Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

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Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Nieztchean Uber-Amoeba » 2011-04-04 04:30am

http://wunderkammermag.com/politics-and ... nservatism

Not The Moment You Think It Is

There have been two indispensible conservative insights in the American political imagination, but both are now threatened with disregard and irrelevance.

The first is what we might crudely refer to as Burkeanism: the impulse to keep politics in the realm of the political, and to exclude them from the world of the family, religion, and personal virtue. This tendency supports conservative goals. Politics is ultimately the realm of government, and the steady creep of political positioning into more and more aspects of life cannot help but bolster the presence of government in our consciousness—and in so doing, support the underlying notion that problems are to be solved by government. An argument, successfully prosecuted, that government expense is inappropriate in a given situation nevertheless contributes to the steady mission creep of modern governance.

Even aside from conservative desires in the realm of policy, though, this insight is essential to modern life. The encroachment of materialism, whatever your stance on economic politics, must be checked in order to defend the deeper values of human life. Politics has massive consequences for human suffering and as such are part of our democratic responsibilities, but it is both a more humane and more just society if we preserve a sanctuary for the human heart. What the modern leftist must remember is that support for additional government effort or expenditure, in the pursuit of social justice, is not the same as support for the increasing bureaucratization of human life. If we take it as our goal to be practical in public life, romantic in private, and compassionate in both, it is all to our good to remember that government can push us towards justice, but never towards grace.

To call the Burkean insight a project or mission would be, I suppose, exactly wrong. But however we might want to frame it, it is clear that Burkeanism has failed utterly to maintain a hold on the communal imagination of movement conservatism. Convinced of the necessity of imprinting the conservative brand onto even the most elementary of human experiences, conservatives have come to look for ideological status (and thus ideological battle) in the narrowest crevices of day-to-day life. This has led to the sprawling industry of providing "conservative alternatives," in the realm of commodities or media, to conservative people. It is now entirely easy for someone to consume only conservative-oriented media at every level: conservative magazines, conservative radio, conservative television and news, conservative websites. Broader still, there are conservative dating services, conservative coffee houses, conservative colleges, conservative financial services, conservative rock music, a conservative YouTube....Often explicit, always obvious, these conservative-situated alternatives send the inescapable message: there is no end to the political; all of human life is a part of an endless ideological struggle; nothing is to be considered free from the quest for conservative purity.

As I've said, this is an uneasy development for an antigovernment movement; branding all of one's attachments, affinities, and commodities self-consciously "conservative" ensures that all political arguments will be fought on liberal battlegrounds. More troubling, though, is the inevitable stakes-raising that this kind of ideology-in-everything provokes. If one's whole life is part of an ideological war, if every aspect of someone's daily existence is to be counted as a function of an endless partisan squabble, there is no hope for reconciliation, only for victory. Political disagreement becomes not an easily-compartmentalized distraction from everyday life, but an affront to the whole self. Whatever its valuable insights, Marxism has this elementary failing; it is a corrosion of human life to relegate all behavior to the battle for resources and the wages of political war. Yet this is a seduction that movement conservatism has fallen prey to almost entirely.

This abandonment of the Burkean impulse is not an idle development. It has had a powerful consequence in the basic tactical application of the conservative project, the shift from the cautious incrementalism that was once the conservative hallmark to a preference for sweeping change, a goal of total victory, and the language of revolution. Given the slow drift of politics into every pore of American life, this was an entirely predictable change. Those who feel that their very lives are politically situated cannot help but be dissatisfied with the ethic of caution and gradual moves. If alternate opinion and its realization in official policy is taken as an insult to core values, incrementalism must be abandoned in the face of that insult. "What we want," my conservative friends tell me, "is a conservatism that can win." Left unasked is the question of whether one can reach a genuine conservatism in fact through a radicalism in method.

In any event, the slow-change conservative is dismissed as an out-of-touch dissident, and the slow-change conservative movement is no more. What we have, instead, is the People's Revolutionary Party of Conservatism. The temperate conservative victory of the second Clinton administration, restraining a president and Congress somewhat inclined towards broader and deeper change than they achieved, has been replaced as a basic template for success by the large-scale conquests (both attempted and achieved) of the Bush years. That these large measures seem to have led to short-term disaster for the Republican party is generally regarded as a consequence of Bushism, and not symptomatic of the drastic but unheralded changes in the right's tactical regime. Lurching from fight to fight and election to election, the Republican Party is not always sure of where it wants to go, but it is certainly in a hurry to get there. This is part of what makes internecine battles within the American right so shockingly angry; decisions made within the policy apparatus no longer lead to small steps and modest goals but rather to the vast expenditure of money, political capital and man hours. Conservatism is on the march.

