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Taking the Right Seriously:

Interesting essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Mark Lilla here and some commentary here.

Former Student (mail):
It might be that Lilla's essays have a lot to do with the difficulties of a being a conservative in academia and his personal tribulations in that regard.

Back in the 90s, he was wryly mocking post-modernists while carefully analyzing the writings of the "counter-enlightment". After a spell at Uchicago, a move from the PoliSci dept to the Religion dept, and a lot of trying hard to distance himself from his neocon associations, he's now apparently moving back a bit in the other direction - though it's disappointing to me that this consists of an undoubtedly futile appeal to the professoriate to consider ideas outside their bubble.
9.15.2009 4:10pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I find it somewhat ironic that almost right out of the gate the comments show exactly the sort of dismissive attitude that the column purports to castigate.
9.15.2009 4:14pm
dangerous lack of something something:
Soronel, which comments do you refer to? The article comments, the comments in the response to the article, the response to the article, or the comments here? I looked through all of them and am not seeing an overall attitude of dismissal or outright antagonism there...
9.15.2009 4:18pm
Guest14:
It takes a great deal of patience to pick through the religious superstition, racism, anti-feminism, homophobia, and general anti-intelelctual, arrogant unpleasantness to find anything worth taking seriously in the right.
9.15.2009 4:27pm
Constantin:
It takes a great deal of patience to pick through the religious superstition, racism, anti-feminism, homophobia, and general anti-intelelctual, arrogant unpleasantness to find anything worth taking seriously in the right. Trinity United Church.

(Fixed.)
9.15.2009 4:36pm
Federal Dog:
"It takes a great deal of patience to pick through the religious superstition, racism, anti-feminism, homophobia, and general anti-intelelctual, arrogant unpleasantness to find anything worth taking seriously in the right."

The irony really just escapes you.

Or maybe I'm too dense to grasp that you're a reverse Moby?
9.15.2009 4:46pm
ShelbyC:
Guest14:

It takes a great deal of patience to pick through the religious superstition, racism, anti-feminism, homophobia, and general anti-intelelctual, arrogant unpleasantness to find anything worth taking seriously in the right.


This is parody, right?
9.15.2009 4:49pm
Mark N. (www):
I certainly agree with the characterization of this Berkeley center, but that Berkeley's "Institute for the Study of Social Change" doesn't take conservatism seriously as a movement is hardly an indictment of all of academia. Academia is littered with special-purpose organizations dedicated to a particular take on things, both political and non-political. Departments become known for particular things--- the Chicago School of Economics, for example, can hardly claim to give equal time to all major approaches to economics (ever heard of a Chicago-school Marxist?). Does this mean it was an intellectually bankrupt, politically motivated institution? Hardly.

It extends to plenty of non-politically-sensitive areas, too. As a computer scientist with a particular approach to artificial intelligence, there are schools that will not even think of hiring me, for essentially ideological reasons--- they don't adhere to the factions I'm closer to. Should I begin campaigns against their intolerance?
9.15.2009 4:57pm
one of many:
I cannot tell if it is parody or serious. As M.Haetir points out, the comments to the Lilas article (the one's in the same link as the article) show an extreme lack of understanding of conservatism. The second comment:
While I agree that serious study of conservative views is right and proper, the writer of this article forgets that many of the liberal professors, especially the elder ones in authority, grew up fighting racism and sexism and having conservatives constantly in the way. It should not surprise him that so many professors see conservative philosophy as little more than justification for not helping people and have bad memories associated with it. More over, they see conservatives trying to push God into biology class in public schools and have no wish to give Christian conservatives (the bulk of the grass roots Republican Party) any leverage in the Ivory Tower.

and the 4th post includes this nugget:

Having said that, I think that the reason why conservative thought is not taken seriously in academia is because, at least as it's been manifested in the US in the last several decades, it is not a serious philosophy. It has been a means to do away with reason and rationality in order to justify actions that serve the ends of those in power. While it may be useful to study it as a propaganda tool to manipulate public opinion, taking it seriously as an ideology would be a disservice to serious scholarship.


