Saturday, March 7, 2009

What is conservatism?

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
—John Stuart Mill

Yesterday, the Contra Costa Times (Right wing to get its time at Berkeley) reported that
An anonymous donor has given $777,000 to [UC Berkeley] to establish a Center for the Comparative Study of Right-wing Movements. Researchers will study the right wing in other countries and its relationship to U.S. movements.

The CCT reporter notes that conservative movements don’t get much attention among scholars. Larry Rosenthal, a sociologist who will head the new program, notes that UC Berkeley will be studying the right wing when, if anything, such studies will be in retreat.

—And when the Republican Party is asking itself what it stands for.

Sounds good to me. Contrary to John Stuart Mill, who called conservatives the “stupid party” (strictly speaking, he said that about the Tories), I think that conservatism is rich in ideas that are worthy of study. Possibly, however, the Berkeley program will be studying movements—especially those outside the U.S.—and not so much ideas or philosophies.

Well, we’ll see, I guess.

Speaking of philosophies and stupid parties, have you been following the “war” between beltway Ditto Heads and conservative writer David Frum? On Monday, Frum wrote that

… [Rush Limbaugh, the self-appointed] leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence—exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word—we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? … [H]e cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise—and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

Frum has taken quite a pounding from his "conservative" colleagues ever since. Unlike others who've challenged Rush and reaped the ditto-wind, Frum hasn't run to Rush to offer a heartfelt apology.

More recently (The Limbaugh schism), Frum explained that “What we are arguing about is the kind of party the GOP will be.” Frum thinks that Republicans seem intent on defining themselves out of government:

We are gradually shrinking from our former ambition—to govern—and taking our pleasure instead in alienation and complaint. Those journalists who cover the conservative world are surprised by how relieved and happy conservatives seem to be about having lost the 2008 election. No more irritating compromises, no more boring policy debates! We can recline into the pure assertion of conservative dogma, a job nobody does better than Rush Limbaugh himself. As Limbaugh told the CPAC crowd: We need no new policy ideas. Conservatism, he said, cannot be reshaped or reformed, and those who suggest otherwise must be “stamped out.” And who knows? That view may prevail among Republicans for some long time to come. But if it does, watch out. Just as the American left retreated from politics into the universities in the 1980s, so—if Rush has his way—will the American right retreat from politics into the airwaves in the 2000s.

These are interesting times.

See also
Conservatives on the Titanic: blaming right-wing “carny barkers”
Ten Conservative Principles

Republicans display cute trained monkey:


Anonymous said...

I once heard a conservative defined as "someone who thinks that nothing should ever happen for the first time."

Bohrstein said...

This kid gives me the creeps.

Anonymous said...

Found this on a post a while back, link no longer exists...Roy, you're the academic!---title was"ConservatismAsMotivatedSocialCognition.pdf)

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary