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The problem I see in Conservativism

April 25, 2012

From forum posts in January and a couple of weeks ago:

The thing with American conservativism, including evangelicalism, is national IDENTITY. From debating with them online for over 10 years, culminating in reading the fundamentalist biography Sword of the Lord by the brother of someone on a Christian forum, it is clear that they have to PROVE that this country is the “greatest in the world”, and its heritage of Western “culture” and economic system of capitalism was “BETTER” than everything else in the world.

Yet, things aren’t going so well in it now (morally or economically), but this has to be blamed on others. So they can’t admit any wrong on their ancestors’ part (or the socioeconomic system they believe in).

Right off the bat, colonialism, slavery, and later racial oppression is a big ugly stain on this record; the whole image of the “godly society” many have portrayed.
So there must be something wrong with the victims, that they not only are innately or at least “morally” defective today, as evidenced by all their “problems”; but likely (by implication) “deserved” all that in the past in the first place because of this defectiveness.

So for awhile, they had to completely ignore it, except to oppose changes generations ago, and once these changes were forced anyway (and culture, including often their own children, rebelled against the whole paradigm), they then went after the “forces” they saw responsible for these changes: the “socialists” and liberals, the sexual revolution, cultural changes like rock & roll, minorities (the beneficiaries of many of the changes, including “welfare”, “integration”, and “multiculturalism”), religious “modernism”, the century old archenemy of evolutionism, education and the media (who promoted a lot of this), and sometimes even the Jews (seen as pulling the strings behind nearly all of these movements; even as many Rightists posed as staunch friends of “Israel” and Jewry in general, based on readings of Gen.12 and the dispensational theology).

The premise is that God “chose” the nation, which included subjugating others and taking their land, resources and labor. The Old Testament could be cited in support of this. (This ignores that the New Covenant supersedes all of that).

So they decided that those things weren’t sin, and compensated for this by focusing purely on sexual sins, which they put themselves forth as being totally above.

The inital basis was Calvinism and a version of it called “covenant theology”. The “chosen” were identified by both being prosperous (including the power to gain and maintain prosperity—”providence“), as well as their morality, that is, “following Biblical principles”. God, in His sovereignty divided man into “vessels of mercy” and “vessels of wrath”, and would take from one and give to the other, both in this life and after death.

Later, Arminianism arose within Protestantism, through the influnce of groups such as the Anabaptists, and later, the Wesleys. Many of these groups initially opposed the politics of the more established churches, but eventually adopted them as they mixed in the culture.
Their focus was on “personal choice”, both in salvation, as well as morality. Hence, the American “can do” spirit of individual piety, “hard work”, and “earning” one’s prosperity (and that all prosperity of those who represent the system can be assumed to have been justly “earned”).

These two strains blended into the American Christianity we had come to know. They both believed themselves to be chosen by God in addition to proving themselves “worthy” through the great nation their fathers built and which they defend.
Whatever goes wrong must be blamed on someone else; everyone else; if not denied as wrong to begin with. In either system (election or free-will), the “cursed” people would still be “held responsible” for their condition; hence, all the blame being cast.

So the world was truly divided between the “bad” and “good”, even while scripture declared “all under sin”. They denounced all other religions and philosophies and moderate forms of Christianity for not believing in the doctrine of the sinfulness of all man. But while maintaining that so vigorously, they were able to exclude themselves from it on the premise of being “chosen” (election/justification) and “changed” (“Regeneration/Sanctification”). Therefore, everything they believed and did must have been right. All sin comes from everyone else. (This was the same thinking as the Israelites who Christ dealt with. Of course, the difference was, they rejected Him, while this new “chosen” group accepted Him).
This is what the Reconstructionists call “Presuppositionalism”. You just “pre-suppose” that what you believe is “just right”, because God says so. This has completely undergirded many conservative Christians’ method of argumentation.

So this is why the rich-favoring system of capitalism has to be justified at all costs, and the poor and minorities blamed for their plights. To support it is to “love” America and all it stands for (including “God”), and to oppose it is to “hate” America. They cannot admit any inherent evil or sin in the system.