The second most invaluable insight from contemporary American conservatism has been the recognition of the limits of the politics of grievance. That contemporary American liberalism has made the grievance of racial minorities, women, homosexuals, and the disabled a central part of our political landscape stems from a simple fact: these people are and have been aggrieved. Yet the conservative voice, while at times unduly dismissive or skeptical of such claims, has provided the necessary counterpoint, that claims of oppression can come to so dominate a given minority group's intellectual and political life that there is no room left for the work of life. While too often it has been silent about or openly opposed to redress of the grievances of minorities in America, the conservative voice has also been the one to remind all of us that if there is to be an end to grievance, there must be what comes after grievance. Take away that, and there is no hope for any of it. It is the conservative, to his or her credit, who has most consistently asked, "what next?"

To borrow a metaphor from John Updike, grievance becomes a mask that eats the face; it is not untrue to say that, at times, those within these groups come to believe in the essential truth "we are put down," and history becomes prophecy. What liberals insist, what I insist, is that there is one and only one way to transcend this dynamic, and that is removing people from their oppression. That is what both ethics and self-interest demand. All the same, the conservative message on the slow creep of grievance, the slow seeping of oppression into one's elementary makeup, has been among the best of the movement's insights. It is that message, not the child's mythologies of bootstrapping or deliverance through personal virtue, that should endure.

Instead, such a blanket condemnation of the politics of grievance has been swiftly and unceremoniously discarded, in the name of political expediency. Oh, that's not to say that the broad American right has much use for the claims of oppression from the usual suspects. I mean merely that conservatism, on the whole, has adopted the language and attitudes of the oppressed with a focus and zeal that not even the most practiced minority affinity groups could muster. Conservatism has become aggrieved, and to great effect, too. There is no message more central or insistent from the ordinary mouthpieces of movement conservatism (Fox News, talk radio) than that conservatives in America are a uniquely oppressed segment of the American populace. The existence of messages contrary to conservative sentiment is proof positive of distortion and bias; the existence of discrepancies between the numbers of liberals and conservatives in a given occupation or industry, evidence of exclusion. This attitude assumes that there are no fundamentally ideological occupations, so a prevalence of liberals in a given field can only indicate that conservatives have been barred for entry. There would be a whole host of conservatives, the thinking goes, among the ranks of women's studies professors, or ballet choreographers, or pornographers, or social services workers, were it not for liberal duplicity.

This is a piece with the most glaring lesson of the Tea Party movement: that conspiracy theorizing threatens to dominate the American right. If you assume that the default position of decent Americans is the conservative position, and you have come to see every aspect of your life as ideologically positioned, and you think that conservatives are the victims of systematic oppression-- well, Obama must have a secret cadre of brownshirts waiting to board their black helicopters, health care reform must be a secret attempt at establishing totalitarianism, every Democratic victory must be the product of ACORN and Chicago politics and other impropriety. The political and policy fallout of this emphasis on petty grievance are beyond my ability to predict. But the embodiment of this sense of grievance from those who are not aggrieved should give us pause; as Frederick Douglass cautioned Americans over a century ago, this belief in oppression through conspiracy, unchecked, will lead to violence.

The preference for conspiracy as an explanation of all disappointments and defeats elides with a strange discontinuity I have seen again and again in recent years: the compulsion to believe in imminent and total victory with minimal justification, but dissatisfaction with the modest consequences that are necessarily the product of electoral politics. This particular bipolarity is evident across much of the spectrum of self-identified American conservatism. One of the constant urges within Republican politics during the decline of the Reaganite era has been, at all times, to declare victory. We see this in the political climate today: the election of a single pro-choice, pro-state-based-universal—health-care senator, socially moderate and amenable to some gun control, is heralded as a bellwether of total liberal collapse. This proclamation comes not just from the usual organs of Redstate.com or the Weekly Standard but from conservatives at the New York Times and the Washington Post. I don't know exactly what you would call this wild swing of enthusiasm, but whatever it is, it is not conservative.

