" than of conservatives, as yet.

by das monde on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 01:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has come to a point where we have to talk about 'actually existing conservatism'. Which is pandering to the haves and the have-mores while paying lip service to reactionary interests among the less well-off.

Where actually existing conservatism conflicts with fiscal principles 2,3,4 and 5, those principles will not be followed.

In actually existing conservatism, principle 4 of the social principles has an economic counterpart, which is 'personal risk, corporate irresponsibility'. Principle 3 of the social principles has an asterisk which points to the small print saying 'except for our rich friends'. Principle 5 of the social principles similarly has small print, which says 'except for the cognitively disadvantaged kids of our rich friends'.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 12:38:34 PM EST
Where actually existing conservatism conflicts with fiscal principles 2,3,4 and 5, those principles will not be followed.

Or indeed any other principle. See my four-sentences post downthread, which I didn't intend as snark but really think conservatism boils down to no more (I could write a 5000-word diary to explain why I think so...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 08:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that is a probably a very good and fair summary of what conservatives say they stand for. To my mind, though, they seem to contradict each other somewhat.

For example, F3 - laissez faire - undermines F5 - regulation by the market (and probably F4 as well) because eventually someone will acquire sufficient power to influence the market. Similarly, S4 - personal liberty - gravely undermines both S3 and S2 (as any Burmese general these days would probably tell you).

And of course, S5 is really F6 in sheep's clothing...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 12:50:36 PM EST
I think you might enjoy reading the work of psychologist Robert Altemeyer. He has studied the "conservative" personality type for over 40 years and one of his findings is that conservative ideologues can hold mutually contradictory ideas simultaneously without noticing.

He has a free online book that summarizes his work:

The Authoritarians

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:02:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you read Lakoff, you would see how they are not as contradictory as we think they are.  And Liberals are equally as capable of it.

Or are we all uber-evolved intelligent angels over here now?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aren't you? ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, two out of three ain't bad... ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:45:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At one time in the US there were "left wing authoritarians". The typical example would be those who followed the dictates of the USSR under Stalin. They were famous for dismissing the worst aspects of the show trials, for example.

Around 1900 there were also left wing ideologues in Europe as seen by the intellectual battles between the communists, socialists and anarchists. Perhaps some of the left parties are still rigidly authoritarian, I can't tell from the US.

Altemeyer did his study using Canadians and Americans and couldn't find enough left wing authoritarians to study. There may be a new movement emerging. Some of the political debate over the Democratic presidential race is starting to take on aspects of authoritarian close mindedness.

Leaving aside political leanings, Altemeyer sees one group as highly resistant to new ideas and the other as very open to opposing views. Most people fall in the middle. He estimates the close minded group at about 20% of the population in his sample.

The anomaly in the US is that this group has seized power.

I've read Lakoff, but I don't think he has adequate scientific rigor to support his ideas. This doesn't make them less interesting...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:24:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Authoritarians gravitate to those holding Authority, the Social-Dominators.  (NS,S - huh?) In the US that meant the (so-called) Right.  In the Soviet Union that meant the (so-called) Left.  

I submit this group has not so much "seized power" but have acquiesced to the prevailing Domination and have been used by the Social-Dominators.

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Everyone is capable of holding mutually contradictory ideas simultaneously without taking note, certainly when they're on such an abstract level as 'principles'.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 01:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - What is a Conservative?
I've got mine and I want to keep it.

That's the conservative principle.

For the centre right, that's more or less it. For the far right, it becomes 'I've got mine but it's never enough, so I want everyone else's too.'

As you say, the rest is implementation.

I don't entirely with Lakoff, because I think he misses the element of projection.

Conservatives fear the world because they know themselves and the true nature of their impulses.

Liberals are more open for equivalent reasons.

Although it's possibly more accurate to say that the split is really between authoritarians and normal people. Authoritarians will use any convenient philosophy to perpetuate their abuse. Sometimes it looks left-wing and collective. Sometimes it looks right-wing and fascist.