So 30 years ago, listening to them was like watching super hero cartoons on TV. You had the total good guys and the total bad guys, “evil empires”, inferior cultures and subcultures, and everyone out to get the good Christians.

As much as they hate a “race card” being “played” on them, they fail to realize this entire premise is one of precisely the same sense of superiority and inferiority that led to the past actions!

Over the years since, the evangelicals at large have sort of mellowed out. They had been mellowing ever since they broke away from the true [old-line] fundamentalists in the 50’s (which you can read all about in the book I mentioned above).
Now, it’s pretty much just Dobson. And you don’t hear about him as much as you used to. Robertson has sort of gone off the deep end with a lot of wild statements in recent years. Falwell is gone. You don’t hear as much about Randall Terry anymore. LaHaye became more involved with his successful Left Behind novels. Robison is more into world outreach. The rest of the people you see on TV are mainly too preoccupied with some form of health & wealth (including “victorious Christian living” on a personal rather than national level) to bother with politics. [And Colson has just passed, since my drafting this!]

It seemed in the 80’s, they were riding high, but after even having Reagan in, with the grand climax of the defeat of the Soviets, the moral issues continued to fall to the wayside, with the Republicans becoming little more than “the lesser of two evils”, in both abortion and “big government”. Areas such as evolution, public morality and reverence of God, and now, gay rights; the impetus was just too great for them to have any sort of tempering influence.

So it seems they lost a lot of steam, or just gave up, and went off into those other pursuits. To my glee, many wised up, and began realizing they had gone off track in the political zeal. Hence, a very moderate “new-evangelical” body that has become less enthusiastic about politics changing things. They realized that with their central doctrine of the fallenness of all man, it was ultimatelfy futile. Hence, the more “inner” focus much of the body has taken.

You still have old-liners out there (BJU was an example), and while some may occasionally get involved in politics (such as Bush’s campaign stop at BJU), they had all along traditionally been skeptical of politics, seeing evangelism as most important. They of course denounced liberals and socialists along with the moral slide (in addition to opposing racial progress); but were never as much into political activism to begin with, and used to criticize the evangelicals on it.
So now, they just continue to spend most of their energy just bashing the new evangelicals on their “compromises” with “the world”. (They do have a point, often, as it seems the new-evangelicals often don’t seem to know what to do with themselves, and many just copy popular cultural trends and Christianize them).

So today, no politician fully embodies the values evangelicals hold. None are able to roll back the tide on abortion, gay rights and the rest of the moral issues. Most are even sliding on reducing the government. It seems the closest for them will be Mormons like Romney (and I believe, Rand Paul, who long ago dropped out), but many don’t want to vote for them on religious reasons. So someone like Gingrich is the next best thing. (I know early on in the last election, Huckabee seemed to be liked alot by them, but he dropped out, and hasn’t run again. Before that (’04) many of the more radical ones liked Peroutka [Constitution Party], and most of those who opposed him only did so on the grounds that they knew he wouldn’t win, and the votes would fall to the Democrats).

Meanwhile, seeing capitalism as a natural part of their “good” heritage (through the in-practice “corporatist” aspect of this can really be debated: what-the-founding-fathers-thought-about-corporations) they REFUSE to ever blame it for draining the economy. (That’s really where all the money is going).
After all, the rich “deserve” it all (they fiercely argue), because their name is on a payroll with a title; so their being bailed out and using the money for $89,000 pheasant hunts and million dollar birthday parties doesn’t count. They deserve it; “it’s their money, to do with as they please“, no matter what, because they’re our heroes; representing our superior system and it can’t ever be to blame. No; it’s just Obama’s fault for bailing them out. (“Corporate welfare” like that was always right and “the American way” when Republicans did it!)

Again, to see just how bad this sentiment has gotten, see this article (Especially the comments):

To be fair, I believe some blacks (And perhaps guilt-ridden white liberals) are also stoking the guilt, by not clearly enough stating the real issue (Which I believe is ultimately more economic regardless of race). Sharpton, our de-facto #1 defender, looks like a slickster, and has often done more harm than good.
Often, they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, or at least focus on the wrong points of an issue. Like in the Diallo case (sort of an antecedent to today’s Trayvon), focusing on the officers being hung, yet ignoring what the judge used to excuse them: “if Diallo had just done as the officers asked, this would not have happened”; ignoring among other things, that these were plain clothesed officers).

