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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why People Are Conservative

Many years ago, when my parents lived in Rio de Janeiro for a short while, I visited them in their condo in the stunning São Conrado area.

The views from my bedroom window were extraordinary for their beach expanse.

But turning my head to the left, overlooking the pristine hang-gliding cliffs where tourists paid U$125 -- which would comfortably nourish a favela family of 4 for a month -- for a quick 30 minute thrill, was the most notorious mountain shanty (favela) in all of Brazil: Rocinha.

Rocinha is pronounced in English: Haw-SEE-neeya

These maze-like rabbit hutches of dwellings, without electricity, running water, and sewage control, housed the local population of maids-of-all-work, chauffeurs, handymen, mechanics, delivery boys, and all manner of hard-working but poor Cariocas, some not Cariocas at all, but hailing from every state in Brazil. Plus, of course, an explosion of criminals, because wherever poverty lies, criminals lay next to it.

And Rocinha is filled with 130,000 of these disparate masses.

Think of it: one-hundred and thirty thousand people. On a mountain top.

That's the population of Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Or Ipswich. Or Reykjavik. Or New Haven, Connecticut. Or Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Or in fact, the total population of Jews in all of Brazil.

This is just a mind-boggling concentration of people, far outdistancing in sheer numbers, the community of luxury-home dwellers below it.

And though Rocinha is the largest favela, there are literally dozens and dozens of favelas peppering the famed Zona Sul, which include Copacabana and Ipanema, where the upper-middle classes of Rio live.

So I, just a teen, the product of two 1970's progressives, began to wonder one day:

Why didn't these people, who easily could've overwhelmed the privileged below them in a well-planned attack not unlike some of their drug cartel operations, before the police, many of whom themselves lived or had relatives in favelas, and might hesitate to kill a kinsman, had a chance to arrive, act, and control...just not do so?

Why did Rocinha residents, so ripe for overthrow, choose the status quo, rather than the status revolt?

Yes, there are logistical implications, as well as moral and cultural ones, because it doesn't follow that because one is poor, one will be a thief, a rapist or a murderer -- all prerequisites for such an attack.

Many people have their opinions as to why this scenario doesn't happen, and this blogpost isn't about trying to decipher those reasons.

It is, however, a small practical exploration of what makes people Conservative, with a large-C, because that is ultimately what I believe is the reason:

Conservatism is, has always been, and will continue to be, the default human political condition.

WHY CONSERVATISM EXISTS

What I am saying, is of course, neither original nor prescient. It's been addressed repeatedly since man ruminated as to why things are.

We've all heard it has to do with lack of education, with lack of resources, with lack of will power, with lack of imagination, with being run down by circumstances.

A multitude of reasons as to why, and yet these reasons have always struck me as lacking something in themselves, although they are abundant in condenscension.

But I have yet to hear why people choose a state of being if they feel it's not good for them, and stick to it -- unless, perhaps, they do think that.

CONSERVATIVE 'BACKWARDNESS' v. LIBERAL 'PROGRESS'

One of the most important lessons from evolution, a theory held in much respect by certain people (including myself), is that nature will tend towards survival over death, and go about ways of preserving themselves. When change comes it is most often gradual, unless a cataclysmic event intervenes.

Upheaval, revolt, anarchy, all these states of change are considerably more risky than the certainty of stasis.

And yet, this response does a severe injustice to Conservatism, because it infers that all progress is by default, Liberal in nature.

The old, "Conservatism is stuck, whilst Liberalism marches forward" theory.

This is the idea that allows political progressives to debase any proposal that doesn't emanate from the well-spring of their philosophy.

It becomes a challenge, even an affront that positive change is happening without they leading the charge.

In short, for such people, progress is inconceivable without progressives.

And this is wrong.

Ameliorating conditions, finding solutions to problems, having ideals are not the preserve of Liberals.

But it has long seemed that way, because the arguments posed since the Enlightenment were phrased in such a way that Conservatism seemed reactionary by default, and lacking the intellectual breadth of Liberalism, let alone its brawny idealism.

CONSERVATISM DOES NOT MEAN A RETURN TO YESTERDAY

Respect for tradition, patriotism, or religiosity does not infer a wholesale return to the past.

This is the fear which is especially exploited by Modern Western Conservatives' counterparts, Modern Western Liberals, and I use these terms for each, pointedly.

