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View Diary: The lost conservative (really) (74 comments)

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  •  Great diary and it brings up a crucial point... (4+ / 0-)

    It is impossible to have a real discussion with someone without defining complex concepts such as liberalism, conservatism, facism, socialism and all of the rest of the "isms".

    I disagree with several of your definitions because that is not how I understand them.  However, I am perfectly willing to accept your definitions for the purpose of a conversation.  I think your definitions are fascinating actually, and we could have a great discussion now that we are both using words we both understand to mean the same thing.  The point is, we have to know what the other person means when they use these words.

    My understanding of conservatism is using the simplist solution  that utilizes the fewest resources to solve every problem.  If I own a farm and I need a truck to pull my trailer to haul my horses to and from whatever destinations, a conservative would by the most reliable truck that could pull the load and that is it.  He would not care about a fancy paint job or heated seats or electric windows.  Just what he needs and nothing more.  This same mentality is supposed to be used in government as well.  Nothing more than what we need.  Now that doesn't mean the farmer is going to buy the cheapest truck out there just to save a nickel.  A true conservative would study the quality ratings and find out what will save him money in the long run.  Long term quality over instant savings of cheap products every time.  A conservative is supposed to be about trust built slowly but once built, sturdy and long lasting.

    I do not see this type of consevative in politics anymore.  The people who claim to be conservative want to spend liberally on their pet projects (such as defense or corporate incentives) and want the cheapest way to pay for everything else despite what it costs in the long run.  

    I have always seen liberals as people who believe that any problem can be solved if you throw enough money at it.  Liberals believe that if there is a problem with education, spend more liberally and it will get fixed.  If we have a problem with hunger, spend more money and we can fix it.  This is the image that Republicans have fostered so well in the minds of conservatives.  This is the image that real conservatives hate.

    The problem here is that there is some truth to this.  However, over the last thirty years, the republican party (with the help of a lot of democrats) has starved all of the programs that actually help communities and the general public in general that everything is under funded and actually does need money and therefore money is a big part of the problem.  If all of these programs were reformed, we probably could be successful at the current spending levels but that would involve taking a lot of profit out of the system (medicare drug pricing, universal health care, fair mineral mining leases, etc...) and no politician is fighting too hard for that.

    We can have a discussion using your definitions, my definitions or somebody else's but we have to know if we are talking about the same thing or not.  I believe too many people argue when the really believe, pretty much,  the same thing except they think each are refering to their definition and that distinction changes the whole point of their argument.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 07:15:13 PM PDT

    •  unfortunately (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkor7, Clues, Tom Anderson

      your definitions are only your opinions, while the author's definitions are based in solid historical reality.
      All you've said is that you think "Conservative" = solid American, and "Liberal" = wasteful spendthrift.

      You would do well to do a little historical research and find out where the words come from. Words have meaning based on past use. You can define any word any way you want, but that doesn't mean you'll have a useful conversation.
      If I define "blue" as light with a wavelength around 475 nanometers, and you define blue as light with a wavelength around 650 nanometers, then we're not going to get very far. And you'll have difficulty because everyone else defines light with a 650 nanometer wavelength as "red."
      Words have meanings.

      •  Unfortunately, words are merely... (4+ / 0-)

        specific sounds that convey an idea.  The idea is completely opinion no matter how well researched it is.  Words evolve and the etymology of the word is completely useless if the other member of the conversation has a different understanding of the word.

        The word facism was coined by Benito Mussolini.  The word is derived from the italian word "fasces" meaning to bundle.  Mussolini said it was the bundling of corporate and government interests.  This philosophy was celebrated here in the United States by many business leaders and there was a strong push both publicly (until Mussolini was later reviled) and subversively.  It was only World War Two that turned the word into a synonym for treacherous government of undisclosed exact meaning culminating with George Bush's use of "Islamofascist" completely obfuscating the word once and for all.

        The point is that it does not matter what the word really means or what it was intended to mean.  In any conversation, it is only important what each of the participants "think" it means.  As long as the participants agree that a chair is a four legged animal with long ears and whiskers that is portrayed as bringing colored eggs to children on Easter, then the conversation can continue with complete clarity.  If one person envisions a furry rabbit and the other envisions a 1974 import economy car then the conversation can never result in an agreement or resolution of any kind.

