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A Critique of Conservatism
A Critique of Conservatism
The very first sentence in Mark Levin’s book reads, “THERE IS SIMPLY NO scientific or mathematical formula that defines conservatism. This is probably true. If there were a scientific or mathematical formula for conservatism, we would find some logic in the ideology. Maybe we could make logical inferences and draw logical conclusions that would show that conservatism was steeped in some form of logic. However there really is no logic to conservatism. This came as no surprise to me. Conservatism does however have a prescribed doctrine. A Theory of Rationality. What would give me that impression you might ask? Glad you asked. In his lecture on The Origins of the Modern American Conservative Movement given to the Heritage Foundation in 2003, Dr. Lee Edwards cited Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind as providing the central idea upon which American conservatism is essentially based, calling it ordered liberty.
Kirk described six basic “canons” or principles of conservatism:
1. A divine intent, as well as personal conscience, rules society;
2. Traditional life is filled with variety and mystery while most radical systems are characterized by a narrowing uniformity;
3. Civilized society requires orders and classes;
4. Property and freedom are inseparably connected;
5. Man must control his will and his appetite, knowing that he is governed more by emotion than by reason; and
6. Society must alter slowly.
Edwards states that “the work established convincingly that there was a tradition of American conservatism that had existed since the Founding of the Republic. With one book, Russell Kirk made conservatism intellectually acceptable in America. Indeed, he gave the conservative movement its name.”
Lest we minimize the writings of Kirk, we should point out that one of his biggest supporters was “Mr.Conservative”, President Ronald Reagan. Reagan said this of Kirk:
“As the prophet of American conservatism, Russell Kirk has taught, nurtured, and inspired a generation. From . . . Piety Hill, he reached deep into the roots of American values, writing and editing central works of political philosophy. His intellectual contribution has been a profound act of patriotism. I look forward to the future with anticipation that his work will continue to exert a profound influence in the defense of our values and our cherished civilization.”
—Ronald Reagan, 1981
For several years he was a Distinguished Scholar of the Heritage Foundation. In 1989, President Reagan conferred on him the Presidential Citizens Medal. In 1991, he was awarded the Salvatori Prize for historical writing. Dr, Kirks conservative credentials are established. He is a conservative. He is qualified to speak on the meaning of conservatism. Far more so then Mark Levin.
This prompted me to examine a few of Kirks ideas which he put forth as his 10 principles of conservatism, in addition to his 6 “canons”. Kirk begins with his first principle as being that “the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order”.
He states, “Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.
Well, in taking a close examination of Plato, we see that to Plato, there was no natural sense on how men ought to live, education was to be the key to the construction of a better society; from that the “educated” would arise the elite to rule society. Plato thought it essential that a strict threefold class division be maintained. In addition to the rulers, the Philosopher-kings, there were to be “Auxiliaries” (soldiers, police and civil servants) and the “Workers” (the rest of us).
Plato’s view of society was pinned by the belief that philosophers are capable of knowing the absolute truth about how to rule society and thus are justified in wielding absolute power. Such a view is in striking contrast to that of his principal teacher, Socrates (469-399 BC), who was always conscious of how much he did not know, and claimed superiority to unthinking men only in that he was aware of his own ignorance where they were not.
Putting it mildly, Plato’s view was that we are ineradicably social, and that the individual person was not, and could not, be self-sufficient. In fact, Plato offered up humans like so many animals that could do nothing for themselves unless they had constant and detailed direction from those who were to be their leaders:
“... And even in the smallest manner ... [one] should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals ... only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently ... There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.” (The Republic.)
Incidentally, Plato took a dim view of democracy. To Plato, it made no sense that we should proceed to put people in charge who have shaky, or, worse yet, no philosophical positions. A “democratic” system turns up people to govern on the basis of what the majority of the voters say, a majority which when compared to the number of citizens (non-voting included) is likely in fact to be a minority of people who have no plans, no answers other than that necessary to get themselves elected. Plato may have been right in his views on democracy; the difficulty is Plato’s avowed and stated belief that men were unequal to one another. I say unequal, but that is putting it on a too charitable basis. To Plato society was to break down to those few who were to be the philosopher kings, and the rest of us, who were to be treated like laboring beasts of the field. The Platonic view of man is one that is in complete accord with the view of the socialist.
