Throughout most of the ‘noughties’ there was a familiar refrain arising from much, if not most, of the conservative american community. It was proclaimed from the ground level all the way to the top floors of the movement, and few more vociferously than alpha conservative Bill O’Reilly himself. It went something like this: “moderate Islam needs to do more to vocalize their opposition to terrorism” and while some elements of the statement can be ascribed a moral truth (decency requires everyone to denounce terrorism, for any cause) what the conservatives did not, or could not see, was how applicable the statement could become when pointed in their own direction.
Conservatism has a fundamental irony inherent in its core. It is essentially anti-humanist (if one is to believe the theory that humanity naturally progresses, and one is not to make the mistake of calling modernism on the whole, anti-humanist). the problem with fundamental conservatism is that is has few successes in the long form to bolster it’s credentials in the, or any, current era. it also shares a problem that affects all anti-modernity movements, such as Quakerism, fundamental Islam, etc., that by virtue of being anti modernity, it forces you to choose a moment in history as an echelon, a period in which the proponent feels exemplifies their ideals. this is problematic, because it requires ignoring the irony of progress that led to said periods place in history. in other words, it has to accept progress at some level, just not the current level.
This leads us to the apparent problem that conservatism has little success on which to base future activism. if we take the current common conservative plank, as it stands in 2014, it is unlikely most of it will be implemented, due to that pesky humanistic theory that history, whether made or to be made, in the long arm of time, progresses.
One of the top priorities for conservatives today, is stopping gay and transgendered people from reaching a form of self actualization. Mostly, this manifests itself in the anti-gay marriage movement, but some conservatives go even further and advocate removing full actualization and rights from the glbt community, and along into criminalization, punishment, imprisonment, and even execution. It would be a difficult prospect for anyone to attempt to make a case that this is not a battle already lost, the graves for the fallen already dug, and covered over, and the peace accord signed (the majority opinion of the developed world, no matter of nationality, is strongly in favor of gay marriage, or its close cousin, civil unions). For instance, in the notoriously conservative Catholic country of the Republic of Ireland, 84% of voters support gay marriage.
They are not likely to succeed, and as if a side-effect of allowing oneself to get drunk on ideology, the hangover is not likely to be pleasant. We only have to look to the last few civil-rights movements, and their aftermaths, to discern the probable outcome: as the gay civil rights movement normalizes among general populaces, formally being tied to the anti-rights position leaves one with a hard out. Conservatism today is still suffering the hangover from segregation. the ghost of Alabama governor George Wallace still haunts the conservative ideology, rattling his chains every time conservatism inserts itself into a civil rights conversation.
The ghosts of Christmas past aside, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Thomas Jefferson, no matter how vaunted his proclamations on free speech, and separation of church and state, cannot be discussed in an honest manner without acknowledging his ownership (and subsequent impregnation) of slaves. It is a blight that even affects the legacy of men who have ‘evolved’ their positions over time. Lincoln, cannot be fully understood in the context of his personal history, without mention of the flirtations of a younger Lincoln with white supremacy and race separation theories.
There is no known cure. If you advocate positions against actualization of groups, the world is likely to modernize despite your desire for the status quo. In today’s world, with internet histories, and screenshots, it becomes even more endemic. When you may have to answer for every and anything you may have said, or believe, in the past, you cannot escape your own legacy being measured in light of those positions.
What conservatives cannot do, is co-opt civil rights struggles effectively to bolster their own history. When little else in the world are as important as civil rights, (considering basic needs are being met, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume they are) actualization sits atop Maslow’s hierarchy for a reason. It is the shining light on the hill. It may not be the essence of progress, as we may find other motivations for progress arise when actualization has been fully met, but it is essential that progress include actualization, and that actualization requires progress.
Without having this important, or essential, element of philosophy as a weapon to advance your position, you’re left with the more banal problems of basic needs, food, shelter, security, which in the western world, have been or are being met. It causes a philosophical vacancy, and it forces conservatism to ignore one of the biggest motivations of the human condition.
Conservatism, without actualization as a foundation, is a three legged table, a small breeze can push it over.
Which leads us back to Bill O’Reilly and the conservative sloganeering to Islam. Why aren’t more conservatives speaking up against the anti-modernity forces within it’s own ranks? It is true, that many conservatives are not anti-humanists. It is an irony that, if somewhat uncomfortably, they have given such a prominent seat at the table to the anti-humanist right. That they, in the search of power, see the anti-progress crowd as a coalition. We don’t talk about coalitions much in american politics (that’s a dirty word for parliamentarian) but they do exist. While the left has succeeded in diminishing and ultimately removing (through progress) any viable movement on the left that could be called anti-humanist (i.e. communism, heterosis, etc) the conservative anti-modernists keep receiving calls back to the party. While a socialist such as Bernie Sanders has no real place in the modern Democratic party, the Democrats do use him in the form of coalition. but barely.
So why do the centrist conservatives, if their wish is economic fiscal-ism, and not dogmatic social policy, not coalition with the left who also do not want dogmatic social policy? why not speak up against the movement which is ultimately doomed to failure, and is hurting their own interests? It would seem prudent to not bet all your chips on a movement that is anti-progress, lest progress prove to you why these kinds of bets are always rigged to the house, and in this case, the house is humanity. And, the house always wins (even if they let you think you’re winning, in effect allowing you to put more risk on the line - an old casino trick)
Imagine what the state of politics could be, if the opposite were true. If the pragmatic conservatives of the fiscal middle, created a coalition with the progressives, who although having a different position on economics, they share the same desire to not fight the slow creep of progress, and, or, admit, at least, that it is not a fight worth waging. Imagine if all that stood in the way of fiscal cooperation was arguing fiscal policy, rather than fiscal policy in the context of greater anti-modernity. Suddenly the idea of compromise seems actually reachable. As an added benefit, fiscal conservatives would not have the ghosts of Christmas present, the Michelle Bachmann’s, and the Rick Santorum’s, and the Fischer’s and Buchanan’s shaking their chains every time they want to get something done.
That would take speaking up, and out, against the ghouls of regression and repression. At the moment, there seems little desire on the part of fiscal conservatives to grab hold of the megaphone.
As an aside - it is worth noting that a run of the mill Muslim, has less direct connection with Al Qeada, when we consider Islam is approx. a 1.6 billion strong movement, meanwhile According to Gallup polling, 29% of Americans identified as Republicans, which implies their tangential connections to the bigots are stronger and more direct than any particular Muslim’s to terrorism.
further reading: rightwingwatch.org