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Sex, Lies, and Conservatism

charleslb
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5/21/2011 6:48:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Here's a conundrumy question for you, what are "conservatives" all about these days? This might seem to be an unlikely question to devolve into a conundrum. After all, conservatives pride themselves on being down-to-earth realists who have no truck with an airy-fairy intellectualizing of the issues, or a postmodernist questioning of traditional beliefs. They claim to be guileless straight shooters, about everything but most especially about themselves. However, Glenn Beck and his ideological ilk are no modern-day Edmund Burkes, shall we say. No, there seems to be a good bit more to the mind-set that goes by the euphemistic sobriquet "conservative" than just a prudent adherence to the principle of conserving society's stability by conserving its social, cultural, and political tradition.

Ours has been dubbed the Information Age, but it could just as aptly be called the Misinformation Age, for a great many things today are misrepresented to the "information" consuming public, even by their very names. Ours is an age direly in need of what Confucius called the "rectification of names"! Ambiguity of nomenclature, intellectual dishonesty, and euphemistic doublespeak reign. And in line with this culture of equivocation we find that the question "What are conservatives all about" can apparently be about as much of a puzzler as "What is the matrix?", or the Theban Sphinx's riddle to travelers, or Pilot's rhetorical question to Jesus ("What is truth?") – that is, if you naively take the word "conservative" too literally, let's critically think outside the literalistic box.

Okeydokey then, so let's first of all take a look at what "conservatives" purport to be. Conservatives unctuously claim to be advocates and upholders of society's normative "first principles", i.e. of values – of core, moral, and family values. They seek to legislate our private behavior, and set public policy for us based upon their professed commitment to the soundness of old-fashioned morality. They hold themselves forth to us as the party of rectitude and righteousness, the rectitude & righteousness that a society's foundation needs to be made of if it wishes to stand. But if we empirically test the truth of this self-representation do we find that it holds up, at all?

To answer that one these days you need only read the newspaper or tune into Entertainment Tonight. Iconic Republican Arnold The Governator Schwarzenegger and his sexual shenanigans serves as an emblematic cautionary tale of conservative hypocrisy. Emblematic in the sense that his fall from the grace his party claims a monopoly on is hardly an isolated incident. Rather, it links up with the right's pronounced pattern of public spiritedness belying corrupt politics, of principles belying the preachy patronizing of middle-class sensibilities, of righteousness belying self-righteousness, and of morality belying a penchant for moralizing.

As we all know now, The Inseminator, as he might now be known, despite choosing to sign on with the party of conservative preachers and moralizers, was not exactly a paragon of family values in real life. Then again, perhaps he was. After all, he might argue that he believes in family so much that he created a second one, complete with a baby mama and offspring. Unfortunately though his second, illicit family was concurrent with his for-public-consumption family. This makes it rather hard to buy that the talk his party talks is anything he's genuinely committed to walking.

Now then, conservatives might glibly retort that Herr ex-governor Schwarzenegger was a moderate Republican, not a card-carrying conservative, and that his sins should therefore not be used to question the truthfulness of the conservative camp's holier-than-thou hype. This is a somewhat lame cop-out however, as it's the case that Arnie was embraced by the right, if not the light. You can't adopt and ballyhoo him as your telegenic standard bearer and symbol today, and then just disown him when it comes out that his personal life is another nail in the ready-to-be-buried coffin of your party's sanctimonious self-advertising.

At any rate, even if misbehav'n-on-the-sly Schwarzenegger isn't the best piece of ammo to shoot holes in conservative hypocrisy with, we have plenty of other examples, the currently outstanding one being ole serial adulterer Newton Leroy Gingrich, aka Newt. With congressman Newt we do in fact have a fire-breathing conservative whose repeated hypocrisy should make us critically question the authenticity of where his moralizing comes from.

But if we can't take conservatives at the face value of their word about where their moral staunchness stems from then to what in the conservative psyche might it truly be traced back? I have a bit of personal speculation about this that I'll go out on a limb to share.