Practically, both are just philosophical air cover for people with violent personality disorders and criminal tendencies, primarily motivated by hatred.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:27:04 PM EST
Yes!
by Andhakari on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 03:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's hard to get to the root of this without considering the mine of

I've got mine and I want to keep it

ie the central role of exclusive "Private" property in Conservatism.

It's certainly a distinguishing feature from alternatives where there is no "Private" property.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 07:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In this kind of stuff about liberals and conservatives.. and minds and sets of actions and policies (as in the case when we deal here with the media , propaganda, possible actions and so on)   I think you always speak my mind better than I would Brit.

This time is no different.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How will they know when they get to the right level? There needs to be some criteria. This is lacking. One cannot base a philosophy on being against something, one also has to be for something else.

I would say that the point of an ideology is to delineate the group against other groups. Thus I expect what little content there is to focus not on an utopian end state but on direction of societal development, in comparision with competing groups. So to me it makes perfect sense that there are no criterias.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Nov 14th, 2007 at 05:15:41 PM EST
A conservative is one who sells the mistakes of yesterday as solutions for tomorrow.

What conservatives want to conserve is the illusion of a past golden age, so that all the problems that were hidden behind the facades can be ignored.

The only thing conservative politicians want to conserve is their power - secured and expanded by all means.

The only moral all conservatives follow: forgive the sins of fellow conservatives.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:26:06 AM EST
If the words in the block are from elsewhere could you supply the citation? Thanks.

If they are yours, then they are very pithy.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 09:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first I read in a letter to the editor in some German magazine at least ten years ago, sadly I forgot exactly where. And it sounded even more pithy in German (something like Die Union [CDU] verkauft Fehlentwicklungen von gestern als Lösungen für morgen), I remember struggling to get a good English translation. The third I'd consider a common phrase in various forms. The other two are entirely mine.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 10:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fiscal

   1. Low taxes
   2. Small government
   3. Laissez faire commerce policies
   4. Free trade
   5. Regulation by the market

Social

   4. Personal liberty

None of these are conservative principles per se. They are liberal in origin, spread to conservatives first in the US, Britain and (in permanent opposition) in Scandinavia, and to the rest only from the late eighties. Though, low taxes has been a conservative selling point for a litte longer at more places, and low taqxes for the rich for much longer, sometimes explicitely so.

But traditionally, conservatives the world over have not been anti-statist at all, they liked the state, be it for control or military might.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:35:17 AM EST
This is a "conservative" principle: I've got mine and I want to keep it.

I think one should put that stronger: Those who have more and those who rule deserve it because they are better people.

Those who prefer letting the "market" decide are really saying the don't want democracy to work.

Often in practice, but if asked, they'll say the market is perfect consumer democracy.

I think you overlook that the question of what should be individual decision and what should be collective decision is a basic conflict in liberalism. The extreme individualists are the libertarians, tirties and later US Big Government liberals are closer to the other end.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:51:17 AM EST
I think one should put that stronger: Those who have more and those who rule deserve it because they are better people.

That's pretty much Calvinist predestination.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 07:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or Catholic divine order and divine kings. Or Hindu reincarnation into higher and lower castes. Or Social Darwinism. Or any number of other such concepts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 08:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To put it in a more philosophical way (pulling out the old Wittgenstein), we're talking about ideological movements, not necessarily coherent philosophies. First, these movements are different in different countries. The movements do interact, but this should not be overestimated. Conservatism in Germany is quite different from US conservatism.

Second, the movement can be seen a flow. It can be a quite diverse flow, but let's stick with the metaphor. Principles can be seen as the bedding of the flow. Over time, the flow changes the bedding. Rdf is trying to distill the essence from an a-prioristic formulation of these principles, but that does not necessarily have much to do with the current bedding of 'actually existing conservatism'.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 at 10:02:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone who can pull out Witty-baby in a political discussion is All Right by Me.