This extreme readiness to assume monumental victory is balanced by the strange mainstream conservative tendency to fail to enjoy victory, or to see it as victory at all. I am hardly alone in having experienced the odd spectacle of Republican and conservative complaints of an inability to "really win" during periods of Republican dominance. I was frankly shocked by conservatives, both personal friends and those in the media, who complained of their impotence during, for example, the early months of 2005. The Republican party at that time had enjoyed almost unprecedented electoral victory. The GOP had come to control all three of the branches of the federal government, with widespread success at the statewide level and an almost total grasp on the mainstream media's political narrative. How could this possibly be considered anything short of massive victory? And yet the expressions of bitterness and disillusionment were palpable even before the failure of the GOP's Social Security legislation, before popular disgust with America's imperial project in Iraq, before the collapse of the Republican congressional majority.

What I think, but cannot possibly prove. is that this persistent lack of confidence and feeling of defeat at a time of victory is a product of the changes to the conservative character I have outlined above. I believe there is something within even the most ardently partisan conservative that recognizes that you cannot proceed from revolutionary change to reactionary reality, that you cannot cede all of human life to the political and meaningfully restrain government, that you cannot make your grievance a matter of politics without emboldening the government's efforts to help those who are aggrieved.

More, it may be that whatever the given political movement's political winds-- whether conservatives are animated by the Gingrich revolution, the Clinton presidency, the Obama victory, the Scott Brown moment-- there is perhaps an understanding that appreciable victories for American conservatism will necessarily be modest. This is what Whittaker Chambers knew, what Dwight Eisenhower knew, what Alexis de Tocqueville knew: that this is a country born out of violent revolution by men at the absolute vanguard of left-wing philosophy for their times, and that Western civilization is a vector, and it does not point towards the past. The direction may very well not be towards American liberalism's policies, but it will in keeping with the liberal character. You cannot move away from liberalism by appealing to the center, because liberalism is the center.

This may well seem self-serving for me to say. But it is this same phenomenon that constrains me. I am an ultra-leftist; the odds of my preferred economic platform coming to fruition within my lifetime are punishingly low. I have to struggle against what conservatives have to struggle against: that whatever the project of America is, it is a liberal project. Some, for reasons of psychic comfort and partisan squabbling, feel the need to attach "classical" before liberal when asserting this country's basic character. Perhaps they are right to; it makes no difference. This country's direction is and will be the direction of John Stuart Mill and Thomas Jefferson, and what that will mean for our vision of societal responsibility for individual problems will ultimately defy them and me both.

The political battle, of course, will always be about the next election, the next piece of legislation, the material consequences of politics. As for what will happen in that realm... who can say. But my intuition, and recent history, compels me to warn my conservative friends, who despite everything I love with my human heart: this is not the moment you think it is; this victory is not the turning point you think it is; the next congress will not give you what you hope it will; and even if you get every last thing from our electoral system you could possibly ask for, politics will never make you happy.

Freddie deBoer is a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition. He blogs at L'Hote.

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby thejester » 2011-04-04 09:26am

Wow, that was a really though provoking piece and a nice change from the avalanche of witty one-liners that seems to substitute for political thought these days. Thought the most interesting part was this:
You cannot move away from liberalism by appealing to the center, because liberalism is the center.

Hardly a secret that American politics - Western politics - has been moving steadily to the right for the last thirty years, minimum, so it's an interesting contention that at a deeper level it's all still basically liberalism. Not such an outrageous position, I think, and maybe one that's a bit reassuring - we're still vaguely moving in the right direction.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby evilsoup » 2011-04-04 01:28pm

If I am reading this properly, the article is saying that (American) conservatives are not being conservative, but are rather trying to change things. Not exactly profound.

I am no expert on American history, but there are a few things that seem to be glaringly wrong here.

The first is what we might crudely refer to as Burkeanism: the impulse to keep politics in the realm of the political, and to exclude them from the world of the family, religion, and personal virtue. This tendency supports conservative goals. Politics is ultimately the realm of government, and the steady creep of political positioning into more and more aspects of life cannot help but bolster the presence of government in our consciousness—and in so doing, support the underlying notion that problems are to be solved by government.


