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I was infuriated reading David Brooks' column today in the NYT.  According to Brooks', "life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base".  Allow me to paraphrase: "You are infants, and we will make sure we keep you away from power so you don't get hurt."

Conservatives have been infantilizing for as long as power has existed.  But Brooks is somehow more irritating and corrosive than even Burke.  Burke was obviously a member of an upper class that was truly blind to the world.  He grew up in privilege, and the lens through which he saw the world was abject fear of chaos and disorder.  No society for more than 1,000 years had survived without a monarch or similar, so his support for aristocracy had the same legitimacy as support for Newtonian physics until Quantum physics came alone - rigid power structures around religion and class did seem to promise more stability than constant tribal and small-state warfare.

But Brooks, this is the 21st century.  We have the French and American revolutions, the emergence of democratic Europe from Fascism, the Internet, and countless other examples that prove that while the rule of law is essential for the prosperity and happiness, rigid societal order is not.  You know better, but you promote worse.

Before we knew that men and women could prosper in liberal democracy, Conservatism was a legitimate theory - neither proven nor disproven.  At this point, its predictive ability as a model is false, and like any theory that fails to predict real-world behavior, it must be abandoned.

More below.

Frankly, I think that Brooks' conservatism is as deep as market testing.  He started with BOBOs then moved to Kansas.  During his spiritual pilgrimage to the heartland of America he had a revelation like Paul of Tarsus - "Hey! Middle America is a much better market!  They want someone who seems smart to tell them they are right and the West Coast is a bunch of superior you know whats"

But as he criticizes Conservatism in his editorial, he intellectual fatuousness just folds over on itself, lie over self-deception over delusion.  For example, in his "two branches of conservatism" argument, he claims one branch:

Because they were conservative, they tended to believe that power should be devolved down to the lower levels of this chain. They believed that people should lead disciplined, orderly lives, but doubted that individuals have the ability to do this alone, unaided by social custom and by God. So they were intensely interested in creating the sort of social, economic and political order that would encourage people to work hard, finish school and postpone childbearing until marriage.
Lets try to parse this - exactly who is it in the conservative party that believes "power should be devolved" to a lower level?  Does he read what he is writing?  Conservatives may believe that power is in patriarchy, because they need a father-figure.  But the root of Conservatism is power - the Calvinist "chosen" - not in devolution.  If a person cannot lead an orderly life alone, and requires social, economic, and political order, how is that devolution?

David, my sweet, sweet friend, read what you are writing.  You cannot claim that you believe power needs to be devolved to the individual if you also believe that the individual needs a suffocating matrix of rules.  Who, pray tell, writes and enforces these rules?  What if the power, once devolved, becomes self-aware and realizes that the social structures like aristocracy and plutocracy, are actually parasites?

There is a place for structure and order, and Lord knows our primitive brains crave it, but it is an element of society, it is not society.   Burke was honest - he just believed that everything should be in a rigid structure - a tree that grows for 100s of years with light pruning.  Everyone knowing their place.  He was wrong, but at least he was honest.  David, you are in a position to actually read and understand modern history.  Unlike Burke, you do not have to fear chaos when everyone is given the vote, because you can see that greater suffrage tends to lead to better outcomes.  You do not have to yearn for the stolid hand of a father-figure, because you can see how children have created some of the most transformative technologies and young people have driven profound cultural change.

Conservatism isn't failing because of conflict with two branches of conservatism.  Conservatism is failing because it can no longer contain its own contradictions.  Like newtonian physics in a quantum world or a medieval cosmology in the age of the Hubble, its model has to face that what it imagined (and what it feared) as true was simply wrong, and the contortions required to keep it on life support are tortured, contradictory, primitive and wrong.

Originally posted to madmadmad on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Brooks is morally bankrupt. (26+ / 0-)

    I typically skip right to the comments sorted by reader picks whenever I pop onto his latest patronizing attempt at explaining how good hearted conservatives are the true soul of the Republican party.

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by progressivist on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:17:43 AM PDT

    •  Creepy (14+ / 0-)

      Why do the one's that really buy in (Bachman, Reed, Mitt, Harris...) seem to get this creepy, Stepford vibe about them? It truly seems like they actually had to hand over their sole to the devil when they signed the deal with him, and not even wait until death.

    •  I rarely if ever give his shit column a page-view (6+ / 0-)

      I figure if enough people stop reading his crap, the NYT will stop publishing it, and he will disappear.  I REALLY DON'T CARE WHERE TO.

    •  Aristocracy has always tried to justify itself, (7+ / 0-)

      either by divine right or 'the better man' argument.  That is just what it does.  People fall for it because there is a mind-numbing comfort to the thought that there is a god or a 'better man' taking care of things in the background while you zone out to dancing with the stars.

      The funny thing is - when people come face-to-face with 'the better man', they are often repulsed.

      and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

      by ban48 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 05:09:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  People who are stuck in the parent child stage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of their psychological development are easily manipulated by the imposition of this relational structure. Both the better man and divine right structure put a father figure at the head of the table. To the child living in an adult personality that father figure seems to be part of the born condition of their living, a given without which the child could not survive. All else flows from that relational presumption which remains largely unconscious.

        In my adolescent phase of development I pushed hard against my inner need to find a parent figure to structure my world, looked like rebellion. In my later adult years I kept growing and no longer need rebellion to distance myself from my dependency needs. It feels good to be free of vulnerability to responding in either a child or adolescent way when someone goes all parental on me. If the person attempting to impose themselves as the great parent persists I just stay adult and straighten them out. Sometimes they can't adjust, sometimes they drop it and we have a better adult relationship.

        As a person passes through these stages of development they become progressively immune to parent/child relational appeals. Conservative social structure installs the parent figure and reinforces the continued child relation model for the dependents.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:00:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well said, and good money quote: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Guyer, existential warrior
          It feels good to be free of vulnerability to responding in either a child or adolescent way when someone goes all parental on me
          Conservatism seems to appeal most to the adult-child looking for god or 'the better man' to keep things straight, and those wealthy enough to not give a damn about the effects of conservative policies....

          ... and Brooks is an a%^&*@#....

          and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

          by ban48 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:34:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  PS - once you become aware of this it is much (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Guyer, greengemini

          easier to spot and easier to understand conservative arguments.  They abhor the 'nanny state' because it decreases dependance on 'the better man'.  They are pro-religion because it increases dependance.  Even sabotaging government from the inside is fair-game for them.  Maintaining the aristocracy is a deep-core of their politics.

               They also give it away in their insults:  remember references to Obama as the messiah?  It is a simple projection of their world-view of the necessary father-figure onto others.  They are always oddly accusing liberals of wanting to 'tell everyone what to do and what to think' because that is what they do (and they think we want their jobs!).  They do not understand not having a big-daddy so they assume substitution.

          and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

          by ban48 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:03:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The projection is almost comical (0+ / 0-)

            once you start to see what they are doing and saying. They are deathly afraid that their self installation of a father figure in their marketing will be usurped. But they can't really admit that consciously because it would damage the, its just that way, always has been, pull on the parent child setup. If the top position can be switched around, well then it starts to seem arbitrary and more like we are all on the same playing field. Its pathetic, dangerous and funny all at the same time once you move beyond the gravitational trap of the parent child imprint on human relations.

            The parent child relationship is important but as people grow they move into a different relational stance relative to other adults and even their own parents. So I am not opposed to this real human process, just its abuse in the social order to benefit those at the self appointed top of that structure.

            Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

            by Bob Guyer on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 08:43:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh, yeah, it is completely natural, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bob Guyer

              you just need to outgrow it sooner or later.  i don't think I outgrew it until my mid-20s, and even then it was gradual.

              We even have a monicker for it in the workplace -  the Dorothy Syndrome:  New hires come in and are shocked shocked shocked when they discover the workplace is more of organized chaos with people mostly making it up as they go along and that there isn't a wizard keeping things in order.  People get shocked shocked shocked when you don't have all the answers.  Of course, I'm in a technology field, so if you have all the answers then by definition all you are doing is rehashing old sh&t, which is what a lot of companies devolve into when the Dorothy's take over...

              and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

              by ban48 on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:10:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I just wait (0+ / 0-)

      for Charlie Pierce to skewer him.  

      If the Republicans ever find out that Barack Obama favors respiration, we'll be a one-party system inside two minutes. - Alan Lewis

      by MadRuth on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:35:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To devolve is to pass or transfer (6+ / 0-)

    something to someone: one of the word's several meanings. So what I see Brooks saying here is that the branch of conservatism arguing for using laws and social conventions to promote individual self-discipline was also rewarding the "best" of these "lesser" individuals with access to power based on their performance.