I'll just give it to you straight-out. It's always struck me that folks on the right seem to have an underlying alpha male (and female) mentality that thinks in terms of strong and weak, superior and inferior. For instance, this comes through the thin veil of their ideology when a conservative speaks about welfare recipients and others not making it in our capitalist economy as if they're abject weak links; as if they're all weak in the character department, i.e. lacking a "strong" work ethic, initiative, and the right stuff to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

It really does seem to be the case that from the conservative's alpha perspective the poor look to be inferior drags on the economy, who should be shown no quarter with "entitlement" programs and a livable minimum wage. The winners of the system, the rich, on the other hand, are admired for being the sort of alpha dogs that we should all aspire to emulate in the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism. Capitalism itself is the conservative's ideal system because it's one in which individuals can attain socioeconomic dominance over their fellow man, none of that namby-pamby egalitarianism that's for the weaker-poorer members of society.

Now as for the conservative's fondness for moralizing, well, moralizing is just another way of asserting your superiority over others, and of expressing your primitive alpha attitudes. The tendency of the moralist to interpret and cast everything in terms of right & wrong, good & bad, moral excellence and moral shame, really psychologically boils down to a black & white mind-set whose two basic categories are strong and weak. And every time the moralist puts his neighbor down for being morally weak he's tacitly touting his own moral strength and dominance.

But since the real psychological imperative operating here, operating with moralistic conservatives, is merely to enjoy a sense of being stronger and better than others, not a sincere and morally-driven desire to be genuinely "good", surprise surprise, they frequently don't live the lives of more profoundly moral people. No, unlike an earnestly ethical individual, the Ten Commandments-thumping conservative tries have the cake of moral probity in public and furtively eat it too, with sexually available maids, and mistresses, and anonymous men in airport bathroom stalls. In other words, rather than being the real deal when it comes to ethicality, the conservative is engaged in efforts to push his morals on society as an unconscious means to the end of boosting his alpha male's ego, and of exercising social and cultural dominance.

The conclusion is located directly below
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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5/21/2011 6:50:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Conclusion

Staying with Newt and the unconscious, alpha mentality of the conservative, but moving on to another rotten plank in the right's political platform, I think that we find that what I've been saying also goes a long way in explaining why conservatives take the side of the economic elite against the working class, and support policies that benefit large corporations and Wall Street firms at the expense of the little guy. The conservative is passionately gung-ho to deregulate the power players of the economy not merely because he's been co-opted by their money, but because his alpha mentality admires their power-dominance and prefers to identify with predatory fat cats rather than their prey, the proletarian underdog.

Oh sure, conservative politicians claim to be defenders of the workingperson against big government and high taxes, but as a matter of course and of perverse principle they sell out John and Jane Q. Taxpayer to big business by giving megacorporations and the superrich the juicy tax cuts and to the working poor goes all the pain. And these days conservatives also have retired working-class seniors targeted for some pain, making moves to abolish Medicare and leave millions of its elderly recipients without the health insurance they may need to stay alive. But then blue-collar old folks are more weak links that the alpha mentality has little use or consideration for.

Alas then, it's not at all hyperbole to say that a conservative politico who bills himself as being pro-workingman while trying to dismantle the workingman's social safety net and destroy labor unions is certainly a fraud, and behind this fraudulence lurks the same dominance-oriented worldview that manifests as conservative moralism.

Nope, it would not it be an over-the-top rhetorical analogy to say that a pimp who claims to be a feminist because he advocates a woman's right to offer her body for sexual exploitation has a certain hypocritical chutzpah in common with the conservative who claims to be a champion of the struggling-to-make-ends-meet masses because he advocates a worker's right to be exploited by his employer without the protection of labor unions, and to end up on the street without a welfare check when his job is outsourced to a Third World sweatshop.

But then again, I suppose it's only technically hypocrisy if conservative officeholders are being on the level with themselves, and dishonest with their constituents. A part of being a morally superior conservative, however, is not admitting to yourself that you're just an individual with a Neanderthaloid alpha mentality who unpityingly looks down on the less fortunate and allies himself with the dominant members of society. That is, the intellectual catch-22 is that to some extent you have to make yourself believe the philosophical rhetoric you spout or you don't get to enjoy the superior feeling that's the emotional payoff of being an upright and uptight conservative. To put it in somewhat Freudian terms, your ego's alpha mentality has to pretty much work on the down-low with your superego; for should the game you're playing become a conscious one, then your conscience won't let you claim the prize of a conservative's sterling self-image.

