Conservatism, the Enemy of Reason, Democracy and Modern Civilization
October 29, 2004 12:36 PM   Subscribe

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.


via Three Toed Sloth..
posted by y2karl (29 comments total)

 
conservatism
posted by mikrophon at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2004


Previous discussion
posted by ALongDecember at 12:53 PM on October 29, 2004


Whoah. I think I'm pretty far out in left field, but this kind of trivialization of conservatism is pretty ridiculous. Should I not be offended by Coulter-style rhetoric if it's "from the good guys"? Sorry, but this kind of over-simplifying and demonizing fanaticism is a much deeper source of trouble in the world than any particular philosophy.

Or a pretty nice troll I suppose.
On preview - ah, thanks A.L. December.
posted by freebird at 12:55 PM on October 29, 2004


Previous discussion

Not even the on-site Google search turned up either URL or title. Search and spellcheck are totally fuckin' toast here, huh?
posted by y2karl at 1:02 PM on October 29, 2004


Don't be silly. These are the differences between liberals and conservatives.
posted by loquax at 1:11 PM on October 29, 2004


[This is bad]

Here's a lengthly definiton from your fine post yesterday.
posted by gwint at 1:13 PM on October 29, 2004


A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity".
posted by quonsar at 1:14 PM on October 29, 2004


stop republican pedophilia.
posted by quonsar at 1:15 PM on October 29, 2004


This is awful.

Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Any thinker worth their salt would never honestly define conservatism as such. It's snarky, dishonest, has no basis in fact, and really invalidates anything else that might be said later.
posted by xmutex at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2004


Well, that article might be useful for warding off crows, I suppose.
posted by ed\26h at 1:18 PM on October 29, 2004


Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Perhaps so for the feudal period, grasshopper. But is it not so that conservatism in the jurassic era meant the domination of society by dinosaurs?
posted by psmealey at 1:22 PM on October 29, 2004


ugh. What crap.

No wonder conservatives think liberals are nuts.
posted by ruelle at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2004


and really invalidates anything else that might be said later.

So if it were to say later -- just to pick something out of a hat -- "table salt is composed of sodium chloride crystals", this will have been rendered untrue by what he said earlier? Not to defend the article or anything, but hey, way to demonstrate your superior grasp of logic. Are you quite sure you're a thinker worth your salt?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2004


Invective polarizes.
posted by brownpau at 1:26 PM on October 29, 2004


Wow. I would agree that (the European at any rate) old school conservatism is based on the ideas of aristocracy, but aristocracy is not the goal, but the means of creating the best possible society for all. Old school conservatives believe that there is a need for strong social institutions: God, King, Country. And if these strong social institutions are weakened, people will despair and generally be unhappy with their life (anomie).

Thus, the (European) conservative believe in a strong benign state. (In opposition to the (European) liberal idea of as small a government as possible, where people fend for themselves in the marketplace). The conservative would very much endorse a totalitarian approach to matters concerning the social fabric of the state, such as education, welfare and religion. A conservative would also approve of state intervention in the marketplace, especially in cases regarding security and environment.

Now, the only way the above is possible, is either through the belief that aristocracy, or at least some form of democratic elitism, is possible. That is, that those that rule must be the best qualified for to rule, and that the system works (or should work) in a way that ensures this.
posted by cx at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2004


Jesus, did any of you guys actually read this? I mean, rather than just skimming it looking for reasons to snark?

Can you honestly say that you haven't sexed up a lede to get people reading? Read the damn article, critique the points it makes.

I was raised Conservative, and after I read this (several months ago), I had to concede that the characterizations were not crazy: Conservatism as it's practiced in modern American politics really is all about the valorization of elites -- or elects, if you prefer.

Yes, invective can polarize. But occasionally, it also forces you to re-evaluate your situation, and reconsider the standard definitions that you've been accepting (often without realizing it) for so long.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on October 29, 2004


George_Spiggott: Oh you totally got me there.
posted by xmutex at 1:54 PM on October 29, 2004


I read this, and I thought it was stupid. And poorly written.

The man is a professor of library science (he says "information studies" but if you look at his other publications, he's a library guy through and through). I'm sorry, but if we start looking to the library schools for our intellectual leadership, we are lost.

And I say this as a former librarian.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2004


I, for one, know that this is how I define myself as a conservative. Very insightful.
posted by MrAnonymous at 2:53 PM on October 29, 2004


but this kind of trivialization of conservatism is pretty ridiculous. Should I not be offended by Coulter-style rhetoric if it's "from the good guys"? Sorry, but this kind of over-simplifying and demonizing fanaticism is a much deeper source of trouble in the world than any particular philosophy.