    This view of "trickle-down power" is, of course, counter to the grassroots power created by the masses during revolutions and protests.  But Brooks' use of "devolved" is consistent with his view of conservatism.

    No one elected Grover Norquist anything. If everyone ignored him, he would dry up and blow away.

    by vahana on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:31:47 AM PDT

    •  Delegated (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann, hannah, greengemini

      I am not certain that I agree.  Devolved is a form of "delegation" and as such, the polar opposite of "agency".  In many ways, that is the core difference (as you state): Does power "devolve" upward through agency to delegated leaders or downward through authority to delegated actors.

      However, it is his use of "power" that I have issue with, not "devolve".  Conservatives don't devolve power, they devolve responsibility.  Power comes from setting the rules and hierarchies, responsibility means leading your life according to those rules.

      We say "socialize risk, privatize profit" here about conservatives, but the other formulation is "consolidate power, distribute responsibility" -

      •  Words have meaning. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CanisMaximus, greengemini

        The use of "de" demands (!) something happening from larger to smaller, from top to bottom. From the Latin, a prefix usually meaning "down", "off", "away", or "down from", and used in English for the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action. Not a lot of positive influence there. The very notion that something would '"devolve" upward' does not track well.

        Still, I do like your transition of Brooks' theme from the devolution of power to appreciate the relationship of power and responsibility. The severance of the two, especially in your comparative with schemes of risk and profit, is something worth attention. And the conflations of consolidate/privatize, and distribute/socialize, are going into my list of explanatory tools.

        The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

        by semiAdult on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 05:54:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was thinking the very same thing... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          My dad, the Editor, would have thrown this piece of crap (along with almost everything written in the past twenty years or so) right back to Brooks and would tell him to submit it when he learns English and stops making up words.

          "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

          by CanisMaximus on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:42:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Conservative "intellectuals" like Brooks (30+ / 0-)

    are idolized by the right because of their ability to put words together into complete sentences that seem to make sense. But the appearance has to be deceptive because, as you say, the entire fear-based structure of conservatism has crumbled away since the US decided to go the route of rational self-government. After a couple of centuries, there is not a conservative assumption left standing that hasn't failed the tests of the real world.

    Unfortunately, intellectual incoherence and real-world failure don't seem to have much hold on the irrational souls of many human beings. Hence the pseudo-intellectual blather of Brooks combines with the anti-rational self-delusion of profoundly fearful and selfish people to keep the backward notions of conservatism alive as a political force. It's sad, really, how long it takes for the Good to take hold of humanity.

    I think Washington said somewhere that one of the great disadvantages of democracy is that the people on the whole cannot think their way to what is right; they have to feel their way. And that is why change takes so painfully long.

    But sometimes we cannot afford to wait for change. Martin Luther King makes that case in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. A century after the Civil War, his white ministerial colleagues were still telling him that the civil rights movement needs to go slowly! There comes a time when you just have to realize that people are not going to change no matter how slow you go. Once that is clear, you just have to force the change and leave the obstructionists to deal with it.

    That is what FDR did. Three quarters of a century later, the obstructionists are still trying to undo the change he forced on them, and it's starting to look like the past thirty years of conservative counterrevolution is coming to an ignominious close. This election, together with intractable demographic shifts, may well mark the end of conservative power in America. If conservatism can be relegated to the wilderness once again, there to die the death that reason demands, the progress toward human justice, dignity, and happiness begun by the American Framers may finally begin to flourish.

    Great diary!

  •  Teh Stoopid, It Burns! (17+ / 0-)
    This kind of conservative cherishes custom, believing that the individual is foolish but the species is wise.
    Can anyone who has spent so much a single day in human society with open eyes not recognize that the truth is the exact reverse?
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
    --K, Men In Black

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:43:48 AM PDT

  •  Brooks et al. (7+ / 0-)

    (note this is partially a rewrite of a comment in an open thread - it may qualify as spamming but, like most comments, it was (justifiably) ignored so ...)

    Brooks knows the current game is up and he is looking to start building a "conservative" movement that now exists only in his mind. His Burkisms, even by his definition, have nothing what so ever to do with the current Republican party. That Brooks can't stop playing orator for his team is indicated, for instance, by not using the phrase "rampant epic corruption" while discussing his so called "fiscal conservatives" and giving St Reagan a pass on any real analysis.

    Douthat in a recent column made an interesting point:

    "The state of life inside the Beltway also points to the broader story of our spending problem, which has less to do with how much we spend on the poor than how much we lavish on subsidies for highly inefficient economic sectors, from health care to higher education, and on entitlements for people who aren’t supposed to need a safety net — affluent retirees, well-heeled homeowners, agribusiness owners, and so on."
    Now that makes a little sense, though he's way too savvy to mention the DOD and has to take aim at student loans, but what today's Republican Party has to do with this sentiment approaches zero. And there is a cluelessness in wondering why Romney isn't running a campaign based on this imaginary party. It is partially denial - see St. Reagan and the shining city on a hill - and partially pure team player.

    As to your above take down of Burke: I think you have good points but I also think that Burkism has something to add to a discussion of how to move forward. This conversation should be had with conservatives later - sort of like how we could talk politics with the Germans in 1946 (please excuse the semi-Godwin) because we'd rolled tanks over them. The current Republicans, and the above mentioned cheerleaders who already see total defeat looming, must be absolutely crushed first as the excesses of our side are miniscule compared to the excesses of their ideology. But once a centrist / center left coalition is firmly in power ...

    I'd go into more detail but there's an election on so let's run up the score now and deal with longer term stuff starting, say, Nov 10.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:53:21 AM PDT

  •  I don't agree (5+ / 0-)

    I liked the editorial.  Your paraphrase, ""You are infants, and we will make sure we keep you away from power so you don't get hurt." is so off the mark.

    I think he was trying to say that if you're secure w/ a job and basic needs you can try to accomplish more.

    •  Fair enough (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scarvegas, ChemBob, greengemini

      The core of Conservatism is infantilism.  There are rules (morals, codes of conduct, ethics, family structures) and they are not to be questioned.

      If you have actually raised a child, you will recognize this when you say, "That is how it is" or "We know better".

      But any good parent pushes their kids out of the nest, encourages risk, and forces the kids to make their own decisions.  That is what makes you an adult.  Great parents understand that their kids will be growing up in a world that is different than theirs, so they try to show what worked for them, but don't presume that it is a rulebook for the future.

      Brooks, like many conservatives, presumes that he knows what creates safety and stability, and like many conservatives, he is often very, very wrong.

      •  If you have raised a child... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight, ConfusedSkyes, duhban, mll

        Yes, I have.

        I don't agree w/ your interpretation.  It was written for fellow conservatives.  You're adding a lot of innuendo.

      •  Diversity is a wonderful thing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight, ConfusedSkyes, duhban

        Two people can read the same simple sentence and come up with radically differing views.

        I would like to paraphrase your third paragraph above about the parent pushing their kids out of the nest.... Life is best organized as a series of daring adventures from a secure base.

        I would also add that (insert political philosopher name here) thought he knew what creates safety and stability and like many before him he was often very, very wrong.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 03:50:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Did you even read the editorial? (8+ / 0-)

      Brooks has invented out of whole cloth an imaginary brand of "conservative" that better matches his country club faux-liberalism than today's batshit insane Republican party. Hence his bogus dichotomy between imaginary "economic conservatives" who are far more virtuous and principled than any of the corporate vampires we known and loathe, and even more virtuous social conservative burghers who conveniently happen to believe exactly what Brooks believes, but are as common as unicorns. The invisible pink ones. All while ignoring the screaming, foaming-at-the-mouth racist and theocratic maniacs who are today's mainstream conservatives.

    •  David Brooks is a Republican apologist, always (6+ / 0-)

      making excuses or trying to obfuscate the reality of the Republican party and conservatives in general.

      For one thing, a lot of "Catholic social teaching" (while admittedly "conservative" in wanting to preserve traditions) was extremely liberal in caring for the poor, the weak, advocating job protections, unions, etc.

      So, 1) there's a lie.

      I'm very familiar with the idiot Rod Dreher who professed shock that a member of his church - HIS OWN CHURCH - would actually need food stamps and government assistance.  He's a tool and a fool.  A convert to Catholicism and conservatism spurred by his utter terror of 9/11.  (we used to exchange emails, many many emails, discussing his positions in the local newspaper).

      So, 2) there's a phony source and a poor appeal to authority.

      Then, 3) Brooks infantilizes all of society with:

      a truth that was put into words by the child psychologist John Bowlby, that life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.
       emphasis added

      Really? And where do adults find a "secure base" as the ownership society demolishes all institutions which supported the middle class, privatizing and profitizing all functions?

      "families are intact" is code word for "no gay marriage, no interracial marriage, no gay adoption, etc."  Or do you think he advocates the abolition of divorce?

      "Traditional conservatives" are not at all in retreat.  You can see it today in every utterance in the Republican leadership.   Brooks wants us to believe that present-day conservatives are all about shrinking government.  Really?

      Then why does state after state pass abortion restrictions?  Where are the attacks on gay marriage coming from?  What is all this mess about limiting CONTRACEPTIVES?  

      Today, as always, "conservatives" believe they know what is best for everyone else and we should shut up and take it.  That is such bullshit.

      You know what "Republicans" are who advocate these things that he pretends "conservatives" care about:

      There are few people on the conservative side who’d be willing to raise taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class. There are very few willing to use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods, even when 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. There are very few Republicans who protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels.

      He creates an entire mythology about "republicans" and "conservatives" and tries to sell it along with his flat earth theory of economics.  Really, it is just utter garbage.

      The people who created the New Deal and the Great Society and cared about

      parents, neighbors and citizens.
      were DEMOCRATS.  

      Republicans have fought that all the way.  Again, he lies to hide the conservative agenda and to attribute false motives.  

      Republicans haven't given a hoot about "parents, neighbors and citizens" since Eisenhower and he was an isolated example.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FWIW (4+ / 0-)
        Then, 3) Brooks infantilizes all of society with:

            a truth that was put into words by the child psychologist John Bowlby, that life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.

         emphasis added

        That quote does not infantilize anyone. Bowlby, in case you don't know his work, is a founder of attachment theory, a branch of social psychology that began with the study of the bond between mothers and infants but has been extended to adult relationships, and is now central to psychologists' understanding of romantic relationships and other close relationships among adults. Attachment theory defined attachment relationships (roughly: love, whether parental, romantic, or other) as involving: (1) "proximity seeking" (basically, wanting to be with the loved one, and feeling loneliness and distress when separated); (2) "safe haven" (you turn to them for support and comfort when you are hurt): and (3) "secure base," (providing support and encouragement for exploration and personal growth). This applies to children and adults.

        This is what Brooks is referencing by citing Bowlby in the column. (He know this literature, and writes a bit about attachment theory in The Social Animal.)

        So, understood in the proper context, the reference to secure base, which is a fundamental aspect of all adult romantic relationships is not infantilizing.

        •  Yes, I am aware of attachment theory (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greengemini, YucatanMan

          And I appreciate your comment because it highlights one of the most profound flaws of Conservative belief: That the family is a metaphor or model for society.

          Attachment parenting addresses relationships between caregivers and dependents and the long-term impact of high and low attachment on adults and their ability to function properly in society.

          But my point in using infantilization was to highlight that society is not a family, and though it seems useful to apply interpersonal concepts to societal structures, it is almost always wrong.  Society and government are not our parents, and Bowlby researched parenting, not political science.  For thousands of years very smart folks made the fundamental error of seeing government as an analogue of parenting - the ruler as the great father and the subjects as their sometimes unruly charges.  Applying attachment parenting to governmental responsibility and structure is no less irresponsible.

          Leave Bowlby out of it - his lack of research on government makes him only useful as a metaphor, not as a political guide.  And find a better, economic basis for what is a very important role of government: to create an environment that protects the rights of its people to self-determination and promotes the greatest general happiness.

          •  Yes, I agree. Brooks is saying that people should (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            have a series of adventures from a secure place - that secure place being the traditional family unit and all the baggage that comes with it, utterly ignoring the fact that millions upon millions of people have never experienced "the traditional family unit" and that day is long gone.

            Instead, "a secure place" should be an entire national system by which it should impossible to be stranded without: 1) housing of some type; 2) food of sufficient nutrition to live; and 3) health care not tied to employment or wealth.

            That would be a truly "secure place" where adults could undertake all sorts of adventures and risky business ventures in the pursuit of full realization.  Interestingly enough, that's pretty much the "secure place" IN place in all other industrialized nations.

            And it is a liberal value, NOT a conservative value.  

            Conservatives today despise people being fully independent and acting with free will. They'd prefer that they be tied up in social constructs of the past and that social controls be enforced by the state.  They want an infantilized society in the sense that they do not trust people to chose who to love, what to do about unexpected pregnancy, which plants they wish to consume, etc, etc, etc.  

            While liberals want to set up equal economic opportunity, conservatives want to control personal private decisions in very blunt governmental ways.

            As much as conservatives decry the nanny state, that's exactly what they push onto society through social controls.

            "attachment parenting" has no place in government services theory or economics.

            society is not a family, and though it seems useful to apply interpersonal concepts to societal structures, it is almost always wrong
            This is the same error conservatives make with economics:  they believe that what is advisable for the individual is the best course for society as a whole.

            So, if every individual saves to the max, then everyone including govt structures should do likewise.  The problem, unveiled in every Econ 101 class, is that when everyone saves as much as humanly possible, the entire economy grinds to a halt.

            The individual model does not apply to society as a whole.  This could be illustrated further with discussions of 'the commons' etc, but the basic fact is that attachment parenting is not any kind of respectable model for governmental policy.

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 10:56:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Second response: read this: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milkbone, Pandoras Box

      Our Mr. Brooks Picks His Own Private History.

      courtesy of Milkbone's comment below.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:57:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I like this Brooks' column; Dems can gain from it. (10+ / 0-)

      I agree with primrose and skymutt: I like this particular column by David Brooks, for once. I found it good, thoughtful and revealing. Many parts of this Diary and many of the Comments mischaracterize what Brooks wrote, and heap fury on things he did not write. Disagreeing with every word that conservatives say is juvenile and counterproductive not only to electing progressive Democrats, but to the country as a whole.  

      Among other things, Brooks presents a perfect 'wedge' for Democrats to exploit, to divide-and-conquer the GOP. It pits what Brooks calls 'traditional conservatives' vs. what he calls 'economic conservatives.' (I'd call the latter "laissez-faire conservatives," or Austrian-school, or 'free-market ideologues', or Ayn Randians, or even libertarians.) It puts many of what he sees as forces of 'good' on the side of the 'traditionalists,' against the vast majority of the GOP today.

      It also presents an opportunity for Democrats to pick up voters in the 'traditionalist' camp, to recapture some of that moral high-ground and discourse for the Democratic Party.

      I emailed this column to various liberal friends, who also agree.

      Brooks is presenting an 'old-fashioned conservativism,' one I generally disagreed with at the time, but a worldview that was more rational and less dogmatic than what the GOP has become. One could at least engage in meaningful discussion with it. It is not the worldview of Jerry Falwell, Lee Atwater, Harry Dent Sr., Ted Haggard, Glenn Beck or other contemporary reprobates, contrary to Pierce's response.

      Furthermore, Brooks presents ideas that, god[s] forbid, progressive Democrats can learn from. There are serious problems in American society, and they are not all due to the GOP, the Tea Party, Wall Street, religious-right, [neo-]conservatives, etc. Many Americans don't well understand their own self-interest (per Tocqueville). In our free society, they have the right to this self-abuse, but we all have the right (and even obligation) to point out what reason, science and morality have to say about it. Things like drug-abuse (including alcohol overuse), choosing unhealthy personal relationships, making unwise life choices, 'learning' hate and other bad ideas from misguided sources (including Faux Lies), becoming narrow-minded, materialist, shallow thinkers, not living up their full potential (intellectual, moral, leadership, economic, self-esteem), etc. Yes, of course many of these can be (at least partly) tied into broader political/economic/social forces (lack of funding for public education, oligopoly control of media, etc.), but there are still areas of individual responsibility and choice that can be improved upon, no matter the social conditions or base-superstructure dynamics.

      Among the ideas that Brooks is (remarkably) arguing in favor of, are many that Dems would agree with. For example:
      * "raising taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class."
      * "use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods," e.g. sufficiently-educated community-policing to protect people in high-crime areas (which are often poor).
      * "protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels."
      * "offer [things to] the less educated half of this country."
      * "[speak] to Hispanic voters, who often come from cultures that place high value on communal solidarity."
      * avoid "formulas [like] — government support equals dependency — that make sense according to free-market ideology, but oversimplify the real world."
      * "people who do not define themselves [only] in economic terms."
      * "appeals to people as [...] as parents, neighbors and citizens."

      If Dems are smart, they will take advantage of the split that Brooks describes. We can pit those GOP forces against each other. We can win over voters who are sympathetic to valuing social order, social teaching, social custom and social capital, and help them understand that progressive Democrats welcome these ideas and practices.