Most modern, especially Western, people reading this would never choose slavery over freedom, disenfranchisement over voting rights, the subjugation of women over female independence, or anything contrary to what is covered by that glorious phrase, those inalienable rights.

No one wants to go back to a time when life was short, cruel, and violent.

No one wants to go back to a time when rulers had the right of life and death over its subjects, based not on law but on whim. When children were sacrificed for good harvests, and when knowledge was a jealously guarded secret charged to an often willfully ignorant few.

These rights are there not for what we have done, but of who we are. The State is merely their enforcer and we the people, are its master.

WHY PEOPLE TEND TOWARDS LIBERALISM

And because this has occured, many people neither unintelligent nor lacking in morals, unlike what many detractors would have it, believe that progress must therefore be liberal in nature.

It is Liberalism, they say, that has brought us to this point. It is Liberalism, goes their thinking, that will take us further to where we ultimately wish to be.

In fact, there are many other philosophical reasons why people feel themselves to be Liberal.

They include:

  • A sense of greater idealism

  • A belief in the inherent superiority of their intentions

  • A guiding philosophy that the world must be changed, and changed now, not tomorrow, so that everyone can benefit from what a few do already

  • The weaving spell of utopianism, where perfection is attainable, if only people would discard their conventions, and prejudices

  • A regard for transnationalism


But to every side of a coin, there is an obverse, and Liberals must be wary of falling into these traps.

They are:

  • Belief in the superiority of philosophy and world view

  • Vanguard elitism of intellectuals who grasp this 'complex' philosophy

  • Intolerance of all who stand in the way of implementing this philosophy

  • Impatience to do what's right, versus to do what's correct

  • Impractical solutions

  • Amateurishness

  • Self-loathing

  • Class hatred

  • Fifth-Columnism

  • Fanatacism


There are also inherent modern pitfalls in extreme Liberalism, which cannot go unremarked.

At various stages, progressive politics have spawned collectivism, Socialism, Communism and Maoism.

Failed and failing systems, all.

Systems which have a preternatural need for control of the State or of the greater whole, to that over individual rights. These are justified that for the good of all, some must suffer.

The only problem is, in utopic visions, no one suffers.

There is no way to reconcile this reality with theory, except by hiding, dissembling, and discrediting, because such a philsophy cannot be seen as persecutor, or controller, but liberator, and champion of freedom.

This goes a long way to explain why countries went so far as to build a wall to prevent their own people from leaving; to deny freedom of information; and of the questioning of the system -- incomprehensible actions all, if they were living in self-described worker's paradises.

LIBERAL FIRST-COUSINS

Even Fascism and Nazism, long since adjucated to the Right of the political spectrum, largely because they were antagonistic towards Marxism, were spawned by progressive Statists, in practise, and in name.

Benito Mussolini was the child of Socialist parents who named him for Benito Juarez, the revolutionary Mexican leader. He only formalised his common-law marriage to his wife when he entered politics, since neither of them believed in the 'bondage' of marriage. He was, of course, an Atheist with a deep distrust of the Roman Catholic Church as institution, and competing font of allegiance.

Adolf Hitler believed in nothing but the superiority of Germans specifically, and Aryans generally. The 12-year nightmare that was his reign saw a return to tribal German paganism, deriding religion and any countervaling force to that of National Socialism, interchangeable in his mind with the State. In his personal life, he was abstemious, vegetarian, a non-smoker, fanatically careful with his image as an 'alternate' kind of man to the brutish commoner or dissolute aristocrat. He was first and foremost, a revolutionary -- the ultimate alternative man.

SOCIAL DEMOCRACIES

And in certain matters, social democracies have not been unqualified successes either.

(No matter what fountain of benefits given to a citizenry, deflating ego-to-the-State riots took place in France in 2005)

For every slum that was cleared, a dependency on the State was created.

This has ranged from the worrisome, like sapping personal initiative, to the disastrous, such as seeking quick fixes (like the injudicious scattering of moneys, and unassimilated multi-culturalism) to very complicated problems.

Then there is the reaction of those who would tinker with this social construct, as would be the case with anything which is judged to be a superior model than the one before it.

People who dare to question or to modify the model or goals, are villified, abused, ridiculed, despite Liberalism being in theory, a philosophy which is supposed to represent idealism and an alternative to the old repressive, vengeful ways.

And you can't be an alternative, if you use the self-same methods you once condemned in the past.

