Come ye cool, cool conservative men
November 11, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

If mainstream conservatism is a “philosophically flabby movement,” and I won’t argue that it isn’t, this is not evidence of its success but simply of its exhaustion and lack of imagination. Perhaps conservatism should thrive on loss and defeat, but I see little evidence that the conservative movement in America understands that it has already lost on many fronts. There is an illusion of success that the most recent election has kept alive, but it is a temporary one.
As the campaign for the Republican nomination for president gets weirder by the minute, what does it mean to be an American conservative? Daniel Larison and Corey Robin debate the changing nature of conservatism.

Bonus: A Liberal Reads the Great Conservative Works
posted by villanelles at dawn (110 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
See, I just scan Sadly, NO! ever so often and then get all angry and incoherent for a while.


Also whenever I try to think about everything I hate in the world it all seems to condense into a William Buckley shape, which went over the ocean to become Lord Monckton and thus, entertaining.
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


The character of every politician and party is always in flux until an election. The goal right now is to appeal to as many people as possible, each holds the answers to everything, while their duty once elected is to satisfy a small subset of those people.

Sometimes I feel the only way to get ahead of this curve is to start asking candidates which of their promises are the most disposable.
posted by rhizome at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2011


Q. In your opinion, what constitutes the canon of modern American conservatism?

A. There is, of course, no official list. But I think there is a consensus that at least half a dozen books deserve such a designation. In chronological order, they are: F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944), William F. Buckley Jr., God and Man at Yale (1951), Whittaker Chambers, Witness (1952), Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (1953), Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative (1960), and Milton Friedman, Freedom and Capitalism (1962).


I've not seen any of those great conservative works at airport bookstores, and none of them appear to be on talk radio or FOX. Something is fishy here!
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thinking about William Buckley got you down? SCTV to the rescue! I always expect his tongue to dart out and catch a fly.

(I couldn't an on-line version of the most appropriate clip, where he makes a little boy cry.)
posted by benito.strauss at 10:37 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read a bunch of conservative political philosophy (Burke and Kirk and all) for a class in undergrad. The stuff that's going around as conservatism now is unrelated. I mean, the politicians espouse some aspects of that resemble the actual philosophy the way a medical homonculus resembles a human being, but what they do is completely different. There's some pretty amazing writing with some great points, even if a lot of it completely untenable as a whole. It's too bad no one running under the conservative banner has read it (outside of for a class in undergrad, maybe.)

Confidential to Edmund Burke: they are called "paragraphs" and "chapters" you son of a bitch.
posted by griphus at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Conservatives continual insistence on reading Hayek's absurd Road to Serfdom and calling him a conservative serves to disparage a smart guy who also wrote the much better Constitution of Liberty which includes the important postscript: "Why I am not a conservative." (pdf)
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


That National Review thing is astonishingly fake.
posted by Grangousier at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've not seen any of those great conservative works at airport bookstores, and none of them appear to be on talk radio or FOX. Something is fishy here!

That's because our modern conservative shining lights would strangle each of those proto-conservative panjandrums in their sleep if they were still alive.
posted by blucevalo at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, Burke was, of all things, an aesthetic philosopher at the age of 19 and wrote a pretty amazing treatise on the nature of beauty.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


And the office of government is not to impose other beliefs and activities upon its subjects, not to tutor or to educate them, not to make them better or happier in another way, not to direct them, to galvanize them into action, to lead them, or to coordinate their activities so that no occasion of conflict shall occur; the office of government is merely to rule.

I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.
posted by lstanley at 10:46 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


A Liberal Reads the Great Conservative Works

I thought the interview, while thin, was quite intelligent and, above all, cordial. The comments, on the other hand, are right from the ugly, rabid end of things.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That National Review thing is astonishingly fake.

It's not. There really is a guy named "Bogus" who actually wrote a book on Buckley.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:51 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've not seen any of those great conservative works at airport bookstores, and none of them appear to be on talk radio or FOX. Something is fishy here!

They're on that invisible shelf next to Theory of Justice, One-Dimensional Man, and Four Essays on Liberty.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:55 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I see little evidence that the conservative movement in America understands that it has already lost on many fronts.

That's because there's little evidence the conservative movement in America has lost on any front except perhaps the social.

When was the last time there was any significant reduction in hours worked, increase in real dollars earned, growth of the middle class, increase in civil liberties, rationality in foreign policy or any of a hundred other leftist ideals?

The conservatives are winning. It's only the Republicans that are losing.
posted by DU at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.
And yet, generally speaking, it's conservatives who want to use government to keep people from using birth control, having abortions, inserting certain body parts into certain other body parts, getting married except under specific discriminatory rules, and so on, and moreover to use government to push their own religion upon the citizenry.
posted by Flunkie at 10:59 AM on November 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


Corey Robin, from link: “What I think conservatives dislike about revolutions is not change per se but emancipatory change, overthrowing established hierarchies of power and privilege.”

Well, no. Conservatives dislike revolutions because overwhelmingly, revolutions kill many many innocent people. Frankly, that seems like a pretty good reason to me.
posted by koeselitz at 10:59 AM on November 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.

Except for defense and policing
posted by KokuRyu at 11:05 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would have killed to have been taught by a "Professor Bogus" as a youth
posted by Renoroc at 11:05 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only significant piece of modern conservative philosophy is: reduce taxes. Everything else is just in the noise.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:07 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I miss Republicans.
posted by MrVisible at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Conservatives dislike revolutions because overwhelmingly, revolutions kill many many innocentrich people.
posted by DU at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Revolutions are bad because they do indeed frequently come with killing a whole bunch of people, and also because they often just leave a different bunch of bastards in charge. However this is often countered by killing a whole bunch of people and leaving the same bunch of bastards in charge, so it's not exactly cut and dried.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Conservatives dislike revolutions because overwhelmingly, revolutions kill many many innocent people. Frankly, that seems like a pretty good reason to me.

The modern debate is so lacking in any kind of definitions that it's nonsensical. What, exactly, is a conservative? Merely claiming to be a conservative is not sufficient. If it were, the above statement would prove false. Self-identified "conservatives," who supposedly dislike revolutions that kill innocent people, haven't shown any aversion to starting them or prolonging them in other people's countries.
posted by Hylas at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.

And yet, generally speaking, it's conservatives who want to use government to keep people from using birth control, having abortions, inserting certain body parts into certain other body parts, getting married except under specific discriminatory rules, and so on, and moreover to use government to push their own religion upon the citizenry.


"we would like to live our lives with little government interference" does not mean "we would not like the government to interfere in the lives of others." I think the discussion in the second link makes an important point -- that "government not interfering" is a mis-phrasing. Conservatives demonstrate again and again that what they want is their life -- that is, their privileges -- to be left alone, and if anybody challenges that, they think it is the job of government to suppress that challenge.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


Conservatives dislike revolutions because overwhelmingly, revolutions kill many many innocent people.

Which is why there are no conservative war hawks and all conservatives are against the expansion and increasing militarization of police forces, right? Because of their intense focus on the value of innocent lives. Corey Robin is right on the money.

And the fairest definition of a conservative that one could possibly derive from our public discourse is "a person who would like to live their life with as little government interference as possible but has a vested interest in ensuring that the government interferes as much as possible with people who try to live a life that is different from their own in any way." There are probably conservatives who are legitimately interested in small, non-interfering government, but by and large these are not the people who are in office and they're not the people that everyone has to deal with in the public sphere.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.

Then why do conservatives keep voting for people who do exactly the opposite of this?
posted by octothorpe at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


There really is a guy named "Bogus" who actually wrote a book on Buckley.

That is as may be, but the article itself doesn't seem to mean anything. The author refers to himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool liberal", but it's not possible to ascertain from what he writes what that means, as the rest of the article is cheerleading for his shortlist of "conservative canon". As he only asks himself questions that can be answered as enthusiastic support for the books (What was your favorite Buckley book, and why?, Which of the canonical works had the greatest impact on you?) there's no room for any analysis of any significance.

The main claim of the article is a "dyed-in-the-wool liberal's" response to these books, but we only have his word for it that he's such a liberal, as there's no evidence for it in the article itself. He's his own straw man.
posted by Grangousier at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2011


"we would like to live our lives with little government interference" does not mean "we would not like the government to interfere in the lives of others." I think the discussion in the second link makes an important point -- that "government not interfering" is a mis-phrasing. Conservatives demonstrate again and again that what they want is their life -- that is, their privileges -- to be left alone, and if anybody challenges that, they think it is the job of government to suppress that challenge.
Good point, but it's beyond even that. They don't only want the government to interfere in the lives of others when their own lives are challenged by those others; rather, they want government to interfere in the lives of others who behave differently than they (claim to) behave.

For example, it does them no harm if someone else goes on the Pill.
posted by Flunkie at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2011


The only significant piece of modern conservative philosophy is: reduce taxes

1. Society is irreducibly complex and cannot be redesigned from an armchair: for every well-meaning policy, there will be unintended consequences. If you don't understand the initial reasons for a policy, don't eliminate it.

2. Populists often deceive the least advantaged with empty promises in order to win political power. Beware of egalitarians driving fancy cars.

3. Most rich people didn't work hard, but that doesn't mean we should disparage hard work. We should disparage unearned wealth and the exploitation that created it! Inequality is bad, but it may be unavoidable.

4. Family matters, communities serve an important purpose in our lives, and faith in God is probably here to stay, even if it's probably bunk.

5. Liberals have silly biases, too.

FTFY.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


For example, it does them no harm if someone else goes on the Pill.

The vested power in America was male. The pill represented an epochal shift in women's ability to control their own lives, allowing them to choose to interact in society in a way that wasn't at risk from unexpected pregnancy. Suddenly there were more women in politics and in the workforce, demanding equal access and equal pay.

Scratch a conservative talking point, you'll see privilege asserting itself.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [21 favorites]


The New Inquiry discussion/debate is very good. I've been enjoying the debate around Robin's book; there have been good audio discussions on shows like Behind the News and Against the Grain, and I'm looking forward to the book. I do think that his central, definitional thesis — that conservatism is philosophical counter-revolution — is pretty controvertible, though the book and Robin seem to be full of good readings of individual conservative thinkers and their place in both political and intellectual history.
posted by RogerB at 11:22 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.

The best way to stop the dog from barking at you is to own the dog.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Front Porch Republic seems to be a place where you can find intellectual discourse and an attempt to revive an authentic conservative movement.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:27 AM on November 11, 2011


Amid a storm of allegations levied against Herman Cain, the American Mustache Institute today announced it had rescinded its endorsement for his presidential candidacy.

Concerns began when members of the AMI administration, during a campus scouting visit near Washington, D.C., visited a Godfather’s Pizza in the town of Cross Junction, Va.

“We ordered the ‘All Meat Combo’ that claims to be ‘piled so high with beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon bits that there’s no room for any veggies,’” said Dr. Abraham Jonas Froman, chief executive officer of AMI. “But it had limited meat on it at best. Do you understand what ‘piled so high with beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham and bacon bits that there’s no room for any veggies’ really means? Cain clearly does not.”