(Have a 4)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i often wonder why and when the word split into 'conservative' and 'conservationist'.

when you have amassed what you need in life, you are less likely to take risks, imo, because you appreciate your good fortune, and see little or no reason to trade possible discomfiture for possible gains.

that make you conservative.

when your tribe has evolved customs that enshrine marriage, (for example), in a certain way, and along comes a new fashion that threatens to break the continuity of tradition, being conservative means resisting novelty and 'espousing' the tried and true.

being liberal is not necessarily antithetical to being conservative, people can be (and are) both at the same time, in different areas.

i can be liberal in my generosity to my friends, and vote republican.

as you can see from these few examples, we are maya'd in semantics even using these words, unless we are very clear about each separate context and and protagonist set.

liberality involves trusting in the unknown, conservatism is about being prudent in the face of change, and not clicking on links just because they appear.

in a world with few rich and many poor, conservatism by default is a defensive position.

just as we negotiate a balance within ourselves as to our positions on how much we play the edges or stay safe in the centre, when it comes to facing risk in our lives, so societies experiment with extremes in search of a middle way.

in europe we can ban immigrants, a conservative position, and watch our economies collapse.

or we can trust that immigration is less ancient than moving pastures with the seasons, that it is part of the human condition, (as we all sprung from nomads) and figure out how to welcome and help them integrate .

indeed it would have been yes-mad to do otherwise...

if one's habitat changes character, due to the influence of many immigrants, and one doesn't like it, one should be free to ....emigrate!

liberals have less fear of immigration for this reason.

conservatives largely operate from a fear base, because the allure of novelty can cause the tribe's lifeline to the past and the old ways of wisdom to sunder.

liberals trust that all people are liberal underneath, once they relax enough to realise it, a faith-based supposition.

i see no dichotomy here, just two poles of the same dyad, just as i see none between science and spirituality.

but folks love a good argument, so....

many time i have bemoaned here how meaning has become twisted, (consciously, unconsciously, or just conveniently, i'm trying to decide) in the word 'liberal' for example, whether prefixed by 'neo' or not.

here's an example of both at play simultaneously:

neocons want to conserve the power dynamic in the oil bidness, and in order to vainly guarantee that outcome, they have launched an incredible game of risk, where their and their families' future is at stake.

they are afraid of the implicit change in peak oil, the awareness of the public when watching their profits sail over the moon, at the same time as monthly utility bills climb inexorably, and people are hocking their own homes to survive.

instead of folding gracefully with the huge amounts of loot we have already forked over, they have quadrupled-down in an all-or-nothing gambit to control the last few gazillion barrels p. minute flowing out of mother earth, and sell it to us at even more obscene profits, until we choke to death, at which point they sell our relatives a casket....

must. stop. rambling.

'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 Nov 15th, 2007 at 08:10:25 PM EST
I'd be interested in hearing from some in the EU (and elsewhere, if possible) as to what the "conservative" movements in their countries favor.

It is my impression that the top concerns in the US (less taxation and fewer social services) are not as important. So what is?

It seems that there is a concerted effort in many places to weaken the power of organized labor. Is this a "conservative" position or is there some other dimension?

In the US the libertarians believe in personal "freedom" and private property which makes the allies of the Republicans in that they both favor tax cuts, but the libertarians believe in things like removing all drug laws which is anathema to the GOP.

I've been running a bit of campaign to inform people as to how the US libertarian movement is kept afloat by a handful of super wealthy families who use the libertarians to promote their tax policies and allow them to blather on about personal freedom without ever doing anything to promote these ideas.

