Official professions to the contrary, many self-described American intellectual conservatives have a thinly veiled disdain for philosophy and the arts. Even among academics indifference to what lies beyond broad ideas and popular culture is common. The ruling assumption of the now dominant strains of intellectual conservatism seems to be that the crux of social well-being is politics: bad politicians ruin society; good politicians set it right. Nothing fascinates conservatives more than presidential politics. For social problems to be effectively remedied and for worthy objectives to be achieved, “our” candidate must win the next election, “our” people man the government.
Many supposedly intellectual conservatives seem to consider ideas and culture from afar, as it were, feeling no deep personal need for or intimate connection with them. Some are in a way attracted to the arts or even to philosophical speculation, but see no significant and immediate connection between these and the life of practice. Ideas and the arts are mainly pleasant diversions. Many others have only slight interest in philosophy and culture for their own sake. More or less consciously, they tend to assess either thought or imagination from the point of view of whether it advances or undermines the political cause that they assume to be incontestable. Does the book, lecture, play, movie, or song help or hinder the cause? Although such works may enlighten or entertain, they do not strike these individuals as having intrinsic and independent authority. Works of thought and imagination are for them not intriguing and potentially unsettling forces that might trigger painful self-examination and unpredictably reconstitute one’s own accustomed views; making sense of them is not so much a matter of soul searching as of locating them on the political spectrum.
Very provocative. BRB while I read the whole piece.
…most conservatives simply don’t want small government. They want their own version of big government. Of course, they have done a pretty good job of fooling American voters for decades by repeating the phrases “limited government” and “small government” like a hypnotic chant.
It’s interesting that conservatives only notice “big government” when it’s something their political enemies want. When conservatives want it, apparently it doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants a trillion-dollar foreign war, that doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants a 700-billion-dollar bank bailout, that doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants to spend billions fighting a needless and destructive War on Drugs, that doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants to spend billions building border fences, that doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants to “protect” the huge, unjust, and terribly inefficient Social Security and Medicare programs, that doesn’t count.
* If a conservative wants billions in farm subsidies, that doesn’t count.
Size of government is not calculated by dollars in spending alone, but also by intrusion in our lives. A strong military is important, and has been invaluable in our history. (This is not an argument for the Iraq War, by the way) The point is that big military does not by default mean “big government.”
I didn’t support the bailouts, and I’m a conservative.
I don’t care much for the War on Drugs, and I’m a conservative.
On the border fence: Again, “size of government” is not a physical concept, but a philosophical one. Is government “big” because it owns municipal buildings and capitols? What about National Parks? All that to say: I have philosophical support for a border fence (on national security grounds, and also because I want immigrants to follow the rules), but I can see how the cost would be prohibitive, so I haven’t made up my mind. I don’t see that conflicting with my conservatism.
I think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, should never have been created, and should be dismantled piece by piece to minimize the amount of inevitable of injustice that will occur as long as it exists.
Farm subsidies are anti-free market and create artificial supply/demand. They also contribute directly to the unhealthy crap sold in our grocery stores.
I am a conservative.
…conservative ideology, the belief that greed is always good…—
I’m sorry, but that may be the stupidest, most dishonest mis-characterization of conservatism I’ve read in a while. How pathetic of the NYT.
The conservative-leaning American Family Association “edits” the Associated Press news stories they run by automatically changing the word “gay” to “homosexual.” So the headline for U.S. track and field star Tyson Gay’s impressive weekend performance was “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” (via Bygone Bureau’s Bureaucracy) (photo via Right Wing Watch: The Dangers of Auto-Replace)
This makes me UGGHHH and AHAHAHAHA at the same time.
How pathetic. I would describe myself as being in general agreement with the AFA, but this type of knee-jerk reactionism to a specific word makes them look absolutely idiotic—and rightly so.
Conservatism begins with the foundational assumption that humans are inherently evil, selfish, greedy and lustful, and that the vast majority of us are not remotely capable of any kind of reliable self-discipline. Of course, this is a personal projection so big you’d need an IMAX theater to capture the full sweep of it all: Conservatives believe this because they know how they like to act when nobody’s around to hold them accountable — and they expect others to be no different, and certainly no better. This is why the GOP’s recent pervert parade hardly fazes them, and also why they accept their own side’s contrite confessions so quickly. They’re quite sure all humans are natural hypocrites and liars. Furthermore, because the flesh is so weak and our reason so fallible, they believe that, ignoble savages that we are, we really don’t have any business trying to control what happens next.—
Sara Robinson (via azspot) - oh man. she sounds ticked. but it begs the question…on what foundational aaumptions do “liberals” (since we’re using huge meaningless categorizations) begin? individuals are incapable of making and being responsible for their own decisions? that a government is required to provide everything for its citizens? that a citizen’s freedom must be strictly outlined (read: controlled) so as to prevent misbehavior? the irony of her mention of self-discipline is that conservatism at its core - small government, high personal freedom - is inherently reliant upon self-discipline whereas left-leaning perspectives shift the discipline upon the state. either way, both sides are based on presuppositions that have little or great faith in humanity in different areas. both sides have flaws and to pretend that yours doesn’t is naive.
primarily, however, i find little evidence to suggest that humanity as a whole is inherently good, compassionate, and selfless. this goes doubly for most governments; mo power, mo problems. humans have our moments, sure. but it’s irrational to vote for the future of a nation based on a few shining moments.