Wasn't it conservatives who championed anti-race-mixing marriage laws in the US? Do you not count the Republican Joseph McCarthy, a man who led a government institution to ruin people's lives based on their 'personal virtue', as a conservative? I am sure someone with greater knowledge than I could think of more examples of conservatives shitting all over people's personal lives.

if there is to be an end to grievance, there must be what comes after grievance. Take away that, and there is no hope for any of it. It is the conservative, to his or her credit, who has most consistently asked, "what next?"


Here I assume the author is referring to the two-faced little shits saying things like: oh positive discrimination is terrible! Women/blacks/whatever should get in on their own merits, somehow overcoming the raging sexism/racism/whatever of the people selecting for jobs!

What conservatives actually do is say: when sexism/racism/whatever is all gone, there'll be no need for positive discrimination. Therefore, we should get rid of it RIGHT NOW!

What they actually mean is: 'get back in the kitchen/my sugar plantation/whatever. Fuckers.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-04-04 03:14pm

evilsoup wrote:
The first is what we might crudely refer to as Burkeanism: the impulse to keep politics in the realm of the political, and to exclude them from the world of the family, religion, and personal virtue. This tendency supports conservative goals. Politics is ultimately the realm of government, and the steady creep of political positioning into more and more aspects of life cannot help but bolster the presence of government in our consciousness—and in so doing, support the underlying notion that problems are to be solved by government.
Wasn't it conservatives who championed anti-race-mixing marriage laws in the US? Do you not count the Republican Joseph McCarthy, a man who led a government institution to ruin people's lives based on their 'personal virtue', as a conservative? I am sure someone with greater knowledge than I could think of more examples of conservatives shitting all over people's personal lives.
You can always find them, but that misses his point. He's not talking about laws and policies which impact people's personal lives here.

His point is that your ideology should not become your life. You should not spend your whole life exclusively patronizing "conservative" or "liberal" or "socialist" or "anything-else" businesses, interacting only with people who believe as you do, reading only information gathered by people who believe as you do, and so on.

Doing this is unhealthy. When every single thing you do is viewed as a little battle in the grand culture clash, when the political becomes personal to that extent, it becomes impossible to put down the guns and stop fighting the culture wars. To quote the author: "if every aspect of someone's daily existence is to be counted as a function of an endless partisan squabble, there is no hope for reconciliation, only for victory. Political disagreement becomes not an easily-compartmentalized distraction from everyday life, but an affront to the whole self."

Turning your entire life into a process of promoting your own political views and rejecting those of others isn't the act of a conservative; it's the act of a revolutionary.

if there is to be an end to grievance, there must be what comes after grievance. Take away that, and there is no hope for any of it. It is the conservative, to his or her credit, who has most consistently asked, "what next?"
Here I assume the author is referring to the two-faced little shits saying things like: oh positive discrimination is terrible! Women/blacks/whatever should get in on their own merits, somehow overcoming the raging sexism/racism/whatever of the people selecting for jobs!

What conservatives actually do is say: when sexism/racism/whatever is all gone, there'll be no need for positive discrimination. Therefore, we should get rid of it RIGHT NOW!

What they actually mean is: 'get back in the kitchen/my sugar plantation/whatever. Fuckers.
No. In fact, later he says:

"What liberals insist, what I insist, is that there is one and only one way to transcend this dynamic, and that is removing people from their oppression. That is what both ethics and self-interest demand. All the same, the conservative message on the slow creep of grievance, the slow seeping of oppression into one's elementary makeup, has been among the best of the movement's insights. It is that message, not the child's mythologies of bootstrapping or deliverance through personal virtue, that should endure."

Note the use of the phrase "child's mythologies." The idea that oppression does not exist, or does not matter, that is not what he wants to keep. What he wants to keep is the idea that yes, at some point you have to have a life that extends beyond your grievances against whoever you see as your oppressors. And that's true; no matter how committed you and others are to ending oppression and discrimination against you, you can't triumph over it until you can have a life and a place in political discourse that is not defined by the extent to which you are an oppressed minority.

Again, this requires the capacity to have a private life which is not defined by your political stance. For people who are strongly oppressed, this is difficult if not impossible, but there still has to be a nucleus of it there or the oppressed group will find its victories hollow: "grievance becomes a mask that eats the face."

