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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:31 AM

Modern Conservatism includes an extremist perversion of liberalism

Last edited Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:24 PM - Edit history (1)

Modern conservatism has two competing and often contrary cores.

The first is a loutish form of original conservatism—reaction to the French Revolution. Whatever the French Revolution is, I'm agin' it. Extremist and simplistic original conservatism is monarchist/fascist/otherwise-autocratic, and theocratic. Class stratification of society is seen as a good thing to be preserved. Tradition is to be maintained for its own sake.

The second is fundamentalist Liberalism. Liberalism is a way of ensuring liberties to the people and liberalism takes a very skeptical view of government as a necessary evil. America is a Liberal nation, in that sense. Our Constitution is a document crafted to restrain government, not invent it. It was not formed to bring order from chaos. There was already plenty of order. It was an alternative to Monarchism.

An expasion of the idea into the realm of extremism would be an infinite skepticism of government. The economic libertarian is an extreme, a fundamentalist extrapolation.

Take these two contradictory strands (Monarchism, class-ism, feudalism, theocracy // opposition to government & regulation) and we get, "The government should ruthlessly control everyone except me and mine, along lines I perceive as traditional."


The patch-work Frankenstein of American conservatism has done tremendous harm to liberalism. There really is no human freedom without restraint of government (though there is also no real freedom without government.) And government does, quite naturally, tend toward tyranny. These ideas are unexceptional to almost every modern person who has thought much about the nature of government. It is sad, sad, sad that these homely truths sound, to some modern ears, like RW talking points because of the RW co-option and repetition of these ideas that they don't even really believe in.

But despite the wingnut perversion of things, the basic idea that government is dangerous is a necessary idea, and especially necessary if government is to do big things.

The more we expect of government, the tighter the reins on government must be... the more absolute the protections of individual freedoms must be. Rachel is right that only a government can build Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, however, most historical human works equivalent to Hoover Dam were built by slave labor of one sort or another. That's the problem... how to build Hoover Dam while keeping people above the government.

Only with a sturdy capsule of rights around the individual can government be allowed to be big enough to be useful, while not becoming the master of its creators.

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Reply Modern Conservatism includes an extremist perversion of liberalism (Original post)
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 OP
MyshkinCommaPrince Feb 2013 #1
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #2
MyshkinCommaPrince Feb 2013 #3
YoungDemCA Feb 2013 #4
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #5
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #6

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:32 PM

1. Political Compass?

I think this sort of thing may be why the Political Compass website works on a two-dimensional grid, with the authoritarian-libertarian axis and the more common liberal-conservative/left-right axis. I can see a point to their approach, but it doesn't seem to be a model which is widely applied.

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Response to MyshkinCommaPrince (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:41 PM

2. I see the axes as economics and liberty.

I am a fanatical civil libertarian but economically a vanilla mixed-economy socialist.

It's an intellectual/artist place to be... I came into this world with nothing but me, so I can't lay a big claim on stuff, but I lay an infinite claim on myself. I am all I have.

I didn't set out to be the polar opposite of American conservatism, but I am. I see them as authoritarian but economic anarchists. They think of money the way I think of thought.

A lot of progressives are communism-lite... authoritarian and planned economy with a disregard for the rights of those with whom they disagree.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:51 PM

3. That is a better way to state it.

During the 90s I thought I was a Libertarian, which always led to people assuming I was RW. It led to some confusion. Political Compass puts me solidly in the southwest quadrant, however. I'm very much on the economic Left. I think the two-axis model could help many people understand their actual stances. I rather wish it would catch on a bit more in our culture.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:02 PM

4. Liberalism BEGINS with the rights of the individual, but it doesn't END there...

We live in a (increasingly) diverse country, and that diversity is along many lines-economic class, race (as a social construct), culture, ethnicity, religion (or no religion), gender identity, sexual orientation, nation of origin, and last but not least, personalities, beliefs, values, and experiences (individual or as a member of a group or culture).

With so many different individuals in our increasingly diverse and inter-connected society, only a strong government, accountable to the people, and democratic in process, can protect and expand every individual human being's rights, opportunities, and liberties.

That's what a truly modern, innovative version of liberalism can and should be about.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:11 PM

5. I don't see Liberalism as any way authoritarian except in the sense of positive Liberty.

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Response to JaneyVee (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:18 PM

6. I agree. As author I must have failed to communicate well.

Liberalism is very anti-authoritarian.

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