both of which indicate the authors have no idea of what (US) conservatism is about.
9.15.2009 5:00pm
Pro Natura (mail):
In his response to Lilla's article, Alan Wolfe argues that there are in fact conservatives at Columbia and provides as examples the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese and the extremely liberal Stephan Thernstrom. Unfortunately, this kind of unaware self-parody is all too typical of today's professoriat.
9.15.2009 5:16pm
Curious:
I wonder what day jobs the posters at The Volokh Conspiracy have, since as generally right-of-center folks they would apparently be unable to get jobs in academia?
9.15.2009 5:18pm
one of many:
I wouldn't think it that way Pro Natura (and I had noticed Genovese but didn't recognize Thernstrom). The fact that academia (Wolfe) considers these two as conservative exemplars just shows how far distorted to the left academia is. One could read Wolfe's comment to be an admission that these two represent the right-ward bound of political views at Columbia (although I wouldn't). Reminds me of the quip about spanning the political spectrum from Marxists to Maoists.
9.15.2009 5:23pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Guest 14: Ah, youth!
9.15.2009 5:27pm
Seattle Law Student:
[snark]
Shouldn't the study of Right Wing organizations be at the CDC?
[/snark]

I liked that I had conservative professors as an undergrad, and I liked their classes despite their views. I would like to see more of them, because the best way to come to understand your own views is to have them challenged by articulate intelligent opponents.
9.15.2009 5:28pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Pro Natura:

I believe Wolfe notes several scholars as academically conservative; he also makes the explicit point that one might be academically conservative and politically liberal (and v.v., in my experience.)
9.15.2009 5:30pm
Seattle Law Student:
One of Many -


The fact that academia (Wolfe) considers these two as conservative exemplars just shows how far distorted to the left academia is.


Couldn't the argument also be that those on the right (such as yourself, presumably) have so narrowly defined what it means to be a "true" conservative, that virtually everyone is a "liberal."
9.15.2009 5:31pm
ChrisTS (mail):
A number of commenters - both to the original piece and the responses - note that Lilla treats Rand and Hayek as 'conservatives.' And, yet, he chastises unnamed others for not knowing what 'conservatism' means!
9.15.2009 5:31pm
Bama 1L:
the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese

He used to be a Marxist. About ten years ago Genovese decided the Southern Agrarians he was studying were right and became a conservative. His late wife, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, made a similar journey.

the extremely liberal Stephan Thernstrom

Again, what? Doesn't he write for the National Review? I know his wife does.
9.15.2009 5:38pm
Angus:
Genovese and Thernstrom are both very conservative. So too is David Horowitz, who was also a Marxist in the 1960s.

I think Pro Natura is the one engaged in parody.
9.15.2009 5:46pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
Echoing Bama 1L, the politics of Thernstrom and Genovese of today are very, very different than what they were decades ago. See also David Horowitz, who used to be a radical Marxist in his younger days, but later shifted to the hard right.
9.15.2009 5:49pm
one of many:
Couldn't the argument also be that those on the right (such as yourself, presumably) have so narrowly defined what it means to be a "true" conservative, that virtually everyone is a "liberal."

Maybe, I cannot comment on Thernstrom and the other examples, but Genovese is jarring. Genovese may be a conservative these days, as Angus notes, but it doesn't go far in proving that academia is open to diversity when your first example owes his position and reputation to work he did as an avowed Marxist working from a Marxist viewpoint. Unless you wish to point out that Marxism is a "true conservative" viewpoint. Genovese could perhaps be an example for Lilla of the benefits to academia of studying conserativism - an academic who knew all about conservatives until his studies made him actually examine conservationism and realize that he agreed with it.
9.15.2009 5:58pm
Bama 1L:
Genovese does present a good reason to maintain the tenure system!
9.15.2009 7:02pm
Perseus (mail):
the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese
He used to be a Marxist.


Which would make him a classic neoconservative.

A number of commenters - both to the original piece and the responses - note that Lilla treats Rand and Hayek as 'conservatives.' And, yet, he chastises unnamed others for not knowing what 'conservatism' means!

The same applies to Allan Bloom, who was not a conservative, though, by current academic standards, he is regarded as such.

I wonder what day jobs the posters at The Volokh Conspiracy have, since as generally right-of-center folks they would apparently be unable to get jobs in academia?

It is my experience that left-wing academics are far more hostile to conservatives--especially religious conservatives--than libertarians.
9.15.2009 7:16pm
Angus:
It is my experience that left-wing academics are far more hostile to conservatives--especially religious conservatives--than libertarians.
Religious conservatives tend to be extremely hostile to academia and not want to be a part of it at all. So why should their small numbers be surprising? Out of about 300 applications I've read for jobs in the last few years, we only had one person who you could tell was a conservative by his application, since he had been a journalist for conservative publications prior to getting his degree. For 99% of candidates there is nothing to suggest their political leanings, and search committees want it that way.