You can't denounce racism, and then be racist when it suits you. You can't say sexism is wrong, except to those who you dislike. You can't decry xenophobia, unless globalisation's world-wide reach makes you hate jobs leaving to "foreigners".

That is the height of the illogical, and people are not dense. They see that quite clearly.

It's as if the upset was not at specific abuses, but that merely one was resentful at not being the ones in charge, and not having power to control the means of opinion-forming.

The illogical tie-ins are a great reason why people close to the earth, don't see alternatives: they see more of the same, if not worse.

Many poor people are Conservatives because it makes more sense to be. And poor people rarely have the luxury of ignoring common sense.

Furthermore, if you do pendle in the illogical, people will fail to see Liberals as a viable alternative, since their ideals don't correspond to their actions.

WHY PEOPLE TEND TOWARDS CONSERVATISM

So if non-politicised people fail to see Liberals as a viable, original alternative, they will tend towards Conservatism, regardless of their actual agreement of their ideals.

These philosophical and metaphysical reasons can include:

  • Respect for traditionalism, without which shared cultural ideals become debased, diluted or lost

  • A belief in the inherent soundness of their practicality

  • A guiding philosophy that the world which is changed without foresight, and due consideration, is a world of anarchy and mean-spiritedness

  • An overriding sense of individualism over the collective

  • Patriotic ease

  • Security


But, at the point of repetition, to every side of a coin, there is an obverse, and Conservatives must be wary of falling into these traps.

They are:

  • Belief in the superiority of its practicality

  • Desire to maintain the status-quo beyond the acceptable

  • Overimportance given to control and order

  • Impatience of the "other"

  • Irritation with youth and the new

  • Prudishness

  • Xenophobia

  • Nationalism

  • Fanatacism



WHICH IS BETTER OR WORSE?

Is the wrong question to ask.

These two examples above, both for Liberals and Conservatives with their respective pros-and-cons, should at the very least show that there is no one perfect political or personal way, because perfection implies unity, or wholeness.

And as can be seen, both are rifes with pitfalls from within and without.

It does no one any favours to ignore them, or to wave away concerns expressed, even if by the other side, simply because you refuse to admit past or current mistakes.

So the right question to ask is, why two? Why not just one philosophical or political expression?

Because above all, it shows that we human beings have a duality of being, at the very least.

This duality is an expression of nature itself, that which is born and dies. That which is light and dark. That which is male and female.

And that which is Liberal and Conservative.

These dualities can be adversarial. But it can also be complimentary.

Without a complimentary ethos, without understanding, and respect, life becomes unlivable.

And in a life where peace is the maximum hope, the ultimate ideal, those who would dream for peace, are often too embroiled in disparaging the other side, whichever side that is.

At its absolute best, you can make the other side cohabit the world with you, peaceably.

But at its absolute worst, without honesty and respect, lack of understanding lays the foundations for genocide.

That may be nature. But that's not natural. That's man-made.

SO WHY ARE PEOPLE CONSERVATIVE?

You cannot divorce the forces of history from what has made man into a political animal.

Many people are Conservative today because they reject certain historical events, or philosophies.

The impact that world Communism has had on many such people in the twentieth century cannot be overstated.

Some people are themselves victims of what they see as a failed, morally corrupt, and corrosive system.

They see themselves as victims because they had to live through it, whereas others merely philosophise, instead of living the realities of Communism or Socialism.

And for their troubles, they see their victimhood belittled, as other sufferers would never have been, had their aggressors been other than Communist.

To those belittlers, it doesn't suit their philosophical agenda which says that Communism is still better than the system currently in place in ALL of the developed world: capitalist democracies.

The only reason that the Communist agendas failed, they say, was that they were not implemented correctly.

Subtext: It is man's fault, not the philosophy's.

That is chillingly similar to what Hilter thought, when he ordered German cities' infrastructure to be destroyed. Life under Nazism was too noble an ideal, to be left to those who failed it, he insanely thought.

But there are people who do not recognise this fault as man's.

Where it a question of one failure, one nation, one moment in time, that could be the case.

But when it spans nearly a century, of various strains of forces acting upon it, with diverse leaders implementing it, with various nations instituting it, and it still fails, it is no perfect, or ultimate truth, as its adherents would have one believe.

It's a Potemkin Village of a philosophy. Kick it in, and it's totally exposed.