So the entire cause is just dismissed by conservatives and libertarians as “whining” to get “free handouts” or “special treatment”.

Whites; especially liberal ones, feel a lot has been achieved in race relations, yet obviously have some amount of guilt feelings (reacted to in the liberals by the traditionally altruistic stance, and in conservatives by the denial and reverse blame) so they cannot figure out what blacks still want. (Hence conservatives’ backlashing with charges of “whining” and “trying to get something for nothing” from them, and even some liberals reportedly thinking “we tried to help them and they don’t appreciate it, nor are helped by it” and then becoming more conservative).
Then, you have the conservative charge that the liberals are rigging these “handout” programs to “keep minorities enslaved” (dependent on the system) and also “buy their votes”.

So I believe both sides really need to change their tune, but there is just too much ego involved in everyone.
As Jung said: “If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick Shadow [all his own evil]. Such a man…is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself”.

(And I’m coming to learn this too as I respond to such trash! Life is hard and we all want what we want, and I confess a jealousy towards conservatives because they are such good complainers and blamers —even while scolding others for precisely those things; but at least their complaining gets heard, and they get more of what they want, yet keep complaining as if they didn’t. This is how they sway the nation, and the liberals are not as good at answering).

Also, a good article I found at the same time:


From → Politics

  1. As a staunch believer in and defender of capitalism, I am taking a moment to respond to the refusal to blame it for draining the economy. I understand that we have to use generalities to make a point in an article, so I may not represent the general capitalist you referred to in getting your point across. Having said that, there is at least a faction of those supporting capitalism who blame the collusion between government and private sector for draining the economy, not capitalism in itself. I am an advocate for changing the structure of our political system by removing the influence of money so that the private sector can be effectively regulated by our government and the basic tenets of capitalism can thrive.

    • 2012/04/25 at 11:31 am

      Yes, I’m aware that there are some who do acknowledge the collusion between government and private sector. I notice the libertarians (and I guess, also paleo-cons) are more likely to address this (along with globalism).
      Still, in the overall message of all who criticize government, it always seems to come back to “wealth redistribution” favoring the poor, with the most focus, and the most anger and resentment; and among some, is somehow even lumped in with that collusion with business (don’t see how that figures!) There may be abuses of public assistance (though a lot of it was reformed almost two decades ago), but I think it’ being blown way out of proportion, to keep us distracted and divided as the real drainers of the economy skate off scott-free and virtually unnoticed if not outright justified.

      [2017 Edit: a year or so after this article, which still reflects the “neo-liberal” thought that “the issue is really economic”; I would come to realize more and more that the economic issue is only a cover for underlying racial resentment after all. “Big government” was basically “good”, until the benefits were forced to be shared with blacks; then it became the great evil, and blamed for all the nation’s ills, via the laziness and inferiority of the new recipients. Hence, the “collusion of business with government” is just an afterthought, to those forced to acknowledge the corporate side of the economic problems. The thing the government is doing so wrong is still giving all the “free stuff” to undeserving minorities, so if we just get rid of it all together, then that would also take care of whatever manipulation businesses might be doing. But what they’re really still getting at is the minorities.
      Also, that “Why I hate Blacks” site I linked to, was basically what we now call the “alt-right”, but at that time, had not been distinguished as such, so it just looked like somewhat more radical version of typical angry conservative rhetoric. The 2016 election is what would bring them out into the open with their more blatant racial rhetoric].

  2. On the anniversary of the 1977 blackout, I see this article, covering what the area I live in now was like back then:
    (I remember seeing the “10 alarm fire” on the news from way on the other side of Brooklyn, and then about 7 years later, riding through on the bus, when Iw as exploring areas I had never been to, and saw the totally barren blocks leading up to Knickerbocker, that have been built up into new low rise housing, a park and a school).

    Local bankers and realtors concocted a mortgage scam in which they filed fraudulent paperwork on behalf of low-income buyers (or people who didn’t exist) to obtain federally backed Federal Housing Administration loans for mortgage insurance. The buyers, if they were real people, had no chance of paying off their mortgages and defaulted. The bankers and realtors pocketed the money and the buildings were abandoned. An estimated 500 Bushwick buildings ended up vacant in this way.

    Around the same time, feeling they had no stake in the neighborhood’s future at the time, landlords began to put less money into maintaining their largely wood-frame buildings, and politicians put less effort into gaining city resources for improvements to what they viewed as a dead-end neighborhood. The result was fire, and lots of it. Photos of Bushwick in the mid-’70s show an incredible sight: block upon block of abandoned apartment buildings, many of them bearing facades marked by ashy smudges rising up window frames. Some buildings were burned by their owners for insurance money, some so that the arsonists could scavenge the ruins for copper wire, some by drug users clumsy with open flames, some by bored locals looking for kicks. “Not every fire that occurred in Bushwick was arson,” said John Dereszewski, then the Community Board 4 district manager and later a neighborhood historian. “But when you don’t maintain, electrical fires can occur. Particularly in the central core of Bushwick, where you had so much wood-framed housing—and housing where you had those common cocklofts on the roof, where if you had a fire start in one house, if there’s any wind it could spread literally down the whole block.”

    But the narrative among conservatives now is that this was all from “liberal Democrat policies” aimed to “enslave” blacks, by “giving them free stuff” (proving they themselves are the problem, and also proven when those blacks of course responded by doing all that looting). Those bankers, realtors and landlords were totally good and innocent. (In fact, they probably only did that stuff because of the oppressive Democratic government).

  3. No, You’re Not Tired of Being “Politically Correct”

    Nails it!

    Why is it that every time someone claims they’re tired of being “politically correct,” it really seems like they’re saying something else?

    It seems like they’re saying they’re tired of being a decent human being.

    They’re always using the term while mansplaining some vulgar attitude toward women or excusing derogatory language about people of color or justifying the bullying of Transgender teenagers or rationalizing reckless politicians or defending incendiary preachers. It’s seemingly always wielded in protest at being asked to compassionately coexist in community with people who aren’t like them.

    The phrase politically correct usually accompanies some knuckle-dragging “boys will be boys,” “locker room banter” language, that pines for “the good ol’ days” in America—when white folks could say or do whatever they wanted with impunity.

    Political correctness is code language.
    It’s a dodge.
    It’s citing some nonexistent speech-suppression conspiracy theory, in order to avoid levels of kindness and respect that the rest of us are aspiring to—and that the person in question objects to.

    I wish people would just be honest and say that they want to be rude and offensive; that they want to disparage people groups and disregard another’s worth and never listen to anyone else’s expressions of pain or engage in any self-awareness that might require a behavior adjustment.

    I think you’re tired of being called out for the subtly or overtly racist comments you used to get away with.
    You’re tired of no longer being able to freely harass women you work with, or make jokes about disadvantaged people, or show open enmity for those who don’t speak English or share your religious views.
    You’re tired of being held accountable for the epithets and slurs that you’ve previously used unabated.
    You’re tired of your privilege being challenged instead of accommodated and celebrated.

    Please don’t tell me this is about being a “straight shooter” or “telling it like it is” or “speaking truth” because that’s nonsense.

    This is about you seeing the expectation of dignity as a punishment, the request to be respectful as oppression.

    And another good one from the day before:

    White Evangelicals, This is Why People Are Through With You

    For eight years they watched you relentlessly demonize a black President; a man faithfully married for 26 years; a doting father and husband without a hint of moral scandal or the slightest whiff of infidelity.

    They watched you deny his personal faith convictions, argue his birthplace, and assail his character—all without cause or evidence. They saw you brandish Scriptures to malign him and use the laziest of racial stereotypes in criticizing him.

    And through it all, White Evangelicals—you never once suggested that God placed him where he was,
    you never publicly offered prayers for him and his family,
    you never welcomed him to your Christian Universities,
    you never gave him the benefit of the doubt in any instance,
    you never spoke of offering him forgiveness or mercy,
    your evangelists never publicly thanked God for his leadership,
    your pastors never took to the pulpit to offer solidarity with him,
    you never made any effort to affirm his humanity or show the love of Jesus to him in any quantifiable measure.