      •  Amen. This comment is spot on (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight, primrose

        I agree. I read David Brooks' column in our local San Jose Mercury, and I found it to be quite an interesting opening for a new (old?) kind of political dialog.  I found it interesting because Brooks seperated the republican tent, not into the usual categories of social vs fiscal conservatives, but into the community/ tradition-bound, vs free market anarchists.

        Like Sharon Wraight- I find that to be a refreshing formulation. My chief disagreement with conservatives is their economic terrorism. The other issues I believe we could always find common ground with them. It is true that conservatives have a nasty tendency to rigidly define 'community' as 'people who look like them and go to the same churches as them'.  But I think we can co-opt that type of language and massage it into a more open-minded and more inclusive community.

        There is a core group of americans who are proud of their anglo heritage and protestant religion and don't care to have their God mocked by long haired druggies. You can call them closed-minded- but to me that kind of closed-mindedness is far less harmful to the collective than the closed-mindedness of a free market fundamentalist.

        •  Strike a deal, then. (0+ / 0-)

          We'll respect them if they respect us long-haired druggies.  (Well, I'm not a druggy, but I do have long hair, which is apparently a deep enough transgression in some parts these days.)

          The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

          by Panurge on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 03:11:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Shorter Brooks: "It's good to be rich". (6+ / 0-)

    Even better to be a pampered lap-dog for the 1% with a sinecure at the Times, evidently.

  •  If you want a really good response to Brooks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, YucatanMan, OleHippieChick

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:07:57 AM PDT

  •  Here is where Brooks get it wrong (6+ / 0-)

    like so many other "conservatives". There are actually two brands of conservative thought, continental conservatism which grew in response to the French revolution. And classical liberalism of the Scottish, English, American variety. Classical liberalism preaches small government and free markets. Maybe the ultimate expression was the Irish famine when food grown in Ireland was shipped to the continent for higher prices while people staved in Ireland.

    Continental conservatism was a Roman Catholic response to the crumbling of the feudal order brought on by both the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. It tried to re-establish the social order of nobility-clerics-everybody else in what they saw as the way God intended people to live.

    In classical liberalism the man of means became superior to everyone else. In continental conservatism the superiors remained the landed gentry.

    Now Brooks should understand this and he probably does. So it is dishonest for him to ignore the differences.

    True freedom comes when man is free from fear, of hunger and oppression. Neither styles of conservatism deliver true freedom. Think of all the great ideas out there that could be implemented if people did not have to worry about health care or child care. Think of the business risk taking that people would be willing to take on if they did not have to worry about their families health or well being.

    David Brooks needs to go back to college and retake some intellectual history classes.

    •  There's a third. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And it's pre liberal and very very frightening to geeks like Brookes.

      A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

      by Salo on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:32:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with much of what Brooks says here (10+ / 0-)

    and I've been disagreeing with David Brooks far longer than most people have. But I agree with you that he doesn't show much self-awareness in his analysis (this is generally true of him, in my experience.)

    The "daring adventures" line makes perfect sense to me as a progressive Democrat. I don't see it as infantalizing (and again, that's something I often see in Brooks's writings.) Instead, I see it as a reflection of the macroeconomic value of a social safety net. We celebrate the entrepreneur in this country, but how many entrepreneurs would we have if the price of failure were starvation?

    For Brooks's traditional conservatives, the local community -- one's family, church, and neighbors, probably in that order -- provide all the safety net that's needed. Brooks himself hints that that's just not enough, but he never delineates just when or how the community-based vision of the traditional conservative becomes likely to fail in practice. Nor does he examine whether the powers currently exercised by the federal government can feasibly be devolved to the local community. (For example, imagine if each town were responsible for establishing and enforcing its own environmental standards. That would, for all intents and purposes, be the end of environmental regulation.)

    It's also refreshing to read a David Brooks column where he does not go out of his way to bash Democrats. You'd almost think he's thinking about switching sides (as some have been suggesting for years.) But I seriously doubt he'll ever do that; among other things, that would require him to give up his secure base.

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:20:22 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:20:36 AM PDT

  •  Conservatism survives (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    noelcor, Calamity Jean, greengemini

    by abeting people in refusing to examine their personal prejudices.

    In this world, that's getting to be a tougher and tougher row to hoe. It isn't 1980 anymore. Hell, it isn't even 1990 or 2000. You try to de-unionize your state, and the pee-ons cram the capitol, and sing songs till all hours, so you have to  hide in your office. You try to run clothing ads with hyper-skinny models; you try to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and the uppity bitches are down your throat, so fast you don't even know what happened. Hell, you just try to plaster a sign with a racist, anti-Islamic message in the NYC subway--no matter how slickly produced--and damned if some yokel isn't going to be there to deface it.

    The good times are over.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:26:16 AM PDT

  •  Conservatism hasn't failed. Conservatives have. (4+ / 0-)

    It is a point of view, not right, not wrong.  Today's conservatives 'fail' b/c they refuse to recognize reality.  It is all wishful thinking.  Liberalism fails when it indulges in the same wishful thinking, which is not now the case for proponents of liberalism.  Bernie Sanders is a hard-nosed realist.

    My best guess was a reflection that did not look back, an image lost in every mirror.

    by Zacapoet on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:45:12 AM PDT

  •  Brooks trying to thread the needle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Between economically-oriented conservatives who want to destroy the "secure base" or at least deny it to anyone to can't pay cash for it (their argument is that dynamic entrepreneurial types can take survival for granted because they're just so awesome) ... and cultural conservatives who think that "daring adventures" is just another world for selfishness and sin and are very interested in having us never leave the nursery.

    All this while trying to sell an increasingly radical conservatism in general to modern-day Burkeans - financially-secure totebagger types who regard radical ideological change as the ultimate error.  Brooks is legitimately one of them, and is drawn to the party and the movement that [fasely] claims the mantle of socio-economic stability and self-evident truth.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:46:24 AM PDT

  •  I don't think you read with comprehension (5+ / 0-)

    ...because your critique does not really even consider anything which Brooks actually wrote.

    For example you blast Brooks here:

    Lets try to parse this - exactly who is it in the conservative party that believes "power should be devolved" to a lower level?  Does he read what he is writing?
    ..even though Brooks has already said that these conservatives were of a traditional stripe which is "less familiar now."  And then Brooks spends the balance of the column talking about how "conservatism changed", and now another kind of conservatism is dominant.  So, despite your sarcastic dismissal of him, it seems you and Brooks are actually in rather close agreement on this point: this kind of conservative is hard to find nowadays.

    Then this:

    According to Brooks', "life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base".  Allow me to paraphrase: "You are infants, and we will make sure we keep you away from power so you don't get hurt."
    ...which isn't a paraphrase.  To say the least.
    •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ...which isn't a paraphrase.  To say the least.
      •  My paraphrase (0+ / 0-)

        Was a reference to child-proofing... With a little play on "power"

        Brooks is not talking about Maslow's base when he talks about a secure base.  He is talking about tradition and authority.  He is conflating modern attachment parenting (an emotional bond that is being tested with brain research) with political philosophy - it is the worst sort of metaphor because it appears to carry meaning, but does not.

        Brooks was referring to a parent-child relationship as a metaphor for our relationship with tradition and structured society.  In his metaphor the secure base is a place we will not get hurt.  That secure base is tradition and social structure and we are children who should respect these, for venturing too far out is danger (hurt).  From my perspective, tradition=power, hence the paraphrase.

  •  I followed Brooks' links and found (4+ / 0-)

    much to disagree with it. Someday soon, I may be able to go over all of that. But for now I want to point to Russell Kirk's third conservative principle, the principle of prescription. This is another way of saying that conservatives live to tell others how to live. Here is the entire principle, and I have emphasized the most offensive part:

    Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescription—that is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquity—including rights to property, often. Similarly, our morals are prescriptive in great part. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.
    Kirk is admitting, and Brooks, by extension, is agreeing, that prejudice is part of the conservative's worldview. It is a tool that can be used when the rulers need it.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:19:38 PM PDT

    •  The lack of self-awareness is staggering (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Who picks the rules?

      All of the metaphors: "shoulders of giants", "forefathers", all of them mask the fact that whatever rules you are prescribing are chosen, not fixed.

      The fundamental flaw with conservatism is that they refuse to understand that the choosing is the most important question, not the source.  And for establishment conservatives, they feel they have the right to choose who the giants were, and what the rules will be.

      Traditions are always invented every generation through a combination of memory, creativity, and forgetting.  We are only fighting for the right to make our traditions, and not have them slammed down our throats.

      Conservatism is simply a way to rationalize power by appealing to fear.

  •  Beautifully said. Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

    This might be why 'conservatives' have no idea what they stand for these days.

    Are Tea Partiers really looking for a father figure? (I know some are, but most probably don't see it that way.)