For people who see collectivism as their adversary, Conservatism is a natural fit.

But there are many many more who are not anti-Communist, necessarily, who are Conservatives, or who choose to vote Conservative on occasion.

Such people may be apolitical, even as a rule.

And many people who are too busy working to make a living, fit that bill, almost perfectly.

And this is especially true of those who struggle. They live very close to the realities of life, just common working people, without long-winded discourse or utopian visions to sustain them.

If they see something implemented which makes sense, and is beneficial not only to themselves, but to society, they will more often than not, back it.

Allegiances are very important to such people, who judge a movement not by its philosophy, but by its integrants, and their actions.

And that is a major sticking-point in Liberalism.

As shown in my earlier post, Strange Bedfellows, I pointed out that US Conservatives are an amalgam of various kinds of people, some not traditionally associated with Conservatism, but who oftentimes tend towards it, because of necessity, as well as belief.

But in Conservatism, you have the ability to reject aspects of those various groups, without being hijacked emotionally into doing so.

You can be wary of guns or not particularly religious, and still be a Conservative.

You can be uncomfortable of militarism, and still be a Conservative.

You can be homosexual, and still be a Conservative.

You can even be distrustful of rampant Capitalism, and still be a Conservative.


...but is the opposite true?

Can you be a genuine modern-day US Liberal, and defend to your fellow Liberals, the rights of creationism versus evolution in schools?

What about religiosity in general in the public sphere?

What about militarism?

What about being against the notion of same-sex marriage?

What if you deride the welfare state?


Now, there are those who are reading this that are thinnking, "but then, they're not real Liberals or progressives."

Precisely.

There is no such thing as a "true Conservative", except one who considers himself one in his or her mind.

There is no concrete ideology that goes with Conservatism, and therefore, all its subsequent baggage.

You don't feel imposed to call yourself a part of a community of like-thinkers whose attitudes discomfort you.

It is this umbrella aspect that the majority of voters in the United States have rejected in the past, because the associations, the attitudes, and the beliefs come with strings attached.

And for extremists, those strings can become ropes.

THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE VERSUS THE WORLD CONSERVATIVE

The American Conservative has it easy.

This country is based on a principle of individual rights, or protection of religions, of liberties to all, not just to those who believe in the State as the supreme godhead.

You can go to church on Sunday, or you can stay at home watching your kids play in the yard.

You can work like a dog, or you can barely scrape by and still reap the rewards of the world's prosperous and powerful nation.

You can even not vote, and still have a Republic worth living in because enough people do.

But other Conservatives around the world don't have it this easy.

They have to fight toogh-and-nail against the chattering classes which despise their way of thinking. They, at times, even have to fight a State which intrudes into their private rights, for the oft-unsustainable benefit of all.

They could find their life savings frozen, as what happened in Brazil and France, due to the nationalisation of banks, or the attempts to cure inflation.

They have to suffer within a society whose cultural characteristics are at once called nationalistic, and yet deemed under attack by the McDonaldsisation of American "imperialism".

These are contradictory messages, and people see them for what they are: that contradictions build mistakes, which if not challenged or exposed, build lies.

When the tensions are too great, riots occur, even Civil War occurs.

People who expose these contradictory messages, are in turn villified as bigots, or regressives, for no better reason than because of disagreement with the implementation of an ideology.

Around the world, there are those who are Conservatives who have a lot more to be on guard against, than American ones, not the least of which, is being a relevant force in the political sphere.

For the past 53 years, there have been 4 Democratic administrations (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton), to 6 Republican ones (Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush Fils), but only one Democrat in that time-frame was re-elected to a second term: the imprimatur of confidence in the American Presidency.

That's 20 years of national ruling for one side, to 35 years and counting, for the other, nearly twice, by the end of George W. Bush's mandate in 2008.

There is something which is happening to the American voter, that cannot be explained away by polls, by trends, or by demographics.

The reason, in labouring the point, for that is that the natural political state of man is Conservative.

This is why even those people in Brazilian favelas do not foment a revolution. It has to be fomented for them.

But first, they have to be convinced.

INFLUENCES

Family allegiances play an important role in forming one's first contact with politics, but just as easily, the rebellious condition could interrupt that allegiance, in that age-old rejection of your parents' ideals.

The more a pendulum swings one way, either way, the more it'll tend to swing back, as eras in world history have shown endlessly.

This is not the sign of instability, but instead is the most normal aspect of man's dual nature. It is about balance.

For those of any political stripe who are completely committed to their politics, this is anathema.

They can only conceive a world where their philosophy rules supreme.

Unfortunately for them, nothing could be more antagonistic to the vast majority of human beings, than to see a fanatic at work, allegedly on their behalf.

To redress this problem, of one Party becoming too entrenched in power, Americans have voted nationally more Conservative than not.

But because they are that rarest of history's creatures, products of a non-feudal world, they can reject one side, but approve of them intermittently, to balance things out.

The Founding Fathers of the United States wrote many checks and balances into the Constitution, and of the system of laws we live under, but they omitted one very important check and balance, which, perhaps inherently evolved from their framework, happened spontaneously anyway.

That no one Party or political philosophy would dominate America.

They believed that for a Republic to survive, to prosper, and to be healthy, both sides of the political divide must work together for the commonweal, of which they themselves are a part of.

Adversaries in philosophy, yes. Adversaries in national welfare, no.

There must be a pendulum of power.

However, not surprisingly, it is the one which is the most porous in its philosophy, its associations, and its adepts, that has been the one which has tilted the pendulum more to one side than the other, at a time when the United States has been at its absolute apogee.

That is the Conservative legacy.

That is its success.

That is its enduring philosophy, which isn't found in any one text. It is not read.

It is lived.

16 Comments:

  • They believed that for a Republic to survive, to prosper, and to be healthy, both sides of the political divide must work together for the commonweal, of which they are themselves are a part of.

    Adversaries in philosophy, yes. Adversaries in national welfare, no.


    First, I'm in awe of you.
    Second, I think that while our founding fathers believed that both sides would work toward a prosperous and healthy national welfare, I believe they could not have forseen the greed of power which has overtaken us.
    The constant steering of the populace toward a defeatist and sour attitude on international and national matters seems geared only to achieving power. Nothing more. And this not recently but for forty years.
    Our founders knew what would work, would they have understood the viciousness of the country's fabric being torn asunder for political gain?
    You question why the poor do not revolt in Brazil? I question why the poor did not rise up in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Uganda, elsewhere. How do people just wait to be killed?

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Nov 07, 05:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Firstly can I compliment you on a wonderful piece fo writing. It's too good for a blog ;)

    I distill political choice in a free and democratic society to be predominantly conservative for one simple reason - people inherently are afraid of change.

    On occasions they can be inspired to pick up the gauntlet and fundamental change/progress can be made (the overwhelming Labour majority and the turfing out of office of Churchill and his Conservative Party post-WWII is a prime example) but it remains the exception to the rule.

    Political choice in a "lesser" free and democratic society is much harder to define. Fear of change often gives way to fear of being. Far too much of South American history has been littered with the people subjugated, beaten, killed to satisfy the easy will of the political elite, of whatever persuasion.

    You can extend this analogy to Iraq post-Gulf War I when Bush Senior and the allies withdrew and tacitly encouraged the populace to rise up in defiance of Hussein and his henchman. To have any chance of success they either had to rise up as one (extremely unlikely) or receive military help. As it was those who dared to be liberal played the role of sacrificial lamb.

    Sometimes it pays to be conservative.

    steve d

    By Blogger block108er, at Mon Nov 07, 08:19:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Firstly, Victoria, a simply excellent post! In fact, you perhaps should have spread these ideas over several posts, just so they could be examined in detail!

    I am struck by the idea of how both conservatives and liberals can go down blind alleys of ideas with the best of intentions. It might interesting to investigate how that process happens and if you can do anything about it if you see the "warning signs." Perhaps a follow-up post...hmmm...

    By Blogger Ron, at Mon Nov 07, 11:20:00 pm GMT-5  

  • First, I'm in awe of you.

    Awwwww...e. ;)

    Thank you, Paul. I'm not sure what I've done to deserve such high praise, as I only do what I feel and think is percolating inside me.

    Second, I think that while our founding fathers believed that both sides would work toward a prosperous and healthy national welfare, I believe they could not have forseen the greed of power which has overtaken us.

    They did. This is precisely why they instituted those checks and balances into the system.

    You know, on NPR a few months ago, I heard (I think it was) Terry Gross interview a Con Law professor -- not our beloved Ann Althouse.