    You violently opposed him at every single turn—without offering a single ounce of the grace you claim as the heart of your faith tradition. You jettisoned Jesus as you dispensed damnation on him.

    And yet today, you openly give a “mulligan” to a white Republican man so riddled with depravity, so littered with extramarital affairs, so unapologetically vile, with such a vast resume of moral filth—that the mind boggles.

  4. Saw a debate on a FB group about whether entertainers should be so rich, which then goes into the whole argument of the “market”, and one person person talking about the lack of “logic” in the arguments..

    So the whole idea of the “market” and “rewarding the providing of value” may seem to make the most logical sense, but people ignore all the strings people pull, in amassing such power, and yet seek to direct the blame for the same negative results in a different direction.
    Like in the past, everything was cheaper, and at the same time, much better quality. But along the way, the “value”-providers, whether entertainers/athletes, or the executives over them and ever other business, and yes, government as well, decided they wanted more. And as time went on, they kept asking for more. They would even compete with each other, where one side got more, and then the other side also wanted more just to “keep up with” the first side. Hence, the incredible debacle of strikes by the athletes and entertainers, as much as they already have.

    Meanwhile, the price for all of this must be passed down. To the “consumer”; the one who ‘values’ whatever product being put out. As this is done gradually, the prices go up a little (as well as the quality of things going down), yet the people still “value” the product enough to keep buying it. So if it’s that valuable to them, then let’s raise the prices even more. Everyone does this (so you can’t simply “just go elsewhere” as people often claim), and hence, we just fold our hands and say “it’s the Market”. It’s like God or the forces of the universe made it like this, and how dare anyone question it with their feeble emotional sentiments!

    OK; but before you know it, after several rounds of this cycle, we look up and prices are too high to afford anything of good quality, everything is tight, and the whole atmosphere is one of “scarcity”. We HAVE to raise prices and cut quality because we need those profits to keep OUR leads afloat. But in reality, up on their level, there is incredible “abundance”. We struggle to buy food, yet the entertainers who have money for as much food as they want are given tables and tables of free food at their studios and other places; much of which then gets thrown out, from what I’ve heard.

    So the defenders of this are feeding everyone a lie that there’s so much scarcity when they’re really hoarding an abundance. THAT’s the real problem here. So then they come up with this rationalization that they “earned” it more than everyone else. But no one who buys this reasoning considers that the gap was not always this large, and these people today aren’t producing THAT much more value than their predecessors.

    The final wing of this is the misdirected blame. On one hand, we’re first told by conservatives, who are the ones defending this, to “stop envying/coveting”, etc. Basically if the rich get everything, they ‘deserve’ it, and the system is is WORKING AS DESIGNED. It’s the way it SHOULD work; right?

    But alas, the conservatives are not so content and happy with what they have either; in fact, they’re complaining the loudest about the economy. But blaming this instead on the government “taking their money” (taxes); and not onlx that, but it’s not the rich who are getting it, but rather the “undeserving” poor (who presumably produce no value, and are just skating by on “free stuff” at everyone else’s expense. And particularly certain specific groups associated with the poor)!
    This is where “all the money” is going! It’s what’s crippled the economy and produced all our debt! People actually claim this!
    (So is it working as designed; or not?)

    For one thing, even if that were true, that the poor were getting all the money, then they would spend it and put it right back into the economy. They would not take the money out of the coutry, or just sit on it, That is what the rich can do, though. However, this “market” philosophy always accompanies the blaming of the poor. In fact, this is why the rich are tightening the belt all the time, because they are suffering so much from all these taxes; they HAVE to take ‘their’ money (and jobs) away, and essentially, punish everyone else for the excesses of the poor (and even the middle class, who “want to much”, but have never “pulled themselves up” any further), and the bleeding heart “cucks” giving everything away to them.

    So no; I don’t believe the answer it just to have the “government” take it all away from the rich. For one, the government is bought out anyway, and no matter who is in, we have the same arguments. The problem with the philosophy is not that it lacks logic, but that it’s full of deceit. There are people and organizations being paid to feed everybody this stuff. What we need to do is become more AWARE of this game, and then look for ways to come up with better solutions, instead of looking the other way, but then blaming the fellow man beside you when you feel the crunch.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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