“What is conservative culture?”

The title of this post is part of the title of an article Rick Perlstein wrote for The New Republic:  “What is Conservative Culture?  Mass Martyr” is the full title (and you can read it if you register).  Although I no longer agree with its politics, TNR is, I think, one of the last honest liberal publications.  Indeed, during the Clinton era, it was generous in its disapproval of much of which Clinton did, which I think points to a certain even-handed intellectualism.  That’s why I found Perlstein’s article so discordant — it’s silly.

Perlstein claims to be seeking a core conservative culture.  If I read the muddled article correctly, he’s claiming that conservatism is all about (a) paranoia and (b) getting back at liberals.  These two powerful forces are sufficient to unite huge swaths of America, from white collar to blue, religious to atheist libertarian, passionate to pragmatic.

Perlstein doesn’t seem to find it at all peculiar that those two negative emotions could create such a  (yes, I’m going to say it) big tent.  Frankly, it seems to me that Perlstein would do better to figure out why Republicans do appeal to such a broad demographic.  It’s a cop-out to say it’s for the pleasure of sticking out a series of collective conservative tongues at the liberals.  When you have this type of reach without the media’s help (although Perlstein says, without providing any support, that the media is being coopted by conservatives), you’ve got a lot more than paranoia and oneupmanship at work.

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  • mamapajamas

    That’s a “subscribe” article, and I’d never subscribe to TNR. However, taking your word for what it says, I’ll give Mr. Perlstein this bit of information:

    “Conservatism” depends upon what is being conserved. I should not have to explain this to a member of the media. In the old USSR, when the putsch tried to seize control from Gorbachov, the news media, en masse, referred to the putsch group as “conservatives”. Why? Because they were trying to conserve the old communist regime. “Conservatism” has nothing to do with whether you’re on the right or left… it is the act of “conserving”… something.

    What American conservatives wish to conserve is the Constitution. Not just the 1st Amendment clauses dealing with Establishment, but with at least equal balance to Free Exercise clause. Not just the 1st Amendment right for free speech, but free speech for ALL, not just whatever popular liberal idea happens to be in fashion at the moment. For the right to burn Dixie Chicks cds to exercise our free speech if that’s what we want to do. For 2nd Amendment rights for the people to bear arms, not just the “official” malitia.

    I could go on and on through all of the Amendments, but people already pretty much know where we stand on most things.

    These ideas are not negative. We are trying to reinforce the things that we believe made our country great. And that is VERY positive.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Mama makes a good point, which the mental fanatics on the left seem not to get whenever they compare conservatives in Europe to conservatives in America as if they are the same thing.

    We’re not.

    The media is also conservative. They want to conserve their power. Which is why they make themselves appear very hypocritical when they say they are fighting against the “establishment”. Hello people in another dimension, you are the establishment. If we need protection from people abusing power, most likely we need it (protection) from the New York Times.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    You know, this is why back in the American Revolution, the FFs were said to be radical liberals, and the loyalists to UK was the conservatives. This is also why conservatism has changed over the decades, when the Republican party regained traction in the SOuth after centuries of Democrat Southern power.

  • mamapajamas

    Ymarsakar, thanks for the backup. And you are absolutely right. I was recently surprised at a German site to hear that when Germans (and most Europeans) use the term “liberal”, they are talking about people who are free market advocates, more akin to US libertarians than to US liberals, who can best be described as ranging from “borderline socialists to Marxists”. European socialist usually SAY that they’re socialists. A US socialist can’t be elected to political power under that appelation, so they pretend to be “liberals”.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Most people don’t see this connection, but I got it after studying Europe and reading David Weber novels and Eric Flint’s 1632. Socialism is actually sourced from aristocratic traditions of “patronage”. Basically, the government does in Europe, what once aristocrats did. Provide for the poor, give money, provide welfare, and in return the subjects are loyal to the aristocrat (government) by paying taxes and giving them votes.

    An artist in the patronage of a nobel, gets paid nothing, he gets paid what the nobel gives him. There is no free market. In most cases, the artist gets food and lodging, that’s it. This is why mozart died penniless, btw. In our world, in the USA, Mozart would have been a millionaire if not a billionare because the middle class would pay him to entertain. In Europe, aristocrats had the artists and entertainers, the merchants either didn’t have the money or they weren’t “allowed” to pay for entertainment. Other than low brow entertainment.

    This is socialism. Why people still think socialism is “progressive”… I don’t know, must be mind rot. Just as classical liberals advocated the end of slavery, peasantry, and serf bondage which pit them against the aristocrats, free market economists are against socialists and state owned advocaters.

  • mamapajamas

    Hmmmm… curious. And very interesting that we think so much alike :).

