Punchinello’s Chronicles

November 14, 2008

WorldNetDaily – Conservatism too Passive

Filed under: View from the Bottom — Punchinello @ 2:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

WND (WorldNetDaily) founder and editor Joseph Farah has written a book calling for a plan of action. He proposes that conservatism isn’t sufficiently active to sustain and support the core values of America and the US Constitution.

“For years I have been writing about the failure of conservatism. It has failed for a number of obvious reasons:

  • It is defensive in nature, seeking to hold on to ground rather than take the fight to the enemy and expand liberty.
  • It is reactive rather than proactive, meaning its agenda is set by the enemy rather than with a positive agenda of its own.
  • It is easily hijacked by people claiming to be conservatives when they are clearly not.
  • A movement that literally defines itself as one seeking to “conserve” is of little value when there is little left to conserve.”

But is it that conservatives are too passive, or is it that conservatives have tried to maintain a civil society? Are we unschooled and untrained in political activism and unrest, or is it that we’ve seen the likely consequences of “taking off the gloves” and using the same tactics as the hippies of old?

The problem here is that Farah introduces an artificial split in a philosophy and movement that’s only just barely gotten under way. It throws out the baby with the bath water, so to speak, connecting the name of the movement too closely with the underlying meaning of the movement. The name was a poor choice, but even so, we have to live with it. However, the name isn’t the movement.

Conservatism really didn’t even begin until around the 1950s, and hasn’t yet been well “branded.” People in general don’t understand what the term “conservative” means, and excepting in only a few instances, haven’t even seen any real conservative politics. What they’ve seen might better be called “preservationism.”

Conservatism is not “defensive in nature.” That belief comes from the semantic definition of the word. Farah argues that the entire philosophy rests only a simple mandate to keep “something” going. Without knowing exactly what it is that should be kept going, the premise isn’t useful or meaningful.

What’s the difference between conserving something and preserving something? The dictionay isn’t any help, seemingly using the two terms identically. As such, we need to build up a definition from scratch.

Both con-serve and pre-serve entered the language in the 1300s, from the old French verb “servare,” which means to keep watch, to maintain something, or to keep something safe. The prefix “con” means in conjunction with. The prefix “pre” means before or ahead of.

Conserve technically means to watch over, guard or maintain. Preserve means to sustain, as with preserving strawberries from rotting. We conserve energy by budgeting it or rationing it over time. Preservation also means that we don’t use something, we store it. Conservation implies that we currently are using something, just not going overboard.

We preserve a souvenir, perhaps a dried flower. But we make a conservative estimate of costs, meaning a cautious estimate that doesn’t account for new information.

The conservative movement and philosophy came about through a strange association between Ayn Rand, William F. Buckley Jr., and the John Birch society. They intended to help Barry Goldwater in his 1964 bid for presidential office, running against Lyndon Johnson. Johnson had been VP under John F. Kennedy, and became President following JFK’s assassination.

At that time, socialism was (and still is) considered to be a viable political structure in America, with no defined and articulate rebuttal. Capitalism itself was still fairly new, and Ayn Rand brought the philosophic platform of Objectivism (and objective reality) to a definition of capitalist morality. The John Birch society was formed as a basis in arguing for strict interpretation of the Constitution, along with somewhat Christian-derived social values.

The Goldwater election was a fiasco, with the GOP capturing only six states. But the consequence of that election was the basic formation of what became known as the conservative movement.

The name itself, as only a word, obviously has a meaning, but that meaning itself is not the movement. If we accept Mr. Farah’s proposition, splitting apart what yet hasn’t even been formed, then we’ll end up with nothing. Much more important is to begin a formal declaration of “platform” and philosophy, with a formal definition of the overall concept and philosophy of conservatism.

Conservatives aren’t at all “passive.” They’re not reactionary, as is obvious in the ongoing activism of today’s talk-radio and news sites such as WorldNetDaily.com. Rather, it’s that conservatives have always held to old-fashioned courtesies of discourse, reasoned public debate, etiquette, manners, and the approach that people are basically polite.

Conservatives also have maintained a subscription to the original moral contract with society upon which the United States was formed (and all societies are formed). To that end, the coherent and unified interaction of everyone within the society is more important than splintering into special interest groups and division.

That contract has come to an end on a national level. The progressive movement has succeeded in so dividing and polarizing the nation that we can almost say there no longer is an organized, unified nation. We no longer have a clearly united set of states. As such, etiquette, manners, being polite, no longer remain a higher priority than the survival of the original concept of America.

The 1960s were a period of upheaval, arising out of the earlier conflict between socialism and “something.” Capitalism was the “sense” of that something, but socialism was (and is) much more clearly defined. The House Un-American Activities Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph McCarthy brought the clash to a head. The so-called Free Speech movement was a reaction against those hearings.

One consequence of the Free Speech movement was the emergence of the “hippie” culture, defined by the Baby Boom generation. Couched in terms of freedom, the hippies weren’t even socialists; they were outright communists. Ronald Reagan came to office as a public reaction to and against the growing interest in American communism.

During the 1960s, the coalition of progressives, liberals, socialists, communists and anarchists proclaimed a “revolution.” They brought together all the minority special interest groups who stood opposed to a unified America and introduced “civil unrest.” Demonstrations, riots, passive resistance, and political activism all came to be associate with this revolution.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, to use an old phrase. With the now successful overthrow of the US government, it’s the conservative movement that stands outside the mainstream. There’s nothing passive about conservatives by nature. It’s only that conservatives have been polite, and have assumed that everyone in the United States actually wants to be united.

Now that it’s been made clear that half the citizenry has no interest in being unified, why continue the polite facade? There’s no reason left, and so just as the Republican party was formed in protest over national policies, a Conservative party will form in protest over the dismantling of the Constitution.

Ironically, the cultural catchphrase of the hippies and revolutionaries was “Power to the People!” Half a century later, the result has become power to the government, brought about by the useful idiots who idealized “flower power,” and “all ya need is love.” Without capital, wealth, business, revenues, food, industry, technology, and civilization, indeed: All they’ll have is love.


1 Comment »

  1. Baby name meaning and origin for Birch…

    Description for the baby name Birch, the origins of the name and its meaning…

    Trackback by Baby-Parenting.com — December 7, 2008 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

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