So, to recap and answer the question, "What are conservatives all about?", a "conservative" is someone whose take on morality, culture issues, politics, and economics originates from the dark side of the human mentality, a side still stuck in the darkness of the caves our prehistoric ancestors sheltered in, where strong equaled good and weak equaled bad. The conservative is someone who applies this troglodytic template in analyzing modern societal issues such as poverty and family, with the result that the homeless, unwed mothers on welfare, etc. are viewed as bums and losers deficient in strength of character. To the conservative mind such people merit no compassionate response from society, and so the Fox New-watching, Limbaugh-listening, Republican-voting conservative adamantly opposes all so-called "entitlement" programs and "social engineering", including Medicare and social security. In essence, the conservative is a throwback to the uncompassionate, Darwinian alpha male who saw no reason to care for the weaker members of the clan.

The Stone-Age alpha male's only solution for every problem was to assert his dominance, often by violence, and eliminate any weak links or threats. Which by the way also explains something else about conservatives, i.e. their hawkishness, their inclination to use and support the military, as well as their preference for controlling their community's poor with police and prisons rather than trying to remedy the sociological causes of crime and the drug trade. Today's alpha male & female wields a cop's baton and a cruise missile rather than a caveman's club, but the fundamental approach and attitude of mind is the same. What the alpha conservative is really all about is dealing with the world from a position of crude strength rather than understanding and compassion. The conservative is a psychologically atavistic specimen who should be given tolerance but not validation or legitimacy.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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5/21/2011 6:53:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 6:51:47 PM, PARADIGM_L0ST wrote:
Tl;dr

The well thought out and incisive critique of a typical libertarian. Anyone out there, libertarian or social conservative who can perhaps do better?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
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5/21/2011 9:45:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Well, both of the parties are supporters of expansion of state power, albeit in different flavors. For all of the political moralizing the conservative stereotype is accountable for, we can say the same thing about liberals, who, on the one hand, support social freedoms like gay marriage and drug legalization, but who, on the other hand, exemplify the same "alpha" mentality in the economic realm by seeking to impose more and more regulation and control, not only over business activity, but over the way that consumers are permitted to make economic decisions. The San Francisco law banning caloric sweetening of soda, for example. Or cameras being planted in school lunchrooms to pull a big brother on lunchtime. Other schools have even banned parents from packing their own child's lunches, allowing the school an even greater degree of regulatory control over what kids are consuming.

If Foucault is to be believed, the new state won't be exercising the same kind of raw disciplinary power which you claim characterizes conservative politics--instead, states will use regulation to adjust populations as if adjusting a closed scientific system which needs to be kept at some arbitrary homeostasis. Rather than using ethics, however, life itself is said to be in a constant state of danger, which in turn contributes to an overarching "state of exception" in which expansion of state power is continually justified, as if some perpetual emergency looms overhead, despite the fact that it is an exception to normalcy which justifies the original increase in power.

Even on a basic level, however, I think you fall into a twofold trap: by highlighting famous conservatives like Schwarzenegger and Gingrich, you're committing the spotlight fallacy (a fallacy of generalization), which occurs when one categorizes a particular group based on group members receiving the most publicity. Moreover, you're committing a fallacy of irrelevance (appeal to motive) by bringing the generalized psychological state of conservatives into play when considering the ideology. Though analyzing the "conservative mindset" (if such a unified thing can even be said to exist) might prove an interesting pursuit, it has no bearing on conservatism qua conservatism.

Of course, this also doesn't discount that you're stuck in a falsely dualistic paradigm between conservatives and what I would imagine you take to be liberals. In reality, there is a multiplicity of different political ideologies, many of which hardly fit into typical labels like "conservative". If you compare an "average conservative" to a minarchist, an anarcho-communist, a general libertarian, a fascist, a corporatist, or any of the other "rightist" movements, you'll notice vast differences, I have no doubt.