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players: given parts by writers from The Onion.
posted by 3FLryan at 11:27 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The vested power in America was male. The pill represented an epochal shift in women's ability to control their own lives, allowing them to choose to interact in society in a way that wasn't at risk from unexpected pregnancy. Suddenly there were more women in politics and in the workforce, demanding equal access and equal pay.

Scratch a conservative talking point, you'll see privilege asserting itself.
That may be so, but I seriously doubt that anywhere near the majority of conservatives who rail against birth control are in any real sense threatened with a loss of power if women in general are legally allowed to use birth control. For most of them, it's just kneejerk holier-than-thou vituperation against the Other.
posted by Flunkie at 11:28 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. Society is irreducibly complex and cannot be redesigned from an armchair: for every well-meaning policy, there will be unintended consequences. If you don't understand the initial reasons for a policy, don't eliminate it.

Um, I seem to be seeing a lot of "conservatives" espousing the random cutting of entire government departments they don't even know the name of - is that not contrary to this position?
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes. Most Republicans aren't conservatives in any meaningful sense.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:31 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dr. Abe Froman ...... The Sausage King of Chicago.
posted by otto42 at 11:32 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then why do conservatives keep voting for people who do exactly the opposite of this?


I thought it was common knowledge by now that the campaign tactic is a large majority of conservatives in America vote for people who push their buttons, on simple issues, and still have a rather naive belief that government is "by the people, for the people". It is now commonly acknowledged that Bush and now Perry 'go south' to get an accent & fake homespun simplicity.

Life in the 50's was simple: there were good guys, and there were bad guys, and the good guys looked after you while keeping the bad guys out. All conservatives want is that the complexity of modern life leaves them alone - which suits the others fine.


Comment I read today:

Papdemos Formerly ECB banker. Now Greek PM
Draghi Formerly Goldman Sachs. Now ECB head
Monti Formerly Goldman Sachs. Soon to be Italian PM



The spice must flow, and I've a feeling democracy is becoming an irritation.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 11:32 AM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


For most of them, it's just kneejerk holier-than-thou vituperation against the Other.

I think it's mostly force of habit right now. The conservative movement in this country is a jerry rigged patchwork of various ideologies, many of them single-issue. I suspect most fiscal conservatives don't care one way or the other about birth control, but it still has great power among anti-sex Christians, and so it stays in. Sometimes, reactionary viewpoints have currency long after the initial impulse that created them, because they're still useful.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2011


As I argued in the Perry Oops thread, there are socially important roles for conservative thought, but conservatives abandoned any socially beneficial stuff under Ronald Reagan.

There are an awful lot of epically corrupt liberals appointed by Clinton and Obama, but some other liberals in power still basically fulfill their ideological roles, the same cannot be said for hardly any conservatives currently in power.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:37 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The weirdest aspect of conservative thought is the homophobia thing, where it is becoming apparent that the conservatives who are the most focused on it are all gay.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


1. Society is irreducibly complex and cannot be redesigned from an armchair: for every well-meaning policy, there will be unintended consequences. If you don't understand the initial reasons for a policy, don't eliminate it.

The policy in this case is not "government" policy, but rather policy in general, or a slightly narrower perspective, market policy.

The left thinks that passing laws (perhaps from an armchair, or park bench) are all that is needed to obtain their desired outcome, but can't seem to appreciate that most, if not all, market laws are immutable.
posted by otto42 at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2011


I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.
posted by lstanley at 12:46 PM on November 11 [1 favorite +] [!]


Conservatives use all of the benefits and efficiencies of culture and civilization to create and maintain a fortune, and then, believing that they used none of them, vote to deny these benefits to current and future generations.
posted by goethean at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


ATLAS SHRUGGED DVD Recalled Because Of Ideological Error
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on November 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


market laws are immutable.

I see we are on to religion.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


market laws are immutable, like gravity. (Fixed)

"I see we are on to religion."
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on November 11 [+] [!]

or we are on to Science.
posted by otto42 at 11:51 AM on November 11, 2011


/falls down dead from laughter.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


The policy in this case is not "government" policy, but rather policy in general, or a slightly narrower perspective, market policy.

There's a great deal of tension between different kinds of conservatives, and there's not indication that the Burkean conservatism I was channeling is particularly compatible with libertarianism. There's a reason "fusionism" is such a difficult circle to square.

I'd say instead that Burkean conservatism is alive and well in the environmental movement, with skepticism about our capacity to tinker without a holistic understanding of "ecological functions" replacing Burke's similar skepticism about tinkering in "social policy."
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, we're not on to science. The market is a social construct, and if it has laws, they are human inventions. In fact, I would defy you to point to one market that hasn't extensively been created and modified by human interaction, where there are some sort of scientific laws at work.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:55 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


or we are on to Science.
posted by otto42 at 1:51 PM on November 11 [+] [!]


...but not climate, I assume. Or biology, or modern medicine, or mainstream economics, or public policy, or diplomacy...
posted by goethean at 11:56 AM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we really need to not assume that Republican = conservative. Aside from being arbitrary, it's just probably not true. Mitt Romney presided over the institution of government-mandated health coverage in Massachusetts and yet he's a Republican. Whether you like MA health insurance law or not, it's probably fair to say that it's not conservative in any particular sense of the word.

As I see it, conservatism is a political philosophy. I tend to disagree with it, but it's mainly ideologically self-consistent. The GOP doesn't have to be ideologically consistent, because that's a crappy way to get elected.

I thought it was common knowledge by now that the campaign tactic is a large majority of conservatives in America vote for people who push their buttons, on simple issues[...]