Not exactly what Sir Karl Popper would have called, an Open Society.
Kirks third principle states that, “conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription”. According to Kirk, “In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality”. Kirk is justifying prejudice here and we have many examples of conservatives over the years taking that justification to heart. This is an ample of the logical fallacy known as Appeal to Tradition (Argumentum Ad Traditio): This line of thought asserts that a premise must be true because people have always believed it or done it. It is almost an automatic knee jerk response by conservatives who base their ideology on preserving existing institutions.
Alternatively, it may conclude that the premise has always worked in the past and will thus always work in the future: “Jefferson City has kept its urban growth boundary at six miles for the past thirty years. That has been good enough for thirty years, so why should we change it now? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”( Healthcare anyone?) Such an argument is appealing in that it seems to be common sense, but it ignores important questions. Might an alternative policy work even better than the old one? Are there drawbacks to that long-standing policy? Are circumstances changing from the way they were thirty years ago?
The conservative Dixiecrat’s of the South such as Strom Thurmond who opposed the Civil Rights Act are prime examples. It’s no coincidence that Thurmond’s racist prejudice and an ideology that allowed him to justify that prejudice would find each other down in Dixie. Conservatism, whether in the hands of a Democrat or a Republican has never been friendly to minorities.
When Kirk states that “the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality”, what he is in fact endorsing is a collective theory of rationality and dismissing the liberal critical rationalism of the individual. It seems that although conservatives like to speak of individualism, it really amounts to little more than words. What they subscribe to according to Kirk, is a collective theory of rationality.
A conservative is without any doubt, a traditional rationalist. This simplifies his life since he need only apply his theory of rationality to whatever assertion is in question. As such, he need never distinguish between truth and falsity.
His theory does that for him. There is a conservative position on issues, and no more needs to be said. No thinking is necessary.
As Liberals have no such theory of rationality, they must distinguish between truth and falsity themselves. I think it’s important to see that Conservative doctrine and dogma precedes Levin’s “Conservative Manifesto” Levin is merely the latest version of something we’ve seen before.
In Kirks Fifth principle he states, “conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety”. In this principle he claims that “For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at leveling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality”.
What we have here is a justification for a hierarchal society. Otherwise known as an aristocracy. We also see a justification for prejudice and bigotry as being a good and necessary part of the conservative concept of society. We also see, a justification for the segregation that occurred in the south where natural and institutional differences were destroyed in the eyes of conservatives.
Getting back to Levin’s book, on the very first page of the book, Levin states that “what follows are my own opinions and conclusions of fundamental truths, based on decades of observation, exploration, and experience, about conservatism and , conversely, non-conservatism – that is, liberty and tyranny. All things conservative = liberty. All things NOT conservative = tyranny. In short, if you aren’t a conservative, you’re a tyrant. He cannot demonstrate why what he’s saying is true, but if you don’t agree with his ideology…it’s because you aspire to being a tyrant.
On page 4 of his book, Levin says, “The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state, thereby rejecting the principles of the Declaration of Independence (written by the Liberal Thomas Jefferson) and the order of the civil society, in whole or part.” He goes on to say that “As the word “liberal” is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate, therefore, to characterize the “Modern Liberal” as a Statist. Levin creates a monolithic character called “Modern Liberal”. The definition of monolithic is characterized by massiveness and rigidity and total uniformity; “a monolithic society”; “a monolithic worldwide movement” The “Modern Liberal” here is characterized by massiveness and rigidity and total uniformity; “a monolithic society”; “a monolithic worldwide movement”. Therefore, all liberals are part of a massive and rigid and totally uniform way of thinking.
This probably comes as quite a shock to liberals who don’t ever seem to agree on anything. Organizing liberals has been equated to trying to herd cats. The humorist Will Rogers once said,” “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” However, Levin casts non-conservatives monolithically as “statists”. A term he took from Reagan. Throughout his book, Levin describes all evils as the designs of the “statist” otherwise known as, “the modern liberal”... the non-conservative. He claims that conservatism is the antidote to tyranny precisely because its principles are the founding principles.
But they really aren’t, Mr. Levin. The founding principles of the United States are grounded in liberalism. What Mark Levin is doing here as attempting to co-opt and re-write the very historical foundations of this country into a conservative ideology that was totally at odds with the reality of the American revolution. He’s trying to present conservatism in a light that gives it a patina of patriotism and legitimacy.
Levin and others make a distinction between what they call “classical liberals” and today’s “modern liberal”. This shows a basic lack of understanding of what liberalism is. It never stands still. It constantly evolves. To think that the “classical liberal” of the 18th century would remain in one spot is to ignore completely what liberalism is, and give it conservative characteristics that it doesn’t have. It’s the conservative that remains steadfast in a position. Not the liberal. Hayek, the man he loves to quote, would tell him that. Liberalism is a philosophy that is open ended. It’s never completely fulfilled like that of conservatism. In this sense, conservatism is ideological and dogmatic. It resists change. Liberalism IS change. That’s what it’s about.
The economist F.A. Hayek; whom Levin loves to quote, wrote in his essay, Why I’m Not a Conservative, “There has never been a time when liberal ideals were fully realized and when liberalism did not look forward to further improvement of institutions. Liberalism is not averse to evolution and change; and where spontaneous change has been smothered by government control, it wants a great deal of change of policy. So far as much of current governmental action is concerned, there is in the present world very little reason for the liberal to wish to preserve things as they are. It would seem to the liberal, indeed, that what is most urgently needed in most parts of the world is a thorough sweeping away of the obstacles to free growth”.
He goes on : “As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead. The conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate to whatever appeals to the more timid mind. In looking forward, they lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment which makes the liberal accept changes without apprehension, even though he does not know how the necessary adaptations will be brought about. The conservative feels safe and content only if he is assured that some higher wisdom watches and supervises change, only if he knows that some authority is charged with keeping the change “orderly.” A conservative is authoritarian by nature and his entire ideology is an appeal to authority. His very acceptance of a theory of rationality such as conservative ideology is an appeal to authority.
In John Deans book, “Conservatives without Conscience” he pointed out the authoritarianism of the conservative.
“It’s difficult for most rightwingers to talk about any subject about which they feel strongly without attacking others. Right wing authoritarians are motivated by a fear of a dangerous world. The factor that makes right wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an attack mode is their remarkable self-righteousness. They’re so sure they are not only right, but holy and pure, that they are bursting with indignation and a desire to smite down their enemies.”
Right Wing Authoritarian – Followers:
- men and women
- submissive to authority
- aggressive on behalf of authority
- highly religious
- moderate to little education
- trust untrustworthy authorities
- prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own
- uncritical toward chosen authority
- inconsistent and contradictory
- prone to panic easily
- highly self-righteous
- strict disciplinarian
- severely punitive
- demands loyalty and returns it
- little self awareness
- usually politically and economically conservative/Republican
An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.
Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.
Does the inclusion of comments by Hayek amount to an appeal to authority? No. Hayeks comments are his views on why is is not a conservative. Hayek is also a source used by Levin to support Levins conservatism. But Hayek is NOT a conservative and here he is telling us why.
Hayek adds : “This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles, it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule. A commitment to principles presupposes an understanding of the general forces by which the efforts of society are co-operating, but it is such a theory of society and especially of the economic mechanism that conservatism conspicuously lacks. So unproductive has conservatism been in producing a general conception of how a social order is maintained that its modern advocates, in trying to construct a theoretical foundation, invariably find themselves appealing almost exclusively to authors who regarded themselves as liberal. Macaulay, Tocqueville, Lord Acton, and Lecky certainly considered themselves liberals, and with justice; and even Edmund Burke remained an Old Whig to the end and would have shuddered at the thought of being regarded as a Tory”.
He continues : “Let me return, however, to the main point, which is the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule – not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them. Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people”.
“When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire.
To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.”
“It is for this reason that to the liberal neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion, while both conservatives and socialists recognize no such limits. I sometimes feel that the most conspicuous attribute of liberalism that distinguishes it as much from conservatism as from socialism is the view that moral beliefs concerning matters of conduct which do not directly interfere with the protected sphere of other persons do not justify coercion. This may also explain why it seems to be so much easier for the repentant socialist to find a new spiritual home in the conservative fold than in the liberal.”
“In the last resort, the conservative position rests on the belief that in any society there are recognizably superior persons whose inherited standards and values and position ought to be protected and who should have a greater influence on public affairs than others. The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people – he is not an egalitarian – but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are. While the conservative inclines to defend a particular established hierarchy and wishes authority to protect the status of those whom he values, the liberal feels that no respect for established values can justify the resort to privilege or monopoly or any other coercive power of the state in order to shelter such people against the forces of economic change. Though he is fully aware of the important role that cultural and intellectual elites have played in the evolution of civilization, he also believes that these elites have to prove themselves by their capacity to maintain their position under the same rules that apply to all others.”
These are the words of F.A. Hayek. Why I’m not a Conservative. A man that Levin, the conservative, loves to quote.
Today’s modern conservative will be quick to tell you that today’s modern liberal is not a liberal by their standards. But Liberalism doesn’t care about their standards. It never has. Liberalism doesn’t stay in one place. And the Liberalism of our founders was always meant to evolve. The conservative may not like what it has evolved into by their conservative standards, but that’s to be expected. Again, it isn’t liberalisms intention to meet conservative standards. Liberals have their own, and those standards continue to evolve as new challenges are confronted. It is still true that the American liberal believes that society can and should be improved, and that the way to improve it is to apply human intelligence to social and economic problems. The conservative, on the other hand, opposes efforts at purposeful change — especially when they threaten the existing distribution of power and wealth — because he believes that things are about as good as they can be reasonably expected to be, and that any change is more likely than not to be for the worse.”
One thing we have learned from the writers and spokesmen of the conservative movement is their love of tradition. As Kirk said, “Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted”. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine a conservative going along with a radical revolution in 1776 that was certain to upset the custom, convention and continuity of the devil they knew, in order to replace it with the devil they didn’t know. It goes completely against the ideals of conservatism. Their DNA would reject it. I can only speculate, but I have little doubt in my mind as to who’s side the conservative would have been on. I believe they were called Tory’s.
The founding principles of this country are rooted in the rejection of the concept of the Divine Right of Kings. It’s a rejection of the aristocracy, the embrace of self rule, and freedom from authoritarian dictatorship whether it be a monarchy or any other form of supreme authority. The freedom of speech is not a conservative concept. It’s a liberal concept. The freedom of religion is not conservative. It’s liberal. Freedom itself is liberal. It’s the liberation from those things that would restrict its freedom to think and act according to one’s own conscience. The American revolution took place during the late 18th century during the height of the Enlightenment. Looking back at Kirk’s claims, one can examine the statements that “A divine intent, as well as personal conscience, rules society”, and ” Civilized society requires orders and classes.”
A divine intent pre-supposes not only that a divinity is at hand, but that its intent can be determined. A personal conscience is, of course, a matter of subjectivity. A religious view appears to be essential to conservative thought. According to Professor Gerhard Rempel of Western New England College, “to understand the Enlightenment and the foundations of democracy is to know that doctrinal substance was less important than overall philosophy.” It wasn’t as much Descartes’ reason as it was Newton’s Laws. Not abstraction and definition, but rather observation and experience.