The notion that there's some purposeful exclusion of conservatives matches none of the reality I've seen at four different universities where I've either been a grad student or taught.
9.15.2009 8:07pm
Pro Natura (mail):
He used to be a Marxist. About ten years ago Genovese decided the Southern Agrarians he was studying were right and became a conservative.
Actually he became something like what in Europe might be called a Christian Democrat. He still blames capitalism for the evils of modern American society.
Doesn't he write for the National Review? I know his wife does.
The Thernstrom's research has led them to abandon one of the shibboleths of contemporary US liberalism -- affirmative action. It's enough to make them anathema to true believers but they're still liberal -- and from my understanding proudly so -- on a whole range of social, economic, and political issues. For heaven's sake, Christopher Hitchens has appeared on NRO. Does that make him a conservative?
9.15.2009 8:10pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
There are prominent conservatives at Columbia, but they are more prominent for their scholarship than for their politics. One example that leaps to mind is Robert Mundell, a Nobel laureate in economics who is often called the godfather of Reaganomics. Another is Glenn Hubbard, the dean of Columbia's business school, who served as chair of G.W. Bush's council of economic advisers and was one of the architects of the Bush tax cuts.
9.15.2009 8:45pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Genovese and Thernstrom count as "conservative" for academic purposes because of their views on affirmative action. That said, it would be nice if it were possible for someone to get tenure at a top university while publicly holding such views, as opposed to voicing them only once tenured.

For heaven's sake, Christopher Hitchens has appeared on NRO. Does that make him a conservative?

Well, of course it does — whenever you want to disagree with him. A "conservative" is anyone who is hawkish and/or anti-abortion and/or pro-tax-cut and/or pro-free-trade and/or anti-gay-marriage and/or pro-Israel and/or [insert despised position here]. Which is how a libertarian hawk like (say) Glenn Reynolds and a populist social conservative like Pat Buchanan are both "conservatives," despite agreeing on nothing much beyond the color of the sky, if that.
9.15.2009 8:45pm
Perseus (mail):
Religious conservatives tend to be extremely hostile to academia and not want to be a part of it at all. So why should their small numbers be surprising?

Perhaps that is due in part to the dismissive attitude of academics like you.

For 99% of candidates there is nothing to suggest their political leanings, and search committees want it that way.

I don't know what field you are in, but there are plenty of clues in the field of political science.
9.15.2009 8:46pm
Guesto12:
I, for one, am glad that I was never taught by a movement or political conservative as the term has been given meaning by what the Republican party has become post-Nixon.

I had several professors who were philosophically conservative in college and had us read Burke, Hayek, Bloom, etc. I would have been angry if any professor had us read Rand or Buckley for a political science course.
9.15.2009 8:47pm
Angus:
Abigail Thernstrom was from 1993-2006 a senior fellow (and is now an adjunct) at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and self-identifies as a "Republican." Stephan Thernstrom is currently a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

I think at some point it is safe to call them conservatives.
9.15.2009 8:48pm
Mark N. (www):
Actually he became something like what in Europe might be called a Christian Democrat. He still blames capitalism for the evils of modern American society.

While that makes him a problematic example of a modern American conservative, I think it'd be odd to exclude market-shy conservatives if we're talking about "the conservative tradition" being represented in academia. Many modern conservatives do, it's true, see themselves more as successors to the 18th-century Enlightenment liberals than counter-Enlightenment conservatives. But the conservative tradition surely includes de Maistre and Friedrich List, conservative nationalist parties, Christian-conservative parties, traditionalist parties, etc. as well, if it's not to be absurdly small.