Indeed, the author goes on to point out that this is exactly what's happening now to movement conservatism. Their grievances and sense that they're being oppressed because the country doesn't look how they think it should mean that they can never stop agitating, and never stop being agitated. When they lose it's a conspiracy and their opponents are filthy criminals; when they win it's a hollow victory because they can't revolutionize the country in their image over night- democracy won't let them.

Because of this, movement conservatism is an important cautionary tale for everyone in society who wants their grievances addressed: you must have a communal life that means something beyond the fight against oppression, and you must have some collective culture and life that means something beyond "help, I'm being oppressed!"

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Patrick Degan » 2011-04-04 07:07pm

To boil down to essentials: American conservatism has become very heavily Marxian in its ideological mechanics. Everything is now a test for conformity to the party line and the culture must be made to conform. Lin Pao would be proud of the teabaggers.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2011-04-05 01:58am

I think that's pretty unfair. Marxist politics did not become dictatorships of the party leadership until Lenin's "innovations". The SPD, both pre- and post-war, was quite the lively hive of factionalism and intra-party argument and discussion. Point taken though, as it pertains to Leninists. Murray Rothbard fell out with Ayn Rand when he told her she was running a Leninist organization.

This should be reflexive, I think. American far-rightists are instinctive vulgar Marxists. They perceive themselves to be locked in a bitter class war for supremacy with the great majority of the population, and hence you get seeming electoral insanities: like Kasich's attack in Ohio upon the police and firemen unions which supported him. This doesn't make any sense if you're just about trying to vote-monger, but it does make sense if you perceive yourself as an instrument to accomplish the complete destruction of the remnants of the union movement in the U.S.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-04-05 02:04am

Illuminatus Primus wrote:I think that's pretty unfair. Marxist politics did not become dictatorships of the party leadership until Lenin's "innovations". The SPD, both pre- and post-war, was quite the lively hive of factionalism and intra-party argument and discussion. Point taken though, as it pertains to Leninists. Murray Rothbard fell out with Ayn Rand when he told her she was running a Leninist organization.
There's quite a bit of intra-party fighting among the Republicans, you know; it's just that one or two factions have the upper hand for the time being. There's other strains that have potential power- the fundies being the big one; right now the fundies' policy agenda is submerged in favor of the antitax minarcho-corporatist faction.

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2011-04-05 02:41am

The fundies are useful idiots. They exist in the GOP purely as a GOTV apparatus. They produce the foot soldiers, thus obliging the corporatocrats to make noises for their benefit once in a blue moon. American political party dynamics are driven by coalitions of investor support, not by ideological struggles; read Thomas Ferguson's The Investment Theory of Party Competition. Fundies and racist populists are a necessary constituency because its exceptionally difficult, even with all the best PR firm-produced pablum in the world that money can buy, to literally motivate people to make the sojourn the polls on behalf of oil and gas corporations, and there aren't enough shopkeepers in the world to win elections purely on the exploiter vote. Incidentally, in spite of this all, it is still not enough. GOP victories in real terms are simply Democrat losses: they're almost always due to low turnout, particularly among poor, working, and people of color being particularly disaffected or discouraged - or banned, in the case of GOP hijinks against students, ex-felons, and attacks on voter registration drives like ACORN.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-04-05 03:13am

Illuminatus Primus wrote:The fundies are useful idiots. They exist in the GOP purely as a GOTV apparatus. They produce the foot soldiers, thus obliging the corporatocrats to make noises for their benefit once in a blue moon. American political party dynamics are driven by coalitions of investor support, not by ideological struggles; read Thomas Ferguson's The Investment Theory of Party Competition.
True to a point, but political parties have been thrown into disarray by unexpected popular resurgences before. I wouldn't bet on the Republicans being able to forever prevent their own reliance on the fundamentalist wing from backfiring in terms of their control of the party.

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby evilsoup » 2011-04-05 06:20am

Okay, re-reading the article I see that I had missed the point.