    He, albeit not self-identified as a Liberal, sounded almost despondent about the lack of opportunity of other Parties gaining a foothold into the dual Party system, which by and large, has been the norm in US politics since the year dot.

    He said, maybe the political process invented, and sustained by the US Constitution is such (first past the post, etc.), that only two Parties have the werewithal to be viable options.

    The one he said it (I wish I remembered the date, so I could look it up), it seemed like he was down in the mouth, because the Democrats are the losing Party, more often than not.

    It's like he was intimating the process was rigged by the FFs!

    The constant steering of the populace toward a defeatist and sour attitude on international and national matters seems geared only to achieving power. Nothing more. And this not recently but for forty years.

    If you're making an allusion to the fact that populism is a very real threat to democracies (vide Hugo Chavez), I couldn't agree more.

    But there seems to be a very strict standard applied to the US Presidency.

    Too much pandering to populism is devilish, IMHO.

    Some people think the current president is a populist, but in fact, in word and deed, he's the opposite. He takes extremely unpopular positions, and runs with them.

    He does not inflaming local passions, either.

    E.G.: If Dubya had not been so conciliatory towards Muslim Americans, directly after 9/11, but had not visited their mosques, etc. and rather told the populace to be wary of them...that's evil populism, and that's the kind practised by many many politicians around the world).

    Our founders knew what would work, would they have understood the viciousness of the country's fabric being torn asunder for political gain?

    You betcha.

    Nothing that goes on today, hasn't gone on in the past. That's gospel truth, Paul.

    The chicaneries of Alexander Hamilton are appalling.

    You question why the poor do not revolt in Brazil? I question why the poor did not rise up in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Uganda, elsewhere. How do people just wait to be killed?

    YES! Exactly.

    Everyone can give answers, stretching from "people are too set in their ways" and thus laying the blame on Conservatism, ironically enough, to "they don't have the werewithal to revolt".

    But the real reason is the tolerance for the intolerable.

    Some peoples just have a higher threshold for that, as I have mentioned in the past.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 01:27:00 am GMT-5  

  • Firstly can I compliment you on a wonderful piece fo writing. It's too good for a blog ;)

    Thank you, Steve! Makes a change from my RSS posts, to be sure. ;)

    I distill political choice in a free and democratic society to be predominantly conservative for one simple reason - people inherently are afraid of change.

    Afraid is your reading into it, which is more negative than positive.

    It's more like "wary of precipitous change".

    Let's face it -- the world, society changes every single day.

    It's the political and societal processes that don't keep up with that, to the chagrin of some.

    On occasions they can be inspired to pick up the gauntlet and fundamental change/progress can be made (the overwhelming Labour majority and the turfing out of office of Churchill and his Conservative Party post-WWII is a prime example) but it remains the exception to the rule.

    Perhaps.

    Political choice in a "lesser" free and democratic society is much harder to define. Fear of change often gives way to fear of being. Far too much of South American history has been littered with the people subjugated, beaten, killed to satisfy the easy will of the political elite, of whatever persuasion.

    I couldn't agree more here.

    It's a very sad impulse too, since at its root is distrust, even distaste for one's own.

    One example is that in Brazil they send their very best coffee abroad, because obviously, that's the kind that gets the most moneys for the coffee growers (not all big plantation owners, which makes it doubly sad).

    Consequently, one of the best coffee in the world is never drunk by its own people.

    You'd think they'd keep some for themselves...for their own.

    A very small example of more of a feeling, than political expression that I am trying to convey, you know?

    You can extend this analogy to Iraq post-Gulf War I when Bush Senior and the allies withdrew and tacitly encouraged the populace to rise up in defiance of Hussein and his henchman. To have any chance of success they either had to rise up as one (extremely unlikely) or receive military help. As it was those who dared to be liberal played the role of sacrificial lamb.

    That was pitiful. I'll never forgive Colin Powell, and ultimately, GHW Bush for such a cowardly tack.

    It reminded me of Kennedy's pulling out from under the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

    If you're going to do something, do it. Don't do it half-way. That causes even more suffering and makes the US look duplicitous.

    Sometimes it pays to be conservative.

    For too long, the US, when facing the challenges of the Middle East Arab leadership, has thought that better a Saddam to be left in power, who was seen as secular and corrupt (therefore controllable), than for Iraq to become another Iran, of the Shi'a and the fanatics -- as they saw it.