    2012 Elections: POTUS - Obama; CA-47 (new) - Lowenthal

    by mungley on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:23:33 PM PDT

  •  I disagree about conservatism... (4+ / 0-)

    ...being a calvinist thing.  The elect, in the American context--North Easterners are pretty much all for equality and moral crusades like abolition. I'd add to that the centralization of government so that local bad boys and naughty racists can't abuse black people.  Most of the progeny of the mayflower are in the left side of the Democratic camp.  The calvinists are, if they are anywhere at all today represented by Dean, Kennedy, Kerry, Obama (At least the Dunham side of him)

    Conservatism in the US is broadly speaking a Southern white (pseudo Aristocratic) phenomenon. It's also visible in the west among the self styled Cowboy and Rancher types. There's also the Militarist type which is a very Southern. It's volkish.  I'd go further and state that Brooks isn't a conservative. he's a nebbish pencil neck neocon.  He's attempting to co-opt something that is not his. Most conservatives would probably beat up Brooks and take his lunch money.

    A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

    by Salo on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:30:40 PM PDT

    •  you are right and I miswrote. (0+ / 0-)

      I just finished an essay by Marilynn Robinson on Calvinism's interpretation of the word Liberal. Evidently liberalism in the American Calvinist letters was about universal love of your fellow man where love was defined as charity without judgement or pity.

    •  As a life-long Southerner I tend to disagree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Charles Hall, liz

      There is a strong current of Calvinism in fundementalism.

      True, Southern conservatives aren't big on predestination, but they're big on the work ethic.

      Easterners are no longer Calvinist for two reasons: many are actually Catholic by faith or lineage (Kerry, Kennedy, et al.) and the Congregationalists became Unitarians or members of the United Church of Christ (of which the President is a member). The UCC is the merger of the remains of The Congregationalists and the Dutch Reformed Church (Roosevelt's fellow Knickerbockers).

      Aristocratic Southernism is mostly dead. It failed catastrophically circa 1865, as I recall. :) Most Southerners with a legitimate claim to  the a aristocratic tradition, like Robert Byrd, strive to be folksy (not neccesarily volkish ).

      The book Deer Hunting with Jesus is a pretty good introduction to the place where Southern Conservatism comes from. And it's not aristocratic. I also don't think that most cowboy/rancher types see themselves as aristocrats. Scots-Irish horse theives, (reivers - remember Faulkner using that for a surname?) perhaps, but not aristocrats.

      •  My frame of reference is Texas (0+ / 0-)

        And all of the people I know who actually own ranches view them as dynastic privileges, and that their land rights superseded the rights of the government.  It is aristocracy masked as rugged individualism.

        In fact, they have extremely low property tax because of "Ag exemptions"

        •  Okay, that's an aristocracy as Plato sees it. (0+ / 0-)

          I was thinking of the whole "moonlight and magnolias, darkies softly crooning," Ashley Wilkes stereotype. If you're thinking of Enguerrand de Coucy, red in tooth and claw, hacking down the Jacquerie from horseback, yeah I guess.

          Where does the ballet-dancing semi-Venezuelan Thomas DeLay fit into this?

  •  I don't think you understand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the many meanings of the word conservatism.  Has it occurred to you that the most conservative party in this election is the Democratic Party of Barack Obama?  Yet you seem to conflate conservatism with TeaPartyism and the worst aspects of the radical party that is the Republican Party.

    During the Bush years, all of us here were the conservatives, while Bush was head of the party that was full of brilliant ideas for fixing the country and the world through brute force.  And the excuses for doing this were the usual drivel, like, "Even brown people deserve democracy."  The conservative military policy would have been to take care of business (Osama bin Laden) and not start new wars on other fronts.  The conservative bureaucratic policy would have been to support institutions like the UN that the US has always supported -- in fact, we host it -- and to NOT decimate the lifers in the state department and DOD bureaucracy along ideological lines.  

    Those are all very non-conservative things.  I'm not saying that in praise of conservatism or to make you like it more, but just so we can get our language straight.  Why have a tantrum against a mere word when you don't understand what it means?

    •  I get your point (0+ / 0-)

      But it is not a misunderstanding of the word Conservatism.

      Conservative doesn't mean something like "Math" or "Tree". It isn't really even in the same category as the words "Society" or "Democracy".

      It is in that class of words whose referent is a state of emotion, belief or feeling, but whose precise definition is either elusive or pivots on "authority". It is used for self-identification, and is as often a term for what it is not than for what it is.

      What is a Conservative?  Is it someone who wants to preserve the order in society, or return a specific form of order in society?  Is it someone who wants to protect the markets from capitalists or protect capitalism from free markets.  Is it someone who believes in the ten commandments or the right to choose your commandments.

      All of the above.  

      Lets take Edmund Burke, for example, a solid, enlightenment Conservative.  I think Burke actually had it right, when he understood that some arguments could not reach logical conclusions, and that some systems contained "regrettable attributes" like poverty and wretchedness.  His answer, in his notebooks, was that where this was so, that people should prefer the conclusions that accorded with their natural feelings, and have a bias towards what tended to make people better and happier.

      I bet most of us Liberal/Progressives would agree with this on the face.  Burke is not a Conservative because he does not recognize that society has problems, or in the rules he applies to the response.  He is a conservative because of the emotional, instinctual response is to want to preserve the current structure of the world as it responds to new awareness.  He is afraid to lose what he has (my analysis) and he is more afraid of anarchy than ashamed of poverty.

      Conservatism is the tepid response, the flight to "authority", and the seeking of fixed points where none exist.  Conservatism is not a rulebook or a desired outcome or even a paradigm.  It is not a way to describe the problem, it is a way to categorize the instincts we bring to responding to injustice, change, and ambiguity.

      So when I hear there are multiple branches of Conservatism, it makes me laugh.  There are infinite conservatisms, some of which are more persistent than others, but none that are more true, fixed, or central.

  •  Brooks is useless (0+ / 0-)

    I wouldn't waste much energy on his silly columns.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:37:40 PM PDT

  •  Not just wrong about Bobo, but about Newtonian (4+ / 0-)

    physics...the law of Gravity is still valid, it just doesn't (never did) apply at the quantum level. In fact, I don't think any of Newton's discoveries have been invalidated, just added to.

    As to Bobo's critique, it is rather fanciful, but contains a kernel of truth that anyone able to remember pre-1980s politics will recognize, mainly, that conservatives didn't used to be batshit crazy--at least not the ones in positions of responsibility. It doesn't mean they were nice or particularly concerned for "the little guy" but they did care about stability, something which the Eric Cantors of the world do not respect. Where Bobo goes off the rails here, in my view, is in placing Saint Ronnie in the camp of traditional conservatives as opposed to government-bashers--Saint Ronnie is the godfather of the government-bashers. He made government-bashing fashionable, and today's batshit crazy right wingers are his ideological children.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:55:14 PM PDT

    •  ding ding ding (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We have a winner.

    •  oops! (0+ / 0-)

      Changed the newtonian reference.  Sloppy.

      And I believe you are wrong about the myth of the kind Conservative.  I worked in Washington for Lowell Weicker, my mother was a Republican Assemblywoman, and I was in the College Young Republicans in the 80s.

      The Republican party has become more shrill, and there are fewer adults in it, but George Will and Buckley were exactly the same douchbags back then as they are now.

      We feel the change because Republicans had not consolidated power between 1930 and 1980.  The corruption and inflation that the Democrats wrought, combined with the South's response to civil rights, ended the "Liberal" era, but it did not create new conservatives, it just allowed Republicans to exercise power - that is the change you see.

      •  Please look again at my comment (0+ / 0-)

        I never said they were nice, I said they valued stability...and by "they" I didn't mean each and every Republican. But do you really consider Lowell Weicker on a par with Michelle Bachman?

        I know there were always a few crazies, i.e. the John Birch society, fulminating about wanting to abolish the UN and stop pinkos from putting fluoride in the water, and bunch of them did manage to nominate Goldwater (and thus substantially self-destruct) but what about Eisenhower? Not to mention liberal Republicans like Mayor Lindsay in New York, or Gov. Frank Sargent in Massachusetts? This may have been before your time if you were a college Republican in the 1980s. Of course a lot of the crazy has to do with the eventual success of Nixon's "Southern Strategy" which served to combine the Birchers with southern racists (the original "Yellow Dog Democrats" which makes liberals claiming that label kind of ironic) who now form the core of today's Republican party. But, aside from the racism, even Nixon would look liberal compared to today's crazies.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:52:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Brooks is wishing he was a Democrat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pete Cortez, icemilkcoffee

    "life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base" could well be the motto of the Democratic party. We believe in the safety net and universal health insurance because we want individuals to be free to take big risks and achieve great things as well as simple matters of economic justice. He talks positively about taxing the wealthy to build ladders of upward mobility - a fancy way of saying quality affordable education. This is the conservatism of more cops on the street so that the barrio can be a base for immigrants to achieve the American dream and not a cesspool of violence and crime.