This is pretty much how you get elected, whatever party you belong to. "Fiscal conservatives" like the Republicans, as do "moral conservatives", even though the two don't necessarily share much common ground, philosophically speaking.
posted by thegears at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney presided over the institution of government-mandated health coverage in Massachusetts and yet he's a Republican. Whether you like MA health insurance law or not, it's probably fair to say that it's not conservative in any particular sense of the word.

Of course it was. It was a plan passed by a conservative governor based on a plan advocated by a conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, as the alternative to "liberal" solutions. It was essentially conservative in that it left all of the pre-existing power relationships in place-- insurance companies still got money, doctors were compensated on the same model, people still had to pay for insurance.
posted by deanc at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Conservatives use all of the benefits and efficiencies of culture and civilization to create and maintain a fortune, and then, believing that they used none of them, vote to deny these benefits to current and future generations.

Not all conservatives create or maintain fortunes, nor do all conservatives deny others the opportunity to aquire benefits.
posted by lstanley at 12:12 PM on November 11, 2011


I've not seen any of those great conservative works at airport bookstores

However, all airport bookstores carry Ayn Rand - along with the other trashy fiction.
posted by Trurl at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read a bunch of conservative political philosophy (Burke and Kirk and all) for a class in undergrad. The stuff that's going around as conservatism now is unrelated. I mean, the politicians espouse some aspects of that resemble the actual philosophy the way a medical homonculus resembles a human being, but what they do is completely different. There's some pretty amazing writing with some great points, even if a lot of it completely untenable as a whole. It's too bad no one running under the conservative banner has read it (outside of for a class in undergrad, maybe.)

They're around, but they're not very popular, and since they read old books they're rather frightening and threatening. Look at how much Metafilter hates Pat Buchanan, for example.
posted by michaelh at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2011


market laws are immutable.

Please name one period in American history, in which there has been a completely free market for these 'laws' to operate, for us to use in gauging how effective these immutable laws are.
posted by spicynuts at 12:30 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look at how much Metafilter hates Pat Buchanan, for example.


I'm confused - are you implying Pat Buchanan is a Burkeian conservative? 'cause I'm pretty sure I disagree. He's basically a populist at heart.
posted by JPD at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you kind of have to differentiate between the sort-of traditional - or, perhaps more accurately, philosophical - meaning of conservatism, and current American conservatives. The latter are, philosophically speaking, more like reactionaries than conservatives. It's not an exact analogy, but they do want to turn back the clock to McKinley or whatever. They are, in a sense, radicals.

The Supreme Court is a good example of this. Republicans love to make a big deal about 'judicial restraint,' but their most-admired appointees, Scalia and Thomas, vote to overturn the most laws. They want to turn back the clock to an older understanding of the Constitution. That is, in the political-philosophy sense of the word, not conservative. It is reactionary.

I, for one, though I'm not a fan of ideological labels, would fall pretty clearly on the left-of-center side of things in the current American political spectrum. I'm for universal healthcare, progressive taxation, re-regulating the banks, cutting defense spending, gay marriage, etc. I almost always vote Democrat, at least nationally.

But the though processes behind many of opinions are, in a philosophical sense, conservative. I believe in universal healthcare because I believe in a strong middle-class, and I believe in a strong middle-class because it's good for social stability. My logic favoring strict financial regulation is similar - it's all about saving capitalism from itself. What could be more conservative than basing your position on a desire to maintain social stability? I don't know that I'd necessarily qualify as a traditional, philosophical conservative (in some ways, probably not), but I, at least, have a great deal of sympathy for that worldview. I am, for sure, the sort of person who is skeptical of revolutions because they kill innocent people.

Anyway, I think it is helpful to distinguish philosophical conservatism from what is called "conservatism" in the modern American political conversation. Conservatism in the latter sense is a sort of Rand-infused radicalism, and really more philosophically reactionary than conservative.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


Please name one period in American history, in which there has been a completely free market for these 'laws' to operate, for us to use in gauging how effective these immutable laws are.


Are you being serious? (i.e. Are you an AnCap / Libertarian / Randian?)

If so, I'll go get my unicorn and ride it into battle with you.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 12:38 PM on November 11, 2011


lstanley: I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.

Puh. Yeah, handicapped ramps are such BS, let 'em stand up and lift their wheelchairs up over the curb like everyone else. Who cares about the fact of the spotted owl, fucking animals, if they don't have our large, pulsing brains it's their fault. Why should I be prevented from building my new strip mall, because there are wetlands there that are "federally protected," to hell with that let the concrete pour. Workplace safety, ha, who really cares about guard rails and hardhats and safety goggles. My sweatshop needs sowers, why can't I hire ten-year-olds off the street, their families need money to survive so it's really win-win, the government shouldn't block such mutually-beneficial relationships. So what if there are people who can't afford basic medical services, let 'em slave away their lives in my service so as to earn the money to extend their feeble pathetic existances by a few short years.

PHOOEY

Not all conservatives create or maintain fortunes, nor do all conservatives deny the others the opportunity to acquire benefits.

But the important ones do, and they exert their power based off the electoral contributions of the many smaller ones. So in a way, they do deny the others the opportunity to acquire benefits -- electorially, which is the definition of conservatism that matters the most, really.
posted by JHarris at 12:42 PM on November 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Not all conservatives create or maintain fortunes, nor do all conservatives deny others the opportunity to aquire benefits.
posted by lstanley at 2:12 PM on November 11 [+] [!]

