Saturday, January 12, 2008

Run For Your Lives, Conservatives – the Populists Are Coming To Get You!

Conservatism is anti-American.

That’s right. I said it.

But don’t take my word for it; ask conservatives themselves.

They’ll tell you straight out.

That towering colossus of intellectual rigor, Jonah Goldberg, puts it out there, and openly says what most conservatives believe in their hearts but dare not say in the public sphere (emphasis mine):

David Frum has an interesting column on the limits of populism and the upside of elitism. These are two of my favorite themes. And since Huckabee seems to be a champion of the former and a foe of the latter, I thought (in the spirit of bloggy self-promotion) I’d call attention to one of my broadsides against populism and one of my defenses of elitism.

Regardless, I agree with David that populism is a useful and healthy passion when aimed at the liberal elite. But conservatives can get drunk on it when they proclaim that elites are bad simply because they are elites. Conservatives respect authority — the authority of ideas, traditions, morals, religion, customs, reason, law, excellence and so on. One cannot believe in this kind of authority while having a blanket hostility to elitism in any form.

The privileged son of Lucianne “Linda Tripp” Goldberg, a lifelong suckler at the conservative ‘wingnut welfare’ teat, is only echoing the tenets of the neoconservative movement, as articulated in the ideas of political philosopher Leo Strauss of the Chicago School of Economics. The basic idea is that the ‘masses’ must be controlled by the imposition of religion, authority and morality, for the sake of social stability, but that the ‘elites’ – meaning the conservative intellectuals – need not be bound by those pedestrian ideas, which are only needed to keep the rabble controllable. The fact (to them) that there really is no overriding morality would be too much for the feeble-minded public to handle without descending into anarchy and chaos, but intellectual giants such as themelves are rugged enough to withstand the mental turbulence. This means, of course, that they believe in a two-tiered morality for society – one for the ‘masses’ and one for the ‘elites’ – which, conveniently enough, always seem to include themselves! There’s nothing they like better than to sit around on their not-inconsiderable behinds and tell other people to go out and fight and die in wars that they would not for a second get personally involved in. Because, you see, it’s good for the 'little people'. Builds character and backbone. And war also presents many fine punditry and scholarly opportunities for themselves, as well as marvelous opportunities to brush aside those inconvenient and pesky notions of ‘democracy’ and ‘civil rights’ that the little people insist on yammering about. Not to mention that the warmongering (which they have no need to physically participate in, thank you!) is their method of choice to establish the United States as the lone superpower in the world, with the rest of the world our cowering subjects.

The core dimensions of conservative ideology, which according to a study analyzing 50 years’ worth of research on the conservative personality called "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," are acceptance of inequality and resistance to change. Neoconservatism departs from the second definition in its radical approach to imposing its vision on the rest of the country, but the ‘acceptance of inequality’ is the linchpin that binds all lines of conservatism together and differentiates them from liberalism.

‘Acceptance of inequality’ – if I had to pick only one description of the difference between the liberal and conservative outlook, this is the one I’d choose. Every conservative thought, conservative feeling, conservative policy, can be boiled down to its essence here. “There have to be poor people so there can be rich people, and that’s only natural – just as long as it’s not me!” The conservative outlook is hierarchical in nature. They really don’t believe ‘all are created equal.’ They believe that ‘some are more equal than others.’ There have to be losers in order for there to be winners. And to try to work towards everyone being winners is just plain wrong – even immoral.

Immoral – just like those pinko Founding Fathers.

Somehow, conservatives seem to have missed the message about America. America’s vision is a liberal vision, a progressive vision. The people who refused to accept the yoke of tyranny and the idea that God had placed some people above others were the people who fought for a radical new form of government – democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. The idea that all people are created equal was shocking and unheard-of. But the idea of God-given authority of a chosen few over the powerless many – this was the status quo. Acceptance of inequality and resistance to change. Back then, the Revolutionaries were progressive, and the Royalists were conservative. And it continues to this day.