    I don't understand this diary at all. Yes Brooks' view is one where changes to the family like Gay marriage are fought tooth and nail by traditionalist groups, but while we fight those battles there is so much common ground in providing safe nurturing communities with quality schools and social and democratic institutions that promote honest engagement.

    As usual Brooks seems pretty disconnect from the reality of racism and stupidity which drives the non economic elite of the Republican party so it is hard to read this as anything to really work with, but still as a statement of principle it is something that Clinton or Obama could easily tweak to into a stump speech.

  •  Analogy to physics. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, duhban, primrose

    Not as apt as you'd like.  Newton's mechanics were widely accepted not out of tradition, but because they worked and continue to do so with in the weak field approximation (where the vast majority of our experience takes place).

  •  ??? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, mll, icemilkcoffee

    Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government.

    The layered harmonious eco-system - nothing wrong with that, I suppose.  So is the point that the traditionalist conservative actually never had that idea?

    They believed that people should lead disciplined, orderly lives, but doubted that individuals have the ability to do this alone, unaided by social custom and by God.

    I do believe so, that since we are creatures of limited information, we cannot rationally figure out all the consequences of our actions; and social custom and "God" are the learnings of many generations of people.  Nothing sacred about them, but to be overturned with abundant caution.  

    I do believe that "It is good because I want it and because as far as I can tell, it harms no one else" is not a recipe for good choices in life.  Americans may have forgotten it, in their material prosperity, there is often room for a second chance;  but this is not true in the poorer regions of the world.  A mistake (e.g., dropping out of school) can reduce one's life's prospects for ever, there is no recovery mechanism, or the competition is just too intense (so, let's say you later complete school, but there will be an abundance of people who don't have the mark of having dropped out of school, and not enough opportunity for all of them).

    I do believe that the poor immigrant from a poor country who does well does so because (s)he carries the conservatism of the home environment over and exploits the opportunities that America provides.  I can testify that many such immigrants become racists looking down on poor Americans who could not/did not exploit those opportunities.  I think what they forget is that these Americans are operating under the liberal ethos where "It is good because I want it and because as far as I can tell, it harms no one else" holds.

    So, I don't see exactly where David Brooks goes wrong.

    •  False dichotomy (0+ / 0-)

      A layered, harmonious ecosystem is in the same category as the Philosopher King or the benign despot.  They are all imagined realities to solve real issues.

      Of course, as a child I read Babar, with Queen Celeste and her orderly world of workers and farmers.  It was kind, efficient, and fair.

      But starting with the premise of a harmonious ecosystem begs the question of how does one create such an ecosystem, and how does such an ecosystem adapt "harmoniously".  The question is not whether we agree on the dream but rather our concordance on the means.

      So you have posed one approach, which is to rely on our ancestors and tradition.  But there are thousands of traditions.  Which parts of which do you choose?  If your Dad and mine taught us different things, which "social custom" trumps?

      The problem with Conservatism is that truth and custom is a function of winning, not concordance.

      The point of Liberalism is not to throw away custom, but to recognize that while there are many good customs from our ancestors (Habeus Corpus, for one), that all prior systems have "failed", and that we are more likely to find enduring, harmonious, and peaceful existence by empowering people than by "ordering" them.

      BTW, by failed, I mean that while it has created "great civilizations" in terms of wealth, standard of living, or stability, humankind has yet to create a social system that eliminates poverty, misery, and violence.  Conservatism makes claims to solve these, but more often than not, the claims it makes (interracial marriage will lead to social breakdown, the church is the core of a just state, blacks are inferior and require the guiding hand of whites) fail empirically.

      •  I have a different point of view (0+ / 0-)

        1. We have an ecosystem, it is beyond our power to modify it greatly, but we can certainly improve it.

        It already includes individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government - one of the problems is if one encroaches on the other, or one fails in its duties.

        The theory of States' Rights, for example, is based on the idea that the States individually will respect freedom more than the least common denominator at the Federal level; but the reality is that States tend to be captured by small groups of people, and it is the Federal government that turns out (typically) to be the best guarantor of rights.

        So moving to a more harmonious relationship in our ecosystem might involve redefining the roles of states versus the center.

        2.  The fundamental choice I see is between "It is good because I want it and because as far as I can tell, it harms no one else" and "It is good based on objective criteria".   As someone with liberal views from India, I always thought American liberalism was based on the latter; and then recently I read Jonathan Haidt's book.  His liberalism is as destructive and inhuman an ideology as that of Ayn Rand.

        Coming to the latter - "it is good based on objective criteria" - is only a aspiration.  It is outside human capacity to do so, but the wealth of human experience is not be denied.
        I will copy here something I wrote after reading Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow.  It may help explain my point of view.

        "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander is a disturbing read.  Quite contrary to the ideal of "equal justice for all", the War on Drugs has unleashed a nightmare of unequal justice for the African-American community.

        The laws against drugs are harsh, and unequally applied.  Police and prosecutorial discretion makes sure that it is blacks rather than whites (who have an equal rate of drug use) that are targeted.  The wide powers given to the police result in many casualties, even of people quite innocent of drugs.

        Possession of a small amount of marijuana can entangle one in the justice system.  Poor people get very poor quality legal representation.  Once convicted, people lose their right to vote, their ability to get any kind of government help and of course, future employment is a problem.  

        All in all, the war against drugs has made the US be the country with the largest percentage of its population in jail - more than repressive dictatorships even, and it is creating a permanent underclass with little means of climbing out of its poverty and misery.

        The laws are unjust in their content and in their application, but the laws involve drugs, and I wonder why in the face of severe penalties people continue to use them.  I do not understand the diminution of freedom or of quality of life if one eschews drugs.  But then I come from a culture where self-restraint is a cardinal virtue; while American culture is generally permissive.  Michelle Alexander has no good explanation, except that "we all are sinners, we all suffer from lapses" and that Barack Obama, in his youth, used drugs fairly extensively.


        I can understand dealing in drugs - there is a huge monetary incentive to do that, which would appeal even to people with good opportunities.  What I do not understand is the need to use drugs,  apart from the "It is good because I want it and because as far as I can tell, it harms no one else".  

        In many dimensions, drugs are not good for a person trying to climb out of poverty, and even if there were zero legal sanction, I would still advise non-use.  That use persists in the face of such severe punishment as described in Alexander's book, just boggles the mind.

      •  Krugman (0+ / 0-)

        Krugman writes thusly:

        A commenter tells me that there is a term of art in the substance use literature, “generational forgetting”, that seems relevant to our economic troubles. And it’s true, e.g. here (pdf):


        Adult norms against youth substance use also can be eroded by “generational forgetting”. When prevention initiatives have enough success to greatly decrease youth use of a substance, problems stemming from such use that were self-evident during the times of greatest use of the substance may be forgotten as new cohorts of youth move into pre-teen and teen years.
        That’s perfect: as memory of bad things fades, a new generation is tempted to repeat an earlier generation’s mistakes.
  •  hee hee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    he will write anything as long as he is not forced to defend Romney.


    I find Brooks to be enjoyable lately

  •  I did not read it that way at all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, mll, primrose

    I don't see how you get "infantilization" from Brooks' statement. "A series of daring ventures from a secure base" doesn't sound very different from an Obama speech. So, are you arguing against the "daring forays", "the secure base", or some awful combination of the two?

    And, help me here, you don't believe in devolving power to the lower levels? I kinda thought that was the idea of democracy. It isn't?

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 04:09:11 PM PDT

    •  The problem with devolving (0+ / 0-)

      1. It presumes that the source of power is the top, which is opposite my enlightenment concept of government, where power is legitimized by the consent of the people, not granted at the fiat of the leadership.
      2. It is profoundly dishonest.  Conservatives don't want power to trickle down any more than money.  

      According to the Declaration of Independence, "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"  If I am devolving a portion of my power down to you, it is a father-child relationship.  If as a citizen I am granting you the power to represent me, it is an adult relationship.

      •  You are asserting something (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about conservatives in a way that assumes they all think alike. There is a thing called the reality of political power. Even democratic states tend to accrue power to the center. It's not paternalistic to argue that a political movement should try to counter that tendency. So, the Constitution is quite laudable in its sentiments but political reality is another thing entirely the source of much power IS at the top, e.g. The President. But Brooks is making the argument that the concentration of power at the top needs to be countered. You disagree with that?

