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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conservatives - the new liberals

Who knew that the conservative brand was so tarnished that conservatives have to claim they're really liberals to attract followers?

From the so-called Concerned Citizens of Durham website:
This mini essay is about the Durham Citizens Coalition (DCC), formerly called the Durham Conservative Club. The founders considered other names including Durham Liberal Club. The big problem was that the meanings of words change over time and some are even hi-jacked such as "liberal". In Europe today, "liberal" still means what it did in the 18th century, i.e. open government, free trade, and freedom of individuals to seek their fortune without a maze of regulations restricting opportunity. Even currently in The Netherlands, the Liberal Party is the most conservative of Dutch parties. In England the Liberal party is a moderate conservative group distinguishing its supporters from the Conservative party.

Actually, in England, the Liberal Party is a moderateley progressive party distinguishing itself from the more objectively left-wing Labour Party. And the fact that Liberals are the most conservative party in the notoriously conservative Netherlands bears no relationship to American politics, where even the most liberal national parties are far to the right of their European counterparts.

How ironic that a movement which has spent the past 40 years attempting to hinder and hamper all attempts to regulate industrial destuction of our environment can make the claim "(h)ow can one who embraces conservation of nature, including entire ecological systems, not be called a conservative?"

You want to know how?

Because fucking conservatives have been all for eliminating every effort that liberals and progressives have made, including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and the Endangered Species Act, over the past 40 years, to pass on to our kids something in our earth that's worth saving.

You guys are a bunch of fucks, and you can't even stand up under your own banner any more. Don't even think of claiming ours.

Christ on a crutch, it's as if you guys think we never read Orwell or something.

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  • Well, they're not too far out of step with leftist scholarship. The general term applied to the Hayek-Goldwater-Thatcher-Reagan brand of economic policy is "neoliberalism."

    The modern GOP is an unholy coalition of neoliberalism and neoconservatism. Frankly, I'm all for actually holding people to making "liberal" and "conservative" actually mean what the people who invented the terms in the 19th century actually defined them as. And I'm all for dropping "liberal" and "conservative" from the labels on today's left-right axis. A two party system with a left-liberal/Keynesian/New Deal party with Burkean arguments against getting rid of programs that are doing quite well, and a neoliberal/reactionary/corporatist coalition advocating governmental activism in favor of corporations and imposition of cultural values, shouldn't fall under a "liberal-conservative" axis, particularly when those two adjectives aren't even opposites.

    But like I said, I'm kind of old school in that regard. If Hayek's fans want liberalism, as far as I'm concerned, they can have it.

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 7:30 PM  

  • Well, yeah, if you want to get all academic and shit. As an exercise in branding though, liberal means atheist anti-American tree-hugger gays, and conservative means patriotic, Don't Tread On Me, great-granddaddy didn't have to pay no income tax so why should I Americans.

    That the organization formerly called the Durham Conservative Club, had to drop the word Conservative from their name as a branding exercise tells you how much conservatives suck.

    That they did this 18 months ago and i just noticed tells you how much i suck.

    By Blogger Barry, at 7:41 PM  

  • Or, it says something about politics in Durham, where there are about as many libertarians as Palinites.

    My main problem is, I don't want to be called liberal. Not because I'm scared of the word, but because my actual politics have morphed to a point where they don't align with *any* definition that anyone ever used of the word, other than to mean, as best as I can put it, "generally Leftist."

    The other thing that grates on me is the terms "extreme liberal" and "extreme conservative." Liberalism and conservatism are, historically, very centrist positions. 20th century radicals of all stripes spent gallons of ink deriding liberals as weak-kneed, intellectually vacuous tools of the establishment, and any coherent definition of what conservative is other than generally "right wing" lays out a governing philosophy that is far too namby-pamby for your average militia member or white nationalist. (Indeed they would probably call them communist czars. <snort>)

    American politics would be a lot more fun, and frankly people would probably be a little less jaded about it, if we actually let the loons at each extreme get to the podium from time to time. Then we wouldn't have to suffer from people telling us Bill Clinton was a "radical leftist."

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 10:44 AM  

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