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Conservative politics in America, if thought of as a system, can be seen as in the grip of a dangerous and destructive positive feedback loop. Consider this fairly well sourced Wikipedia discussion of the kind of loop that could portend the end of American conservative politics as we have come to know it.

Mathematically, positive feedback is defined as a positive loop gain around a feedback loop. That is, positive feedback is in phase with the input, in the sense that it adds to make the input larger. Positive feedback tends to cause system instability. When the loop gain is positive and above 1, there will typically be exponential growth, increasing oscillations or divergences from equilibrium. System parameters will typically accelerate towards extreme values, which may damage or destroy the system, or may end with the system latched into a new stable state.
It has become commonplace to observe that ex-Presidents Nixon, Reagan and groundbreaking conservative Republican Barry Goldwater, would be unwelcome among today's Republicans. Everyone paying attention has watched the Overton Window march steadily and ever rightward, particularly for the aging, White Americans who are the heart and soul of GOP conservatives. Everyone outside their bubble can see how carefully these people limit their misinformation about the nation and the World to what they see on Fox News and hear from a handful of radio yammerers and assorted godbotherers.

Within their bubble, American conservatives suffer from a success problem. Over the years, they have elected successively more conservative office holders. They have elected conservative Presidents and impeached or paralyzed Democrats. They have controlled houses of Congress, or crippled them. Whenever conservatives think they've won, they move further to the right. Even when they lose, they think it's because they aren't conservative enough. It looks like American conservatives are caught in a positive feedback loop.

Obviously, a sociopolitical system like the American conservative movement will never behave with mathematical precision or predictability. Still, the analogy seems useful and instructive. Subjectively, the rate is speeding up, at which the most rightward fringe of the GOP seems to be moving even further right. If that acceleration grows, what comes next could be " increasing oscillations or divergences from equilibrium. System parameters will typically accelerate towards extreme values, which may damage or destroy the system, or may end with the system latched into a new stable state."

One can only hope.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by LeftOfYou on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 10:58:02 AM PDT

  •  The problem is they're taking us with them; (13+ / 0-)

    if they can't control us they will destroy us.

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:06:45 AM PDT

  •  You seem to not understand systems (7+ / 0-)

    positive feedback may (I wonder) "destroy" the republican party as it is now manifest.  It will not in he same way rid us of the oligarchy that is behind both parties.  Another entity will rise up to take its place and do their bidding.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:12:19 AM PDT

    •  I never said it would. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      defluxion10, mookins, G2geek

      I wasn't addressing the problem of the oligarchy, just the problem of one of its tools.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:21:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Oligarchy is also in a Positive Feedback Loop (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, nirbama

      it's of a different input but the end is still the same Destruction of them and their Wealth and unfortunately everyone tied into the Systems they built and/or corrupted.  

      •  yes that is the subject of our book (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, defluxion10

        Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

        The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 01:01:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't forget (7+ / 0-)

    the significance of the middle aged white male (40-60) to both the rhetoric and acceptance of the far-right conservative message.

    As I have written previously:

    The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as the move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.

    We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but we should be vigilant to avoid failing to grasp the grim reality of politics that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.

    Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?
  •  That's crazy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, Villabolo

    Even if you win for a generation, evil schemes its way back into power.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:31:49 AM PDT

  •  I also question your use of the word "science" (4+ / 0-)

    giving a description of positive feedback does not make this a scientific prediction.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:36:59 AM PDT

  •  I hope. (6+ / 0-)

    But one of my favorite sigs around here, I'll paraphrase as follows:

    "Conservatism is dying? Remember, the alligator has survived for millions of years, resisting both extinction and evolution."

    Supple and turbulent, a ring of men/ Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn...

    by karmsy on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 12:18:35 PM PDT

  •  Or you can get fascism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, AnnieR

    which usually destroys itself.  Unfortunately it's likely to take a lot of innocent people down with it,  violently.  Or you get an empire rotting from within like the Romans,  where decades or even centuries are spent going down the road to barbarism.

    I'm not confident enough people will wake up, realize what is going on,  and work to change course. It has been 34 years of a rightward lurch under Reaganomics,  and an ever more aggressive militarism, and acceleration of "conflict among the slobs"  as evidenced by the growing number of gun deaths which are now exceeding automobile deaths. Every time someone comes up with this pendulum theory of politics it is disproven with worse and worse events, dysfunction and paralysis in the system.

  •  I'm not sure the word "conservative" (0+ / 0-)

    is appropriate.

    While I think it would be better for true conservatives to reclaim it, I tend not to use it to describe the current crop of extremists; I find little conservative about them.

    If your strategy depends on having fewer people show up to vote, that is not a sign of strength. That is a sign of weakness. President Obama

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 01:47:40 PM PDT

  •  That's a negative positive feedback loop (eom) (0+ / 0-)
  •  Soon they will suffer the fate they have sown: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou

    indifference, the death nell of a political position.

  •  A Zen question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    If science explains the conservative movement, but nobody in said movement believes in science, does the science actually make an impact?:)

    •  That's not Zen (0+ / 0-)

      Zen, like every other form of Buddhism, explains the workings of greed, hatred, and delusion, whether you believe it or not. Zen then offers to hit you over the head with it, but only if you volunteer for the exercise.

      That's Bishop Berkeley's question.

      If a tree grows in the Oxford University quad in Balliol College, but nobody is there to see it, does it exist?

      Yes, says Berkeley, because God sees it at all times.

         There once was a man who said, 'God
          Must think it exceedingly odd
          If he finds that this tree
          Continues to be
          When there's no one about in the Quad.'

          Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd:
          I am always about in the Quad.
          And that's why the tree
          Will continue to be,
          Since observed by, Yours faithfully, GOD.

             Ronald Knox, quoted in The Complete Limerick Book (1924).

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 11:01:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK (0+ / 0-)

        I was trying to riff on the question about if a tree falls in the forest and no-one hears it does it make a sound, which I was under the impression was Zen, though I see is similar to your citation with which I was not familiar.

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