    Even without the close study of Renaissance to Modern Europe that you seem to have had, I’ve been saying for years that Marxism is Medieval Feudalism dressed up in new terminology. (I’m more familiar with Feudalism because many European cultures, such as the Norsemen, are regarded as “prehistoric”, since they kept few day to day records). What I used to say was that “..it was a 5th-10th Century idea that mostly died in the 11th Century and has no place in the 21st.” It is redistribution with an attempt to disguise what it really is. It is a system that gives entirely too much power to whoever is in charge of the redistribution, which is why it always leads to corruption and totalitarianism.

    Does free market capitalism ever lead to corruption? Certainly. The Marxists can probably name more examples than I can. But with Marxism, the corruption is systemic, not the actions of individuals as it is with capitalism. In capitalism, the system is neither good nor bad, it is neutral, to be made what you choose to make of it.

    This exchange is interesting to me :). I hope I’m not boring everyone else to death! 😀

  • mamapajamas

    I don’t think I was clear in my last message… what I meant was that if socialism is redressed patronage, then Marxism is “reinvented” Feudalism.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    I think you should say it more, that people should not support Socialism or Marxism because of its regressive tendencies. Simply because I don’t see that defense of capitalism a lot as I read the internet. I never encountered it even once before reading your thoughts.

    oh, I’m sure some people know about the relationships, but it is like medieval swordplay. Only specialists know about them. I think it is a waste, the Left has bad arguments but get more traction because their propaganda can broadcast a bad message so that everyone sees it. The Republicans have great arguments, but it is like I don’t ever see the talking heads use them. A waste.

    I think that people of like mind are attracted to the same kinds of blogs. My theory is that there are two types of people, with an additional 2 sub-types per type. There are people who think alike, A Type. And then there are A Types that agree on issues and A Types that disagree on issues. A rather extreme example would be Japanese honor and American honor, people of both nationalities think in the same way, they ask what is honorable, yet what they believe is honorable or dishonorable is not the same. The B Types are people who don’t think the same way or use the same kind of reasoning process. The subtypes of B are those who agree and those who disagree. Disagreeing B types are fake liberals and Marines. They will never agree and they will never match thinking, beliefs, or values. The weird B subtype is the kind where conservatives agree with other conservatives, but for DIFFERENT reasons.

    There are conservatives who have the same views on Iraq and Bush as me, but believe Lincoln was a tyrant and that the South had legal rights to secession. I’m like, what!?

    Their reasoning and logic is not the same I use, even though some of the answers they come up with are the same as mine.

    That is why I don’t put much stock in “getting the right” mathematical answer. I care more for your work, how you got to that answer, your beliefs, emotions, and logic used. Siding with people who agree with you on the issues is a pragmatic decision, however that does not mean it is always wise. This is also justification for why people on the far left are related to the same kind of people on the far right. Both like totalitarian beliefs, both are agains Israel (David Duke and the Storm dudes).

    Some have called open-minded people sitting on the fence, and that might be true for some, but not for me. Bookworm should draw people to her blog that thinks alike, at least the regulars. Neo Neocon does that for her blog as well. All the regulars there, or most of them, come back to her blog because they think like she does. Introspective, analyzing, patient, polite, etc. It doesn’t matter as to the age either.

    Because I’ve studied philosophy, I also know when I’m in an echo chamber, and I try to avoid that. Having 10 people that think alike in the same room doesn’t mean they will agree on everything. There are 10 individuals, bringing their individual beliefs and experiences to the melting pot. A twin is not an exact duplicate of his brother. The result won’t exactly be the same. In analyzing the epistemology of people’s beliefs, I can determine whether their reasoning and logic mirrors mine. It helps if they explain their reasoning for their beliefs, as well, as you did mama.

    If anyone is vulnerable to the charge of boring people to death, it would probably be me, rather than you.

    I’ve heard a lot of criticism and attacks on neo neocon because she is a “neo con” and all “neo cons” are people who think alike and out to destroy the world. These are the people who either aren’t intelligent or have misused their intelligence. You cannot convince someone to be more enlightened, they have to do it themselves. I can make them do it, but then they would have to experience an extremely psychologically shocking evident in their personal lives, like 9/11. You can’t do that just with words.

    The more logic and epistemology you understand, the more available your options are. That means there is more variety. I like variety. Vanilla is always there if chocolate becomes old.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Check out this conservative on conservative action going on here.


    It highlights how people can have the same positions on things like the war and guns and what not, and yet come to those beliefs along entirely different routes.

  • mamapajamas

    “I think you should say it more,” Thanks :) I try to say it wherever I see Marxism or socialism discussed as “progressive”. It is not progressive, it is regressive and retrograde, causing destruction in its wake. I thought the human race outgrew this nonsense.

    Personally, I have a tendency to take a long view because my degree work was in anthropology/prehistoric civilizations, which I believe I mentioned in another thread. And, frankly, I don’t think many people with education in anthropology/archeology are all that interested in political/economic systems, which is a shame. We NEED a “long view” to see what has failed in the past and why. This is why the belief that socialism/Marxism is “progressive” is so laughable to me… I’ve seen it in the past, and it stinketh ;).