Finally, I have to lodge the usual complaint that we do not live in a capitalistic society. We live in a society running on a mixed economy whose government intervention is arguably to blame for many of the problems which you argue have free markets to blame. I can give you plenty of good arguments as to how entitlement programs are inefficient and counterproductive, how a minimum wage creates more problems than it claims to solve, and how using egalitarianism as the foundation of economic theory is not simply disastrous, but economically toxic.
charleslb
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5/22/2011 6:07:21 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/21/2011 9:45:18 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, both of the parties are supporters of expansion of state power, albeit in different flavors. For all of the political moralizing the conservative stereotype is accountable for, we can say the same thing about liberals, who, on the one hand, support social freedoms like gay marriage and drug legalization, but who, on the other hand, exemplify the same "alpha" mentality in the economic realm by seeking to impose more and more regulation and control, not only over business activity, but over the way that consumers are permitted to make economic decisions. The San Francisco law banning caloric sweetening of soda, for example. Or cameras being planted in school lunchrooms to pull a big brother on lunchtime. Other schools have even banned parents from packing their own child's lunches, allowing the school an even greater degree of regulatory control over what kids are consuming...

Thanks again for a well thought out reply. Now then, as for your attempt to equate the efforts of "liberals" and much maligned left-leaning do-gooders to socially engineer a kinder and juster world with the way conservatives express their dominance-oriented mentality, well, it doesn't really hold up to even a wee bit of critical scrutinizing.

Essentially you're trying for an "It's human nature, we're all guilty of the same thing" defense, or even a bit of tu quoque, but buying your defense would mean denying or glossing over the real distinctions and differences in the motives that cause people to seek to influence their society and its public policy.

That is, you're just assuming that "liberals" and everyone who tries to exercise any kind of social control over others are just acting out of the same alpha male mentality I've criticized in right-wingers, but there are other reasons why one might try to control the behavior of others. I would not say that a parent trying to forcibly stop her child from misbehaving is necessarily always being an alpha mommy; or that a volunteer at a soup kitchen who tries to stop an individual from taking more than his fair share of food is being an ogre of an alpha male; or that a prison guard who tries to intervene and stop one prisoner from raping another is just trying to demonstrate his authority like some kind of a crude alpha. Likewise, neither would I say that everyone who tries to influence public policy is necessarily just expressing an alpha mentality.

But when it comes to conservatives a pretty darn good prima facie case can be made that they're just acting out their atavistic alpha psychology. First of all, look at the way so many conservatives frequently speak in strong-weak, superior-inferior, manly-unmanly terms. You know, for example when conservatives disparagingly describe people who disagree with them as "namby-pamby liberals", and other epithets that attack lefties for being less than red-blooded, hairy-chested, real men; or when conservatives put down folks on welfare as inferior lazy losers; or when conservatives advocate solving all geopolitical problems with a show of American military prowess. All of this reveals the dominance-oriented, alpha mind-set quite unmistakably.

Secondly, there are the actual policies of conservatives, such as using law enforcement to keep both inner city residents and society's criminal element in line, rather than addressing and redressing the real sociological ills that cause so much of our crime. There's also the hawkishness of right-wingers, their propensity to think in terms of a war on this and a war on that, and of "Bombing them into the Stone-Age". Not to mention the conservative's preference for spending billions of tax dollars annually on "defense" (at least in the olden days conservatives had the chutzpah to honestly called the Defense Department the Department of War!). The conservatives' motto and mantra could be "Trillions for defense, but not a penny for tribute to our own poorest citizens". Then there's the domineeringly intolerant positions of the religious right's culture warriors, who would cram copies of the Ten Commandments down our throats and thump us on the heads with their Bibles when we resist (giving new meaning to the term "Bible thumper"). Come on, all of these fine conservative folks are obviously and egregiously all about expressing a primitive dominance-oriented mentality.

Is everyone else who has ideas about how society should do various things, are all "moderates" and left-wingers equally caught up in getting off their alpha male-female mentality? Well, I for one am not so cynical about human nature as to think that everyone with a benevolent agenda for society is a dangerous statist who just wishes to exercise and enhance his power like a regular alpha male. No, I don't really think that tu quoque applies here, and I don't think that you've made much of a case that it does.