If anything, Hayek and Rand are the outliers from a conservative-tradition standpoint--- they didn't even purport to fit into it, Hayek positioning himself as reviving classical liberalism, and Rand positioning herself as a sort of clean-slate first-principles philosopher.
9.15.2009 8:49pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Pro Natura wrote:
In his response to Lilla's article, Alan Wolfe argues that there are in fact conservatives at Columbia and provides as examples the Marxist historian Eugene D. Genovese and the extremely liberal Stephan Thernstrom. Unfortunately, this kind of unaware self-parody is all too typical of today's professoriat.
Neither Genovese nor Thernstrom teaches at Columbia. Wolfe doesn't even claim that they do. He does call them conservatives, but he doesn't say that they are Columbia professors.
9.15.2009 8:51pm
AT (mail) (www):
Getting the Thernstroms straight: We both consider our politics a libertarian/conservative mix--with a strong streak of independence. Steve taught at Harvard until he retired, never Columbia, and we were both distinctly on the left early in our careers. For those who are interested in my latest book (Voting Rights--and Wrongs), you might look for my five posts as a V. Conspiracy guest earlier this month. You can also find me on the AEI web site, or both of us at www.thernstrom.com. AT
9.15.2009 9:12pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Angus,

Religious conservatives tend to be extremely hostile to academia and not want to be a part of it at all. So why should their small numbers be surprising?

It's not as though people we'd now call "religious conservatives" occasionally founded academic institutions or anything.
9.15.2009 9:14pm
Bama 1L:
Actually [Genovese] became something like what in Europe might be called a Christian Democrat.

Umm, wherever they exist Christian Democrats are a mainstream center-right party. Crunchy con might be a better comparison.

Of course at the rate things are going Genovese will pop up to label himself.
9.15.2009 9:36pm
frankcross (mail):
There's no doubt that conservatives are relatively few in academia and that they sometimes suffer discrimination. But the data show that there's much more going on here.

The study of professors of natural sciences found conservatives below 10%, I think. Now, the hard sciences are the places where discrimination would be least. In fact, it would seem unlikely that ideology of candidates would be known. It certainly could be hidden. Yet there are still very few conservatives in this field. There's something going on here besides discrimination.
9.15.2009 9:57pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

The diary is fascinating and reassuring, at least about our students. Lyons's class was split almost evenly between liberal and conservative students, who had no trouble arguing with each other. They seemed to understand what thin-skinned professors wish to forget: that intellectual engagement is not for crybabies. The students had loud debates over Reagan's legacy, Bush's foreign policy, religious freedom, abortion, even the "war on Christmas"—and nobody broke into tears or ran to the dean to complain. And the more the students argued, the more they came to respect one another. According to Lyons, students learned that that conservative guy was no longer just the predictable gun nut or religious fanatic. And the conservative students learned that they had to make real arguments, not rely on clichés and sound bites recycled from Fox News.


And indeed, if we were all stuck in a class somewhere together we might be more civil and inclined to agree that there are at least things we agree on. As it is, we get tea party protesters going on about birth certificates and death panels, arguments so absurd they malign themselves.
9.15.2009 9:57pm
Perseus (mail):
But the data show that there's much more going on here.

I'll take that argument more seriously when academics apply it to women and favored racial minorities.
9.15.2009 10:40pm
Randy R. (mail):
If the right wishes to be taken seriously, then it shouldn't be banning the sale of dildos and other sex toys, as it does in Alabama.
9.15.2009 11:25pm
Angus:
It's not as though people we'd now call "religious conservatives" occasionally founded academic institutions or anything.
If you want to argue that religious conservatives of 300 years ago were more intellectual and civilized than religious conservatives of today, you'll get no disagreement from me.
9.15.2009 11:29pm
John Moore (www):

Religious conservatives tend to be extremely hostile to academia and not want to be a part of it at all. So why should their small numbers be surprising?

Nonsense on stilts.

You probably mean young earth fundies, whom you also appear to believe represent "religious conservatives."

It is frightening how frequently the word "religious" or "Christian" is used as if the views of the fringiest represent all. There are lots of religious conservatives who are NOT fundies, and there are lots of fundies who are not anti-intellectual.
9.15.2009 11:34pm
Frater Plotter:
Part of the problem is that "conservatism" is not the name of a single political position or school of thought, or even a coherent, well-connected range thereof. We can talk about "classical liberalism" or "modern liberalism" or "Marxism" or "left anarchism" or "syndicalism" or "Fascism" and agree on what we are talking about: these terms refer to specific notions, doctrines, schools of thought. But "conservatism" does not.

The word "conservatism" does not name a political position. Rather, it is a claim that various people make about their political position. If I say that I am conservative, it means that I ally myself with tradition, established institutions, wisdom of the ages, patriotism, national culture, and accepted social roles and morals. It means that, whatever my policy positions might be, I claim those values as the reasons for those policy positions: that I stand with Burke and Oakeshott not in my beliefs but in my attitude towards my beliefs.

If I say that I am conservative, it doesn't tell you what my policies are -- it tells you how I feel about them.

Socialism has a defined programme: to establish equality through the common ownership of the means of production. Classical liberalism has a programme: to establish freedom and prosperity through a limited state concerned solely with protecting individual rights. Nazism has a programme: to establish a successful and glorious nation through racial and cultural purity, authoritarian leadership, and warlike expansionism. Conservatism has no defined programme.

"Neoconservatism" has a programme. "Christian Reconstructionism" has a programme. "The Republican Party, 2009" has a programme -- and it's different from the one of 2000, or 1980, or 1960. But conservatism has not. It is not a position, but a self-image.

What has this to do with academia? I suggest that the tension between the conservative attitude and academia has little fundamentally to do with their positions -- as reflected by conservatism's lack of a defined position. It has to do, rather, with their self-image. Academia does not think of itself as embracing received wisdom, but questioning it; not respecting established institutions, but subverting and doubting them; not building up the nation against others, but establishing an international community of scholars.

Both, of course, have their hypocrisies. Conservatives frequently support novel and even revolutionary policies (such as those of the "neoconservatives") while claiming to act with tradition and restraint. And academia has a whole corpus of hidebound received wisdom, established institutions, and unquestioning obedience. But it is clear why they are opposed: not for what they are, but for what they long to be.
9.16.2009 1:55am
pdxbob:
Frater Plotter - very well put.

Also, the term conservative is a statement that is relative to the particular country and context. To be conservative in the US means to align yourself with the founding principles of the country - you wish to conserve those princples.

Ref. Hayek's "Why I am not a Conservative".

The terms "conservative" and "liberal" are tiresome and too often indicate lazy stereotyping.
9.16.2009 8:54am
Federal Dog:
"Out of about 300 applications I've read for jobs in the last few years, we only had one person who you could tell was a conservative by his application, since he had been a journalist for conservative publications prior to getting his degree."

It's not as though anyone is suggesting that people enter their political party affiliation somewhere on their vita. Often, however, research interests, professional associations, and publications reveal political leanings.

Most frequently the candidate's political views are disclosed during more informal conversation -- over meals, coffee, drinks, tours, etc. If, during those exchanges, a candidate is cagey about political topics, it's a good bet the person is, in political terms, center or right of center.
9.16.2009 11:11am
LarryA (mail) (www):
My first thought on this is that, if the Berkeley administration named the most liberated male on campus as head of feminist studies, or the most racially sensitive Anglo as head of African or Hispanic studies, these liberal professors who plan to teach students about conservatism would throw a screaming "you have to have experienced the life" hissyfit.

Second, they seem to buy the theory that politics runs from liberal to conservative, ignoring those of us who aren’t anywhere along that scale. As some VC readers do.
9.16.2009 12:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Frater Plotter's points are well put. I would argue that the dichotomy is not "liberal v. conservative" but "progressive v. conservative" and hence post-modernism as a general movement has to include the conservative reaction to the ideals of social progress. Modernism leads to progressive views. Rejection of modernism and a desire to move beyond that often can and does result on conservative views. Therefore, broadly categorized, conservative thought is postmodernist at its core.

Also the fact is that it is quite easy to be conservative and be pro-choice. It is the status quo that abortion is Contitutionally protected and has been for a few decades. Seeking to overturn that doesn't strike me as very conservative (Federalist? Yes, but Conservative? No).

A second point that needs to be understood though regarding Fr. Plotter's points is that being conservative doesn't tell you what traditions you align yourself with. Siding with "tradition" is great because there are so many to choose from! Personally, I choose the Old Norse traditions....

Simply put, conservatism is a methodology, not an ideology. My 4 points towards a new conservatism are:

1) Value stability in the status quo
2) Incremental change beats overhaul
3) Change should be directed according to past working models
4) Make changes only after determining that they are necessary.

No president has ever been conservatve. They want a legacy and you can't have that if you try to keep things the way they are!
9.16.2009 3:26pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Frate Plotter:
I claim those values as the reasons for those policy positions: that I stand with Burke and Oakeshott not in my beliefs but in my attitude towards my beliefs.

