Conservatives and Progressives

Many Conservatives long for a non-existent, mythologized past while many Progressives long for a non-existent, mythologized future. Such Conservatives reject certain aspects of the present objective reality because it doesn’t fit into their doctrine. In the meanwhile, the Progressives reject the way human beings actually are because only the completely different, vastly improved human beings will fit into their doctrine.

Neither group is all that interested in existing people and actual reality. I, for one, can’t say whether I prefer a political movement that exists for the sake of an impossible past or the one that exists for the sake of an equally impossible future. I also can’t say whether a political group that considers people to be a lot worse than they are is preferable to the group that considers human beings to be a lot better than they are.

There is too much myth-making on both sides.

31 comments on “Conservatives and Progressives

  1. I am afraid I think conservatives are themselves not moral people; in fact they are often deliberately, knowingly evil.

    Progressives are also sometimes evil, but mostly not.

    • I was going to reply to you but I just can’t think of anything to say. What do you say to a closed mind?

    • Okay I’ll try this: playing the “but they’re teh evil!!!” game makes you part of this problem. I’m sure posturing and pontificating makes you feel real good, but just dismissing the “other side” as cartoon villains solves nothing and is useless.

      • As far as I can tell, conservatives systematically try to create as much human misery as possible. It has not always been this way. When I was a child, President Eisenhower was a conservative who did everything he could to reduce human misery. But modern-day conservatives would never tolerate any such thing. From what I can observe, they want millions of elderly people to starve to death in the streets, since Social Security is so terrible in their eyes. (Of course, Social Security is nothing more than the younger people taking care of the elderly people, which has been done for millenia in families. But it works better done on a societal scale, since some families are not financially able to support their hundred year old relatives. And the idea that everyone should save for their own old age is laughable, since saving that much would increase the capital supply so much that it would lead to insane speculation on a level that would make the financial events of the past decade look tiny by comparison.)

        President Obama, sadly, is also a conservative, but he is a tiny bit less nutty about it
        than the present-day Republicans. The Republican policies, if they are enacted, will lead to decades of economic misery. The Republicans know this very well. The Democrats are almost as bad.

      • Yeah. I don’t believe much in the concept of evil. But I think that conservatives generally have views that I find repugnant. Someone who believes that gay people shouldn’t get married; that women shouldn’t have access to birth control; that corporations should be allowed to pollute as long as it turns a profit; that public transporation should be abolished….really lacks empathy and foresight. Again, I don’t really believe in evil. But I undertand why David Bellamy used the word.

      • David Bellamy:

        But modern-day conservatives would never tolerate any such thing. From what I can observe, they want millions of elderly people to starve to death in the streets

        Funny, conservatives say the same thing about Democrats (only it will happen because Dems have bankrupted the economy with all their pie-in-the-sky utopian schemes, etc.). I do agree with you (mostly) on Social Security. Retirees who are on Social Security are not “parasites” — that money was taken out of their paychecks. And it is not an opt-out thing; if you work above the table, you get a portion taken out of each paycheck whether you like it or not. The SS taxes taken out of my earnings are mine, and I want every cent back.

        Evelina Anville:
        Yes, a lot of conservatives lack empathy for others. But this is not a condition confined to people who are registered Republican; plenty of Democrats are just as uncaring and clueless when it comes to the effect on society of their grand utopian schemes. And I didn’t say I didn’t understand Mr. Bellamy’s use of “evil.” If I didn’t understand it I’d have asked for an explanation. I just find his use to be inapt.

        The problem isn’t people being “evil.” Only cartoon villains are mean for the lulz. The problem is people not understanding that their good intentions aren’t what matters. Everyone thinks deep down inside that their motives are pure. Lots of evil people hold “good” beliefs. (Progressives want to end racism. Therefore they bus kids miles away from their homes to alien neighborhoods where they don’t know anyone and no one like them. Conservatives want to preserve safe, small communities. Therefore everyone ends up living in segregated neighborhoods like before.) And good people can hold “evil” beliefs (such as religions whose followers have started wars and killed millions based on some of those beliefs, yet other followers of the same religion will be too busy helping the poor and starving to start a war).

    • David, Are there any prominent conservatives you’d describe as “evil”? If so what do think makes them evil–opposition to Obamacare, partial birth abortion, affirmative action, speech codes, the Community Reinvestment Act, the Dept of Education’s OCR regulations, unlimited immigration? Or is it support for the Second Amendment, lower taxes, traditional morality. and limited government that makes them evil?

      • I’m not David but I can answer: anybody who despises women so much that they want to invade our bodies is an evil, disgusting freak. Anybody who wants to impose their “morality” on others is an evil, disgusting freak. Anybody who has ANY opinion on other people’s abortions is an evil, disgusting freak.