As for the futuristic ways that states may increasingly exercise power in decades to come, and the rationales that will be used; well, methods may become more built into the structure of society, more guided by the social sciences, more antiseptic, and less cavemanish, and the rationalizations and propaganda used to make balky men into compliant sheep may change, but the world will still contain individuals who wish to exercise the power of the state in beneficial ways, and individuals with an alpha mentality who wish to legislate intolerant morality and punish poor people for being society's weak links.

As to the question of whether the hypocrisy and misfeasances of individual conservatives, such as Herr Schwarzenegger and Professor Newt, can be used as bristles in a brush that tars conservatism as a movement, well, when there are enough such unsavory individuals, when a certain pattern starts to emerge, then these individuals can legitimately be looked at for what they tell us about the mentality of people in their movement.

Next, no I'm not being simplistically dualistic, dividing humanity into enlightened lefties and benighted conservatives. These two polar political groupings, right and left, conservative and progressive are actually reflective of underlying mind-sets that often take diametrically opposing positions. Recognizing and dealing with real-world binaries is not the same thing as inventing and being trapped in the fictional binaries that are products of dualistic thinking.

Finally, we do in sad fact live in a capitalist society, its realities on the ground just don't neatly conform to the lofty ideals of the free market's ideological partisans up in their ivory towers with their heads in the credal cumuli of libertarian cloud–cuckoo–land.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
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5/22/2011 6:40:50 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/22/2011 6:07:21 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 5/21/2011 9:45:18 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Well, both of the parties are supporters of expansion of state power, albeit in different flavors. For all of the political moralizing the conservative stereotype is accountable for, we can say the same thing about liberals, who, on the one hand, support social freedoms like gay marriage and drug legalization, but who, on the other hand, exemplify the same "alpha" mentality in the economic realm by seeking to impose more and more regulation and control, not only over business activity, but over the way that consumers are permitted to make economic decisions. The San Francisco law banning caloric sweetening of soda, for example. Or cameras being planted in school lunchrooms to pull a big brother on lunchtime. Other schools have even banned parents from packing their own child's lunches, allowing the school an even greater degree of regulatory control over what kids are consuming...

Thanks again for a well thought out reply. Now then, as for your attempt to equate the efforts of "liberals" and much maligned left-leaning do-gooders to socially engineer a kinder and juster world with the way conservatives express their dominance-oriented mentality, well, it doesn't really hold up to even a wee bit of critical scrutinizing.

Essentially you're trying for an "It's human nature, we're all guilty of the same thing" defense, or even a bit of tu quoque, but buying your defense would mean denying or glossing over the real distinctions and differences in the motives that cause people to seek to influence their society and its public policy.

That is, you're just assuming that "liberals" and everyone who tries to exercise any kind of social control over others are just acting out of the same alpha male mentality I've criticized in right-wingers, but there are other reasons why one might try to control the behavior of others. I would not say that a parent trying to forcibly stop her child from misbehaving is necessarily always being an alpha mommy; or that a volunteer at a soup kitchen who tries to stop an individual from taking more than his fair share of food is being an ogre of an alpha male; or that a prison guard who tries to intervene and stop one prisoner from raping another is just trying to demonstrate his authority like some kind of a crude alpha. Likewise, neither would I say that everyone who tries to influence public policy is necessarily just expressing an alpha mentality.

But when it comes to conservatives a pretty darn good prima facie case can be made that they're just acting out their atavistic alpha psychology. First of all, look at the way so many conservatives frequently speak in strong-weak, superior-inferior, manly-unmanly terms. You know, for example when conservatives disparagingly describe people who disagree with them as "namby-pamby liberals", and other epithets that attack lefties for being less than red-blooded, hairy-chested, real men; or when conservatives put down folks on welfare as inferior lazy losers; or when conservatives advocate solving all geopolitical problems with a show of American military prowess. All of this reveals the dominance-oriented, alpha mind-set quite unmistakably.

Note the distinction I made about the two different kinds of power, though. If we assume that the two groups, liberals and conservatives, can be generalized about to any degree, then we may therefore say that conservatives seek to exercise power at the level of individual bodies. They exercise disciplinary force against individuals by employing police, military, morality--those sorts of things. This does mean that the desire to dominate is absent the conservatives' counterparts (nor am I saying that conservatives, to the extent that we may generalize about them, are innocent of attempting this sort of behavior--I'm merely differentiating): what it means is that liberals are employing a new justification for power, and are consequently wielding a new kind of power.

