Monday, February 11, 2008

Bush is the Symptom - Conservatism is the Disease

As many of us have predicted, the Republican presidential candidates are in a knock-down, drag-out battle to claim the mantle of 'the most conservative ever'. McCain, indeed, is labeled by the other candidates as a 'liberal', the pinnacle of epithets. 'Pedophile' would not be a more derogatory, insulting term. You might as well call him a 'Satanist who bites the heads off of blastocysts' and get it over with.

Conservatives revere and revel in the label 'conservative' in a way that liberals ceased to do in the sixties, when conservatives began blaming liberalism for every evil under the sun. Before that, the majority of Americans self-identified as liberals; liberalism represented the things in society that Americans valued - equality, diversity, making sure that everyone had a chance at the "American Dream". The economic programs that gave us a middle class - strong unions, the GI Bill, Social Security, Medicare - are liberal programs. Liberals believe that you can't sacrifice people so that corporations can grow fat. Liberals know that the 'trickle down theory' is, as Dubya's father once rightly said, 'voodoo economics', and that the only boats that a 'rising tide lifts' are yachts. Liberals believe that we as a nation have a responsibility, not for, but to all of our citizens (there's a difference) and that government is not the enemy, but 'We the People'. It's not 'them', it's 'us'. But when conservatives, backed by the limitless coffers of Big Business Republican think-tanks who saw their vision of conservative financial and social dominance slipping away, decided to attack liberalism as the symbol of all that's wrong with America, liberals did not challenge this assertion and it became part of the national narrative without liberals quite knowing what happened.

So, while statistics show that the economy does better under Democratic leadership and worse under Republican leadership, conservatives brag about belonging to the party of 'fiscal responsibility.' While Republicans accuse Democrats of being 'soft on terror', their party and their President have increased and encouraged terrorism by attacking and occupying a sovereign nation without the resources to defend themselves, and created terrorism where there was none before. While Republicans consider themselves to be the party of Morality and accuse Democrats of having no values, in the most egregious examples of 'do as I say, not as I do', the overwhelming majority of sex and corruption scandals have involved Republicans, not Democrats. The party that supposedly believes in 'small government' inevitably bloats it to unprecedented numbers. The party that harps upon Personal Responsibility seems congenitally incapable of accepting responsibility for its failings, always blaming them on others.

Please note that I am not giving Dems a free pass here - no one can be in politics and keep their hands perfectly clean - no one. It's the way the system is set up. But the ones who claim to be more moral than everyone else because of their high religious principles and who are constantly pointing their fingers at others seem to be the ones that are doing every immoral thing they condemn others for.

And these are the people who are proudly claiming the mantle of conservatism.

For those conservatives who have reluctantly admitted that the Bush Administrtion has been, shall we say, less than stellar - is the reason for George W.'s failure as President simply that he is not conservative enough? Is that his problem? For the true believers, conservatism never fails - it is only failed.

Somehow, with a Republican president, complete Republican control of Congress, and a majority of conservative Supreme Court justices - as well as a religious right that has been calling the shots in Washington for almost eight years - conservatism has not been given a real chance!

Please pardon me if I'm not hopping on that particular bandwagon. Yes, the party with absolute control of everything, that left Democrats completely shut out and voiceless for six years and when they got the tiniest sliver of a majority back, filibusters them into irrelevance without a murmur of dissent - that party has not had a fair shot at giving conservatism a chance.

I beg to differ, comrades.

We have had the implementation of unfettered conservatism for the past twenty-five years. In my upcoming book the Price of Right I've set myself the task to make clear why it is not just George W. Bush that is the problem - it is the ideology of conservatism itself.

Bush is the symptom; conservatism is the disease.

Even as liberals debate conservatives, we cede them the ‘rightness’ of their basic tenets, which I think is a mistake. I hope to show that conservatism – both social and economic – is detrimental to a democratic society. By ‘conservatism’ I do not mean prudence and moderation - which is what many people take conservatism to mean – but the political and social meaning which includes the myth of the ‘free market’, the elimination of as much regulation and taxes as can be gotten away with, the myth that privatization is the best way to deal with society’s needs, and that government is in itself a bad thing. The (usually) unspoken corollary to this is the ‘Conservative Golden Rule’ – he who has the gold makes the rules. In other words, the people with money and power are the best and most deserving – simply because they have the money and power! This is a strongly-held belief of many people, but it is not acceptable to say in so many words, so there are many euphemisms to describe it - ‘meritocracy’, ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’, ‘reverse discrimination’, and so on. Conservatism’s message is connected to some very powerful societal myths that resonate deeply in the subconscious mind, making it easier to believe in the myths than the facts.

But America as a nation was built on liberal and progressive values, rather than conservative ones. If by ‘conservative’ you mean the status quo – keeping things the way they are, rather than changing, then conservatives would be the Royalists and liberals would be the Revolutionaries. The United States of America was not founded by people who did as they were told by the authority in power – in this case George III, who considered his power directly God-given. In fact, every significant advance in this country for the betterment of its people – freedom for slaves, women’s rights, child-labor laws, civil rights, the American 20th-century middle class itself – came about as a result of liberal ideals and policies.

For much of the 20th century after World War II, American values were liberal values. The New Deal gave us the American Dream – a thriving middle class. But the paradigm began shifting in the sixties, when the plan to rebuild conservatism intersected with the disappointment of Vietnam, which put a damper on what it meant to be liberal. Powerful changes were beginning, but they were under the radar of American consciousness.

We began feeling the rumbles of this seismic shift in the late seventies, when Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority injected politics into religion, ushering in the so-called “Reagan Revolution”. The admixture of moral righteousness with conservative economic tenets begat a Republican mindset that allowed for little or no consideration of other points of view. With this new majority, conservatives could afford to ignore the bipartisanship which would normally force it to mitigate or dilute its objectives. The liberal view became, not just incorrect, but morally flawed as well in the eyes of this new political meld, the Christian conservatives. Each group had its own reasons for criticizing liberalism before, but, fused together as a political unit, the two groups reinforced each other’s beliefs synergistically. Traditional liberal values such as tolerance, diversity, empathy and compassion became evils to be rooted out instead of solutions to the ills of society.

This set of 'values' insists that "Government is the enemy and Big Business is your friend." They believe, incredibly, that tax cuts plus borrowing and spending equal prosperity! The sad truth is that our government (and the rest of the world) is run, not by Democrats, or even Republicans, but by multinational corporations. These corporations want Republicans in power because they fit the most easily into the authoritarian nature of conservatism, and are thus much easier to bend to their will.

I don't believe that most conservatives (our family and friends, many of whom are affected as adversely as the rest of us by unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism) understand what their policies really mean in terms of the economy, the so-called "War on Terror", jobs, education, health care, the deficit, civil liberties, and our relationships with the rest of the world. But, as most people know by now, the Republicans have been positioning themselves for this complete takeover of government for forty years. It has been carefully planned and massively funded. And the way they have captured the hearts and minds of the American fiscal and religious conservatives was not an accident. It has been done by playing into the deepest wants, needs, and fears of people who are the most comfortable with authoritarian structure. It has been done systematically through the use of language and framing, and using the same subliminal techniques that advertisers use when they want you to choose their product over a competitor's; not because of inherent differences between the products, but by applying motivational 'triggers' which have nothing to do with the product itself. That's where the media comes in, The average American, who works harder and longer for less and less, sits down for an hour, exhausted, in front of the television set and takes it on faith that what he or she is seeing on the news is true. And when the narrative is skewed to promote the ideas that those in power wish to have the public believe, most people are not in a position to judge how much is true and how much is spin. The line between 'news' and 'commentary' has been completely blurred to boost advertising revenue, and the American people - you and I - are paying the price.