No, the rest are poorly-educated fundamentalists. And their lack of education is a major key to Republican electoral success.
posted by goethean at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Declaring your cartoonish caricatures of conservatives does little to help facilitate discussion of a post revolving around, well, having a civil conversation about the differences between liberals and conservative philosophies.
posted by lstanley at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm confused - are you implying Pat Buchanan is a Burkeian conservative? 'cause I'm pretty sure I disagree. He's basically a populist at heart.

He has read Burke and is closer to Burke than, say, Romney, but yes, when he is examined more closely he contrasts with 'real' Burkeans. But I was saying to Griphus that there are conservatives who read those authors in response to his saying those authors are alien to conservatives now.
posted by michaelh at 1:02 PM on November 11, 2011


Did Burke declare AIDs to be gods punishment upon homosexuals?
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you kind of have to differentiate between the sort-of traditional - or, perhaps more accurately, philosophical - meaning of conservatism, and current American conservatives.

Part of Corey Robin's recent book The Reactionary Mind is about this question of "reactionaries" vs. "true conservatives." Also on his blog:
I wrote The Reactionary Mind for many reasons, but one of them was to show—contra Carpenter, Sullivan, Blumenthal, Tanenhaus, Krugman, and many more—that today’s conservative is in fact conservative. She hasn’t betrayed the traditions of Burke, Disraeli, Hayek, Oakeshott, Buckley, and Reagan: she has fulfilled them.
The evidence is quite compelling, he shows how Burke's main complaint about the old European order was that they were too 'conservative' in the ordinary sense. Burke wanted a counterrevolutionary movement that was as radical, utopian and uncompromising as the Jacobins.

If the American Right are authentically radical, the corollary is that the American Left is authentically conservative, defending the status quo and as you say, saving capitalism from itself.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:10 PM on November 11, 2011


I'm not really sure there is an American left - certainly not the Democrats, who are centrist to center right at best. There's the "OBAMA = HITLER" folk, I guess, but they count for pretty much nothing.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always felt conservatives are afraid of death, while liberals embrace life. Both want to live, but for different reasons. The things they vote for and believe in flow from this core.

(I know a lot of people who fancy themselves conservative, but who are really invested in being macho above all else.)
posted by maxwelton at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought the interview, while thin, was quite intelligent and, above all, cordial. The comments, on the other hand, are right from the ugly, rabid end of things.

Ditto this thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did Burke declare AIDs to be gods punishment upon homosexuals?


uh yeah, that would be populist part of Buchanan. But I can see michaleh's point.

actually I have to say I self identify as a liberal, but I took a class in college from one of Reagans true cold warriors that the TA used to joking call "Marx bad, Schumpeter good" and yeah, actually conservative intellectual thought is something more liberals should be familiar with. Sure you will disagree with some things, but it certainly is not like reading the comment section of the NRO.
posted by JPD at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The law of supply and demand is immutable. Attempts to change the law are the social constructs.

The conservative recognizes that it can not be changed and the liberal believes it is changeable or is naive to the fact that it can not be changed.

Conservatism is therefore the preferable way to increase society's standard of living since it knows certain laws (market laws) can not be rescinded. The liberals attempts to change basic economic laws inevitably results in one person, group, cohort or constituency benefiting at the hands of another. The benefits of the one group net against the losses of the other resulting in zero societal economic gains.
:
posted by otto42 at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2011


Did Burke declare AIDs to be gods punishment upon homosexuals?

No.
posted by michaelh at 1:29 PM on November 11, 2011


Declaring your cartoonish caricatures of conservatives does little to help facilitate discussion of a post revolving around, well, having a civil conversation about the differences between liberals and conservative philosophies.

Cartoon schmartoon, the things stated, admittedly in a derisive manner, in my comment, lstanley, are actual conservative policies. If they weren't, the joke would be pointless. What you need to do is respond to them, not try to dismiss them with a sentence.

That is:
Tell me how conservatives wouldn't oppose handicap ramps as "government intrusion,"
Tell me how they wouldn't be opposed to protecting endangered species if that protection didn't run up against their holy grail of commerce,
Tell me how they wouldn't have implemented workplace safety measures if "government intrusion" didn't force them to,
Tell me how they didn't fight against child labor laws, and
Tell me how they didn't bitterly oppose public health reform in just the past couple of years.

If you want to make your point then tell me that, or tell me how they'll be magically solved without government aid, or tell me how the world will somehow be better off without any of these things done. Hell, tell me how I've framed the problem incorrectly. But don't try to dismiss my argument out of hand, because I'M NOT GOING AWAY.
posted by JHarris at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The conservative recognizes that it can not be changed and the liberal believes it is changeable or is naive to the fact that it can not be changed.

Conservatism is therefore the preferable way to increase society's standard of living since it knows certain laws (market laws) can not be rescinded. The liberals attempts to change basic economic laws inevitably results in one person, group, cohort or constituency benefiting at the hands of another. The benefits of the one group net against the losses of the other resulting in zero societal economic gains.


You can be both a capitalist and believe the market is sometimes flawed. I mean even Smith believed that not all markets are perfect.

You can also be a capitalist and believe there is societal value in income redistribution and a wide array of social programs. The two are mutually exclusive.
posted by JPD at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


f'ck - not mutually exclusive.
posted by JPD at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2011


The law of supply and demand is immutable. Attempts to change the law are the social constructs.

Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It concludes that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers (at current price) will equal the quantity supplied by producers (at current price), resulting in an economic equilibrium of price and quantity.



This is no more an "immutable law" than the political axis is "the laws of behaviour of primates in a social network".


Sheesh.

I'm on a tight leash here, but I can assure you there's an angry lemur in my Chinese room practically screaming to be let out & knock some sense into the conversation.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The evidence is quite compelling, he shows how Burke's main complaint about the old European order was that they were too 'conservative' in the ordinary sense. Burke wanted a counterrevolutionary movement that was as radical, utopian and uncompromising as the Jacobins.