Could it be argued that this radicalisation is not an entirely terrible thing? I mean, it's obvious that the current inflexible, borderline-evil ideology of American conservatism isn't useful, but at the end of the day the political is important to the personal. At least it shows that these people are taking politics seriously.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2011-04-05 12:37pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Illuminatus Primus wrote:The fundies are useful idiots. They exist in the GOP purely as a GOTV apparatus. They produce the foot soldiers, thus obliging the corporatocrats to make noises for their benefit once in a blue moon. American political party dynamics are driven by coalitions of investor support, not by ideological struggles; read Thomas Ferguson's The Investment Theory of Party Competition.
True to a point, but political parties have been thrown into disarray by unexpected popular resurgences before. I wouldn't bet on the Republicans being able to forever prevent their own reliance on the fundamentalist wing from backfiring in terms of their control of the party.


Personally, I just think this is more liberal "barbarians at the gates OMG! FUNDIES!" scare-mongering. There's no evidence whatsoever that religious freaks on their own are tearing free of their corporate chains, and if they did? Well who would finance the campaigns? Passing the bowl around the church? Get real. If there was a ultra-far-right mass insurgency, it would have to come of the form of previous incarnations of fascism, whereby business and existing social elites, terrified of democratization, reform, and labor struggles, ally with far-right populists in order to crush the progressive forces. You're not going to get a popular force on the right rising up without tacit support from some wing of American business.
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-04-05 04:02pm

Illuminatus Primus wrote:Personally, I just think this is more liberal "barbarians at the gates OMG! FUNDIES!" scare-mongering. There's no evidence whatsoever that religious freaks on their own are tearing free of their corporate chains, and if they did? Well who would finance the campaigns? Passing the bowl around the church? Get real.
IP, I don't have enough faith in my own powers of prediction to assume that I already know all the ways an organization can come to power in the American political system. I'm glad you do, but I don't.

For all I know, it really is possible for a political movement to succeed in America, or at least achieve a considerable degree of success, using far less money than is now used by the Republican Party, so long as it has other things going for it. I don't know exactly what other things, but "the support of the hundred million or so Americans who think everyone who opposes them is a minion of Satan" sounds to me like it might be a pretty useful asset for that sort of thing.

Maybe that's just me.

On top of that, "some wing of American business" is a pretty wide range. A relative handful of rich people who are themselves fundamentalists could do an alarming amount of bankrolling by themselves, if they chose to do so. You can predict they won't do so... but I am uncertain.

I do not want to assume that the only really significant social divides are the ones of class, with everything else being a sort of veil of illusion. Large groups of people can also be split along other lines, and I don't want to dismiss the idea that the Republican Party might struggle to maintain its current minarcho-corporatist structure if those splits opened up.

evilsoup wrote:Okay, re-reading the article I see that I had missed the point.

Could it be argued that this radicalisation is not an entirely terrible thing? I mean, it's obvious that the current inflexible, borderline-evil ideology of American conservatism isn't useful, but at the end of the day the political is important to the personal. At least it shows that these people are taking politics seriously.
The argument here is that groups who take the political and make it so personal will eventually radicalize themselves until it poisons them. They render themselves unable to declare a cease-fire in the culture wars, or to unite against a common threat to the well-being of the nation. They may even become such a threat without recognizing it, or caring that it has happened- a lot of movements on the far right and far left have utterly ruined their home countries this way, effectively burning the nation's seed corn in a revolutionary frenzy.

"Conservatism," in the long-lasting sense of the term, NOT the "American movement conservatism" sense*, requires a certain sense of political humility.

On the one hand, conservatives have been on the wrong side of history many times, and so there needs to be an awareness that yes, defending your national traditions shouldn't be done to the last ditch because maybe the traditions are wrong this time.

On the other hand, conservatives have often been at their best when they point out that nations and societies are like organisms, not like pieces of machinery: you cannot simply take them apart and reassemble the bits according to a more pleasing blueprint and expect it all to work properly. There has to be an awareness that yes, maybe this proposed revamping of society is too drastic, or threatens to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

When the right remembers these things it is often at its best, acting as a genuinely positive part of a national political system. When it forgets these things, instead assuming that its national traditions are always right and that revamping society can be entirely good... well, then you get fascism.

Right-wing revolutionary ideology is in no sense "conservative," even though it gets called that a lot. What the author of the article quoted in the OP is talking about is that the modern Republican Party is swerving away from "conservative" towards "right-wing revolutionary:" towards something that might quite accurately be called "The People's Revolutionary Party of Conservatism."

