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.Conservativism 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 the "clear skies" initiative is a giveaway to air polluters, and "healthy forests" means allowing timber companies to clear-cut at will, 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 "middle class" includes multi-millionaires, and "job creators" means vulture capitalists shipping jobs overseas, and "elite" means bad, and "Christian" means disregarding everything Jesus said. And, of course, the honorable term "liberal" 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 conservativism 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" the myth-makers were in control of, and the myth-believers were comfortable with.
The key political definition of political conservatism is the desire to "conserve" traditional "values," socioeconomic hierarchies and institutions. And so the conservative is against most anything new, and anything that disturbs the hierarchy. 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. Republicans were once, long ago, believe it or not, the more liberal party. And not so long ago, most social conservatives were Democrats, and southern black Americans voted Republican... the Party of Lincoln! 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. So by using the terms "conservative" and "liberal," rather than party labels, we can more clearly recognize the historic consistencies between the two opposing philosophies.
Conservatives come in many flavors, but none of them is very tasteful. Indeed, conservatives are either bland or bitter. They are very uncreative; they haven't had an original idea in hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years. Yet it's specifically because they are so stubbornly attached to a few very old ideas 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 momentuous 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 (SoCons) do.
This very same tale continues throughout human history. We see social conservatives in every culture around the world and through the ages tenatiously 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. Conservatives were the last to give up loyalty to Zeus, Thor and the Flat Earth. Many of them still 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 the modern world, 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).
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, chidren, workers, indigenous people, minorities and hanidcapped. 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 greed, fear and prejudice.
Yet 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 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 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!
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...