George W. Bush certainly is the worst president in American history, but he could not have achieved that distinction without the conservative philosophy that says "What's good for business is good for America." It is conservatism that has created the monster that is George W. Bush, not the other way around.

I believe it is time for liberals to call themselves liberals, and be proud of being liberal. It is time to stop ceding conservatives the moral high ground and start pointing out where conservatism has had a direct and destructive effect on the United States and the rest of the world.

Conservatism is inherently anti-democratic. Conservatives do not believe that all men (and women) are created equal. Conservatives believe that some people are more equal, more deserving, more entitled than others, and it's the fault of the 'others' if they are shut out.

Folks, the principles that our nation was founded on are the exact principles that conservatives oppose! We as liberals need to begin pointing that out. Nothing would make me happier than to see a Democratic candidate boast about what a liberal he or she was. That would give me hope for our country.

Remember - Bush is only the symptom - conservatism is the disease. Let's work togther for a cure.

26 comments:

The Cunning Runt said...

Very well said, Ms. Morgan. It boggles the mind to see huge numbers of Americans buying the Corporacratic Lie. And any "Champions of the Left" who rise to the level of visibility get discredited and destroyed by the Corporate Media.

It's a very sad and dangerous time we're living in.

I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Wyldth1ng said...

I do not believe everything you say.
Some of what you have said implies that all "republicans" are for big business and not for the people.

Also, I worry about the democrats who are currently running have repeatedly said their dismay in troops in the US and want to drop our numbers to a pre-WW1 level.

Alicia Morgan said...

wyldth1ng - I certainly hope that you don't 'believe everything I say'. This article deals in broad generalities, and of course there are plenty of exceptions.

I am writing this to express a point of view that is not being heard in the mainstream. It is to be hoped that these ideas are out there alongside the 'prevailing wisdom' so that people can decide for themselves. It's just as foolish to take 'everything I say' as gospel.

RedLetter Rev said...

I found your post from a cross-posting on the DNC's "Kicking Ass" blog. I had to come right away to read the full text.

Thank you for putting this in print. I have been posting exactly the same sentiments for the last four years. The decades-long soft-sell of nonsense as "truth" and the development of a textbook-variety cult around it has damaged our democracy to point where -- IF we can salvage it at all -- it will take decades of repair and re-education. There are days when I wonder whether the Progressives can pull off such a monumental feat. We have brought this country back before in history; but never has the task been so great or the damage so deep.

I am the many-greats grandchild of Revolutionary War patriots. My ancestor who immigrated to America the latest arrived in 1751. He and many of my g's-grandfolks and g's-uncles were soldiers who truly did fight for the freedoms we enjoy today. Two of those g's-grandpa's were present at the signing of the Mecklenburg Resolves. I also served my country and still regard my promise before G'd and with G'd's help to protect, uphold, and defend the Constitution. The deep regard for our rights and liberties runs deep within my genes and my soul.

To think that the right would destroy the very thing that makes America "America" angers me. To think that there are many followers of the right would throw away those rights and liberties so easily and so quickly, without regard to how hard they were won and at what great cost, amazes and saddens me.

With such a family history and a personal connection to the Constitution, I feel very protective of it; hence, our American way of life. That is the one and singular document that makes America "America", yet daily, those who claim to be "more American" than the rest of us attack, sully and deface the Founding Document. The Orwellian timbre our society has taken on is indeed soul-shaking.

I don't blame the Corporatists for putting the soft-sell out there so much as I blame those on the right who follow every syllable of it so utterly uncritically, even in the face of obvious fact, history and evidence to the contrary. The right have created not just the semblance of a cult -- it most certainly is a cult by even the loosest of definitions. Cults invent their own version of "truth" and having some sad experience with cult-members, invented and convenient "truths" are difficult indeed to replace with uncomfortable and often inconvenient reality. But this very deprogramming task must be taken on soon, seriously and with all due diligence if we are to bring America back to its founding principals.

I thank G'd you have found your voice and have set my feelings exactly to print. I cannot wait to read your book. Blessed Be.

Mauigirl said...

Great post, Alicia. My mother has been complaining for years that the Republicans turned "liberal" into a dirty word! There is a great little essay about all the accomplishments of liberals that I'll have to dig up and post. It shows that much of what we take for granted is the result of liberals working for fairness and justice and good working conditions, etc. You really hit the nail on the head.

Martha A said...

n the United States, the 70% Common Population's Political Class and Culture makes less than $121,000 dollars a year to subsist upon; and, should any of the 70% Common Population lose their subsistence job's working for the 20% Professional Class & Culture or the 10% Elite Capitalist Class & Culture, they will fall into the ranks of the poor until when and/or if they get back onto their feet with a sufficient new job; therefore, the poor are a neverending part of the 70% Common Population's Political Class and Culture that will be with us always and can not be separated from the Common Population.

The 20% Professional Political Class and Culture is the NEW middle class population that earns $121,000 to 1 Million Dollars a year working for the 10% Elite Capitalist Class & Culture and can also fall into the ranks of the poor should they lose their jobs; as the Professional Political Class and Culture is the cream from the 70% Common Population's Political Class and Culture that have chosen to be a separate political class and culture, separated from the Common Population.

The 10% Elite Capitalist Political Class and Culture make Millions to Billions of Dollars per year and work only by choice.

The Common Population's Political Class and Culture are without subsistance rights and must realize the Common Population are liberals in need of holding a job for subsistance rights, instead of conservatives living off their own capital; but even more than that, the Common Population's DIVERSE Political Class and Culture needs to realize the Common Population are not only a political class, but are a political culture unto themselves POLITICALLY, and start defending their own political class and culture against the conservatism of the RIGHT, as well as the 20% Corporate DLC's Professional Political Conservative Class and Culture of the LEFT, represented in Congress by the corporate Democratic Leadership Council, the DLC. If not, there can be NO HOPE for the 70% Common Population to ever be able to regain subsistence rights in the nation.

Also, the candidates, the media and the blogs are always talking about the MIDDLE CLASS, can there be TWO Middle Classes?????? NO THERE CAN NOT!!!!!!! --- Because the 20% Corporate DLC's NEW Political Professional Class IS the Middle Class of the NATION earning $121,000 to $1,000,000. per year, while the SUPPOSED other middle class IS NOT A CLASS at all, BUT IS A CONSTITUENT PART OF THE COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS AND CULTURE, the MIDDLE of the Common Population EARNS $40,000. to $120,000. according to an NPR report, which is being promoted as the MIDDLE CLASS to divide the common population. The actual middle class is the Corporate DLC's MIDDLE CLASS & CULTURE of the Nation that earns $121,000 to 1 Million Dollars a year. Which middle are they talking about? Is it the Middle Class of the Nation, or the Middle of the Class & Culture of the Common Population? That is a BIG DIFFERENCE. Inquiring minds want to know, and this needs to be widely discusssed because their talking incorrect rhetoric about TWO MIDDLES, one middle earning $40,000. to $120,000., and another middle earning $121,000.- $1 Million Dollars just below the Elite Capitalists, the Corporate DLC's NEW CLASS & CULTURE, the Political Professional Class and Culture THAT CAN NOT BE IGNORED as they are the TRUE MIDDLE CLASS of the United States.