Ayup.

Trivializing, demonizing & oversimplifying "The Other" is exactly what left-leaning folks claim to rail against, and articles like this are exactly what makes hypocrites of all of them. Same goes for quonsar's "contributions" to the thread.

Slightly OT: for those who regularly misuse the "neo-con" tag several times a day, here is a good article by the "godfather" himself, Irving Kristol, that will hopefully get you to stop:

Even I, frequently referred to as the "godfather" of all those neocons, have had my moments of wonderment. A few years ago I said (and, alas, wrote) that neoconservatism had had its own distinctive qualities in its early years, but by now had been absorbed into the mainstream of American conservatism. I was wrong, and the reason I was wrong is that, ever since its origin among disillusioned liberal intellectuals in the 1970s, what we call neoconservatism has been one of those intellectual undercurrents that surface only intermittently. It is not a "movement," as the conspiratorial critics would have it. Neoconservatism is what the late historian of Jacksonian America, Marvin Meyers, called a "persuasion," one that manifests itself over time, but erratically, and one whose meaning we clearly glimpse only in retrospect.

Agree. Disagree. Whatever. Just please stop ignorantly abusing the term.
posted by dhoyt at 3:18 PM on October 29, 2004


Dhoyt: "Trivializing, demonizing & oversimplifying "The Other" is exactly what left-leaning folks claim to rail against, and articles like this are exactly what makes hypocrites of all of them."

That was satire, wasn't it? Or didn't you realize you were demonizing and oversimplifying in that very sentence?

Nice to lump the spectrum of us lefties in a swoop, and then attempt to discredit us on the basis of one fucking article.

And the PNAC folks, who have the Pres's ear, self-identify as neocons.
posted by notsnot at 3:58 PM on October 29, 2004


A thoughtful critique of Agre from the left--with a far more thoughtful discussion on the topic than here--also via Three Toed Sloth...

What's wrong with "What's Wrong With Conservatism"

That was satire, wasn't it? Or didn't you realize you were demonizing and oversimplifying in that very sentence?

Nice to lump the spectrum of us lefties in a swoop, and then attempt to discredit us on the basis of one fucking article.


Always jumping to the same old, same old kneejerk conclusion: other people are sheep and hypocrites.
posted by y2karl at 4:23 PM on October 29, 2004


Since when did Irving Kristol get to define "neoconservatism"? Monet didn't get to define "Impressionism", either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:11 PM on October 29, 2004


Bad post - why isn't it deleted?
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:46 AM on October 30, 2004


Well, here's one rather ironic example:

A more complicated example is the word "racist". Conservative rhetors have tried to take this word away as well by constantly coming up with new ways to stick the word onto liberals and their policies. For example they have referred to affirmative action as "racist". This is false; it is an attempt to destroy language. Racism is the notion that one race is intrinsically better than another. Affirmative action is arguably discriminatory, as a means of partially offsetting discrimination in other places and times, but it is not racist.


The term "racist", in addition to the belief that races can be inherently superior to one another, according to dictionarys at least, means "discrimination or prejudice based on race". Destroy language indeed.
posted by ed\26h at 3:00 AM on October 30, 2004


Whether you agree with this article's definition of conservative or not, wouldn't it be nice if we had real conservatives in charge now instead the Bushies?
I personally think it would be an improvement of magnitudes. Just imagine, for example, a Republican conservative from the Northeast as House Majority Leader in the House instead of Tom "Legislation for sale" Delay, or Chaffee as Leader of the Senate instead of Bill "I own health care" Frist?
posted by nofundy at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2004


wouldn't it be nice if we had real conservatives in charge now instead the Bushies?

Yes. As someone who was "raised" Conservative and won't be voting that way this year or anytime soon if the current administration is any indication of what the Right will be providing as options, I long for someone as sane as say, Barry Goldwater. Anything better than that is gravy.

Not that I would have voted for Goldwater given the chance, but you get the idea.
posted by yerfatma at 8:49 AM on October 30, 2004


Bad post - why isn't it deleted?

It's best just to let y2karl have his little rants. I'm sure he's typing up another at this very minute, since this one didn't go over very well.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:34 PM on October 30, 2004


1 MetaFilter user(s) link to Dennis Murphy: hama7

Linked above, a definitive list ↑ of little rants.
posted by y2karl at 8:23 AM on October 31, 2004


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