Monday, February 05, 2007

The American Conservative: A response

Ever since the study of modern political behavior, it has become apparent the many contradictions that the American public holds regarding a vast arsenal of issues.

"The democratic citizen is expected to be well informed about political
affairs. He is supposed to know what the issues are, what their history
is, what the relevant facts are, what alternatives are proposed, what the
party stands for, what the likely consequences are. By such standards
the voter falls short."

An excerpt from the classic work "The American Voter" (by Campbell et. al 1960). What this tells us is that the American voter is neither informed nor does he understand the "relevant" facts. The modern American is a creature of simple ideas and slogans. He is a collective personality, and generally hails from working and middle class origins. He was educated publicly, which means that his grasp on past events is highly questionable and he lives within his time, unable to reference and compare conflicting historical theories. Yet, he has a "belief system" but it is mainly based on vague feelings of morality or a deontological structure (mainly based on a more professionally based ethical code). His biggest problem is largely a function of the level of information that he possesses; both simple facts and the “contextual knowledge” or essential relationships between those facts. Overall he depends on external influence when he makes choices, defaulting to the collective forces (popular culture, family, religion, social institutions, etc.).
My main point in this illustration was to show that conservative or liberal, most Americans show similar levels of both political expertise and sophistication. If we look at the problem in another way we may come to the conclusion that our society has reached a point of stability that mass participation is perhaps, unnecessary? The truth is that it never was. Our constitution was a document that’s purpose was to create an oligarchic minority, a “political class” if you will. Most of us are not part of that governing class and never will be. We choose to serve the state machine in other ways, either providing a service or manufacturing a product/ raw materials. Conservative or Liberal, the division of labor is what causes all these misanthropes between the political elite and the mass population.

Conservative voters and there counterparts essentially just fool themselves. There is very little difference anymore in the modern sense, between the two ideologies. Most of the political elites, running as conservatives are really just playing lip service to the tenets of paleo-conservatism. No true conservative would have approved of—I would go as far to say—85% of the commercial legislation that has been pushed through the legislator in the past 20 years. Moreover, a true Jeffersonian would not have approved of the entanglements of the conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, or any of the international bodies we have become part of in this past century.

I would say that the last true conservative in office is bygone since the dismantling of the Bretton-Woods system. Nixon who was put up as the demagogue of conservatism was essentially responsible for the end of what I would call classical money management. So the 1970s mark the end of the life span of true economic and social conservatism in the US.


1 comment:

Brainpolice said...

I caught that referance to Bretton-Woods. Yea, the change from that system (which had its own flaws) over to the purely free floating fiat system occured under Nixon. Further, Nixon established the most sweeping economic intervention the nation had yet seen - price and wage controls (they literally FROZE the market prices and wages in place argueing that this will fight inflation, when all it did was distort the market and hence cause supply problems).