Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, Refounders is asking the question.
It’s just common sense. Someone’s trying to build something, you help them or get out of the way. Someone’s trying to destroy something, you move to stop them. If something works well, you keep on doing it, and if it’s been given a few shots and has never panned out then you shelve it.
The reason this looks so much more complicated than it really is, is that it’s hard to demonstrate the true nature of something without contrasting it with something else. And when you place conservatism alongside liberalism, liberalism tends to want to talk about some things and not other things. There are many examples of what I’m talking about but I’ll just stick with “working families” as the best one. When liberals use this term, they don’t want you to take it literally, like “working families should keep more of their money” — you’re supposed to implicitly understand it means “people who make less than some amount, whether they work or not.” So you translate “working families keep more of their money” to mean “working families who make more than half a million a year, getting a tax cut” and of course while this logically qualifies, it is no longer within the class that the liberal is really trying to describe.
None of which comes as a shock to anybody. The problem is, though, that the liberal doesn’t clarify this point by using a more appropriate and accurate terminology — he clarifies it by steering the conversation, laying down rules that this thing over here can be discussed, and that thing over there cannot be. As this is accommodated, we all start using phrases and words to describe concepts quite different from what they are supposed to mean. Another of my favorites is “build a society that functions in the best interests of everyone” or “that works for everyone.” Again, the liberal will demand that some things be discussed, and other things will not be — so we end up using the word “everyone” to describe a concept that has very little to do with the real meaning of “everyone.”
I do not mean to blame the liberal for this. Quite the opposite. We have been like warm putty in the liberals’ hands, and as a direct result of this they have become…ah, what’s the word. Audacious. And so we all end up using lots of words apart from their intended purposes. Skeptic, diversity, egalitarian, science…
This makes it tough to define liberalism, which poses some challenges in defining conservatism. The biggest obstacle to this is encountered when the liberal is actually engaged; they think their cause is noble, and so if honesty would reverse course on their progress even a little tiny bit, I’ve found a lot of them will stoop to deception without a moment’s conscious thought. At the very least, they’ll change the subject, on a macro- or a micro-level.
That’s not to impugn their character by the way. It’s a human thing they’re doing. I think these are mostly decent people who have moved past that zone where you’re willing to entertain a discussion about what to do, and want to see the chosen strategy implemented. They’ve lost their curiosity and can’t get it back again.
Which, by itself, doesn’t bring them into conflict with conservatives. They enter into conflict with conservatives when their chosen approach is offensive to a) a reasoned analysis of the problem, and its true nature; and/or b) history.
Therefore, I submit all significant conservative/liberal dust-ups fall into this pattern: The liberal wants a certain thing done, because there is a “good” class of people and a “bad” class of people, and the solution should work for the good people and against the bad people. The conservative is left stammering something equivalent to “What in…how in blazes is that supposed to solve the prob-a-luhm???” For daring to utter so much as a peep of protest against the solution the liberal has figured out is obviously the right way to go, the liberal calls the conservative stupid.
Of course, often the conservative retaliates in kind, which is the wrong way to go. If that happens, then you just have two people who disagree with each other calling each other stupid. This is where the true distinction becomes not only lost, but buried deep down.
One way this happens most reliably by means of the switcheroo. This is where the conservative and liberal start out with a productive exchange of ideas, reaching the point where they successfully figure out their difference of opinion comes from a difference of understanding of the basic facts. And so they examine the facts — the liberal discovers his facts are in error, and the conservative’s facts seem to be in order. And so the liberal “switcheroos” the conversation to a pissing contest, of sorts, about which person is more decent. It’s a subconscious, face-saving sort of thing. As if to say “okay, you caught me being mistaken, but it doesn’t matter because I’m a better person than you are.” Again, this is human. It is hard-wired into us from centuries of agrarian living.
It would be nice if the liberal could be somehow persuaded to stay on topic, stay away from ad hominem, to use words for their intended meaning and for none other…unless properly qualifying them. To say, instead of “working families,” something more honest like “people who have a lifestyle like mine, and don’t make any more money than I do or have anything I don’t have…plus all the lazy people who think work is for suckers.”
Maybe if their drink was spiked with some kind of drug. A truth serum of sorts.
I think, then, such a discussion would not bring the two sides together. But it would prove my point. The liberal would say “I want taxes to go up on everyone who makes more money than I do and that will fix everything.” The conservative would then say “Who is going to start a business that might hire people, if there’s no profit involved in it?” And the liberal, rather than calling the conservative a dupe and a shill for “big business” and “evil corporations,” would instead do the sensible and honest thing and fess up: “Yeah, but it makes me feel good. I like the idea of people being taxed more when they aren’t exactly like me. Makes me happy.”
And the conservative would rightfully point out “but logic and history both affirm that you’d be wrecking the economy.” And rather than chasing off down some bunny trail that has to do with brandishing some “ism” as a cudgel, the liberal would simply say something like “I know, but it’s worth it to me. And I can’t handle being told no.”
Anyway, that’s what conservatism is; you can’t define it without defining liberalism, since conservatism is opposition to something. It opposes destruction and narcissism. It’s not about making liberals feel bad; it opposes finding solutions that are counterproductive, just because they happen to make liberals feel good.
Conservatism, contrary to popular belief, is about progress. It is about linear development. It does not advance wholesale abandonment of ideas that have failed. Instead, it proposes isolation of those ideas. They can be retired from production, while their most zealous and resourceful advocates tinker with them and find out what it takes to make them work.
Liberalism, on the other hand, advocates circular development. When an idea is found not to work, it is to be tried again, often without any significant change whatsoever from what was found to have failed.
Also, liberalism is about putting the new or unverified or previously-failed idea out on the production floor. Liberalism always insists that there be no way possible for anyone to get away from it.
This last one, I haven’t figured out. Do they consciously understand that, if the conservative idea were to be deployed into test sandbox A and the liberal idea were to be deployed into sandbox B, sandbox A would yield the more beneficial results and it would be embarrassing? Or is it just the political leaders who understand this, with the “man in the street” liberals just slavishly following along? I don’t know. But I do know this point of universal enactment, with complete eradication of any possible opt-out, is critically important to them. It is very often, across an abundance of unrelated issues, a non-negotiable item. And it is very rare that they are called upon to explain why this is.
Anyway, in the final analysis, conservatism is something adults do — something they must do, if they are to survive in any setting in which people take responsibility for the effects of what they do. It accepts ideas that work, rejects ideas that do not work, and among the ideas it rejects most quickly and forcefully is the idea that people need to be knocked down a few pegs when they happen to have achieved success.
Cross-posted at Washington Rebel.
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