I also claim that since this type of super wealthy multi-generational family doesn't exist in the same way in Europe there is no real libertarian movement. Is this correct? Is there some other type of movement which plays a similar role?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 08:51:23 AM EST
Bertelsmann Foundation

Any other examples?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wallenbergs - the "Investor" empire is held by Wallenberg trusts - in Sweden, and quite a few similar families in Scandinavia like that.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:47:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what the "conservative" movements in their countries favor

Nationalism, religion, being tough on crime, curbing immigrants, getting the media to heel -- in these not that much different from US counterparts, but as you suspect the priorities are different. Protection of national companies, be them private or state, can also be on the agenda.

there is a concerted effort in many places to weaken the power of organized labor. Is this a "conservative" position or is there some other dimension?

This is above all a business position. That position is ideologically fully supported by most European liberal parties, right-liberals certainly so. Conservatives also generally support it, though with less ideological and more simple demonising vigor, but note there have been conservatives who favoured co-determination (e.g. German Model). Unfortunately since the nineties, a good chunk of the social-democratic centre-left also signed up ('Third Way-ism', Tony Bliar and Gerhard Schröder, etc.), believing at first that they are correcting excesses. A further dimension is that these policies have been pushed in the media and in international fora (also with US participation) to the extent that it became received wisdom for the elites.

I also claim that since this type of super wealthy multi-generational family doesn't exist in the same way in Europe there is no real libertarian movement. Is this correct?

Nnno. Of course there are super-wealthy multi-generational families, think aristocrats, think Rothschild, also think Bilderbergs, and see nanne below. And as a matter of fact, your libertarians got a boost from ours: think Austrian school, those guys started to organise here. But I think there is no marked separate libertarian movement here because there was no such strong shift within liberalism as in the FDR years in the US. E.g., the US libertarians gathered voice protesting the equal-opportunities Big Government, our wackos could stay on on the edges of liberal parties and movements.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I was aiming at is the organized program that has been carried out by a small group of super wealthy families to promote libertarianism as a valid social philosophy. These people have tried to keep their involvement out of the public eye as much as possible.

For example the Koch brothers (who 99% of Americans have never heard of) run the largest privately owned firm in the US: Koch Industries (which most Americans have not heard of either).

They have been personally responsible for funding the Cato Institute and other similar groups. Here's a link to a single one of their foundations.

Others in the club include Coors, Scaife and Olin. The current family members are all parts of dynasties. I'm sure that the House of Lords was as vigorous at protected the rights of the aristocracy, but I assume that this was blunted some time ago.

So, the right leaning political intelligentsia didn't just happen in the US, it was deliberately nurtured by this group. The left, of course, has no similar economic base. That George Soros has chosen to betray his ostensible class interests and work for the spread of democracy has created havoc in this community and they have unleased all sorts of attacks against him.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:15:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Others [besides the Koch brothers] in the club include Coors, Scaife and Olin.

But isn't it also true that in the U.S. these family dynasties are based on personal wealth--in most cases fairly recently developed wealth--and are not institutionalized in the legal system? One may argue that the Bush family connections back to the Pilgrims indicates that they are members of a formal aristocracy, but at least in some legal senses they are no different from anybody else.

We don't have a House of Lords, nor a Maurice MacMahon, 5th Duc de Magenta, 9th Marquis de MacMahon, nor a Prince Lorenz Otto Carl Amadeus Thadeus Maria Pius Andreas Marcus d'Aviano of Belgium, Duke of Modena, Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia.

by asdf on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you have a William Henry Gates III.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:11:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you have a William Henry Gates III.

Yes, I assume you mean "noted liberal (or conservative?) William Henry Gates III (actually, IV), son of the co-author of:"

Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes

The idea that this author, his son, and hundreds of others that comprise some of the wealthiest people on the planet support estate taxes, and are appalled that estate taxes were repealed recently may initially surprise some. However, in this concise, lucid, and insightful essay, the co-authors demonstrate how foolish the repeal of the estate tax was, and why it is already causing fiscal harm at the state level, and why everyone who lives in this country should pay attention to the topic.

http://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Our-Commonwealth-Accumulated-Fortunes/dp/0807047198
by asdf on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, and similarly there have been aristocrats who have supported suffrage and the end to noblemen's tax exemption. But the reason to put forward Bill was to counter the notion that the US super-rich are typically rags-to-riches.