  2. This paradise lost nostalgia (“lostalgia” if you will) for the (mythical; see The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz, for example) 1950s/past is of course selective. For example, you don’t find any wingnut longing for that era’s 90% marginal tax rates, do you?

    • For example, you don’t find any wingnut longing for that era’s 90% marginal tax rates, do you?

      I do, indeed. They were sensible, given all the loopholes that existed. If the loopholes were closed, a top rate of 50% to 70%, rather than the peak level in the late 1940’s of 96%, would be reasonable.

      • Perhaps this serves as an argement to get rid of all deductions and simply treat all income identically. It prevents pundits from claiming that taxes are too high and referring to rate X, which while nominally true, results in an ultimately empty claim because the deductions lower the marginal rate. This sort of thing happens with the corporate tax rate.

  3. This quote from The Shadow of the Wind nicely sums up how I feel about political alliances and “evil”:
    “Evil presupposes a moral decision, intention and some forethought. A moron or lout, however, doesn’t stop to think or reason. He acts on instinct, like a stable animal, convinced he’s doing good, that he’s always right, and sanctimoniously proud to go around fucking up, if you’ll excuse the French, anyone he perceives to be different from himself, be it because of skin colour, creed, language, nationality, or…leisure habits. What the world needs is more thoroughly evil people and fewer borderline pigheads.”

      • “Hitler and Stalin are only dangerous because of the idiots who are willing to put them in power”

        You’ve got a point when it comes to Hitler. He was elected democratically. But Stalin forced his way to the top of a government that forced itself onto the people. Yeah, there are idiots today who WOULD put him in power, but Stalin’s story shows us there are other ways for dictatorships to emerge than the folly of idealistic, idiotic enablers.

        Although I agree that ignorance is just as dangerous as pure, intentioned evil, if not more so.

      • I doubt Hitler or Stalin thought of themselves as “evil”. I think Hitler believed that what he is doing is for the greater good of “his” people… and Stalin was doing very similar things in USSR for the same reasons.

        • I think that even the most horrible people ever manage to see themselves as inherently good and even victimized by others. Of course, they know who they are in reality but they repress that knowledge. This is why the nastiest people are the most self-righteous ones.

  4. Both the left and the right suffer from philosophical idealism, which would be okay or even a tonic in small doses. However, they like their liquor strong. They want to escape from the present into some imaginary other place, like the past or the future. Intellectual shamanism has a totally different orientation from this, in that it says one must imaginatively visit the past and the future in order to enrich the present. One is not to disappear from the present, permanently, into another place.

  5. I do not get it, my friend. Then what do you have left? I do not idealize people but I certainly believe that we can change mentalities for the best. As a feminist you probably understand my point.

        • “I hope that I do not bore you!”

          – No, of course not! :-) I’m mostly referring to people in the mainstream media. Every time I turn on the TV (which happens once every 3 months or so), I’m horrified at the number of platitudes people produce. And it doesn;t matter whether it’s a “progressive” or a ‘conservative” channel. It’s all bunk.

      • Oh please don’t judge progressives by their media appointed representatives. The media, as editorial policy, frame everything in right vs. center terms, although of course that’s not what they call it; they call it right vs. left.

      • “Oh please don’t judge progressives by their media appointed representatives”

        Then should we judge them by their behavior? If we judge them by OWS or the Obama economy,or the Holder Justice Dept., they don’t come out looking as good as the media portrays them.

        “It is beyond hilarious how white dudes who lament the fact they can’t purchase women as easily as they used to are especially wedded to the idea that progress does not exist.”
        Do you know any white dudes who fit into that category?

        • There was a quote left in this thread from somebody screeching on how there is no progress. That’s who I was referring to. I don’t have anti-progress jerkwads in my circle of acquaintance, of course.

  6. In a comment by locumranch on David Brin‘s blog:

    We should all take [George Orwell’s] observations regarding human nature to heart, dismissing this fantasy that we call ‘cultural progress’ and/or ‘social evolution’ for once and for all. Human beings or human nature has not ‘evolved’ or improved since Homo Sapiens began walking upright thousands and thousands of years ago. People who argue otherwise, citing gradual and/or inevitable ‘progress’, confuse evolution with improved educational modalities.

    • Of course! What progress! Who cares that I, a woman, can now own property, dispose freely of my body, pursue a career, and make my own decisions about every aspect of my life. Who cares about insignificant little things like that. Bleh! That’s not progress because a white dude hasn’t noticed any progress to speak of.

      It is beyond hilarious how white dudes who lament the fact they can’t purchase women as easily as they used to are especially wedded to the idea that progress does not exist.

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