Rather than relying on using discipline to keep individuals in the ranks, they employ strict kinds of regulation at the macro level, as if attempting to maintain some kind of vague social homeostasis. It's a redefinition of "superior" and "inferior", "desirable" and "undesirable". I'm not talking about the employment of retaliatory force, in the case of a mother stopping a child's misbehavior, or a guard stopping prison rape: I'm talking about straightforward domination, albeit in a different flavor. So, I'm not pulling a human nature or tu quoque defense. I'm just making the argument that you can't single out conservatism as if the problem of domination is a phenomenon isolated to that political movement.
Cody_Franklin
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5/22/2011 6:57:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Secondly, there are the actual policies of conservatives, such as using law enforcement to keep both inner city residents and society's criminal element in line, rather than addressing and redressing the real sociological ills that cause so much of our crime. There's also the hawkishness of right-wingers, their propensity to think in terms of a war on this and a war on that, and of "Bombing them into the Stone-Age". Not to mention the conservative's preference for spending billions of tax dollars annually on "defense" (at least in the olden days conservatives had the chutzpah to honestly called the Defense Department the Department of War!). The conservatives' motto and mantra could be "Trillions for defense, but not a penny for tribute to our own poorest citizens". Then there's the domineeringly intolerant positions of the religious right's culture warriors, who would cram copies of the Ten Commandments down our throats and thump us on the heads with their Bibles when we resist (giving new meaning to the term "Bible thumper"). Come on, all of these fine conservative folks are obviously and egregiously all about expressing a primitive dominance-oriented mentality.

I did not disagree. I simply pointed out that the quest for dominance isn't an isolated phenomenon, and that not all conservatives can be talked about on the individual level based solely on generalizations about the group.

Is everyone else who has ideas about how society should do various things, are all "moderates" and left-wingers equally caught up in getting off their alpha male-female mentality? Well, I for one am not so cynical about human nature as to think that everyone with a benevolent agenda for society is a dangerous statist who just wishes to exercise and enhance his power like a regular alpha male. No, I don't really think that tu quoque applies here, and I don't think that you've made much of a case that it does.

You have to assume that they have a benevolent agenda for society, which I would hardly take to be the case. The only reason you call it benevolent is because it's ideologically convenient. As previously noted, I can give you plenty of political and economic reasons why regulatory economic regimes, such as those planned by leftist statists, are anything but benevolent, regardless of the political rhetoric they put forward during their speeches.

As for the futuristic ways that states may increasingly exercise power in decades to come, and the rationales that will be used; well, methods may become more built into the structure of society, more guided by the social sciences, more antiseptic, and less cavemanish, and the rationalizations and propaganda used to make balky men into compliant sheep may change, but the world will still contain individuals who wish to exercise the power of the state in beneficial ways, and individuals with an alpha mentality who wish to legislate intolerant morality and punish poor people for being society's weak links.

The point is first that it's a change in the type of power being used, and that beneficence is precisely the justification being used, when, realistically, the expansion of state power is not all that benevolent. Though you can speak of moral intolerance and punishing certain social groups, the reverse will simply be true under leftist statism: a morality intolerant of different things, and punishing wealthy people solely by virtue of being wealthy, regardless of whether their wealth was legitimately earned. And this is, I would argue, a mere drop in the bucket of what the massive regulatory state will look like, and of what such a state will do. If I may offer my own reading suggestions, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben will be good at clarifying and extending upon my argument.

As to the question of whether the hypocrisy and misfeasances of individual conservatives, such as Herr Schwarzenegger and Professor Newt, can be used as bristles in a brush that tars conservatism as a movement, well, when there are enough such unsavory individuals, when a certain pattern starts to emerge, then these individuals can legitimately be looked at for what they tell us about the mentality of people in their movement.

But you're using the spotlighted individuals as representative of the entire conservative movement, which I hardly believe tells the whole story.