Now, reading your original comment again, I see your point was more about institutionalised elite position. Here I note that I brought up aristocrats as self-justifying-ideology-pushing super-rich of the past, given that most special rights to aristocrats have been eliminated in the 19th and 20th centuries: only some figurehead-of-state monarchs and the hereditary members of the British House of Lords remain. The Wealthy Dark Forces in today's Europe usually gained wealth more recently, as industrialists or media barons etc.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 07:13:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With dogmatic free-marketism still not as prominent here as in the US, obviously such a program has not been as progressed or focused in Europe, and you won't find an exact match. But, I was speaking of similar trends, so let me discuss it a little more.

The Von Mises Institute is one element of the US libertarian network, while Hayek was another leading ideologue. The latter and the name-giver  of the former are part of the 'Austrian school'. Back in Europe after WWII, these people formed a network of various ultra-liberal/libertarian groups with the avowed goal to counter the spread of statist, socialistic ideas in Europe. Say, the Mount Pelerin Society, named after a Swiss resort where they met. These groups were by no means autonomous, they didn't just happen either, they prospered because they got heavy funding from wealthy donors from around the world: from Swiss bankers to the US William Volker Charities Trust. The disease spread West later, though it had more influence there on the longer term.

Foundations for the promotion of such ideas in Europe (nanne linked to the quite major German Bertelsmann Foundation, founded by media barons) didn't necessarily focus on small close-knit ideologically disciplined think-tanks promoting a coherent ideology. They would give funds to economics research institutes, single academics, or specific studies.

Or, there is support for liberal parties/platforms/single politicians. In most of Europe, liberal parties were small but present, so their economic-fundie wing if existing was suitable for radical ideological advocacy like big conservative parties (and US Republicans) not.

Today, you should add a multitude of young free-marketista think-tanks  to the picture, which were and are established following the US model, and often with direct US support.

On the other hand, libertarianism is not the only choice of an odious ideology to promote for the super-rich here. The Catholic semi-monastic-order Opus Dei could be considered such a venue: it focuses on the wealthy and preaches an extremely pro-rich version of Catholicism, gets funding from them and has much influence among the elites. Promoting fascist organisations is another thing; I'd hope de Gondi would post here about all the ugly groups funded by Italian industrialists and noblemen.

And then there are the media barons who push their views, including free-marketista, via the media. A special case is that of Australian (and now US) citizen Murdoch, who exerts his influence in the British press. His German counterpart was Axel Springer, and Migeru often diaried on the present Spanish right-wing media. A worse version is the Berlusconi phenomenon, when a media baron pushes himself into politics. In Switzerland, that's Blocher.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 07:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An important missing word:

the US libertarians gathered voice protesting the equal-opportunities Big Government

liberals.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the "conservatives" in Spain have taken to the street (some for the first time in their life, sheltered bourgeois types that they are) to demonstrate against:
  • peace
  • gay marriage
  • the returning of civil war spoils to their rightful owners
  • devolution


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 at 05:31:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A complicating factor in the rural western part of the U.S. is that there is a strong Libertarian streak. Basically that's the idea that you can do what you want with minimal government interference. You end up with low taxes and small government, but also a small police department; and with a high tolerance for individualism on the social side.

Places like Colorado Springs, which has a reputation for being strongly conservative, actually have a mix of libertarian and conservative ideas--with lots of fundamentalist Christianity on the social issues. This frequently causes situations that seem incongruous, but is all categorized as "conservative."

by asdf on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:03:22 AM EST
About a year ago, Paul Rosenberg posted a diary titled "liberalism is the true conservatism" which examines this question in depth.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/11/161139/38

And thank you PiWi for a wonderful new word ! Retropian . In return, I give you Platitudinarian and Pedastalinist.