Conservatives vehemently oppose anything so democratic, so American, as ‘populism’. The idea that the ‘rank and file’ should decide how they are governed is anathema to these people.That’s why they are becoming unglued at the very whiff of populism in their own ranks, as can be seen in the way that the Chattering Teeth in the conservative punditry are descending upon evangelical science-hater Mike Huckabee like a school of underfed pirhanas for even whispering about economic inequality and the problems of the working man, even when the rest of his message is everything the Religious Right could ask for. Bad enough that John Edwards is calling out the greedmeisters. That’s to be expected – he’s a left-wing lunatic. But one of their own? Heresy!

Well, guess what, conservatives? The populists are coming to get you!

You can run, but you can’t hide. We do not ‘accept inequality.’ And we are eager for change. America’s vision will not be denied forever. The economic and social Royalists and their sovereign, King George, have had their way long enough. If the definition of freedom is ‘nothing left to lose’, then we’re almost there. You’ve taken just about all there is to take.

And that’s a dangerous place to be in.

Run, conservatives, run for your lives!

The populists are coming!

(also on Smirking Chimp - thanks, Jeff! BTW, it's fundraising time over at the Chimp, so if you're inclined, it would be great if you could kick in a little to support this fine site.)


Distributorcap said...

that analysis was brilliant......
i like your optimism --- about the death knell of the conservative movement -- but i dont feel it coming as strong as you

couple of points ---

conservatives were able to somehow wrap up all the religious crap in their twins pillars of "acceptance of inequality and resistance to change." the resistance to change was easy to incorporate into to religious tenets -- because almost all religions are resistant to change. the inequality part was much harder to put in a religious context, but by capturing the abortion and gay rights mantras (most neocon and corporate elitist conservatives could give a rat's ass about abortion, and plenty of them are gay) they were able to complete the melding.

hence you got SO many people voting conservative when in reality it was against their best interest to do so. Poor people, whom the elite want to stay poor -- were voting to keep the elite in power --- makes no sense right? well keep those poor happy with the anti-abortion agenda and USA rah-rah stuff (and throw in a little Britney as the drug the calm the masses) - and voila -- instant political domination. on dont forget that up until now the elitists owned the primary mouthpieces out there

Huckabee scares them for exactly the reasons you see -- he will upset the apple cart for so many people (corporatists, liberals, atheists to name a few) that the neocon elite will do anything to prevent his victory, even tacitly endorse Hillary.

i hope you are right -- i hope they are running for their lives. their grip on the media is sinking, and maybe the poor conservatives dont want to be poor so much any more -- it is getting awfully expensive for that base to buy a gallon of gas.

Alicia Morgan said...

Thanks, dcNY! It's not exactly optimism about the impending demise of conservatism - it's pretty strong still - but of the inevitability of a populist backlash, given the coming implosion of the economy as all the chickens come home to roost at last. I hate to think that's what it's going to take, but all people share that 'resistance to change' somewhat (conservatives more than libs) and it had to get pretty bad (the Gilded Age and the Great Depression) before it changed the last time.

Comrade Kevin said...

Elitism is tacitly accepted by those who argue that social hierarchies aren't just essential, they are inevitable.

The problem is that the people in positions of power have a remarkable way of repairing the status quo, one that keeps them firmly at the top and the rest of us firmly at the bottom. Greed, selfishness, and material gain all factor in to the process. Once we pull the rug out from under them, they find a different way to the top.

The key is to find some way to force true equality into existence, but so long as the capitalist system is in play that will always be a difficult endeavor.

We will need to be just as resilient and adaptive as they.

Alicia Morgan said...

You've just mentioned my two-word political philosophy, CK - "sh** floats". No matter the system, the greedy and power-hungry find a way to the top. Our system has some checks and balances built in to mitigate that natural tendency, if we can find a way back to that system.

Mauigirl said...

Excellent post, great analysis of the conservative viewpoint.

Batocchio said...

Superb stuff, Alicia! As much as conservatives pretend otherwise, conservatism at its core has always been the aggressive fight to maintain (and increase) entrenched, unearned privilege, and oppose meritocracy and equal opportunity.

My "to link" list is getting very long, but I'll put this post on it. I think you might also want to take a gander at this one:

Alicia Morgan said...

Thanks, B! It's unfashionable to say so, but there is a core difference between libs and cons, and it's the 'me vs. we' outlook, as Thom Hartmann says.

I've seen that one! I've been lurking at the Sadly's lately.