Next, no I'm not being simplistically dualistic, dividing humanity into enlightened lefties and benighted conservatives. These two polar political groupings, right and left, conservative and progressive are actually reflective of underlying mind-sets that often take diametrically opposing positions. Recognizing and dealing with real-world binaries is not the same thing as inventing and being trapped in the fictional binaries that are products of dualistic thinking.

The problem is that this dichotomy makes certain political presuppositions (e.g. the state is an immutable truth, and our only task, therefore, is to find out the area of our lives in which it ought to intervene) which I believe frame the debate dishonestly, and whose absence would, I think, change the playing field significantly.

Finally, we do in sad fact live in a capitalist society, its realities on the ground just don't neatly conform to the lofty ideals of the free market's ideological partisans up in their ivory towers with their heads in the credal cumuli of libertarian cloud–cuckoo–land.

By that token, we may as well say that we also live in a socialist society, since we have free public education, health care subsidies, and government regulation of the economy. But we're just talking past each other on the definitions of what capitalism and socialism are if that's the case. What we have is a mixed economy. Some parts are socialistic, some parts are capitalistic. To say that we live in a capitalist society ignores that A) capitalists get to define capitalism, and B) the principles that constitute "capitalism" are hardly upheld in the United States, no matter how much people chant about the free market. If you want examples of what a capitalist society would look like, check on places like Hong Kong and Liechtenstein. These places still have state intervention in places, sure--but they're much freer than the United States, and are therefore more representative of capitalism than we are.
charleslb
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5/24/2011 10:41:19 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
By the way, check out my post on capitalism and what should replace it in the politics section.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Aaronroy
Posts: 749
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5/27/2011 11:04:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Charles, please do tell what is the problem with individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action?
turn down for h'what
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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5/28/2011 12:39:24 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/27/2011 11:04:03 PM, Aaronroy wrote:
Charles, please do tell what is the problem with individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action?

There's no problem whatsoever with individual liberty; however, there is a problem with our society's conservative politicians and the capitalist plutocrats they shill for using "individual liberty" as a rhetorical mantra to drown out their conscience and critics as they relentlessly and ruthlessly empower the rich to the grievous disadvantage of the poor. Yes, there's indeed something very wrong with and dangerous about that, as you might realize once you begin to think outside the ideological box of free-marketarianism, in which intellectual honesty and the true meaning of freedom is nowhere to be found.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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5/28/2011 4:43:58 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/28/2011 12:39:24 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 5/27/2011 11:04:03 PM, Aaronroy wrote:
Charles, please do tell what is the problem with individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action?

There's no problem whatsoever with individual liberty; however, there is a problem with our society's conservative politicians and the capitalist plutocrats they shill for using "individual liberty" as a rhetorical mantra to drown out their conscience and critics as they relentlessly and ruthlessly empower the rich to the grievous disadvantage of the poor.
Those might as well be random words, they sure aren't an argument.

Yes, there's indeed something very wrong with and dangerous about that, as you might realize once you begin to think outside the ideological box of free-marketarianism, in which intellectual honesty and the true meaning of freedom is nowhere to be found.
The "True meaning of freedom" being slavery to the Proletariat or...?
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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6/2/2011 5:20:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Okay, so there's now a left-leaning Democrat in the news for being a weiner by twittering his weiner (cheap and unimaginative pun on his name intended). Well, at least he didn't illegitimately and adulterously sire multiple offspring with multiple women behind the back of his wife and constituents while governator of California. There's that at least. And oh yeah, he's only left-leaning, not really a fellow leftist or socialist, thank goodness!
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
mongoose
Posts: 3,500
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6/2/2011 5:47:26 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/2/2011 5:20:08 PM, charleslb wrote:
Okay, so there's now a left-leaning Democrat in the news for being a weiner by twittering his weiner (cheap and unimaginative pun on his name intended). Well, at least he didn't illegitimately and adulterously sire multiple offspring with multiple women behind the back of his wife and constituents while governator of California. There's that at least. And oh yeah, he's only left-leaning, not really a fellow leftist or socialist, thank goodness!

He's only partly evil, so you accept him? I dislike both. And Trump. And Clinton. And Edwards. No double standards here.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.