        Words have meanings but not necessarily the same meanings to different people.  We cannot assume that the same words mean the same things to all participants of the conversation.  If the words have any complexity at all, more often than not, you will be wrong if you do not clarify.

        And by the way, I live in a very conservative town in Kentucky and I guarantee you that my definition of conservative and liberal is more in line to what everyone in this town believes than the diarist's definition.  When it is used here, you may intend for it to mean one thing and they will interpret it in a completely different way.  At that point, each party will walk away think the other guy was an idiot.  It doesn't matter what you think the word means, it only matters what your audience thinks it means.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 09:04:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  From Ludwig Wittgenstein: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell, The Geogre

          "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

        •  Oddly enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Buckeye Nut Schell

          your comment says exactly the same thing that mine does: words mean what people on both sides of the conversations agree they mean.

          From the so-called conservative side of the debate in the US these days, so many words that once actually had useful meanings all now just mean "bad." When a "conservative" says liberal or fascist or nazi (or muslim, for that matter) he usually just means "bad." If that's the case, then why not just say "bad" and give up on polysyllabic language altogether?

      •  Also, I should add... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tom Anderson, ScienceMom
        All you've said is that you think "Conservative" = solid American, and "Liberal" = wasteful spendthrift.
        My point was that those words have different meanings to different people.  I have never hid the fact that I consider myself a conservative (and I have been on this site for over six years) and I refuse to stop calling myself a conservative simply because Republicans and Tea partiers have hijacked the meaning.  Even by the diarist's definition, I lean conservative because I am skeptical and believe in looking before I leap.  I believe in slow, gradual changes in the correct direction towards helping my fellow citizens and investing wisely in the future.
         But if I were to say to you, "I am a conservative", what would you think?  You may think that I vote Republican, want to give millionaires tax breaks and regulate women's bodies.  How does any of that correspond to the word "conservative" in any etymology or dictionary definition?  It is important for you to understand what I think it means and it is important for me to understand what you think it means.  You may consider yourself a conservative by my definition and I may consider myself a liberal by yours.  Understanding and agreement on the meanings of words matter, not just words themselves.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 09:22:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You've defined these words (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      solely in the context of money, which leaves out any discussion of philosophies or principles pertaining to anything else.  These are not solely economic terms. I find that a little odd.  If you're going to define the terms so narrowly, I'd posit that defining them around attitudes toward people rather than money is more depictive.

      Or perhaps in the shorter version, it's accurate to say that today's conservatives define themselves around money, while today's liberals define themselves around people.

      •  My point is... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that it doesn't matter how I or anyone else defines the words.  It doesn't matter who is right or wrong.  What matters is that if you and I have a conversation, we both should have a firm understanding of what the other person believes those words mean and do not just assume.

        Words like freedom and fascism and capitalism mean different things to different people.  Experts not only argue about their true definitions, many of them purposely try to obfuscate them to either label the "other" side in a more negative way or to create a more positive image for a word already in use by their side.

        For example, the word entitlement used to mean that you earned it, it's yours, you are entitled to it but now it means it is a handout that you "believe" you deserve without earning it.  Almost the exact opposite.  It is important to know what the speaker means when they say it.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 04:36:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect operative vs. historical (5+ / 0-)

      I don't know, of course, but your definitions sound operative -- as if they have come from the ways the words have been used, especially since 1980 -- granting good will to the speakers. In other words, you are speaking of the words as they have come to be employed.

      As you say, that is fine, but it becomes a different discussion.

      Specifically, it allows capital to be the axis along which we decide social policy. I cannot say that that is the wrong basis, but it is a particular one. One commentator said, once (can't remember to attribute properly) that it makes us a government by Wal-Mart shoppers (or perhaps it was long enough ago that it was K-Mart shoppers). Do we decide on "right and wrong" or "right and expensive?"

      Do we ask for efficiency or effectiveness or total cost or moral or ethical outcomes? Each is a possible basis, of course, and we have to watch out when folks switch up on us, when, in the middle of a discussion about the right thing, someone says, "But it's expensive" or "But it's wasteful." Those are legitimate, but separate, discussions.

      It's maximally efficient to exile the terminally ill, but it is morally reprehensible. It is most efficient to have breeding programs for people, but it is ethically and morally unacceptable. I think each politician scores points by pushing a single access, if it's advantageous, and clouding the issue by switching, if that's advantageous, and those who represent profits have had the stage too long.

      Everyone is innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 06:15:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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