Join us for debate at our Facebook Group, Liberty Cafe!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Myth of the Monolithic Conservative: Introduction

I came across a quite cerebral post by David Neiwert (which I passed on to Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, since its right up his alley) in which he counters accusations of ACORN fraud with examples of real and perceived GOP fraud. He ends his post with:
"So why do Republicans hate democracy? Maybe because they are the party of Oligarchical White Privilege."[1]
Other than being outlandishly false [2][3], it propagates a myth pushed by the ideological enemies of the right: that conservatives are mindless, lockstep robots that take orders from the top and spread them to the bottom, and because we have no analytical ability we vote ourselves into poverty and oppression. Journalist and ardent Democrat Thomas Frank wrote a whole book on the subject [4] with mixed reception. The most accurate of criticism being on his claim Kansas has suffered under the Republicans [5]. And it can go without citation that on any day in the leftist blogging community there will be a charge of Republican/conservative groupthink, most likely using terms and examples recently found at their favorite blog. By no means is this only a left-wing phenomenon as the internet is full of copycats and pusdeo-intellectuals touting their ability to read, cut-and-paste and type quickly. The prevalence of the myth of the monolithic conservative or the myth of monolithic American ideologies be ignored. Both damage honest discussion and the truth of the history of American politics.


"To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere … The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living." -R.J. White
The perception of conservatism has been tainted by the GOP with its reliance upon the Religious Right and its abandoning of its classical liberal foundations these past eight years. A large chunk of new voters now, as I did only a few years ago, see conservatism as a tyrannical, jingoistic, religion-driven, oligarchical ideology. This is a child's view, of course, but the exponential exaggeration have basis in reality, what small basis that may be. The few overreaching parts of the PATRIOT ACT [6][7], the over-the-top and unnecessary scare mongering for the Iraq War[8], the courting of Evangelicals and the corporatist policies [9] has given much ammunition. One cannot solely blame the GOP, of course. The media, the Democratic political machine and the liberal and left-wing community have gone to great lengths to tarnish the entire idea of being conservative [10], at times disgustingly so [11]. To get the right idea of what conservative thought is one must look at the history of conservatism, its history, its adherents and its many branches and the disagreements among them. There is no greater folly than to underestimate the ideas of men, as we will see.

No comments: