A traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature; any invented story, idea, or concept; an imaginary or fictitious thing or person; an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.Conservatism is the Land of Myths, peopled by the myth-makers and myth true believers. Here, we expose both for what they are, and the myths themselves as anything but the truth!
The people in the Land of Myths, both the makers and the believers, will swear that the myths are true. Gospel in fact! They are so certain in their myths that they will tell you they are never wrong.
But aha, that's the mastery of the myth-makers, their wordsmithing, phrase-turning and disinformation at work... where the truth is actually the opposite of what they say it is. Where "up" is down, and "right" is wrong, and Global Warming is a Chinese hoax, being "Pro Life" includes being pro death penalty, pro unlimited weapons and not giving a damn about the lives of "other" kinds of people much less the rest of the entire biosphere, and the "clear skies" initiative is a giveaway to air polluters, the "healthy forests" means allowing timber companies to clear-cut at will, coal is "clean," and the "Heartland Institute" springs from the mindset of polluters whose interests may well devastate the actual American heartland, and the "Patriot" Act is a wanton shredding of American freedom, and "small business" is code for Big Business, and the "middle class" includes multi-millionaires, and "job creators" means predatory capitalists shipping jobs overseas and hedge fund managers shiftin money from your pocket to theirs, and "corporation" equals "person," and "elite" means bad, and shopping at Wal-Mart is not supporting globalism, and the worst of the Alt-Right is actually the Alt-Left, and "Christian" means someone who can freely disregard everything Jesus said, and a crass, lewd, crude lying philanderer and adulterer and admitted sexual harasser, draft dodger, shyster, bully, fraudster and likely tax evader is God's choice to be President of the United States of America. And, of course, the honorable term "liberal," the ideology of the founding fathers of America, means downright un-American.
The sad reality is that conservatives are forever wrong. They've been wrong since time immemorial. The oft-proposed notions that the "modern" conservative movement dates back to the 1930s or the 1960s Civil Rights era or the Vietnam War protest era are sheer poppycock! Essential reactionary conservatism dates back to the dawn of human culture, and has not changed one whit since. The invention of the wheel? Conservatives were against it. You see, it threatened the myths and the "traditional values" of the day, the traditions and institutions myth-makers were in control of and the myth-believers believed.
The key political definition of conservatism is the desire to "conserve" traditional "values," socioeconomic hierarchies and institutions, most especially those that lend advantage and privilege to the conservers. The conservative is against most anything new, and anything that disturbs their preferred status-quo. But this status-quo is ever being challenged. So arose another description for conservatives, "reactionaries." Stuff happens. Things change. Conservatives react. Usually poorly.
Eventually most conservative ideas are dumped into the dust-bin of history... and progress (i.e. liberalism) prevails.
For instance, not very long ago, cherished conservative "traditional values" included slavery, the divine right of kings, religious persecution, the subjugation of women, child labor, legalized prejudice, prohibition, and segregation. Conservatives fought violently to retain those backwards "traditional values." But people tend to have a very short memory, and they forget how wrong conservatives have always been, and still are today. This website's goal is to serve as a primer for open-minded folk about the conservative record... and hold the ideology that trumpets "personal responsibility" (for everybody else) personally responsible for its pathetic legacy.
Now, you will notice that we use the terms "conservative" and "liberal" much more often than "Republican" and "Democrat." There's a very good reason for this. Through American history conservatives and liberals have shifted between parties to a significant degree. We can quickly get very confused if we think of Republican and Democrat as ideological constants. This is far from the truth. Republicans were once, long ago, believe it or not, the more liberal party. And not so long ago, most social conservatives, particularly in the South, were Democrats. For generations, southern black Americans voted Republican... the Party of Lincoln! You will often hear devious conservatives try to besmirch liberals and the modern Democratic Party by saying, "Well, you know Republicans freed the slaves, and Democrats were the KKK." That's technically true, but extremely deceitful. The more accurate and pertinent truth is that the Republican president who freed the slaves was a liberal. The Democrats who populated the Ku Klux Klan and fought hard to deny civil rights legislation in the 1960s were conservatives. Those "Dixiecrat" conservatives switched parties in the 1960s and 70s, and they must be required to take their ideological baggage with them. Hey, aren't they the ones always braying about how important "heritage" is? Then they should own up to their own heritage, which, of course, they still fully embrace. So this is an important example of why using the terms "conservative" and "liberal," rather than party labels, allow us to more clearly recognize the historic consistencies between the two perennially opposing philosophies.
OK, they were warned. We continue...
Conservatives come in many flavors, none of them very tasteful. Indeed, conservatives are either bland or bitter. They are very uncreative. They basically have one idea: they want advantage and privilege. Otherwise, they haven't had an original idea in thousands of years. Yet it's specifically because they are so stubbornly attached to that one very old idea that they cause so much trouble. Simply put, they have great difficulties with change. But since change is the only constant in the Universe, that puts them in a prickly position: at odds with reality, and at war with the world.
As it turns out, one of the most important unique characteristics of our species, Homo sapiens, is the ability, willingness and, indeed, evolutionary advantage, of discarding established traditions and institutions in favor of something potentially much better. Thus, through discovery, learning, behavior change, experimentation, innovation, and (perhaps most importantly) cooperation, emerges progress. Yet each of the momentous advances in human culture were argued against by those in the tribe who wished to cling to the old ways. Thankfully, they eventually lose these arguments. Well, at least the social conservatives, or SoCons, do. The rich and powerful, and their corporate leviathans, let's call CorpCons, they are another matter.
This very same tale continues throughout human history. We see social conservatives in every culture around the world and through the ages tenaciously clinging to hoary, old myths and customs, only to eventually be swept aside by the inexorable tide of the true human spirit: the impetus toward discovery and growth and, yes, progress. Conservatives were the last to give up loyalty to Zeus, Thor and the flat earth. Well, some still believe in the flat earth. Many of them think the world is 6,000 years old, and want to teach creationism in public school. Often the collision between the old guard and advanced thinking turns violent. We see this in the trial of Socrates, the crucifixion of Jesus, the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and, in our day and age, violent fundamentalism of all stripes (note how in today's world the most violent places are usually those where the tectonic plates of conservative mythologies and religion collide - i.e. the Middle East, Northern Ireland, India-Pakistan).
Conservatives are highly suspicious of social or economy-shifting technologies and paradigms. The conservative aristocracy fought against the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Many were opposed to the Industrial Revolution. Conservative rank and file have railed against public education, emancipation of the slaves, and rights for women, children, workers, indigenous people, minorities and the disabled. They balked at the horseless carriage, the five-day work week, paid vacations, social security, the computer and the internet, and today scorn environmentally-friendly industries, renewable energy, global warming precautions, and more efficient light bulbs... all in pathetic defense of their increasingly obsolete (and usually unequal and unjust) social preferences. Despite their howls of protest, however, though it may take time, in almost every case, the more innovative, progressive, technology and ideology wins out.
In sum, social conservatives, in particular, are the biggest losers in human history.
It's a bit strange that these relics of the bad-old days are even still around. It would seem logical that by now they would have learned the lessons of history and gotten on board the wondrous train of progress. But rationality is not a property abundantly present in conservative ideology. Indeed, to the makers and believers of myths, rationality is not a "traditional" value. No less than Edmund Burke, the father of "modern" conservatism (as if there even is such a thing), argued against it... at least for the common man.
It's easier to stay dumb about most things and allow gut feelings to rule. Not that conservatives are necessarily stupid (though John Stuart Mill maintained that most stupid people are conservative); indeed the myth-makers are diabolically clever. Yet, overall, many conservatives remain willfully ignorant. Broader knowledge and logic are not the only things missing from their mindset. Beyond-the-self/clan concern or empathy are likewise sorely lacking in the conservative worldview. Conservatives have a "me" rather than "we" orientation. Rather than rationality, rather than empathy, rather than true compassion, they defer to selfish emotionality, including strong currents of anger, greed, fear and prejudice. It's a toxic mix.
Our modern world is too populated and interconnected, and our technologies and potential for damage too powerful to allow myths and clan-mentality to rule our behavior. Under the threat of nuclear annihilation, ecological catastrophe, sectarian strife, terrorism, and gross economic disparity, to survive as a species and bring peace to the planet, we must forge into an integrated and respectful human family, accelerate our discovery and nurturance of our commonalities and shared interests even while recognizing and celebrating our wonderful diversity. We must severely constrain those ideologies that promote division, distrust, greed, fear and self-assumed superiorities over the rest of humankind... for these are the very factors which bring out the worst in our species. Standing in opposition of this higher evolution of humankind, as always, are the conservatives... and their myths!
Importantly, we liberals love them, they are our family, our friends and our fellow Americans. We wish them no harm. Indeed, we want peace and harmony and prosperity and sustainability and good will for all of us. But that ideology of theirs has them befuddled and captured by a worldview that is intentionally divisive and dangerous. It has been a serious problem and drag upon human culture forever. Now it threatens the entire biosphere.
Let's get to know the myth-makers and the true believers better, shall we? First we should get our bearings with some official definitions and synonyms...