01/13

The New Conservatism

20190113

If I were to think of what a traditional conservative looked like, I would picture men in suits and ties (even at the beach). I would picture their hats, and their long coats. I would picture women in skirts that didn't show ankle, and I would think of hat pins. I would be reminded of how guarded speech was, and how certain topics were simply left undiscussed. Every action was deliberate, considerate, and to a large extent helped make the functioning of society more fluid with no undue fussing. There are certainly some aspects to that culture that are better left in the past. I would certainly hate a return to the oppression of women and minorities. Yet, it would appear, that conservatism is having a resurgence and it isn't coming from those who claim to be conseratives.

Modern conservatism stirs an image of football, rural living, a passionate love of America, and an image of strength and machismo. Language can often be a bit crude, as can humor. In contrast, modern "liberalism" is verging on all forms of sexual discussion being morally wrong, all discussions of race being morally wrong, the usage of any phrasing that may trigger someone emotionally due to past trauma is morally wrong. This isn't too far off from traditional conservatism. The main difference would be that modern "liberalism" also wants to say that all cis-gendered, straight, white men are evil, and modern "liberalism" also wants to say that Christianity is morally wrong. Ironically, some of the values espoused by the left would be in keeping with Christian doctrine.

Traditional conservatism and modern "liberalism" share a basic consideration of others emotions as a core bedrock upon which polite society ought to be built (at least as the two cultures would view it). They view basic human decency as being an outgrowth of tolerance, loving kindness, and the promotion of the needs of others above the needs of one's self. Neither of these are wrong. What is wrong is that traditional conservatism viewed the white male as being above others, and modern "liberalism" views the white male as deserving to be below others. Neither of those are correct. They both miss the premise of their own beliefs.

To be so considerate and mindful of others, hold for others a bedrock of respect and loving kindness, presupposes that all humans are inherently equal in value to one another. Be they any color, any gender, any sex, any religious adherent, or any political affiliate. One may be a millionaire, and the other may be a pauper but both deserve respect and kindness. The millionaire should know better than to flaunt his/her wealth and be mindful in his/her speech and suppositions regarding lifestyle when interacting with the pauper, and the pauper should be mindful and aware that the other may not know or remember what it is to be poor, and not denegrate the success of the other. This is civility, respect, kindness, and consideration. This is basic human decency.

While a modern "liberal" may scream "eat the rich" at a banker, he/she wouldn't do the same to Bernie Sanders, to Elon Musk, to Steve Jobs, to the Clintons, to Barack Obama. It isn't the wealth that they abhor at all, but instead the type of person the wealthy individual happens to be. The same could be said of the traditional conservative. The traditional conservative would laud the success of the business person, but abhor wealth earned through political graft. Among these many divergences the underlying motivation behind the formation of the belief remains the same.

The apparent difference in dress is one that I suspect to eventually fade from the modern "liberal." At some point or another, they may realize that sexually provocative dress and purposefully provocative language can be triggering to those who have suffered sexual trauma. They may realize that the modest dress of days past was done to prevent sexual abuse, to prevent triggering, and to place within the minds of humans a sense of dignity and respect. The very things the modern left finds so oppressive and abhorrent about the fashions of the past are things that helped to further the causes of emotional wellbeing as concerns sensitive subject matter. If you find the mention of rape within a novel to be potentially triggering, why would you then march half nude down the street with the word "slut" written across your bare stomach? I could find both to be triggering to a woman abused at frat party and raped after having the word "slut" written across her forhead and stomach. To miss this rather obvious connection speaks either to the privilege of the leftist activist who may have never seen or experienced such a thing and therefore could not have been truly mindful of it, or it speaks to the professing of a value he/she does not truly hold. In either case, the leftist activist needs to revisit his/her value set and re-evaluate what it is in which he/she truly believes.

The two sides are strangely similar in their approach to governance as well. They both view the state as something to be exploited in the furthering of their own values. The values may have shades of similarity and shades of disagreement, but the basic premise of the legislation of morality seems to be the same.

Both sides appear to have similar stances regarding militarism as well. They support militarism when it is in the interest of money and state power, but not those instances in which the adventurism furthers only one of the two. Therefore, support for the war in Afghanistan, support for the war in Syria are good. Support for the war in Iraq, the war in Yemen, those are bad.

The modern left may yet turn out to be the conservatism of old. Neither will be the classical liberal, the libertarian.