Jared Loughner is of course being painted by the media as an apolitical, off-his-beam individual with serious anger issues. Of course it's perfectly understandable that the corporate-owned media would want to distance its pro-capitalist, anti-regulation support base on the right from the homicidal likes of Mr. Loughner. That perhaps his main source of new was Fox News and that he was a Glenn Beck fan is not exactly good PR for the conservative movement in America!
But, alas for conservatives, Jared Loughner is not a lone and isolated example of the unevolved, aggressive, shadow side of conservatism. Nor is such a shooting incident a first in the history of conservative violence. And nor is the current ugliness of right vs. left politics in this country anything new.
Steve Allen's book, A Letter to a Conservative, written back in the early 1960s, was prompted by the virulence and violence coming from the conservative camp even at that time. Mr. Allen cites a number of examples of "fantastic political dramas", including a shooting perpetrated by one John Farmer who on January 20, 1961 blasted away at a college professor who had written an article about communism that was insufficiently condemnatory in Mr. Farmer's conservative opinion. Another incident involved thirty-five conservative "ruffians" raiding a meeting whose purpose was nothing more radical than to set up a county mental health system. Apparently the idea of public mental health services was too socialistic and subversive for these libertarian-leaning storm troopers.
What such incidents, what all the political hate crimes and speech that's characterized right-wing politics over the years, as well as the Neanderthaloid likes of Rush Limbaugh and his legions of "dittoheads", and the insensitive, morally jingoistic, and boorish positions that conservatives usually take on social issues, what all of this and the typically tough tone of conservatism seems to connote is that there's an inner "ruffian" lurking in the deepest recesses of the conservative mentality.
Conservatism and rightism seems to be not so much a political philosophy or an objective intellectual stance on public policy issues as a general, and yes an alpha male (and female), attitude of mind. Stripped of its rationalizations, at the heart of conservative psychology and ideology we find a very primal kind of thinking indeed. Like a good caveman, the conservative seems to fundamentally value strength and dominance, sometimes naked and sometimes ideologically dressed-up strength and dominance. This is most obvious when it comes to the conservative's pro-military stand, his negative take on the peace movement, and his support for his country's wars, right or wrong. I.e., the troglodyte ruffian in conservatives admires their national tribe's warriors and is not too averse to using a club or cruise missile on its enemies.
Of course if this is really the case, if the thinking of conservatives really emanates from an atavistic, aggressive, dominance-oriented mentality then you'd expect to find such thinking, thinking of a conservative stamp predominating in our tribe's warriors themselves, and in macho males in general. And of course we do, military personnel and other he-manly types frequently espouse crude conservative perspectives and look askance on those with a "sissified" liberal viewpoint.
And as sissified and pansified wrong-thinkers is the way that conservatives often view those of us on the left. That conservatives think in such terms, and explicitly use such macho derogatory adjectives to put down people who advocate a kinder and gentler approach to resolving our society's social and political problems is certainly quite telling about their mind-set. What it tells us is that conservatives are precisely what I'm psychoanalyzing them to be, people with a pronounced streak in their personality and mental makeup that's a throwback to the alpha males of yesteryear.
The rest of the conservative's positions on the issues of the day also derive from his inner Fred Flintstone and dominance-oriented way of interpreting life. For example, the conservative's tough fry ‘em or lock ‘em up and throw away the key approach to dealing with crime, and his knee-jerk response of launching a war on this, that, and the other thing boils down to solving problems by exerting police force, by asserting the dominance of the "good people" of society over the criminal element.
The moralistic stance of conservatives on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage also evinces the conservative's visceral need to set himself up on the high ground, to enjoy dealing with his enemies in the "culture war" from what feels like a position of moral strength. In other words, the social conservative takes positions that give him a sense of moral superiority and dominance, and then tries to force those positions on the rest of us so that he can enjoy the sense of possessing social and cultural dominance. To put it crudely, if conservatives can impose their moral and evangelical social agenda on society it's like an alpha wolf urinating on another member of the pack to demonstrate dominance.
That they're really driven by the desire to assert cultural dominance, and not by their professed lofty principles, becomes obvious when pro-lifers vilify and speak cruelly to their enemies, thus demonstrating that their pro-life stance doesn't really come from a sweet & compassionate place of loving all their fellow beings, but rather from a place of contentiously vying for control of society. And of course the conservative's pro-death penalty stance and his desire to abolish the social welfare programs that economically-challenged unwed mothers will need to provide a decent quality of life for their children don't exactly jibe with a genuine pro-life attitude. But being for capital punishment and against welfare does very much jibe with the alpha male's inclination to show no mercy to society's weak links.
The conservative's anger, the anger of the stereotypical conservative "angry white man" is also explained by my amateur psychoanalysis of conservatism here. His anger is quite simply the anger of lower and lower middle-class males who feel that they've been robbed of their erstwhile dominant socio-economic status in society by twisted liberals and the minorities whose interests they cater to. Yes, what the angry white conservative fundamentally resents is his loss of dominance. This is why the anti-affirmative action stance and the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) identity politics of the Republican Party appeal to angry white men, i.e. it's why angry white men tend to be conservatives and not liberals.
Rightism is the political posture of those who prize dominance, and of those who have a tribal mentality that interprets life to be a competition with other tribes (races and nationalities) for society's limited resources. This is why rightists are so often racists, and why staunch racists are almost always staunch rightists.
Racism, resentment, anger, hate, these emotional attitudes all stem from our ego's craving for dominance, and in the conservative this craving and dominance-orientation is more central (if still often unconscious), hence the occasional explosion of conservative violence, as we recently saw in Tucson, Arizona. No, conservatism is not merely another political standpoint, it's the politicized form of a primeval and unenlightened mentalité that still dangerously exists in the human psyche.
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.