If the American Right are authentically radical, the corollary is that the American Left is authentically conservative, defending the status quo and as you say, saving capitalism from itself.


It is entirely possible that my understanding of Burkean conservatism is incorrect. I always thought of it as being in favor of gradual, as opposed to radical, change, but I'm no expert, for sure.

That said, using the definitions I set out my previous post, then, yeah, the American Left is, in a sense, conservative...I have no qualm with that concept.

Of course, all of these words are quite fluid in their meanings, depending on time and place. I've always found it ironic that the Australian right-wing party is the Liberal Party, for instance, though it makes perfect sense.

I don't think there is really a correct or incorrect way to define liberal or conservative, by the way, but it is useful to recognize that all of these words can have different shades of meaning.
posted by breakin' the law at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the Bonus: A Liberal Reads the Great Conservative Works:
Today, Witness [Whittaker Chambers, 1952] serves as a reminder to us all that conservative worries about liberals with compromised loyalties have a historical basis (although it should also remind conservatives about the origins — and sensible limits — of such worries).
??? Anybody have an idea what he's talking about? Care to explain?
posted by exphysicist345 at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2011


Please name one period in American history, in which there has been a completely free market for these 'laws' to operate, for us to use in gauging how effective these immutable laws are.
posted by spicynuts at 12:30 PM on November 11 [+] [!]

The laws don't exist in any time, they just exist. As sure as a ball will fall from my hand to the floor the supply and demand of a good or service at a fixed point in time will determine its price.

The premise of effectiveness is not relevant, the law just is.
posted by otto42 at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2011


The law of supply and demand is immutable.

It's woefully ironic that you typed that on a computer.

Attempts to change the law are the social constructs.

Absolutely... the purpose of social constructs is to build a society. Left to the "law" of supply and demand without any adjustment for humanity or the greater good, we'd still be hacking each other to death with stone tools over felled deer.

To be a market fundamentalist, you are making the assertion that individual humans who naturally compete to the death for resources can accidentally choose the best option for everyone out of pure self-interest. It's one of the most far-fetched and ridiculous philosophies that people manage to take seriously.
posted by deanklear at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


As sure as a ball will fall from my hand to the floor the supply and demand of a good or service at a fixed point in time will determine its price.

Cite?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


As sure as a ball will fall from my hand to the floor the supply and demand of a good or service at a fixed point in time will determine its price.

Before humans became humans, there was no such thing as a good, or a service, or price. They are all human constructs which, at our whim, can be deconstructed and redefined. That's the difference between a natural law and an artificial law like anything which is contained within economic theory.
posted by deanklear at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


As sure as a ball will fall from my hand to the floor the supply and demand of a good or service at a fixed point in time will determine its price.

Not even conservative economists think this, since there are all sorts of price-signal distortions from government intrusion, speculation, and misinformation. Efficient markets can, at best, give us an estimate of the society's beliefs about current supply and demand.

Which reminds me that I forgot to mention my favorite classically conservative insight:

6. Faith in experts is a lot more like faith in God than experts would have you believe.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


where it is becoming apparent that the conservatives who are the most focused on it are all gay.

There seem to be two groups of social conservatives concerned with keeping gay rights in check, those that are secretly and those that just hate the gays. What I think keeps happening is many from the second group are friends with people from the first group, then when the first group "betrays" them by turning out to be gay, the second group ascribes the actions of members of the first group to all gays. That's why so many are concerned with the "secret gay agenda." They know secret gays with an agenda.
posted by drezdn at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can be both a capitalist and believe the market is sometimes flawed. I mean even Smith believed that not all markets are perfect.

You can also be a capitalist and believe there is societal value in income redistribution and a wide array of social programs. The two are [not] mutually exclusive.
posted by JPD at 1:36 PM on November 11 [+] [!]

While liberals and conservatives can both be capitalists, only the liberal can be either capitalist or not capitalist. Conservatives are capitalist by default.

Before anyone wants to tag conservatives as greedy or maybe less severe amoral capitalists, recognize that the liberals goal of spreading the wealth more equitably is not anathema to the conservative. It's just that the means are of spreading are different. Economic progress will cure societal ills, and has, whereas economic redistribution will not and hasn't.
posted by otto42 at 2:09 PM on November 11, 2011


Conservatives are capitalist by default

And what is fascism then? Especially of the sort not motivated by genocidal rage but instead out of a sense of order - Franco, Salazar, Mussolini. Conservative by most definitions, but very much command economies.
posted by JPD at 2:13 PM on November 11, 2011


Declaring your cartoonish caricatures of conservatives does little to help facilitate discussion of a post revolving around, well, having a civil conversation about the differences between liberals and conservative philosophies.
posted by lstanley at 2:56 PM on November 11 [+] [!]


You are right. Let's examine your account of conservativism:

I think this is a fair representation of many conservatives - we simply would like to live our lives with as little interference from the government as possible.
posted by lstanley at 12:46 PM on November 11 [2 favorites +] [!]


Presumably this is after using public roads, public water systems, public sewage systems, public justice systems, and dozens of other public systems. After using all of those public institutions and resources, then you don't want to pay any taxes. That's your political philosophy?
posted by goethean at 2:15 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Economic progress will cure societal ills, and has, whereas economic redistribution will not and hasn't.