The middle class of the nation IS the 20% Professional Class and Culture, the DLC's new class, which is the one and only middle class of the Nation. THERE IS NO OTHER MIDDLE CLASS -- the middle they talk about is a median income for the Common Population Class & Culture, but a median income is not a middle class and culture, but is simply a median income of the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS AND CULTURE.

Misconstruing the COMMON POPULATIONS CLASS & CULTURE as the middle class is common with totalitarian conservatism because it can be accepted by the unknowing, and divides the 70% COMMON POPULATIONS CLASS & CULTURE to the benefit of the other classes. It is necessary to understand that raising or lowering the median income of the 70% majority common populations class and culture does not make another middle class. There is only ONE Middle Class in the three political classes and cultures in the United States listed as follows:

FIRST CLASS & CULTURE -- 10% Elite Capitalist Class & Culture's Millions to Billions of dollars yearly,

SECOND CLASS & CULTURE -- 20% Corporate DLC's Political Professional Class & Culture's $121,000. to $1,000,000. yearly, THE REAL MIDDLE CLASS, and the

THIRD CLASS & CULTURE -- 70% Majority Common Population Class & Culture's $0 - $120,000. yearly.

There is no way the so called $40,000. -$120,000. yearly income wages rhetoric can be misconstrued as the middle class of the nation, but is ONLY an income figure derived from the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS & CULTURE.

Now, WE THE PEOPLE are in need of legislation for a new party, representative of the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS & CULTURE, because our representation has been taken away by the Corporate DLC's NEW PROFESSIONAL CLASS & CULTURE, as neither one, nor two parties, can possibly represent THREE classes and cultures; and represent their own class & culture and the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS & CULTURE GOES UNREPRESENTED as swing voters with super delegates MARGINALIZING the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION'S CLASS & CULTURE continually.

WE THE PEOPLE of the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION MUST CONTINUE TO WAKE UP so that WE THE PEOPLE CAN MAKE DEMOCRACY MANIFEST, because orthodox democracy is nothing but totalitarianism.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Alician Morgan: I liked this post quite a bit. It was comprehensive, well-organized, well-written and persuasive. I'd go so far as to say that if one reads this post he or she needn't purchase a copy of WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?

On balance, I agree with you. I will quibble over some fine points.

(1) If the whole thing is just a question of marketing or roto-marketing of the term "liberal," then what's the big deal? I think it was a wise thing to switch to "progressive" as an umbrella term,though I think the mundial terms FAR LEFT, LEFT, CENTER-LEFT, CENTER, CENTER-RIGHT, RIGHT and FAR-RIGHT have more valence, capture more of the shading and have more bite. For example, today's "liberals" would not be yesterday's "revolutionaries," today's "liberals" would have been yesterday's "liberals." Yesterday's "revolutionaries" wouldn't even have been "revolutionaries" per se because the American Revolution wsa a violent dispute over tax policy and the beneficiaries of the War of Independence were, ultimately, the upper echelons of the Colonial merchant class.

If you want to hang on to the name "liberal," that's fine. I don't mind calling myself that at all. You do need to get more aggressive and stick the other side with a label they don't want: "fascist" works for me; so, does "reactionary," so does "monarchist" and "feudalist."

I like that you draw the distinction between "Conservatism" as a movement and "conservative" meaning prudence and moderation. I do detect, however, an anti-capitalist undercurrent. We can go around and around on the issue but without capital and credit markets you don't have a blog to post on or your home or any of the elements you've come to expect from life. I don't say that markets are particularly moral. Quite the contrary. They are amoral. Often, they allocate resources efficiently. Sometimes, they don't. Never is fairness even part of the question. It's not edenic, but it's what you've got.

Furthermore, I don't believe from either a tactic or social justice standpoint should "left-wingers" be so opposed to rethinking US taxes. "Martha A" has written an excellent response above and I think she would agree with me that, for example, the Alternative Minimum Tax is basically a REGRESSIVE TAX whose effect is to not only split the lower 70% politically but also to drive some of the upper part of the lower 70% downward socially.

If the thought that some wealthy person is going to get wealthier if the tax code is revised is all that's preventing "liberals" from seeing things as they are, then that's very short-sighted. There are plenty of ways to create tax fairness without "soaking the rich." I'd say PEACE and AN ELIMINATION OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE would be a pretty good start in terms of freeing up budget room to make taxes fairer. If the rich end up paying a little less or don't suffer, who gives a crap? I'm probably to your "right" on this and to Wyldth1ng's "left."

MARTHA A:

That's an excellent piece of writing and I think I'm going to put it up on my blog, with full admission that I'm in the upper portion of the 20% and am using all legal means to get the fuck into the 10%! I do know where I come from, however, and believe me, Barack Obama can play at being ghetto-man in Chicago but he's an artistocrat and I assure you that unlike me he didn't grow up thinking a normal dinner was sardines or chicken hearts on toast. So, I'll never switch my vote. Well, actually I don't live in the US anymore, so I should say, I'll never switch my left-wing politics.

Alicia Morgan said...

Mauigirl - your mom is right!

Martha - You're exactly right about the 2 'middle classes'. Thanks for making that point - and for linking me over at KA! I appreciate the information you've set out in the comment.

Kelso - I admit the article is rather broadly drawn - on purpose; it's more of an overview. To get into the fine points, I'd have to...write a book! :-D One clarification, though - I'm not anti-capitalism; I'm just anti-unregulated-capitalism. Capitalism works with proper oversight. Actually, I believe the terms 'unregulated' or 'de-regulated' are misnomers - the corporations want regulations, all right, but ones that allow them to do as they wish regardless of the consequences to others.

Alicia Morgan said...

Rev - welcome to Hooterville! We are in a very dire place. We may not be able to change it. But I do not see that as a reason to give up, but to work harder to get back our Constitution and Bill of Rights - this marvelous, radical, unique experiment in human betterment and freedom.

But the first thing we as Americans need is real information, not advertising, propaganda and spin. Without an honest and adversarial press - one whose loyalty lies with the public, not the powers-that-be - the public has no way to make informed decisions, and that's why the press, alone of all professions, is singled out in the First Amendment. So the more of us that can raise our voices and challenge the spin and 'truthiness', the better chance we have of getting our country back.

Alicia Morgan said...

also, Mauigirl - give me a heads-up when you post that list, would you? Thanks!

Alicia Morgan said...

CR - thanks for your kind words! What you said about anyone who champions the left is true - they are 'disappeared' as fast as possible. Can't have that kind of talk riling up the nice people, now, can we?

RedLetter Rev said...