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:08:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  i got zero problem with brooks here (4+ / 0-)

    his conclusion is extremely accurate.

    The Republican Party has abandoned half of its intellectual ammunition. It appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.

    the u.s. would (will) be a stronger nation with two healthy reasonable political parties. right now, one of them has gone nuts, allowing the other to under-perform and still manage to hold power.

    war is immoral. both parties are now fully complicit in the wars. bring everyone home. get to work.

    by just want to comment on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 04:10:13 PM PDT

    •  "Intellectual" and Conservatism (2+ / 0-)

      Intellectuals can be conservative, but Conservatism cannot be intellectual any more than Religion can.  

      Intellect concerns ideas, and ideas can be evaluated.  At any given stage in history we can evaluate the success or failure of different forms of government, law, and society, and we can advance our understanding and respond to changes in technology, ecology, population, and the rest.

      The entire notion of "tradition" and "social order" at the core of Conservatism are not deterministic.  What is a tradition is that which is remembered and repeated.  What is social order is that which has produced the order in society.  Both are subject to change, even violent change and re-evaluation.  What is the best practice one era will rarely be the best possible, nor will it be viewed as the best in the next, even if it achieves positive outcomes.

      Conservatism is faith, and it is an emotional response.  It may reflect beliefs that are firmly felt and broadly shared, but it is not intellectual.

      •  part of the irony for traditionalist conservatism (4+ / 0-)

        is that now the New Deal and social insurance are the American tradition, not the local gentry of Burkean British conservatism who might condescend to contribute to the local church fund for widows and orphans. So naturally the effort to privatize everything into market commodities has to ignore "tradition" because we have 75 years of Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers compensation and unions that all demonstrated the ability to provide that secure base.

      •  too broad for me (0+ / 0-)

        part of the idea of "conserving" is keeping the healthy healthy. a healthy society that did not conserve could degrade.  the ideal would be a society that conserved and allowed change, and thats life. people divide into two camps all the time, there is something natural about that. the two party system, one naturally trying to preserve its heritage, and one trying to experiment with possibilities...

         but we have a republican party that has gone nuts, it doesnt seem conservative to me, as the other comment suggested, they are in destruction mode, they want to destroy civilization, they are going after teachers, free libraries could never start under their current fever,

        i dont have much good to say about them. i hope they get trounced and have to re-configure.

        war is immoral. both parties are now fully complicit in the wars. bring everyone home. get to work.

        by just want to comment on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:49:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What to "conserve" (0+ / 0-)

          Conserve the right of the entire population to determine what is worthy of preserving.  That is really the only way.

          In any complex system, you can experience massive disequilibrium.  The measure of the quality of our system is not the presence of imbalance, but its ability to return to a stable state.

          The sad impact is that the greater the imbalance, the more costly and painful the rebalancing.  That is just the nature of things.  Republicans have executed impressively on creating imbalance, but it will be rebalanced.

  •  Their treatment of women (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the behavior of conservative women is the best example of the root in infantilization.

    Conservative men treat women like children, and conservative women expect their husbands to be their fathers.

    Conservatives just don't want to grow up, they remain nihilists all their lives.

    It's a very sick sick world they inhabit. Pseudo-incestuous and quite unhealthy.

  •  Conservatism...failing because...contradictions! (0+ / 0-)
    Conservatism isn't failing because of conflict with two branches of conservatism.  Conservatism is failing because it can no longer contain its own contradictions.  Like newtonian physics in a quantum world or a medieval cosmology in the age of the Hubble, its model has to face that what it imagined (and what it feared) as true was simply wrong, and the contortions required to keep it on life support are tortured, contradictory, primitive and wrong.
  •  frankly I wish everyone would (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    just stop calling teh GOP 'conservative' they're not. Democrats today tend to be actually what would be conservative by anyone sane. Which of course gives rise to the conflict within the democratic party between the actual conservatives and those of a more liberal/progressive bent.

    The GOP is a regressive, infantile joke of a party that couldn't find fiscal responsiblity with both hands, a map, a compass, a gps and turn by turn directions

    •  You're absolutely right. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Brooks' conservatives -- the same as that of the Tea Party and Todd Akin and Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan -- is the philosophical descendant of Edmund Burke, where liberals as we have them here are the descendants of Thomas Paine. And I wish there was a way to make that distinction -- my best suggestion, "tories" and "Jeffersonians" seems linguistically clunky.

      By any rational definition of the word, I should be able to self-identify as an economic conservative, by which I mean I think the way businesses were regulated, individuals were taxed, imported goods tariffed, and unions recognized was pretty good on the day that I was born.

      Unfortunately, that day fell during the Carter Administration, so in my mind those things were actively and intentionally broken in my lifetime (you goddamn kids and your trickle-down economics ruin everything).

      And then foreign policy is a whole different kettle of fish -- where Pat Buchanan is the prominent person with whom I find I agree most (although my lynchpin argument of American competence ending at the water's edge is lacking in Buchanan's work).

      "You should put signs on places. All it takes is a sign to turn an RNC office into a Sexeteria." -Danny Willis

      by Geiiga on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 06:53:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is odd (0+ / 0-)

      How we conflate Conservative with Republican.  

      One is a political party.  The other is an amorphous label for self-identification.  

      A Republican is someone who is registered with the Republican party.  It has no permanent definition.  There is no Nicene Creed for it, and no Pope.  And there are no infallible truths.

      A Conservative is someone who wants to conserve.  What it means in practice is a hodge-podge, but usually someone who is biased towards maintaining a more static, "traditional" structure of society.

      •  I don't completely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        agre with the last part of your comment.

        Conservatism can mean that but it can also mean a host of other things. I think it's also important to point out that conservatism is not opposition flat out to change but that change should be slow and gradual

      •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

        Five year olds and eighty-five year olds are natural conservatives.   That makes it easy to argue against systematizations of the attitudes and desires- conservatism- as a kind of immaturity on the one hand and/or uncreativity on the other.   But this is a deeply cutting, disqualifying, line of attack and socially wounds badly enough- including many people who claim to be liberal- that it's really only to be used defensively, and even then only sparingly.  

        The Parties changed from being coalitions essentially defined by ethnicities and about partitioning wealth until 1964 to being coalitions essentially defined by ideologies of how to manage major change.  As John Dean and many paleoconservatives have pointed out, the Republican Party is doctrinally anti-liberal far more than it is actually conservative.  Conservative voters face a choice between a tepidly and lazy/unwillingly liberal party (Democrats) and a vehemently but idiotically anti-liberal party (Republicans).   That doesn't make them necessarily Republican voters, but the more confident and bold and powerful liberals are the more willingly they sign up with Republicans.

        In the end liberalism is the primary force in American society and conservatism is a contrary response, an effort to slow and limit liberals.  Since it has no creative power it remains necessary but secondary in the way brakes are necessary but secondary to the engine of a car.

  •  Like this sentence: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fiercefilms, Pandoras Box
    Conservatism is failing because it can no longer contain its own contradictions.
    I wish Brooks would just go away and be quiet as he has already said ENOUGH!

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 06:51:37 PM PDT

  •  why should brooks read what he writes, (0+ / 0-)

    it's clear no editor at the nyt's does. he's been writing this drivel as long as i've (had the misfortune to be) been aware of him, i don't know if he even believes it anymore. i think he writes on auto-pilot, and simply collects his weekly check.

    simply another example of the degeneracy of the time's.

  •  One of my all fav diaries. Thank You. NT (0+ / 0-)

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:00:07 PM PDT

  •  Great article. (0+ / 0-)

    I hope you follow up with one pertaining to modern liberalism, especially as opposed to the original, classical liberalism.  That would be outstanding.

  •  I was going to state my disagreement with this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    diary- but I read through most of the comments, and it just occured to me that this diary has sparked some fantastic discussion among kossacks far more learned than I. So even though I don't agree with the dismissive tone of this diary, I am very thankful that you have spawned a great discussion!

    •  Apologize for the tonet (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      icemilkcoffee, greengemini, valadon

      I don't like to be strident, but it happens.

      But it crystallized an idea that has been in my mind since I worked for Senator Weicker in the 80s - that conservatism may actually be a religion.  

      I can accept that is wrong, and I appreciate all of the fantastic comments. Made my day.

      •  That's a very interesting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        But it crystallized an idea that has been in my mind since I worked for Senator Weicker in the 80s - that conservatism may actually be a religion.
        I ran across this article by Joshua Holland:
        As the American right lurches from traditional conservatism – a go-slow approach to governing that stresses the importance of continuity and social stability – to a far more reactionary brand typified by acolytes of Ayn Rand and Tea Party extremists waving misspelled signs decrying Democrats' "socialism," the time has come to ask whether modern “backlash” conservatism has become a religious faith rather than a pedestrian political ideology.
        Has American-Style Conservatism Become a Religion?