Economic progress and economic redistribution are not mutually exclusive. Even if you believe economic redistribution is a net detractor from economic progress (something that BTW the empirical evidence is not clear about) there is an argument that pulling in the tails of the distribution makes a more stable society, and a more stable society is a net positive.
posted by JPD at 2:16 PM on November 11, 2011


Guys, guys. Remember not to feed the trolls, and you'll live a longer, less stressful life.
posted by X-Himy at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama campaign strategy: "We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim"
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Conservatives are capitalist by default.

Here's Michael Oakshott: "relationships... lack something appropriate to them when they are confined to a nexus of supply and demand and allow no room for the intrusion of the loyalties and attachments which spring from familiarity."

There's plenty of market regulation coming out of conservative philosophical circles. They've regulated prostitution, drugs, immigration. Even speech, when it's pornography, blasphemy, or religious radicalism! Hell, conservatives are the ones who've tried to ban short-selling and leveraged speculation. Conservative banned interest on debt! Conservatives have long held the market at arms-length precisely because it is so disruptive and produces creative destruction in excess of what a society can handle.

Liberals are capitalist by default. It takes a lot of work to persuade the average liberal that some voluntary market activity is actually oppressive or coercive and needs to be regulated or banned. After reading all of Marx's writings, all the average liberal will do is call for a minimum wage!
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:32 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


JHarris, you make the flawed assumption that all conservatives bitterly disagree with your points. Well-reasoned, well-founded conservative critiques of government action don’t always turn into a rejection of all potential government action.

There are plenty of conservatives that feel each of your points are important to understand and address, potentially even through government actions; however as a conservative I feel that the regulatory and security state often needlessly advances on many fronts.

gothean, that is one hell of a mighty big jump to take my posts and then state I don't want to pay taxes. I also didn't say that I was describing all conservatives. Many conservatives, myself included, happily pay taxes to take advantage of the services you describe. Please do not put words into my mouth, then ask me to answer for them.
posted by lstanley at 2:36 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell me how they wouldn't be opposed to protecting endangered species if that protection didn't run up against their holy grail of commerce,

Actually policies to protect endangered species are the very definition of conservative - they're designed to protect the status quo. When you say you want to protect endangered species you're saying that all the previous extinctions that have occurred and led to the current mix of species ought to be frozen at the present moment and preserved into the future.

Now I don't actually think we should let the pandas die off, but I specifically left off the politics tags because someone's stance on endangered species or ADA accessibility guidelines isn't always neatly linked to their philosophical commitments and it's the latter that I'm more interested in. It's easy to point out that most Republicans don't read Burke and have a gaping chasm between their professed identity as a conservative and their actual intrusive and statist policy preferences, but to use that to discount all of political conservatism is like saying soccer is a useless sport because the local AYSO team can't kick the ball straight.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:52 PM on November 11, 2011


Many conservatives, myself included, happily pay taxes to take advantage of the services you describe.

That's very strange, because what I mostly hear from sel-styled conservatives is incessant whining that the US's lowest-in-the-developed world tax rates are 'taxing us to death'.
posted by goethean at 2:56 PM on November 11, 2011


That's very strange, because what I mostly hear from sel-styled conservatives is incessant whining that the US's lowest-in-the-developed world tax rates are 'taxing us to death'.

Well, there's a self-styled conservative in this thread, perhaps you could ask them how they feel, instead of using as some excuse for jerking off.
posted by Snyder at 3:43 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


> ??? Anybody have an idea what he's talking about? Care to explain?
> posted by exphysicist345 at 4:47 PM on November 11 [+]

Today, Witness [Whittaker Chambers, 1952] serves as a reminder to us all that conservative worries about liberals with compromised loyalties have a historical basis ...

1. There were in fact some liberals and progressives of that era who were also Soviet spies.

...(although it should also remind conservatives about the origins — and sensible limits — of such worries).

2. Not all progressives were Soviet spies, and there wasn't one behind every tree and under every bed.
posted by jfuller at 3:44 PM on November 11, 2011


"The only significant piece of modern conservative philosophy is: reduce taxes. Everything else is just in the noise."

That's not the desired result; it's the tactic. The desired result is the elimination of government so the powerful make their own rules as it suits them.
posted by Mcable at 3:46 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


market laws are immutable, like gravity. (Fixed)

"I see we are on to religion."
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on November 11 [+] [!]

or we are on to Science.


I've recommended this book before on the blue, but you should all read Confidence Games by Mark C. Taylor. Picking up where Weber left off, it features quite a bit about the cultural and religious basis in faith in the invisible hand, as well as the tremendous errors which have ensued as a result of people privileging their understandings of neat economic models over messy, messy reality.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:06 PM on November 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


There ain't anybody sane enough running the show to distinguish tactics from goals, Mcable, sorry. I donno exactly why conservatism has died, clearly the military-industrial complex and Ronald Reagan helped enormously, maybe it simply cannot survive endure the cultural change inherent in our technological evolution, i.e. the pseduo-singularity killed it.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2011


And what is fascism then? Especially of the sort not motivated by genocidal rage but instead out of a sense of order - Franco, Salazar, Mussolini. Conservative by most definitions, but very much command economies.

This gets especially hinky when you read the platform of an archconservative cryptofascist crank like Father Coughlin. As far as economics are concerned, his platform is a hundred million miles removed from what comes out of the Tea Party.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:12 PM on November 11, 2011


Actually policies to protect endangered species are the very definition of conservative - they're designed to protect the status quo.

I mentioned it because, practically, stuff like protecting spotted owls is exactly the kind of thing conservatives DO complain about when it means stopping rich people from doing whatever the hell they want. Whether that's part of the textbook definition of the term or not, it happens, and all the time.
posted by JHarris at 4:28 PM on November 11, 2011


I saw Corey Robin in an interview about this book, and decided not to post about it to Metafilter because I generally find the level of discourse on political topics here pretty lacking. So color me very pleasantly surprised to see a real debate happening here!