I think this is quite good. Unfortunately, as I try to help my students understand various political perspectives, they can be quite quick to dismiss conservatism[s] as 'attitude.' The fact that they do not like the attitude (tradionalist, cautious, etc) makes sense for young people, but only makes it harder to get them to seriously engage with conservative thinkers. And, let's face it, de Maistre and Burke don't help. :-)

This past summer, as I was trying to broaden my 'conservatisms' readings for a course, I came across an article by, I think, Quinton in which he laid out the 'tenets' of conservatism. They were SO narrowing that I finally just wrote 'contemporary British' next to the title, "Conservatism."
9.16.2009 7:10pm
John Moore (www):

Simply put, conservatism is a methodology, not an ideology. My 4 points towards a new conservatism are:

That is not descriptive of American conservatism. Giving value to the past is only one part of the ideology (or methodology). Limited government (how limited varies all over the place) is another. Individual responsiblity is a major theme. There are others. To focus merely on the word "conserve" is to have to narrow a view.
9.17.2009 1:00am
yankee (mail):
To be conservative in the US means to align yourself with the founding principles of the country - you wish to conserve those princples.

Only if you come up with a very creative reinterpretation of history. Devotion to the unregulated free market was not a founding principle of this country, inasmuch as the concept of the free market barely even existed. I don't think endless tax cuts, torture, and wars of choice in far-off lands (which are what conservatism seems to stand for these days) were founding principles of this country either.

Not that modern liberalism is about aligning yourself with the founding principles of this country either. Modern ideologies are different from those that existed over 200 years ago.
9.17.2009 11:17am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
John Moore:

That is not descriptive of American conservatism. Giving value to the past is only one part of the ideology (or methodology). Limited government (how limited varies all over the place) is another. Individual responsiblity is a major theme. There are others. To focus merely on the word "conserve" is to have to narrow a view.


But even some of this still follows to SOME extent. The problem though is that people tend to see "conservatism" as a political agenda and ideology. I am saying it is quite possible be "conservative" while disposing with a lot of the agenda and departing on key elements of the ideology.

In general, though, progressive vs conservative dynamics will tend to manifest some of the patterns you point out. For example, conservatives are more likely to favor nationalism than internationalism just because internationalist approaches are newfangled and disruptive. At the same time, progressives tend to (generally) favor internationalist approaches because of faith in human progress to get everyone to Utopia.

Also, conservatives are more likely to emphasize autochonous systems which are outside centralized control while progressives will emphasize pubic-sector work because it can be neatly planned and engineered. In the past, with the exception of a few very progressive times in human history (Imperial Rome comes to mind), even the most totalitarian governments were less involved in people's lives than our government is today.

In short, I see conservatism at its core as being:
1) Distrustful of innovation
2) Distrustful of our ability to re-engineer society.

Progressive views tend to embrace innovation and use it to re-engineer our society with the idea we can make things better.

A good example of these patterns manifests in the current health care reform discussion. Progressives in the house want to rip out the large autochthonous system which has worked well enough up through the present and replace it with a brand new, shining government program. We are of course assured that this new, innovative approach will function correctly the first time and that there are no hidden nasty surprises in the 1300 page bill.

Conservatives, on the other hand, think this is ludicrous-- that there is no way that drastic changes to health insurance laws will create an immediate positive effect that will outweigh the disturbance caused by the changes and that Congress isn't even willing to eat their own dogfood before pushing it out to the rest of us.

Who is right? Well, I certainly think the Conservatives are.

However while I am methodologically conservative, I take this a step further. I reject internationalist religions such as Christianity or Islam and think we should focus on returning to more regionalist pagan traditions. However, this means I don't buy into the Christianist/Pro-Life/Social Conservative agenda because I look deeper for the roots of my approach.
9.17.2009 1:38pm
John Moore (www):

In short, I see conservatism at its core as being:
1) Distrustful of innovation
2) Distrustful of our ability to re-engineer society.

Part 2 is correct.

#1 is very, very wrong. Conservatives love innovation. They are distrustful of innovation which does #2. The conservative objection to Obamacare is more ideological than you present. Obamacase is seen as not only reengineering society, but also increasing the size and reach of government. Both of these are ideological, as opposed to simply methodological. That conservatives also think it won't work derives from the ideology, which abhors large government directly. Obviously the ideology itself is based on generalizations of methods and their outcomes.

As for Christianity, in particular, it is a major part of the history of conservatism, and as such is not seen as "internationalist" but simply "ours." That Christianity claims to be a universal religion does not put it in conflict with conservative ideology.
9.18.2009 10:27pm

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