Alicia,

I've written quite a few posts over at KA about the need for us to de-mythologize right-wing-speak. For example:

Neocon - neither "new" nor "conservative". These are the same folks who brought us PNAC and openly published their goal to destroy American democracy. See Self-Servative

Values Voter - more accurately, a Wedge-Issue Voter. It is neither a sense of civic duty nor patriotic pride in the exercise of the franchise that causes this group to get off their dead arses and vote. The only thing that draws this group of people to the polls is the sheer joy in taking something they don't appreciate away from someone else.

Conervative - actually a Self-Servative (See Values Voter) This person is convinced that war is always a just cause and that Jesus shares their hatred of foreigners, immigrants (legal or not), all people of color and most especially homosexuals.

Defense of Marriage - Defense of antiquated baby-bounty welfare tax breaks.

Flag Protection - any meaningless legislation designed to sneak rights away from citizens and to weaken the Bill of Rights. The wary Progressive understands that when a symbol of freedom is elevated above freedom itself, then actual freedom becomes an unattainable dream.

I have many more to share, but it's 7BC (Before Coffee) in the morning and I need to scram to my day-job (gotta keep the lights on). Perhaps your other fans here could collaborate on a complete dictionary.

Be Well!

RedLetter Rev said...

Ack! The bolded word should read "Conservative". Need caffeine...

Alicia Morgan said...

Thanks, Rev! I think that would make for an awesome post. I, too, have to pay the bills, but later on today I'll get started.

'Self-servative' - that is perfect!

DCup said...

Alicia - Great post! I'm glad to see the great discussion here.

I wish you all the best with you book!

Batocchio said...

A good preview of your mighty tome!

O' Tim said...

Well put, A.M. (When Kelso gives you the thumbs up and leaves a juicy reply you know you're on to something)!

"Selfservative" is indeed perfect! I think we need to immediately adopt it into the vernacular and get that virus spreading like pan flu!

Thanks DCup for the link!

BAC said...

Alicia, first of all great post! I really loved it! As I was reading it I was reminded of something Flo Kennedy once said, when she was confronted by a fellow who called her an "agitator" ... she responded that yes she was, and said "isn't that the part of a washing machine that gets the clothes clean?"

We all need to be agitators, so that we can begin to clean up the mess left us by conservatives.


BAC

Comrade Kevin said...

I agree with about 85% of what you said. I am a proud liberal myself, but the belief that Conservatism has exploited is the inherent belief that hierarchies are inevitable, money and power set precedent, and we the people are only as powerful as our ability to make as much money and consolidate as much power as we possibly can.

A study of history and human nature will prove that to be true.

The idealistic dreams of the 1960s and its ultimate dismal failure are why conservatives were able to make the gains they did. Liberalism became associated with failed policy, radicalism, and pie-in-the-sky notions of egalitarianism.

Obama, to his credit, has tried to reframe the discourse and swing the pendulum back around so that we can see that the basic premise upon which this country was founded was that of an Enlightenment ideal, which was both radical and optimistic at once.

Martha A said...

Kelso 2-12-08 10:49pm:

In reference to your thinking there is an anti-capitalist undercurrent in MarthaA's post, you are incorrect; anything can be used improperly and capitalism is being used improperly. The FRAME "for or against" CAPITALISM is a propagandistic frame. What I am against is capitalists receiving OBSCENE BENEFIT at the expense of the 70% MAJORITY Common Population.

I am for Capitalism being harnessed with "ratios of benefit for profit and pay" that will eliminate OBSCENE BENEFIT for the few at the top, and provide lawfully established "ratios of benefit for profit and pay" for all who contribute to capitalistic enterprise, because all who work do contribute.

An example of "ratios of benefit for profit and pay" can be understood by the analysis of all of the parts and angles of a "2PI Circle", [http://math2.org/math/trig/tables.htm]. A "2PI Circle" can grow or shrink from small to large, but the ratios for computing the size of the parts stays the same; this trigonometric model could be applied to Capitalism, so that all parts within Capitalism would remain constant as the "PIE" becomes larger or smaller, and eliminate OBSCENE BENEFIT for the few at the top at the expense of the many. With this capitalistic control, all citizens who work in a capitalistic enterprise will have an interest in whether or not a capitalistic enterprise does well, because they will receive an established "ratio of benefit for profit and pay" that they can depend upon, whereas currently OBSCENE BENEFITS are reaped by a few at the top at the expense of everyone else.

A legislated fair "Ratio of Benefit for Profit and Pay" will insure that all involved, including the workers, in the enterprise receive lawfully established benefits.

Martha A said...

Alicia:

Glad to find your blog.

Martha A said...

Kelso:

I am for the people who make the most money paying the most taxes and the people who make the least about of money paying the least amount of taxes. I do not think there should ever be any tax on any subsistence item, like food, shoes, clothing, fuel, electricity, water, medicine, etc. ALL taxes should be set up on a ratio of benefit basis the same as Capitalism, where the 70% common population does not end up paying the highest ratio of taxes.

Alicia Morgan said...

Martha, I am glad you found your way here! You have some amazing insights. A progressive income tax is a fair tax - those who benefit the most from the bounty of this nation's commons should pay accordingly.

Martha A said...

Today, February 27. 2008, I find posted everywhere that William F. Buckley, Jr. the father of modern conservatism was found dead with his boots on. The 82 year old Buckley founded the National Review magazine that gave shape to conservative thought in America, became an influence on Reaganite politics and contributed to the rise of the US neo-conservative movement.

Buckley opposed liberalism for three decades on public television with the talk show "Firing Line", where he said that the general public should be given unmarked poison as a cure for their woes as it would be a benefit to the world by decreasing the common population.

I find it difficult to find any grief for this kind of person, who so disliked the whole of humanity.

Alicia Morgan said...

Well, I guess he's finally benefitting the world by decreasing the population.

Thomas G said...

Liberal, --- and Conservative?

For all who want to know what the meaning of Liberalism, "Innovation", and Conservatism is, Ralph Waldo Emerson explains both in "The Conservative, A Lecture delivered at the Masonic Temple, Boston, Mass. December 9, 1841.

For all who would condemn Liberalism, "Innovation" and praise Conservatism, if you are a part of the 70% MAJORITY COMMON POPULATION as a Class and Culture, I strongly recommend that you read the full text of "The Conservative", as follows:


"THE CONSERVATIVE", a Lecture by Ralph Waldo Emerson - Essays and Lectures; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 83-5447

THE TWO PARTIES which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made. This quarrel is the subject of civil history. The conservative party established the reverend hierachies and monarchies of the most ancient world. The battle of patrician and plebeian, of parent state and colony, of old usage and accommodation to new facts, of the rich and the poor, reappears in all countries and times. The war rages not only in battlefields, in national councils, and ecclesiastical synods, but agitates every man's bosom with opposing advantages every hour. On rolls the old world meantime, and now one, now the other gets the day, and still the fight renews itself as if for the first time, under new names and hot personalities.

Such an irreconcilable antagonism, of course, must have a correspondent depth of seat in the human constitution. It is the opposition of Past and Future, of Memory and Hope, of the Understanding and the Reason. It is the primal antagonism, the appearance in trifles of the two poles of nature.

There is a fragment of old fable which seems somehow to have been dropped from the current mythologies, which may deserve attention, as it appears to relate to this subject.

Saturn grew weary of sitting alone, or with none but the great Uranus or Heaven beholding him, and he created an oyster. Then he would act again, but he made nothing more, but went on creating the race of oysters. Then Uranus cried, 'a new work, O Saturn! the old is not good again.'