    Mistake.

    One rectified not too late, since it's never too late, but with the appearance of convenience.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 01:40:00 am GMT-5  

  • Firstly, Victoria, a simply excellent post!

    Thank you, Ron!

    I'll leave it up until 2 PM tomorrow, or so, since it took me later than usual to finish it.

    In fact, you perhaps should have spread these ideas over several posts, just so they could be examined in detail!

    Fear not. I will. This is the hors d'oeuvre. :)

    I am struck by the idea of how both conservatives and liberals can go down blind alleys of ideas with the best of intentions.

    What does our Chinese fortune cookie say?

    The path to hell was paved by good intentions.

    It might interesting to investigate how that process happens and if you can do anything about it if you see the "warning signs."

    Excellent post idea. Thank you. :)

    Perhaps a follow-up post...hmmm...

    I'm on it. Just maybe not just yet.

    But I'm on it!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 01:42:00 am GMT-5  

  • Sometimes I don t wonder who you are but how many you are ! How do you find the time to do all of the following (that i am aware of):
    Going to med school,Reading lot s of books, reporting about it, going to movies, reporting about it, posting on multiple news groups, watching tons of footy on Tv, reporting about it, listening to NPR, reporting about it, other radio and music,reporting about it watching TV, reporting about it, chating on #irc, writing some long pieces for your blog, playing maybe in 10 differents fantasy games, ridding hurricanes, helping in the aftermath,
    This is only what i am aware of!What else... Are you one? is there 2 may be 3 Ms Barett? Do u eat? Sleep? Do you have friends?
    You are frightening! :-)

    By Anonymous SHUSSBAR, at Tue Nov 08, 09:54:00 am GMT-5  

  • Great essay, V!
    The thought struck me upon reading the following that these points also fairly describe individuals who suffer from NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder:


    Belief in the superiority of philosophy and world view

    Vanguard elitism of intellectuals who grasp this 'complex' philosophy

    Intolerance of all who stand in the way of implementing this philosophy

    Impatience to do what's right, versus to do what's correct

    Impractical solutions

    Amateurishness

    Self-loathing

    Class hatred

    Fanatacism

    By Blogger Meade, at Tue Nov 08, 10:59:00 am GMT-5  

  • Sometimes I don t wonder who you are but how many you are ! How do you find the time to do all of the following (that i am aware of):
    Going to med school,Reading lot s of books, reporting about it, going to movies, reporting about it, posting on multiple news groups, watching tons of footy on Tv, reporting about it, listening to NPR, reporting about it, other radio and music,reporting about it watching TV, reporting about it, chating on #irc, writing some long pieces for your blog, playing maybe in 10 differents fantasy games, ridding hurricanes, helping in the aftermath,
    This is only what i am aware of!What else... Are you one? is there 2 may be 3 Ms Barett? Do u eat? Sleep? Do you have friends?
    You are frightening! :-)


    Ooh a lot of ground you have covered here, Shussy.

    First, I'm not married or have kids. It helps, as I don't need to tell the father of an active sweet boy. :)

    Secondly, remember that I announced some time ago (even on RSS!) that I have taken an one-year sabbatical from Med School starting in May.

    This blog, launched in January, was a way of being able to express everything I am forced to keep inside myself, because I am surrounded in academia by scientists, and those who do not share my world view in almost anything.

    Friends? I had many...many...and now I have 3. A Chilean. A girl from St. Louis, and a lady from New Jersey.

    In the past 5 years, I have bled friends because, like the ones above, South Florida is a transient city.

    They all leave. :(

    But hey, I have you!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 12:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oh, and I speed read 2000 wmp. And type 80-100 wmp. It helps.

    *g*

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 12:52:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Great essay, V!

    Thanks, Lmeade! :)

    The thought struck me upon reading the following that these points also fairly describe individuals who suffer from NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

    Or people with Messianic complexes, like Woodrow Wilson, the classic Liberal.

    My dad, the mild progressive I mentioned, would certainly qualify -- in a positive, helping way, but still...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 08, 12:58:00 pm GMT-5  

  • "Conservatism" is no longer what you think it is. Classic "Conservatism" is simply moderate an cautious in its approach to progress, weighing fiducial constraints, cultural pluralities, and other factors that may yield unintentional consequences of governmental influence.

