"Conservatism is like an anchor"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I strongly recommend this article on conservatism, appropriately entitled "The Anchor." Here are a few excerpts, but definitely read the entire thing!
...From its foundations in 18th century Europe through the violent sex fantasies of Ayn Rand, the position of conservatism has been the same: stop liberalism. Rather than attempt to smooth out the inequities of society, conservatism seeks to maintain these chasms, and where possible to open them wider. The whole basis of conservatism is that this structure -- a wealthy elite holding the reins -- is the natural, desirable state.

And that's why conservatism always holds the advantage. Always...

Just as an example of the edge held by conservatism, the Sierra Club has an annual budget in the neighborhood of $100 million in 2008 (we can argue about whether the Sierra Club is actually liberal, but I don't think any would argue that's a pretty good neighborhood). As the largest and oldest environmental organization in the country, the Club carries a, um, big stick. On the other hand, Exxon Mobil made that much by the end of the first week in January -- that much in straight profit, not revenue. Which one do you think is more capable of spreading it's message to the public? More capable of using the media to its advantage?


Why do many people still have doubts about something as straightforward as climate change? Because tens of millions are spent each year to see that they stay confused -- more by far than is spent trying to get across the truth.


Conservatism is like an anchor. It doesn't propel either society or the economy. Its whole reason for being is to slow change of all sorts and keep the current situation in place for as long as possible for those who benefit most from the current system. It's not "I've got mine, and you can do the same" it's "I've got mine, and hands off while I get some more."
In contrast to the "I've got mine so @#$@##$ you" people (aka, "conservatives"), progressives believe that government at its best can be a force for the common good, for the expansion of individual rights, for reform, for elimination of waste and corruption, for efficient and responsive government, for economic fairness and social justice, for rationality and empiricism, for environmental conservation, for progress in all areas. That, of course, is the exact antithesis of conservatism, which believes in using fear, ignorance and anger to keep society mired in the past while ensuring that wealthy and power elites remain in charge.

Why would any non-wealthy, non-elites vote for this, given that it's 180 degrees opposed to their own interest to do so? For possible answers to that question, I'd recommend that you read the article referenced above, as well as books like "What's the Matter With Kansas", "The Wrecking Crew", "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life", and "The Progressive Revolution". Then, I'd strongly encourage you to tell everyone you know what you've learned and to ask them to help you "weigh anchor."

P.S. I'd add that in order to convince the 99% of Americans who are NOT wealthy elites to vote against their own self interest, an entire mythology has been created. For instance, the idea that "you too can be a wealthy elite some day" is a useful one (albeit almost certainly untrue for the vast majority of people), as is the nefarious concept that if you're rich you "deserve" to be (or even that you are "blessed by god") and that if you're poor you also "deserve" it. So, if you deserve what you get and, anyway, you too can be rich some day, why oppose the system that facilitates this. Very clever.