Saturn replied. 'I fear. There is not only the alternative of making and not making, but also of unmaking. Seest thou the great sea, how it ebbs and flows? so is it with me; my power ebbs; and if I put forth my hands, I shall not do, but undo. Therefore I do what I have done; I hold what I have got; and so I resist Night and Chaos.'

'O Saturn,' replied Uranus, 'thou canst not hold thine own, but by making more. Thy oysters are barnacles and cockles, and with the next flowing of the tide, they will be pebbles and sea-foam.'

'I see,' rejoins Saturn, 'thou art in league with Night, thou art become an evil eye; thou spakest from love; now thy words smite me with hatred. I appeal to Fate, must there not be rest?' --- 'I appeal to Fate also,' said Uranus, 'must there not be motion?' --- But Saturn was silent, and went on making oysters for a thousand years.

After that, the word of Uranus came into his mind like a ray of the sun, and he made Jupiter; and then he feared again; and nature froze, the things that were made went backward, and, to save the world, Jupiter slew his father Saturn.

This may stand for the earliest account of a conversation on politics between a Conservative and a Radical, which has come down to us. It is ever thus. It is the counteraction of the centripetal and the centrifugal forces. Innovation is the salient energy; Conservatism the pause on the last movement. 'That which is was made by God,' saith Conservatism. 'He is leaving that, he is entering this other;' rejoins Innovation.

There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact. It affirms because it holds. Its fingers clutch the fact, and it will not open its eyes to see a better fact. The castle, which conservatism is set to defend, is the actual state of things, good and bad. The project of innovation is the best possible state of things. Of course, conservatism always has the worst of the argument, is always apologizing, pleading a necessity, pleading that to change would be to deteriorate; it must saddle itself with the mountainous load of the violence and vice of society, must deny the possibility of good, deny ideas, and suspect and stone the prophet; whilst innovation is always in the right, triumphant, attacking, and sure of final success. Conservatism stands on man's confessed limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitude; conservatism on circumstance; liberalism on power; one goes to make an adroit member of the social frame; the other to postpone all things to the man himself; conservatism is debonnair and social; reform is individual and imperious. We are reformers in spring and summer; in autum and winter, we stand by the old; reformers in the morning, conservers at night. Reform is affirmative, conservatism negative; conservatism goes for comfort, reform for truth. Conservatism is more candid to behold another's worth; reform more disposed to maintain and increase its own. Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory. Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry. It makes a great difference to your figure and to your thought, whether your foot is advancing or receding. Conservatism never puts the foot forward; in the hour when it does that, it is not establishment, but reform. Conservatism tends to universal seeming and treachery, believes in a negative fate; believes that men's temper governs them; that for me, it avails not to trust in principles; they will fail me; I must bend a little; it distrusts nature; it thinks there is a general law without a particular application, --- law for all that does not include any one. Reform in its antagonism inclines to asinine resistance, to kick with hoofs; it runs to egotism and bloated self-conceit; it runs to a bodiless pretension, to unnatural refining and elevation, which ends in hypocrisy and sensual reaction.

And so whilst we do not go beyond general statements, it may be safely affirmed of these two metaphysical antagonists, that each is a good half, but an impossible whole. Each exposes the abuses of the other, but in a true society, in a true man, both must combine. Nature does not give the crown of its approbation, namely, beauty, to any action or emblem or actor, but to one which combines both these elements; not to the rock which resists the waves from age to age, nor to the wave which lashes incessantly the rock, but the superior beauty is with the oak which stands with its hundred arms against the storms of a century, and grows every year like a sapling; or the river which ever flowing, yet is found in the same bed from age to age; or, greatest of all, the man who has subsisted for years amid the changes of nature, yet has distanced himself, so that when you remember what he was, and see what he is, you say, what strides! what a disparity is here!

Throughout nature the past combines in every creature with the present. Each of the convolutions of the sea-shell, each node and spine marks one year of the fish's life, what was the mouth of the shell for one season, with the addition of a new matter by the growth of the animal, becoming an ornamental node. The leaves and a shell of soft wood are all that the vegetation of this summer has made, but the solid columnar stem, which lifts that bank of foliage into the air to draw the eye and to cool us with its shade, is the gift and legacy of dead and buried years.

In nature, each of these elements being always present, each theory has a natural support. As we take our stand on Necessity, or on Ethics, shall we go for the conservative, or for the reformer. If we read the world historically, we shall say, Of all the ages, the present hour and circumstance is the cumulative result; this is the best throw of the dice of nature that has yet been, or that is yet possible. If we see it from the side of Will, or the Moral Sentiment, we shall accuse the Past and the Present, and require the impossible of the Future.

But although this bifold fact lies thus united in real nature, and so united that no man can continue to exist in whom both these elements do not work, yet men are not philosophers, but are rather very foolish children, who, by reason of their partiality, see everything in the most absurd manner, and are the victims at all times of the nearest object. There is even no philosopher who is a philosopher at all times. Our experience, our perception is conditioned by the need to acquire in parts and in succession, that is, with every truth a certain falsehood. As this is the invariable method of our training, we must give it allowance, and suffer men to learn as they have done for six millenniums, a word at a time, to pair off into insane parties, and learn the amount of truth each knows, by the denial of an equal amount of truth. For the present, then, to come at what sum is attainable to us, we must even hear the parties plead as parties.

That which is best about conservatism, that which, though it cannot be expressed in detail, inspires reverence in all, is the Inevitable. There is the question not only, what the conservative says for himself? but, why must he say it? What insurmountable fact binds him to that side? Here is the fact which men call Fate, and fate in dread degrees, fate behind fate, not to be disposed of by the consideration that the Conscience commands this or that, but necessitating the question, whether the faculties of man will play him true in resisting the facts of universal experience? For although the commands of the Conscience are essentially absolute, they are historically limitary. Wisdom does not seek a literal rectitude, but an useful, that is, a conditioned one, such a one as the faculties of man and the constitution of things will warrant. The reformer, the partisan loses himself in driving to the utmost some specialty of right conduct, until his own nature and all nature resist him; but Wisdom attempts nothing enormous and disproportioned to its powers, nothing which it cannot perform or nearly perform. We have all a certain intellection or presentiment of reform existing in the mind, which does not yet descend into the character, and those who throw themselves blindly on this lose themselves. Whatever they attempt in that direction, fails, and reacts suicidally on the actor himself. This is the penalty of having transcended nature. For the existing world is not a dream, and cannot with impunity be treated as a dream; neither is it a disease; but it is the ground on which you stand, it is the mother of whom you were born. Reform converses with possibilities, perchance with impossibilities; but here is sacred fact. This also was true, or it could not be: it had life in it, or it could not have existed; it has life in it, or it could not continue. Your schemes may be feasible, or may not be, but this has the endorsement of nature and a long friendship and cohabitation with the powers of nature. This will stand until a better cast of the dice is made. The contest between the Future and the Past is one between Divinity entering, and Divinity departing. You are welcome to try your experiments, and, if you can, to displace the actual order by that ideal republic you announce, for nothing but God will expel God. But plainly the burden of proof must lie with the projector. We hold to this, until you can demonstrate something better.

The system of property and law goes back for its origin to barbarous and sacred times; it is the fruit of the same mysterious cause as the mineral or animal world. There is a natural sentiment and prepossession in favor of age, of ancestors, of barbarous and aboriginal usages, which is a homage to the element of necessity and divinity which is in them. The respect for the old names of places, of mountains, and streams, is universal. The Indian and barbarous name can never be supplanted without loss. The ancients tell us that the gods loved the Ethiopians for their stable customs; and the Egyptians and Chaldeans, whose origin could not be explored, passed among the junior tribes of Greece and Italy for sacred nations.

Moreover, so deep is the foundation of the existing social system, that it leaves no one out of it. We may be partial, but Fate is not. All men have their root in it. You who quarrel with the arrangements of society, and are willing to embroil all, and risk the indisputable good that exists, for the chance of better, live, move, and have your being in this, and your deeds contradict your words every day. For as you cannot jump from the ground without using the resistance of the ground, nor put out the boat to sea, without shoving from the shore, nor attain liberty without rejecting obligation, so you are under the necessity of using the Actual order of things, in order to disuse it; to live by it, whilst you wish to take away its life. The past has baked your loaf, and in the strength of its bread you would break up the oven. But you are betrayed by your own nature. You also are conservatives. However men please to style themselves, I see no other than a conservative party. You are not only identical with us in your needs, but also in your methods and aims. You quarrel with my conservatism, but it is to build up one of your own; it will have a new beginning, but the same course and end, the same trials, the same passions; among the lovers of the new I observe that there is a jealousy of the newest, and that the seceder from the seceder is as damnable as the pope himself.

On these and the like grounds of general statement, conservatism plants itself without danger of being displaced. Especially before this personal appeal, the innovator must confess his weakness, must confess that no man is to be found good enough to be entitled to stand champion for the principle. But when this great tendency comes to practical encounters, and is challenged by young men, to whom it is no abstraction, but a fact of hunger, distress, and exclusion from opportunities, it must needs seem injurious. The youth, of course, is an innovator by the fact of his birth. There he stands, newly born on the planet, a universal beggar, with all the reason of things, one would say, on his side. In his first consideration how to feed, clothe, and warm himself, he is met by warnings on every hand, that this thing and that thing have owners, and he must go elsewhere. Then he says; If I am born into the earth, where is my part? have the goodness, gentlemen of this world, to show me my wood-lot, where I may fell my wood, my field where to plant my corn, my pleasant ground where to build my cabin.

'Touch any wood, or field, or house-lot, on your peril,' cry all the gentlemen of this world; 'but you may come and work in ours, for us, and we will give you a piece of bread.'

And what is that peril?

Knives and muskets, if we meet you in the act; imprisonment, if we find you afterward.

And by what authority, kind gentlemen?

By our law.

And your law, --- is it just?

As just for you as it was for us. We wrought for others under this law, and got our lands so.

I repeat the question, Is your law just?

Not quite just, but necessary. Moreover, it is juster now than it was when we were born; we have made it milder and more equal.

I will none of your law, returns the youth; it encumbers me. I cannot understand, or so much as spare time to read that needless library of your laws. Nature has sufficiently provided me with rewards and sharp penalties, to bind me not to transgress. Like the Persian noble of old, I ask "that I may neither command nor obey." I do not wish to enter into your complex social system. I shall serve those whom I can, and they who can will serve me. I shall seek those whom I love, and shun those whom I love not, and what more can all your laws render me?

With equal earnestness and good faith, replies to this plaintiff an upholder of the establishment, a man of many virtues:

Your opposition is feather-brained and overfine. Young man, I have no skill to talk with you, but look at me; I have risen early and sat late, and toiled honestly, and painfully for very many years. I never dreamed about methods; I laid my bones to, and drudged for the good I possess; it was not got by fraud, not by luck, but by work, and you must show me a warrant like these stubborn facts in your own fidelity and labor, before I suffer you, on the faith of a few fine words, to ride into my estate, and claim to scatter it as your own.

Now you touch the heart of the matter, replies the reformer. To that fidelity and labor, I pay homage. I am unworthy to arraign your manner of living, until I too have been tried. But I should be more unworthy, if I did not tell you why I cannot walk in your steps. I find this vast network, which you call property, extended over the whole planet. I cannot occupy the bleakest crag of the White Hills or the Alleghany Range, but some man or corporation steps up to me to show me that it is his. Now, though I am very peaceable, and on my private account could well enough die, since it appears there was some mistake in my creation, and that I have been missent to this earth, where all the seats were already taken, --- yet I feel called upon in behalf of rational nature, which I represent, to declare to you my opinion, that, if the Earth is yours, so also is it mine. All your aggregate existences are less to me a fact than is my own; as I am born to the earth, so the Earth is given to me, what I want of it to till and to plant; nor could I, without pusillanimity, omit to claim so much. I must not only have a name to live, I must live. My genius leads me to build a different manner of life from any of yours. I cannot then spare you the whole world. I love you better. I must tell you the truth practically; and take that which you call yours. It is God's world and mine; yours as much as you want, mine as much as I want. Besides, I know your ways; I know the symptoms of the disease. To the end of your power, you will serve this lie which cheats you. Your want is a gulf which the possession of the broad earth would not fill. Yonder sun in heaven you would pluck down from shining on the universe, and make him a property and privacy, if you could; and the moon and the north star you would quickly have occasion for in your closet and bed chamber. What you do not want for use, you crave for ornament, and what your convenience could spare, your pride cannot.

On the other hand, precisely the defence which was set up for the British Constitution, namely, that with all its admitted defects, rotten boroughs and monopolies, it worked well, and substantial justice was somehow done; the wisdom and the worth did get into parliament, and every interest did by right, or might, or sleight, get represented; --- the same defence is set up for the existing institutions. They are not the best; they are not just; and in respect to you, personally, O brave young man! they cannot be justified. They have, it is most true, left you no acre for your own, and no law but our law, to the ordaining of which, you were no party. But they do answer the end, they are really friendly to the good; unfriendly to the bad; they second the industrious, and the kind; they foster genius. They really have so much flexibility as to afford your talent and character, on the whole, the same chance of demonstration and success which they might have, if there was no law and no property.