        "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."- Albert Camus

        by valadon on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 12:18:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hogwash? (0+ / 0-)

    Brooks should be fired. Let him wander the streets until the soup kitchen opens. etc.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 10:45:22 PM PDT

  •  Ah, and I thought from your title that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, greengemini, madmadmad

    Brooks had latched on to my meme of the myopic suckling assuming that his sucking the teat makes the milk flow and never wanting to let go.
    Some humans are like that; permanently dependent but deluded into thinking themselves independent. We've always had some and probably always will because there is either some genetic flaw that makes them practically incompetent, or some perinatal insult which has that result. What helps them survive is verbal skill. Talking gets them what they want and need. So, man's linguistic facility may well be related to delayed maturation. If humans can demand what they need and those demands are met, the there is no need to mature quickly, or even ever. Infantilism is facilitated, if you will, by the gift of gab. We appreciate the politician's ability to talk, so we put good talkers into that slot. That many don't know what they are talking about, we only find out later.
    The old saying, "people who can do; people who can't teach" is inaccurate and unfair. It should say, "people who can't preach." There is no question that a goodly number of modern politicians are little more than secular preachers, whose object is to secure a "living" for themselves by persuading others to do for them what they can't do for themselves.
    What is so irksome about Willard is that he's accusing producers of not producing enough while he produces nothing at all. He's a suckling who has never been weaned AND indulges in sibling rivalry. He's jealous of what anyone else gets.
    People we now call conservatives have always been with us. Human productivity producing a surplus makes it possible to sustain them. We keep them like pets. Their chatter entertains us. Problems arise when we let the know-nothing's decide how the productive sector should be run. One mad king Ludwid of Bavaria is OK. Indeed, the castles he ordered built provided opportunities for all kinds of craftsmen in their making and are tourist attractions to this day. But a horde of hoarders on Wall Street simply can't be sustained, especially not when they start sequestering the dough to solidify their control. Imagine putting pack rats in charge of the larder.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 01:25:58 AM PDT

  •  But...but...but...isn't it the LIBS who always (0+ / 0-)

    tell people what they should and should not do? Scolds and killjoys and nannies and meddlers, interfering with our GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to pillage and chuck folks into the street and all that other good stuff?

  •  Conservatism is failing because . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it conflicts with reality.

    In a rational society, it would be filed with phlogiston.

  •  In a sense Conservatism... (0+ / 0-)

    Has changed very little since Burke. During the civil war the conservatives were defending the aristocracy of the southern states from having to join a conventional market economy where they had to actually pay their labor.

    Nowadays conservatives are in the business of defending a new sort of hereditary aristocracy. The children, grand children ect of successful business people are now a quasi-aristocracy. Today conservatives defend whatever cheap, easy, or exploitative practice these descendants of great people do in order to generate wealth since many of them have not taken up their ancestors banner of actually generating economic vitality.

  •  Brooks as critic of the GOP (0+ / 0-)

    David Brooks has recently lashed into the Romney campaign and harshly criticized the movement of the GOP to the far right. He appreciates the role of government in providing infrastructure, as well as benefits and services. He complains that the GOP has abandoned any social conscience.

  •  Yes, that metaphor (0+ / 0-)
    "life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base".
    perfectly describes the behavior of infant monkeys, and he probably stole the idea from primate research.

    I just genetically engineer them, I don't nominate them for President.

    by happymisanthropy on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:36:05 AM PDT

  •  IMO need for order is from the need for certainty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and most of it is  irrational and increased dramatically when we became 'civilized'.

    There is a place for structure and order, and Lord knows our primitive brains crave it
    order is something humans can impose to make things more predictable - to control our irrational need to avoid uncertainty- for some (cons) its worse than others and if they don't get it it can end in fear.

    humans evolved in a natural environment that has general patterns but is highly uncertain in the details.

    when we became 'civilized' it was necessary to delay the age of reproduction and that eventually led in some cultures/societies/religions/value structures to a lot of masturbation. our power structures eventually evolved, either by design or default, to discourage by various forms of repression the use of the hand connected to the side of the brain for emotion creativity and orgasm and instead encourage sending powerful sex energy to the left brain- the side of the brain where sex energy is satisfied in terms of magnitude/greed (numbers, math) and certitude (logic).

    below is ref to a paper that might interest you re conservative need for certainty, but first here's a great explanation:

    Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

    John T. Jost Stanford University
    Arie W. Kruglanski University of Maryland at College Park
    Jack Glaser University of California, Berkeley
    Frank J. Sulloway University of California, Berkeley

    Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (au- thoritarianism, dogmatism—intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure, regulatoryfocus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, systemjustifi- cation). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r =    .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism—intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (—.32); uncertainty tolerance (—.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (—.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (—.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:48:06 AM PDT

    •  Creativity is accelerated evolution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I believe that our minds allowed us to evolve faster than natural selection and genetic differentiation allows.

      Civilization is a creation of our minds through communication and memory that gives us the ability to rise above our biology.  A "civilized" mind both enables rapid adaptation and the modifies its own environment to demand that adaptation.  We live in a virtualized Darwinian ecosystem created by mind, artifact, and message.

      Conservatism (and sin) is the impedance mismatch between our biological evolution and this intellectual/societal evolution.  Our biology gives us a genetically coded brain that has muscle memory, keeps our lungs pumping, and processes messages from optical nerves.  It is little evolved from other mammals.

      But it also gives us our plastic brain, which lets us communicate, make memories, and process brain signals in novel ways.  

      I believe the Conservative/Liberal divide lies in how we deal with this impedance mismatch.  How do we reconcile our internal messaging?

  •  I had a light bulb moment reading Brooks' Column (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madmadmad, Dustin Mineau

    Brooks is clearly wrong when he says that there is no social component to the modern Conservative. How can anyone assert something so contrary to basic facts? The Conservative movement is dominated by Social Conservatives who believe government should enforce a laundry list of what they consider to be moral behavior. Nobody disputes that.

    Myself and most Progressives have trouble squaring the idea that the same people who want the government to decide how people live out the most intimate portions of their life is also lobbying for removing all constraints on the behavior of business in the name of freedom. Well Brooks just cleared this up for me.

    The Conservatives believe that if the government forces people to comply with what they consider to be proper moral behavior then they will have the proper basis to  freely wield the tools of unfettered  corporate power. Brooks laid their magical thinking bare, without realizing it. While he was bemoaning how Conservatives have lost their concern for ordinary people he was ignoring the Elephant in the room. They are concerned about ordinary people. They just don't care if they starve or not. They only care about who they sleep with.

    I've read about Christians who believe if only we could get everybody in America to believe and behave exactly like them then God would smile on them and everything would be right on America. But it wasn't until reading Brooks' column that I realized that this thinking explains the entirety of current Conservative thinking. If only the government could force everybody to live "correctly" then we could have zero regulations and there would never be another financial collapse.

  •  The contradiction is staggering.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dustin Mineau, madmadmad

    The sort not even Hegel could resolve.

    It's the question of the "secure base" from which individuals can adventurously venture that trips him up.  The conservative solution is to both advocate the freedom of the individual to define for him or herself what that "secure base" is, yet to impose a "discipline" as to the limits of that security.  Their solution appears to me to be a top down "free" market, which isn't really free as it involves a sort of post-hoc pay-to-play system.  

    "Pay-to-play" in that the market's supply and demand functioning is determined by the money the demand side has to define and satisfy that demand.   The more money one has, the more one can demand, not only of the aggregate goods and services produced but of participation in the process of how and to what extent and which demands will be satisfied.  The "play" will thus be determined by those with more to "pay."  

    Similarly, the market engages in post-hoc justifications.  Investment decisions made on the basis of those with most to pay to satisfy their demands will be justified by  
    that demand showing up to pay for the goods and services thus produced.   Thus demand is defined by those with the most to pay.  

    It's not a free system but a plutocratic and authoritarian one, in which the priorities of the many are defined by the few.  

    You can't stand up for Main Street when you're genuflecting to Wall Street

    by caul on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 01:08:34 PM PDT

  •  Self examination? Darn... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even though he is probably far off in his writing, I take bad news at this.  Instead of blaming the candidate for having a poor showing, he is actually examining conservatism itself as to the answer of why Republicans are about to lose the presidency 2 landslides in a row.

    The ideal would be to have conservatives get beat down year after year, and always blaming bad candidates instead of looking at themselves as the problem.  With any luck, David Brooks will be a lonely voice.

    Our Dime: Understanding the Federal Budget

    by Dustin Mineau on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 01:33:46 PM PDT

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