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View Diary: How to treat conservative delusion? (308 comments)

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  •  That's an etymological fallacy (0+ / 0-)

    Just because the word conservative is built off the root conserve doesn't mean the word has to keep that element of its meaning.

    Conservatives of yore may have been about conservation.  But conservatives of today are about authority, hierarchy, and greed.  Conservatism is a violation of all that is moral in modern society--- equality, sustainability, societal inclusion.
    Any moral person should be ashamed of calling themself a conservative.

    •  They are not conservatives (0+ / 0-)

      in the traditional historical AND etymological sense of the word, because they only seek to conserve what they believe to be rightfully THEIRS, and to hell with everyone else, which is at odds with what traditional conservatism was about. Whereas modern liberals, while certainly more eqalitarian than their 19th century ideological liberal ancestors, are still liberals, because they still seek to LIBERALIZE society, i.e. make it more free and fair for ALL.

      You can only divorce a word from its original and root meaning so far before it ceases to have any meaning or credibility and simply becomes a word without meaning. I mean, were the National Socialists really socialists?

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 11:01:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed you can (0+ / 0-)

        A word that has semantically drifted from its original meaning does not become meaningless... it takes on a new meaning, which sometimes supersedes the old.  Other times, it creates a new word alongside the old.

        For instance, nobody uses a word like "nice" the way it was used only a few hundred years ago--- it meant "stupid."  

        •  True for some words, untrue for others (0+ / 0-)

          "Conservative" is a derived word, unlike "nice", that is based upon a root word whose meaning has not substantially changed in centuries.

          And in any case, etymological arguments aside, conservatism in the realm of politics has historically meant a certain approach to politics, namely a respect for tradition and established values, norms and conventions, and an aversion to radical and rapid change, especially if not clearly warranted.

          By which measure today's political "conservatives" are not conservatives at all. They are radicals, reactionaries and authoritarians who merely call themselves conservatives, and they're not trying to "conserve" anything except their own sectarian entitlements and privileges.

          True conservatives are on the right, just as true liberals (as opposed to neo-liberals, who are in the center) are on the left. Today's neo-conservatives are on the far right, not right, just as, say, communists are on the far left, and are not true liberals or part of the mainstream left.

          As I see it, today's political spectrum from right to left is:

          Far Right: Movement/authoritarian "conservatives" and radical libertarians

          Mainstream Right: True conservatives (a dying group)

          Center: Neoliberals

          Left: Liberals and progressives

          Far Left: Communists, socialists, Marxists, anarchists

          "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

          by kovie on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 04:09:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Language doesn't just skip things for convenience. (0+ / 0-)

            "Nice" was indeed derived, from Latin "ne-scire", meaning "not-know" ("ignorant"), through Norman French, into English.  You might say, well that was so long ago... but obviously derived words constantly undergo semantic shift... a "skyline" used to mean "horizon,"  but now it means the aspect of a city's skyscrapers.  

            I could go on (look up "enormity"). The point is that once a word is in the lexicon, it's like a boat with no sails--- you can't control where it goes.  It doesn't matter how the word was built. The observation has been made in every language we've found data for---if people use a word with a different meaning than the one people before them gave that word, the fact is that the word has changed meaning.  

            That is to say, if conservatism has changed since back in the day, then what conservatism was is irrelevant when describing what modern conservatives are.  In a similar vein, liberals today are not like liberals of old.  Indeed, in Britain, the word kept its original meaning, so someone who is liberal in American may well not be in Britain. But that doesn't mean that modern liberals aren't true liberals.  

            If modern conservatives are characterized by paranoia, greed, and callous disregard for the plight of others, then that's what modern conservatism is.  

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