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View Diary: The lost conservative (really) (74 comments)

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  •  I must be a conservative, then. (5+ / 0-)

    I have to say, I read your description of what conservatives believe, and what liberals believe, and I said to myself, goddam, I want nothing to do with those liberals!

    This proves to me how ineffective these labeling and categorizing exercises are.  We read them here on a regular basis.  Diaries have tried to categorize us liberals (and I've been here for years with 12,000 posts and 151 diaries, so I guess that includes me) as a group as being different (and usually, it is implied, better) because of a personality type difference, like more compassion, or more openness to new ideas, or, in one case, a theory that it was genetic, that there was a conservative gene.  (And who knows, perhaps we could eradicate it with gene therapy...)

    And I almost never identify with the description of "us."  

    To edit down your description a little:

    I said, "Historically and literally, conservatives wish to conserve the establishment or, by extension, bring back a lost norm. Liberals, historically, have believed that human happiness can be increased and improved, and human liberty improved, by change..."

    I wanted them to understand that it's a reasonable toughie: is the best to come through changing things, or is the best already on earth and found by preserving or recreating a past?

    Well, I would like to return to a norm.  I would like to roll back the Bush-Cheney police state to at least where we were before 9/11.  I'm more upset about Gitmo and torture and black sites and domestic spying and memos that say the president can kill or torture anybody he wants any time he wants -- and now we've had this for two presidents.

    So I guess I'm a conservative that way.  Okay, fine!  I have no problem with that.  In fact, I'm baffled as hell whenever a tea bagger complains about the scourge of tyranny AND big government AND Obama being a fascist yadda yadda yadda... and then defends Gitmo.  Whatever.  Sometimes this is more like a local football game where people reflexively root for the home team even when they don't know what color each side is wearing.

    And your description of the liberal also FRIGHTENS me.  I think that person is not somebody I would like to entrust something as important as a country to.  I believe that social progress is an illusion, a fact we have historically been reminded of many times.  We're always one step away from another Conference of Wannsee, some great plan to improve the world by doing something like, oh, eliminating inferior people from the gene pool.  History would suggest that there is no amount of education that can prevent these things happening, because they always seem like a good thing at the time.  As Leni Riefenstahl basically said in the documentary about how she could have supported the Nazis (bad paraphrase warning) "Well, you would have had to be there to understand."  Something like that.  

    In just the same way, we Americans are "looking forward, not backward," a policy Leni Riefenstahl would have endorsed whole-heartedly after the war.

    Well... I don't look forward.  I don't trust change.  I'm not opposed to change.  I just distrust "experts" and their ideas of improving the human condition, as I would have distrusted Leni Riefenstahl and Albert Speer's forward looking Romantic visions.

    Now, let me explain why ---I--- think I'm a liberal.  It has nothing to do with my great concern for my fellow man, because I don't think I'm endowed with more concern than most, and maybe even less.  I don't believe in a great shining future.  I don't believe that experts always or even very frequently know best.

    But I do believe in class conflict, and I think that's at the root of all political struggle.  I'm not a Marxist; to tease people, I describe myself as a neo-Zapatista, and quote Zapata, "They have the land.  But you have the guns.  Are you not men?"  Hopefully, short of taking up arms and shooting each other, we can fight for our own interests.  It has always been like this, in one way or the other, and always will.  Disparate groups separated by differences of identity oppose each other for control of the way things are done.  The differences in identity can take many different forms, like race, religion, what shock jocks you like, what part of the country you're from, etc., but it always comes back to "My group would be better off if we got this instead of you getting that."  

    In a healthy adversarial democratic system, that works, and people work out there differences to an uneasy compromise.  If they don't, then it's back to first principles.

    •  Sure... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, The Geogre, native

      the reason we're all Democrats is that the Republicans are reactionary, not conservative. Right now, an intellectually consistent conservative should want to roll back the massive failed policy experiment that was the Bush administration.

      The way I'd describe myself would also be small-c conservative -- and absolutely not reactionary. I'm for single-payer health care because it's empirically proven over decades in many countries, while our employer-based insurance system is largely a failure. I have no desire to roll back abortion rights because that would be a negative change from the status quo. I also have no desire to slash high-income tax rates, and wanted the Bush tax cuts to expire because they were an unprecedented social experiment that quite predictably failed to improve the economy.

      In a healthy democratic system, compromise between liberals and conservatives operates to drive change but prevent radical change. Debate should be based on solid factual evidence. Debate between fact and pure fantasy shouldn't ever be in that picture.

    •  You sound like my kind...sort of (3+ / 0-)
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      Panurge, Dumbo, native

      I believe history shows, as Pope said, more examples of the fidelity of dogs than friends. Humanity is crooked timber, etc.

      No, the greatest monsters have always thought they were saving the world. From Hitler to Pol Pot, they thought they were righteous and glorious and doing a great good for all by getting chest deep in corpses and tears. We like to tell ourselves stories about "mad" dictators, but insane ones don't last.

      Humans are imperfect at their best, and original sin is a bugger. I think that's true of the religious zealot as well as the political one, and that's why any leader not filled with humility is both a) not worth leading, b) not a good leader.

      I am, however, socialist, if not Marxist exactly. ("Marxisant" is the fancy word.) I believe capitalism, by its nature, encourages immoral behavior, and thus, if we are forced to live in it, we must do so with the full, explicit knowledge that it is pouring gasoline on our natural demons and rewarding every dirty trick. I can't dismiss large solutions or small ones, because sometimes big ones work, and sometimes they're the only ones that work. Concentrations of power are another matter.

      Consider public schools: local property tax funding means that the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, and the poor have an incentive to "lure" industry by offering tax holidays. A federally shared pot is the only way to avoid that problem, and yet there should be some method of allowing individual character. What would be horrible is a single Commissioner with a Plan in charge. We don't need power sitting in few hands, unless we want monsters or systems jerked from pillar to post so often that they're rags. So, a bunch of satraps with checks and balances and audits? Inefficient? You bet!

      I believe in assuming the worse and asking questions. Oh, and I'm a . . . September 1993 conservative.

      Everyone is innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:41:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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