Reagan and Conservatism

Conservatives embraced Reagan out of desperation. As a result, they experienced a tactical victory and a strategic – I can’t even say defeat because it’s a nearly apocalyptic creaming that’s much bigger than a simple defeat.

From the beginning, Reagan made it clear that he wasn’t a conservative in any meaningful way. “Liberalism is conservative. It’s stuck in the past,” he said. “Our movement, on the other hand, is progressive because it’s forward-looking.” (I’m quoting from memory but this is the gist of Reagan’s statement.) Note the unquestioning assumption that “forward” and “future” always equal “good” and “past” always equals “bad.”

Reagan rejected old-school liberalism in favor of a new brand. We now call it neoliberalism. It’s a deeply progressivist movement that abhors any rootedness. “Change”, together with “choice,” is its key word. That’s why the ultra-neoliberal Obama adopted “hope and change” as his slogan.

Today, Reagan’s open borders and austerity are embraced by the most left-wing movements in this country. And conservatives are horrified with the results of Reagan’s neoliberal revolution. Without it, we wouldn’t see the idea that humans should be free to change physical reality by naming it. We wouldn’t face the results of putting the pouty freedom of entitled consumers above every other consideration.

It’s actually quite funny that Reagan’s open-border policies have made it impossible for Reagan’s party ever again to have a meaningful presence in Reagan’s own state of California. It’s a fitting punishment for embracing a progressivist slick talker. Democrats made the same mistake when they embraced Bill Clinton, a neoliberal Reaganite, and forever lost the working classes, becoming the party of the chi-chi fru-fru folks.

One thought on “Reagan and Conservatism

  1. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, John Major, and Margaret Thatcher were the Fantastic Four who finally got me to give up on that Left versus Right dialectic and lean into Circle A.

    But Ronald Reagan? “We can have another Kent State right here in California.”

    Paraphrased, but find the actual quote, and then find out how horrible Ronald Reagan really was as the governor of California.

    I still have my old book “The Clothes Have No Emperor” as a reminder not to participate in false positivity and nostalgia about the Reagan era.

    Just about the only part of the “we’ll launch in five minutes” era that didn’t suck was the music.

    The drugs were pretty shit though, especially the ones involving evil little machine elves with synthesized vocoder voices.

    Keep in mind, I was not on the Left or the Right back then, but I did a fairly decent job of keeping both entertained and away from each other’s throats in my presence.

    That didn’t keep me from being barred from several drinking establishments as part of a group on the basis that the proprietor overheard their politics.

    “Without it, we wouldn’t see the idea that humans should be free to change physical reality by naming it. We wouldn’t face the results of putting the pouty freedom of entitled consumers above every other consideration.”

    It’s not even really that, it’s a kind of category error in which people suffer no consequences for linguistic constructivism producing nonsense.

    There’s a reason I keep pointing you at architecture other than it’s one of my fields, you know.

    BTW, ever read Hayakawa or Searle?

    General Semantics as an intellectual movement was an interesting period in American history, even if it never really took off.

    But they had a utopian vision of their own, one in which it’d be difficult if not impossible to construct nonsense such as this.

    The farthest it made it into the mainstream was in the form of AE van Vogt’s “Null-A” which primarily came from Korzybski rather than Hayakawa and Searle.

    Around the time of what I view as an inevitable American Civil War: The Next Generation, I suspect people will be past caring about whether there are people slinging barbs as much as whether they’re slinging bullets.

    Also, thank Ronald Reagan for giving the US legislation in the form of the Firearm Owners Protection Act 1986, which while it kept an abusive executive branch agency from inventing theories of law to pursue people it didn’t like, it also barred several classes of firearms and made it artificially expensive to own others.

    That recent video a candidate for Federal office made that involves a bunch of hooded Klansmen trying to raid his home has some actual basis in fact.

    I want some stickers of Ronald Reagan pointing at something with the caption “I DID THAT!” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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