Greatferm

Homo Sapiens: The only species ever to go extinct by choice

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:16:53 PM EST
I suppose in this era we must answer that question in conjunction with asking what a liberal might be.  Otherwise we might allow that one may be both liberal and conservative regarding one particular issue, which I don't think is likely in a rational person.

I'll offer this: a liberal is someone who seeks to regulate everyone's' behavior to a certain degree for the benefit of everyone when that regulation effects the common welfare of society, but avoids regulation when the behavior effects only the individual.  A conservative is one who seeks to regulate others for the benefit of themselves or their own economic, religious, or other group with the expectation that what is good for themselves is good for everyone.

I was thinking about this issue for the last few days, came up with this, but thought it was a bit harsh.  Still, it seems to me to reflect current political behavior and attitudes, at least in the US.  I can't pretend to understand European politics so well yet.

by Andhakari on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 01:39:31 PM EST
Otherwise we might allow that one may be both liberal and conservative regarding one particular issue

Outside the USA, that is quite possible. For example, in Australia, the Liberals are the main right-wing party.

The precise opposite of conservative is progressive.

a liberal is someone who seeks to regulate everyone's' behavior to a certain degree for the benefit of everyone when that regulation effects the common welfare of society, but avoids regulation when the behavior effects only the individual.

Well, many conservatives will claim to stand for just that. But what effects only the individual and what the common welfare of society, is under dispute. While some liberals (in the US, libertarians) will deny that 'common welfare of society' exists or at least that it can be established in practice and pursued by government policy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's an example

There is no such thing as society - Margaret Thatcher

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women's Own magazine, October 31 1987



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:33:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now updated by Mr Cameron....

..there is such a thing as society, it is just not the same as the state


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:39:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Cameron is quite right.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 10:40:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It will not surprise you that I think so, too.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 09:26:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Libertarians are conservatives with no group identifications and a lot of guns in the basement.
by Andhakari on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 03:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives ... from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining ... and unless you become more watchful ... and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away....
- Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, 1837"
by Andhakari on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:52:17 PM EST
Yup.

Even (their) Saint Locke said something along the same lines.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 03:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Regulation by the market" means that those that fail, as seen in the US, can fall hard and be homeless. The laissez-faire system also subscribes to social Darwinism and this is used to justify social inequality. Here in the US, this means that some kid in a poverty-stricken inner city with talents could be left out due to lack of money for college. The laissez faire system is a meat grinder!

A society is actually better off when the most people have access to schooling and personal development. The idea behind this is that the most talent is developed, not just the enrichment of the individual. In that, I find that Europe's social system is uplifting and humane.

I find whole idea of "conservative" in the American context is more about personal selfishness rather than individuals "governing their own affairs." Many American conservatives appear to not want the needy to have access to basic food and shelter and even their basic humanity.

by euamerican on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 08:06:08 AM EST
I don't think conservatism really stands for any Big Picture anymore.  Conservatism, nowadays, simply stands for opposition to science, tax cuts for the wealthy, and set-up-to-knock-down spending practices.  There's no grand, unifying theme behind the policies and principles, unless they decide to start openly running against reason and logic.

And there can't be a unifying theme, because ultimately Big Bidness and the Christian Right -- the two wings of the Republican Party -- are opposed to each other on the big issue of culture.  It's like the Harry Potter books:  "Neither can live while the other survives."  But, going the other way, each needs the other -- Big Bidness for the money, the Christian Right for the votes and organization.

That's why we've seen the GOP in such disarray for the last year, despite having every opportunity to get its shit together thanks to a spineless Democratic Congress.  The air was let out of the Christianists, especially after we got word of the Republican presidential candidates, because they knew that those in the race who supported their cause -- Brownback, Tancredo, etc -- didn't have a prayer in hell of winning, while pro-business "cultural liberals" (who are really neither cultured nor liberal) were running away with it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 10:49:30 AM EST
I don't think conservatism really stands for any Big Picture anymore.

What did it stand for in the past?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 11:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]