I think one thing that stands out to me is how murky this all is, which clearly colors the debate here and elsewhere. Some of my thoughts: Ultimately, I think the reason America is totally fucked is that our society even agrees on what government should be and do. In socialist countries (i.e., most of the developed and much of the developing world), people disagree on the details: how much should we subsidize education? which drugs are covered by state healthcare? In the US, the questions are much broader. I really think the only possible way to move forward (other than revolution that results in a mass migration) is to have a real debate, not about the details, but about the underlying principles. Of course, I'm not at all hopeful this can even happen, but hey, may as well let's try, eh?
posted by !Jim at 4:44 PM on November 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am, for sure, the sort of person who is skeptical of revolutions because they kill innocent people.

yessir that sure doesn't apply to the status-quo economic imperialism of global capital nosiree
posted by p3on at 5:12 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw Corey Robin in an interview about this book, and decided not to post about it to Metafilter because I generally find the level of discourse on political topics here pretty lacking.

I find it's a lot better than on many other websites, in that people both have strongly-held opinions and are able to defend them intelligently, as opposed to HURF DURF KNEEJERK STATEMENT.
posted by JHarris at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2011


Guys, guys. Remember not to feed the trolls, and you'll live a longer, less stressful life.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll, you know.

The law of supply and demand is immutable. Attempts to change the law are the social constructs.

Ownership is a social construct.
posted by Leon at 6:27 PM on November 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


AlsoMike: That's a very interesting blog post. I am, though, unconvinced by Robin's argument. To quote one of the commenters:

Interesting post. But it might be argued that Burke’s call for “zeal” is for what he saw as a tactical necessity in the struggle against radicalism, rather than a characterization of the conservativism he was defending. You can think you need to go to war without recommending war as a way of life.

The attempted counterpoint to this that I can find in Robin's post takes a sort of awkward step apparently of defending his thesis on Burke by referring to the position of someone else, in this case Hayek:
But it’s not just Burke who makes these sorts of arguments in favor of ideological zeal and against prudential restraints. Nor is it in the face of an arguably lethal threat like Jacobinism that conservatives make them.

In the twentieth century, one finds a similar move in Friedrich Hayek, arguing against not the totalitarianism of Stalin but the democratic socialism of Britain and France and the liberal welfare state of the New Deal.
posted by Anything at 12:57 AM on November 12, 2011


I think we shouldn't overestimate the internal consistency of a particular party's platform.

The Partisan Mind:
Now, one of the most interesting things about pre-fabricated political identities is that they come as package deals. There is no logical connection whatsoever between supporting a woman's right to abort an unwanted fetus and supporting subsidies for alternative energy. The strong cultural correlation between these stances creates an illusion of ideological coherence. Since most of us aren't political theorists, we tend not to see that the force determining the various planks in our favoured party's platform is the drive to craft a winning coalition cobbled together from diverse and sometimes conflicting interest groups, not Truth...

I think the paradox, or the irony, is that the evolution of partisan coalitions can lead to bizarrely incoherent partisan worldviews. Easy money in a recession is the objectively pro-business position. However, the rising preeminence on the right of the idea that inflation, like taxation, is largely a mechanism of unjust big-government expropriation can, through mere association, make this viewpoint seem like the "pro-business" one, even if it isn't. It's this kind of drift in the composition and ideology of partisan coalitions that can make even debate over economic policy seem like just one more front in the culture war.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:58 AM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are three main pillars of conservative philosophy

1. Less government interference in commerce

2. More government interference in the womb

3. err...

ah...

Um...

...

oops
posted by moorooka at 2:15 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My problem with Robin's perspective isn't so much that conservatives are right about revolution. It's that I'm not so sure he's right about liberals - at least I guess I hope he's not. He seems to think that liberalism is defined by an affinity to revolutions. Is that really the case? I feel like I've met a lot of liberals who are wary of revolutions but who feel some allegiance to the ideals of, say, liberty, social justice, and equality. Do you really have to believe in bloody revolution to be a supporter of those things?
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Probably? You don't usually get liberty, social justice, and equality (which are fundamentally the same thing i.e. Change (in this case for the better)) without some sort of revolt. Because if you could get those things without the destruction of the status quo they would already be gotten. At some point you run up against the hard limits of what the current political system will allow, and either you stop and wait for the rest of society to catch up, (which can take decades or centuries (look at how long it took black people to not be officially discriminated against after the end of the Civil War)) or you force society to catch up with some carefully planned mass movements.

The Tea Party in all it's horror is a deliberate attempt by the libertarian faction of the right wing (not in any way conservative and only those parts of it owned outright by the oligarchs) to impress the rest of the nation with power and force Change whether through the ballot box or in a few cases by direct action. The reason this is necessary (from the point of view of a Teabagger) is that the majority of the society has become tainted by left wing memes and lost it's way. It isn't just the election of Obama, it's gay rights, it's refusal to drill in Alaska, it's anti-capitalist actions, it's the fact that the left wing in America is acting as a fifth column in an attempt to bring about Sharia law. Ultimately, if they keep being ignored, (and they will because they are demonstrably wrong/immoral) there will be blood over it.

Because that is at core how you reconcile a society that has shown time and time again that it won't be reconciled. You go beat the bastards until they back down. Slavery, civil rights, abortion, (what else is bombing clinics and killing doctors?) taxes, there is nothing the two sides agree on any more (besides possibly reflexive militarism) and there is not in fact enough room for agreeing to disagree.
posted by Peztopiary at 9:20 AM on November 13, 2011


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