Sunday, August 15, 2004

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Phil Agre is a liberal professor who use to write a bunch of things I found interesting. His latest article, What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? brings up some good points. It's not the points about Conservatism I liked, rather, his critique of all the wrongs Liberals must address if they want to win an argument and become a force again. Here are some quotes:
A caller to Rush Limbaugh said that "liberals can't do the arguments", and he was right.

American English remains a useful language. So use it, and learn to say democratic things in it.

Forget the whole strategy of the counterculture. Be the culture instead.

Snoop Dogg's music really is garbage. Some liberals, however, argue that racists hate rap and so therefore any disapproval of rap abets racism. This is bad logic and stupid politics.

Conservatism is very complicated, and you cannot defeat it by shouting slogans. This is the difficulty with Michael Moore. He talks American, which is good. But he is not intellectually nonviolent. [...] But he is not a model for liberal politics.

Your model should be Pat Robertson. He is as extreme on the right as anybody in the United States is on the left. Yet his people took over large parts of the Republican Party. They did this in three ways: laboriously designing a mainstream-sounding language, identifying large numbers of talented activists and training them in the day-to-day work of issue and party politics, and building their own communications systems.
And if you are one of my conservative readers, my advice is, "Don't worry, even with a someone telling the Left what to do, they still won't figure it out."

* I cannot recall by whom, but it was once stated "There is a simple word to describe people who think an author believes everything his characters say; the word is idiot."


ABCD II said...

I had forgotten how far off the deep end Mr. Agre is. Your excerpts show that he has some intelligent and useful stuff to say, but there's no way I can get through the cruft to find any more of it.

He starts off by building a straw man made of non sequiturs. How inane are the following statements:

"Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy."

"[T]he most central feature of conservatism is deference."

Even if he is historically correct, he's ignoring that institutions and ideologies change over time. Hence the vast difference between modern day 'liberals' of the left and 'classic liberals' most closely typified by today's libertarians. This is all the more ironic considering that (pre-Iraq anyway) libertarians largely identified with conservatives far more than they did with liberals (which, admittedly, isn't all that far).

Anyway, I'm not sure that this sort of hostile partisan hackery masked by intellectual civility is any better than the shrillness of Michael Moore or Ann Coulter.

Jeffrey Davidson said...

Honestly, just skimming the article made me cringe. YUCK!

I think his partisanship has certainly deepened over the years and if wasn't for the goodwill he built with me based on his work of a decade ago, I would have never have read this crap.

Anonymous said...

Amazingly, I'll have to agree with Tony on this. Even as a dirty, smelly, tree-hugging hippie pothead, I couldn't get past the first several paragraphs of this article. Tony, your comments are dead-on in this respect. However, I did find a slightly more interesting essay on approximately the same topic:

The Howling Wilderness of Pseudoconservatism.

While I'm not a big fan of the ridiculous and unnecessarily philosophically ponderous language and styling, there are some genuinely good points to be extracted from this article. It's less a critique of solid conservative values than a critique of the current conservative movement, which I see as two very distinct things. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Crap. Anonymous above is actually Adam. Stupid Blogger.