It is trivial and merely superstitious to say that nothing is given you, no outfit, no exhibition; for in this institution of credit, which is as universal as honesty and promise in the human countenance, always some neighbor stands ready to be bread and land and tools and stock to the young adventurer. And if in any one respect they have come short, see what ample retribution of good they have made. They have lost no time and spared no expense to collect libraries, museums, galleries, colleges, palaces, hospitals, observatories, cities. The ages have not been idle, nor kings slack, nor the rich niggardly. Have we not atoned for this small offence (which we could not help) of leaving you no right in the soil, by this splendid indemnity of ancestral and national wealth? Would you have been born like a gipsy in a hedge, and preferred your freedom on a heath, and the range of a planet which had no shed or boscage to cover you from sun and wind, --- to this towered and citied world? to this world of Rome, and Memphis, and Constantinople, and Vienna, and Paris, and London, and New York? For thee Naples, Florence and Venice, for thee the fair Mediterranean, the sunny Adriatic; for thee both Indies smile; for thee the hospitable North opens its heated palaces under the polar circle; for thee roads have been cut in every direction across the land, and fleets of floating palaces with every security for strength, and provision for luxury, swim by sail and by steam through all the waters of this world. Every island for thee has a town; every town a hotel. Though thou was born landless, yet to thy industry and thrift and small condescension to the established usage, --- scores of servants are swarming in every strange place with cap and knee to thy command, scores, nay hundreds and thousands, for thy wardrobe, thy table, thy chamber, thy library, thy leisure; and every whim is anticipated and served by the best ability of the whole population of each country. The king on the throne governs for thee, and the judge judges; the barrister pleads, the farmer tills, the joiner hammers, the postman rides. Is it not exaggerating a trifle to insist on a formal acknowledgment of your claims, when these substantial advantages have been secured to you? Now can your children be educated, your labor turned to their advantage, and its fruits secured to them after your death. It is frivolous to say, you have no acre, because you have not a mathematically measured piece of land. Providence takes care that you shall have a place, that you are waited for, and come accredited; and, as soon as you put your gift to use, you shall have acre or acre's worth according to your exhibition of desert, --- acre, if you need land; --- acre's worth, if you prefer to draw, or carve, or make shoes, or wheels, to the tilling of the soil.

Besides, it might temper your indignation at the supposed wrong which society has done you, to keep the question before you, how society got into this predicament? Who put things on this false basis? No single man, but all men. No man voluntarily and knowingly; but it is the result of that degree of culture there is in the planet. The order of things is as good as the character of the population permits. Consider it as the work of a great and beneficent and progressive necessity, which, from the first pulsation of the first animal life, up to the present high culture of the best nations, has advanced thus far. Thank the rude fostermother though she has taught you a better wisdom than her own, and has set hopes in your heart which shall be history in the next ages. You are yourself the result of this manner of living, this foul compromise, this vituperated Sodom. It nourished you with care and love on its breast, as it had nourished many a lover of the right, and many a poet, and prophet, and teacher of men. Is it so irremediably bad? Then again, if the mitigations are considered, do not all the mischiefs virtually vanish? The form is bad, but see you not how every personal character reacts on the form, and makes it new? A strong person makes the law and custom null before his own will. Then the principle of love and truth reappears in the strictest courts of fashion and property. Under the richest robes, in the darlings of the selectest circles of European or American aristocracy, the strong heart will beat with love of mankind, with impatience of accidental distinctions, with the desire to achieve its own fate, and make every ornament it wears authentic and real.

Moreover, as we have already shown that there is no pure reformer, so it is to be considered that there is no pure conservative, no man who from the beginning to the end of his life maintains the defective institutions; but he who sets his face like a flint against every novelty, when approached in the confidence of conversation, in the presence of friendly and generous persons, has also his gracious and relenting motions, and espouses for the time the cause of man; and even if this be a shortlived emotion, yet the remembrance of it in private hours mitigates his selfishness and compliance with custom.

The Friar Bernard lamented in his cell on Mount Cenis the crimes of mankind, and rising one morning before day from his bed of moss and dry leaves, he gnawed his roots and berries, drank of the spring, and set forth to go to Rome to reform the corruption of mankind. On his way he encountered many travellers who greeted him courteously; and the cabins of the peasants and the castles of the lords supplied his few wants. When he came at last to Rome, his piety and good will easily introduced him to many families of the rich, and on the first day he saw and talked with gentle mothers with their babes at their breasts, who told him how much love they bore their children, and how they were perplexed in their daily walk lest they should fail in their duty to them. 'What!' he said, 'and this on rich embroidered carpets, on marble floors, with cunning sculpture, and carved wood, and rich pictures, and piles of books about you?' --- 'Look at our pictures and books,' they said, 'and we will tell you, good Father, how we spent the last evening. These are stories of godly children and holy families and romantic sacrifices made in old or in recent times by great and not mean persons; and last evening, our family was collected, and our husbands and brothers discoursed sadly on what we could save and give in the hard times.' Then came in the men, and they said, 'What cheer, brother? Does thy convent want gifts?' Then the friar Bernard went home swiftly with other thoughts than he brought, saying, 'This way of life is wrong, yet these Romans, whom I prayed God to destroy, are lovers, they are lovers; what can I do?'

The reformer concedes that these mitigations exist, and that, if he proposed comfort, he should take sides with the establishment. Your words are excellent, but they do not tell the whole. Conservatism is affluent and openhanded, but there is a cunning juggle in riches. I observe that they take somewhat for everything they give. I look bigger, but am less; I have more clothes, but am not so warm; more armor, but less courage; more books, but less wit. What you say of your planted, builded and decorated world, is true enough, and I gladly avail myself of its convenience; yet I have remarked that what holds in particular, holds in general, that the plant Man does not require for his most glorious flowering this pomp of preparation and convenience, but the thoughts of some beggarly Homer who strolled, God knows when, in the infancy and barbarism of the old world; the gravity and sense of some slave Moses who leads away his fellow slaves from their masters; the contemplation of some Scythian Anacharsis; the erect, formidable valor of some Dorian townsmen in the town of Sparta; the vigor of Clovis the Frank, and Alfred the Saxon, and Alaric the Goth, and Mahomet, Ali, and Omar the Arabians, Saladin the Curd, and Othman the Turk, sufficed to build what you call society, on the spot and in the instant when the sound mind in a sound body appeared. Rich and fine is your dress, O conservatism! your horses are of the best blood; your roads are well cut and well paved; your pantry is full of meats and your cellar of wines, and a very good state and condition are you for gentlemen and ladies to live under; but every one of these goods steals away a drop of my blood. I want the necessity of supplying my own wants. All this costly culture of yours is not necessary. Greatness does not need it. Yonder peasant, who sits neglected there in a corner, carries a whole revolution of man and nature in his head, which shall be a sacred history to some future ages. For man is the end of nature; nothing so easily organizes itself in every part of the universe as he; no moss, no lichen is so easily born; and he takes along with him and puts out from himself the whole apparatus of society and condition extempore, as an army encamps in a desert, and where all was just now blowing sand, creates a white city in an hour, a government, a market, a place for feasting, for conversation, and for love.

These considerations, urged by those whose characters and whose fortunes are yet to be formed, must needs command the sympathy of all reasonable persons. But beside that charity which should make all adult persons interested for the youth, and engage them to see that he has a free field and fair play on his entrance into life, we are bound to see that the society, of which we compose a part, does not permit the formation or continuance of views and practices injurious to the honor and welfare of mankind. The objection to conservatism, when embodied in a party, is, that in its love of acts, it hates principles; it lives in the senses, not in truth; it sacrifices to despair; it goes for availableness in its candidate, not for worth; and for expediency in its measures, and not for the right. Under pretence of allowing for friction, it makes so many additions and supplements to the machine of society, that it will play smoothly and softly, but will no longer grind any grist.