The fact that this is an obvious and black-comedic contradiction in terms should be a hint that something's gone badly wrong here.
________

*(which we'd call 'reactionary' if the European political vocabulary could survive in commiephobic America)

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2011-04-06 01:22am

Maybe you could provide something like some evidence for why I am wrong, and why your vague guesswork and paranoia is in fact substantiated, as opposed to just the appeal to ignorance. No shit I don't have a crystal ball. But so long as we're just airily discussing anything that could happen without historical precedent, let's being in reptilians and Trutherism. :roll:
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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-04-06 01:34am

Illuminatus Primus wrote:Maybe you could provide something like some evidence for why I am wrong, and why your vague guesswork and paranoia is in fact substantiated, as opposed to just the appeal to ignorance. No shit I don't have a crystal ball. But so long as we're just airily discussing anything that could happen without historical precedent, let's being in reptilians and Trutherism. :roll:
IP, my point is that I honestly don't think we have enough information to say "this is how it must and shall be" about the American electoral system. The dynamics were quite different fifty years ago, or even 25 years ago, compared to what they are today.

Ruling out the idea that they'll change in the future because fundies are too poor stupid to organize anything without CEOs calling the shots and bankrolling the movement strikes me as grotesquely premature.

If what I'm saying is more liberal "barbarians at the gates OMG! FUNDIES!" then I have to point out that yours is coming across as more smug leftist "dismiss the stupid mystified proletarians because LOL they can't organize anything without their corporate masters bossing them around!"

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Re: Forgetting the Fundamentals of Conservatism [Op-Ed]

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2011-04-06 01:50am

Simon_Jester wrote:
Illuminatus Primus wrote:Maybe you could provide something like some evidence for why I am wrong, and why your vague guesswork and paranoia is in fact substantiated, as opposed to just the appeal to ignorance. No shit I don't have a crystal ball. But so long as we're just airily discussing anything that could happen without historical precedent, let's being in reptilians and Trutherism. :roll:
IP, my point is that I honestly don't think we have enough information to say "this is how it must and shall be" about the American electoral system. The dynamics were quite different fifty years ago, or even 25 years ago, compared to what they are today.


No they weren't. There are differences, but the investment model holds since at least the Thirties, which is from where til now that Ferguson developed it. I cited a source. You have what, again? Appeals to ignorance.

Simon_Jester wrote:Ruling out the idea that they'll change in the future because fundies are too poor stupid to organize anything without CEOs calling the shots and bankrolling the movement strikes me as grotesquely premature.


They have to be capable of more than that. They have to be capable of opposing the major business interests, since they would perceive a totally alien political movement as detrimental to their interests and control of the state.

Simon_Jester wrote:If what I'm saying is more liberal "barbarians at the gates OMG! FUNDIES!" then I have to point out that yours is coming across as more smug leftist "dismiss the stupid mystified proletarians because LOL they can't organize anything without their corporate masters bossing them around!"


Thomas Ferguson is a major mainstream political scientist who is a tenured professor at UMass Boston. He writes for mainstream liberal publications including The Nation. Maybe you could try providing a shred of evidence that there is a basis for your opinion, rather than appeals to ignorance and red-baiting? I realize on this forum no amount of hysteria over fundies need ever be checked with reason or evidence. But I am asking you to try, just a little bit.

I'm contending that looking at history there's no parallel in industrial society for what you contend. In the U.S. we have an exceptionally narrow political spectrum, framed by a pretty narrow media establishment, with unprecedentedly high costs for political campaigns. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution prohibits successful third-party insurgencies due to a political dynamic known in political science as Duverger's Law. So unless you have some evidence that fundies could produce some Mao-esque out-of-nowhere popular theocrat revolution, I think you're simply spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt where you have nothing to substantiate your opinions.

By the way, as a leftist, clearly I believe the "mystified proletarians" are capable of organizing themselves and doing things without CEOs telling them and bankrolling them, otherwise, what would be the point of being a leftist? You seem to be confused.
"You know what the problem with Hollywood is. They make shit. Unbelievable. Unremarkable. Shit." - Gabriel Shear, Swordfish

"This statement, in its utterly clueless hubristic stupidity, cannot be improved upon. I merely quote it in admiration of its perfection." - Garibaldi in reply to an incredibly stupid post.

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