    What "Conservatism" has become is extremist, corporatist and laissez faire economically, with the idea that government has essentially no function whatsoever other than finding ways to move public tax monies into corporate profit margins.

    Morally, "Conservatism" as a political movement, has embraced exclusively a group of sectarian, fundamentalist, evangelical and in some cases dominionist degenerations of christianity who vote on the basis of single-issue hot buttons, but require nothing of government to intervene or offer a "fix" other than hyperbolic pronouncements of etherial morality and the implementation of draconian bans in the areas of Law and Public Policy.

    This group is essentially manipulated to win the thin margin of votes that has made this Nation a one-Party government.

    Conservatism in the context of the United States, should refer to the cautious, deep-thinking group of those advocating the Liberal Democracy founded in the Constitution, who keep governmental interventions from pursuing folly. It refer to the pragmatists of this American culture. However, they would be at root, Liberal if reflecting true American values such as Church-State separation and the primacy of individual liberty.

    Liberalism is the fundamental political philosphy of the United States, rooted in both the intentions and documentation of the Founding Fathers.

    The concepts of Liberal vs. Conservative have been so convoluted by extremists that they are nearly useless as monikers at this date in history.

    By Blogger Ghost Dansing, at Fri Nov 11, 07:29:00 am GMT-5  

  • I distill political choice in a free and democratic society to be predominantly conservative for one simple reason - people inherently are afraid of change.

    I think you may have that partially right. I think people are afraid of change imposed from without.

    I have never been afraid when I got married, got a new career, had children. These are huge changes, but they were my choice.

    My problem is with change that I either understand as detremental, or don't understand and don't trust the motives of the one implementing the change on my behalf.

    I submit that there was nobody more "non change" than President Clinton and he is considered one of the best presidents we had by some.

    If "conservativism" is lack of change, I guess you could paint Bubba as a conservative. :)

    Now we're in a situation where there are a lot of changes. An attack on one of our major cities, and a war on two fronts. And if you notice, the attack has not been on reasoning behind the wars (which I believe sound) but the character of the president and his administration. Note the non-crime of Scooter Libby.

    Rather than discuss the value of competing philosophies, the Democrats seem committed to simply proving that the President is a deceitful liar and an untrustworthy human being without your best interests in mind.

    This is very hard to prove based on his actions. We'll see.

    By Anonymous Tony, at Fri Nov 11, 08:24:00 am GMT-5  

  • I think it's important to note that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" as used in today's political discourse are connected only vaguely to the liberal and conservative personality types that you so eloquently discuss.

    Many who call themselves "liberals" or "progressives" are in fact reactionaries when it comes to certain issues. Public education in its current form, for example, is treated as something sacrosanct. So is social security. The idea that these are merely human-created mechanisms is lost; they are treated with an almost Burkean reverence.

    By Blogger David, at Fri Nov 11, 11:47:00 am GMT-5  

  • Quite correct. Advocacy for Social Security and Public Education should be a Conservative position. They are established Governmental interventions and addressed pre-existing conditions to which America should not want to return. They also reflect the Liberal basis of American political philosophy. Both Social Security and compulsory, state-sponsored Public Education have bee benchmarks of progress and a triumph of Liberal ideals.

    The longevity and success of these institutions should enjoy broad defense from a trully Conservative constituency, and from Conservative politicians.

    Most children in the United States come together at the neighborhood or regional level under the "common school'' philosophy that began in New England cities such as Hartford hundreds of years ago, even before U.S. independence was declared in 1776.

    The Social Security program has been a great success. Before it was implemented 70 years ago, 50 percent of older Americans lived in poverty. Today, that number is down to 10 percent. But the program has not only protected seniors from poverty, it has also served as a safety net for millions of disabled people, widows, widowers, and children whose parents have passed away.

    Indeed, those calling themselves "Conservatives" are showing the true colors of their extremist, ideological, and reactionary bent. They are not Conservatives in the American tradition at all.

    By Blogger Ghost Dansing, at Fri Nov 11, 03:32:00 pm GMT-5  

  • But Ghost...something that worked once, in one set of conditions, may not work in another set of conditions. And the fact that something was the best idea around 75 years ago doesn't necessarily mean it's the best idea now. Supporting the public education system as it now stands, and refusing to seriously consider alternatives, is IMO not just conservative, it's reactionary.

    By Blogger David, at Fri Nov 11, 04:34:00 pm GMT-5  

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