The conservative party in the universe concedes that the radical would talk sufficiently to the purpose, if we were still in the garden of Eden; he legislates for man as he ought to be; his theory is right, but he makes no allowance for friction; and this omission makes his whole doctrine false. The idealist retorts, that the conservative falls into a far more noxious error in the other extreme. The conservative assumes sickness as a necessity, and his social frame is a hospital, his total legislation is for the present distress, a universe in slippers and flannels, with bib and papspoon, swallowing pills and herb-tea. Sickness gets organized as well as health, the vice as well as the virtue. Now that a vicious system of trade has existed so long, it has stereotyped itself in the human generation, and misers are born. And now that sickness has got such a foothold, leprosy has grown cunning, has got into the ballot-box; the lepers outvote the clean; society has resolved itself into a Hospital Committee, and all its laws are quarantine. If any man resist, and set up a foolish hope he has entertained as good against the general despair, society frowns on him, shuts him out of her opportunities, her granaries, her refectories, her water and bread, and will serve him a sexton's turn. Conservatism takes as low a view of every part of human action and passion. Its religion is just as bad; a lozenge for the sick; a dolorous tune to beguile the distemper; mitigations of pain by pillows and anodynes; always mitigations, never remedies; pardons for sin, funeral honors, --- never self-help, renovation, and virtue. Its social and political action has no better aim; to keep out wind and weather, to bring the day and year about, and make the world last our day; not to sit on the world and steer it; not to sink the memory of the past in the glory of a new and more excellent creation; a timid cobbler and patcher, it degrades whatever it touches. The cause of education is urged in this country with the utmost earnestness, --- on what ground? why on this, that the people have the power, and if they are not instructed to sympathize with the intelligent, reading, trading, and governing class, inspired with a taste for the same competitions and prizes, they will upset the fair pageant of Judicature, and perhaps lay a hand on the sacred muniments of wealth itself, and new distribute the land. Religion is taught in the same spirit. The contractors who were building a road out of Baltimore, some years ago, found the Irish laborers quarrelsome and refractory, to a degree that embarrassed the agents, and seriously interrupted the progress of the work. The corporation were advised to call off the police, and build a Catholic chapel; which they did; the priest presently restored order, and the work went on prosperously. Such hints, be sure, are too valuable to be lost. If you do not value the Sabbath, or other religious institutions, give yourself no concern about maintaining them. They have already acquired a market value as conservators of property; and if priest and church-member should fail, the chambers of commerce and the presidents of the Banks, the very innholders and landlords of the county would muster with fury to their support.

Of course, religion in such hands loses its essence. Instead of that reliance, which the soul suggests on the eternity of truth and duty, men are misled into a reliance on institutions, which, the moment they cease to be the instantaneous creations of the devout sentiment, are worthless. Religion among the low becomes low. As it loses its truth, it loses credit with the sagacious. They detect the falsehood of the preaching, but when they say so, all good citizens cry, Hush; do not weaken the state, do not take off the strait jacket from dangerous persons. Every honest fellow must keep up the hoax the best he can; must patronize providence and piety, and wherever he sees anything that will keep men amused, schools or churches or poetry, or picture-galleries or music, or what not, he must cry "Hist-a-boy," and urge the game on. What a compliment we pay to the good SPIRIT with our superserviceable zeal!

But not to balance reasons for and against the establishment any longer, and if it still be asked in this necessity of partial organization, which party on the whole has the highest claims on our sympathy? I bring it home to the private heart, where all such questions must have their final arbitrement. How will every strong and generous mind choose its ground, --- with the defenders of the old? or with the seekers of the new? Which is that state which promises to edify a great, brave, and beneficent man; to throw him on his resources, and tax the strength of his character? On which part will each of us find himself in the hour of health and of aspiration?

I understand well the respect of mankind for war, because that breaks up the Chinese stagnation of society, and demonstrates the personal merits of all men. A state of war or anarchy, in which law has little force, is so far valuable, that it puts every man on trial. The man of principle is known as such, and even in the fury of faction is respected. In the civil wars of France, Montaigne alone, among all the French gentry, kept his castle gates unbarred, and made his personal integrity as good at least as a regiment. The man of courage and resources is shown, and the effeminate and base person. Those who rise above war, and those who fall below it, it easily discriminates, as well as those, who, accepting its rude conditions, keep their own head by their own sword.

But in peace and a commercial state we depend, not as we ought, on our knowledge and all men's knowledge that we are honest men, but we cowardly lean on the virtue of others. For it is always at last the virtue of some men in the society, which keeps the law in any reverence and power. Is there not something shameful that I should owe my peaceful occupancy of my house and field, not to the knowledge of my countrymen that I am useful, but to their respect for sundry other reputable persons, I know not whom, whose joint virtues still keep the law in good
o[r]do[e]r? {sic}

It will never make any difference to a hero what the laws are. His greatness will shine and accomplish itself unto the end, whether they second him or not. If he have earned his bread by drudgery, and in the narrow and crooked ways which were all an evil law had left him, he will make it at least honorable by his expenditure. Of the past he will take no heed; for its wrongs he will not hold himself responsible: he will say, all the meanness of my progenitors shall not bereave me of the power to make this hour and company fair and fortunate. Whatsoever streams of power and commodity flow to me, shall of me acquire healing virtue, and become fountains of safety. Cannot I too descend a Redeemer into nature? Whosoever hereafter shall name my name, shall not record a malefactor, but a benefactor in the earth. If there be power in good intentions, in fidelity, and in toil, the north wind shall be purer, the stars in heaven shall glow with a kindlier beam, that I have lived. I am primarily engaged to myself to be a public servant of all the gods, to demonstrate to all men that there is intelligence and good will at the heart of things, and ever higher and yet higher leadings. These are my engagements; how can your law further or hinder me in what I shall do to men? On the other hand, these dispositions establish their relations to me. Wherever there is worth, I shall be greeted. Wherever there are men, are the objects of my study and love. Sooner or later all men will be my friends, and will testify in all methods the energy of their regard. I cannot thank your law for my protection. I protect it. It is not in its power to protect me. It is my business to make myself revered. I depend on my honor, my labor, and my dispositions, for my place in the affections of mankind, and not on any conventions or parchments of yours.

But if I allow myself in derelictions, and become idle and dissolute, I quickly come to love the protection of a strong law, because I feel no title in myself to my advantages. To the intemperate and covetous person no love flows; to him mankind would pay no rent, no dividend, if force were once relaxed; nay, if they could give their verdict, they would say, that his self-indulgence and his oppression deserved punishment from society, and not that rich board and lodging he now enjoys. The law acts then as a screen of his unworthiness, and makes him worse the longer it protects him.

In conclusion, to return from this alternation of partial views, to the high platform of universal and necessary history, it is a happiness for mankind that innovation has got on so far, and has so free a field before it. The boldness of the hope men entertain transcends all former experience. It calms and cheers them with the picture of a simple and equal life of truth and piety. And this hope flowered on what tree? It was not imported from the stock of some celestial plant, but grew here on the wild crab of conservatism. It is much that this old and vituperated system of things has borne so fair a child. It predicts that amidst a planet peopled with conservatives, one Reformer may yet be born.

End of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Lecture, "The Conservative"


The above Ralph Waldo Emerson lecture, "The Conservative" is the best explanation of Conservatism and Liberalism, "Innovation", the primal difference between the RIGHT, Conservative, and the LEFT, Liberal, "Innovation", that I have ever read, and will shine the Light of Understanding of what Conservatism, the Political RIGHT and Liberalism, the Political LEFT, really means to all except those who for one reason or another choose not to understand for their own narrow-minded political reasons.

Thomas G. Miller