The real power of reason lay not in the possession, but in the I of truth. The ideal for knowledge was a further development of 17th century logic and science with an emphasis on:
1. The particular rather than the general;
2. Observable facts rather than principles;
3. Experience rather than rational speculation.
Liberalism is more easily recognized for what it is not, than for what it is. Since it doesn’t subscribe to a rigid theory of rationality it doesn’t employ a positive or assertive methodology in determining truth. A liberal critical rationalist would recognize that there simply is no “positive” method whereby we can obtain the truth. Not only this, liberalism suggests that attemping to hold to such a “positive” method might narrow our viewpoint such that the quest for truth is made more difficult. In an attempt to get our decision about the truth to fit with some narrow view of what the method of truth “should” be, we will be restricting ourselves in a way that is unnecessary. After all, there is no one method that is the end-all-be-all of obtaining truth. Unless of course you are a conservative. Rush Limbaugh and certainly Mark Levin would tell you otherwise.
A liberal will argue against “positive” methods for obtaining the truth, which overly restrict our viewpoints.
Critical Rationalist Philosopher Matt Dioguardi, pointed this out in an essay:
“An important thing to note is that conservatism (traditional rationalism) leads to irrationalism. Imagine you have a theory of rationality. How did you decide about this theory? As this is your meta-theory, used to decide on a theory of rationality, it cannot judge itself in terms of rationality. Any “positive” argument in regards to rationality cannot judge itself without creating circular argument.”
A: Why are you rational?
B: Because I listen to God.
A: How do you know that listening to God is rational.
B: Because God told me.
“By asserting there is a theory of rationality, this leads you to the next move, which is why is the theory of rationality, in and of itself, rational? Here you can only assert it was an irrational choice and all such first choices are by necessity irrational. As such you open the door to whole scale irrationality. If you allow one choice, then why not many. A critical rationalist avoids having to make this capitulation to irrationality by NOT offering any “positive” theory of rationality.”
“The only possible benefit you can possibly receive from having a “positive” theory of rationality is it can give you a sense of moral superiority when dealing with others. That is, if you think your theory of rationality is correct, you could be “sure” you were right and whoever disagrees with you is wrong. Or at least you could argue that way. However, your opponent could merely point out your theory of rationality itself was also irrational. At this point the argument ends. You both take your irrational stand and the only way to resolve the conflict is to engage in violence.”
“People with theories of rationality take stands, critical rationalists keep arguing. They keep trying to shift through the ideas to try and figure-out where the disagreement lays and what might resolve it. This is an endless process. It might not be resolved until some new ideas come along. But even then, this will probably only lead to new disagreements. All the better.”
Liberalism could almost be viewed as the complete absence of holding of any traditional theory of rationality. Of course this is the very thing that irritates the conservative who is steeped in traditional thinking.
In an interview with Sean Hannity, Levin states that conservatives are the beneficiaries of thousands of years of human experience. He then refers to Obama and others as relying on philosophies a couple of hundred years old. That’s interesting considering that aside from the Ancient Greeks, Democracy as we know it is only as old as this country itself…approximately 218 years old. Those philosophies that preceded it were aristocratic, authoritarian, or theocratic. They were not democratic. They were exactly the philosophies that our founders rejected.
Essentially, Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy. Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world, which is exactly why it’s floundering today. Going back to Kirk, we see that In Kirks Fifth principle he states, “conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety”. In this principle he claims that “For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at eveling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality”. What we have here is a justification for a hierarchal society. Otherwise known as an aristocracy. We also see a justification for prejudice and bigotry as being a good and necessary part of the conservative concept of society.
Levin re-iterates that “our principles are tried and true. They’ve been tried for centuries”. Yet again, Democracy as we know it only began at the time of the ratification of the constitution. So what philosophy is he talking about that preceded democracy? Certainly it wasn’t something that our founders sought to replicate. Levin hits the main problem with conservatism. He states that we can’t salute a philosophy that is antithetical to our history (that’s a subjective view and could be debated forever) or to our BELIEF SYSTEM. And that is where the problem lies. Conservatism is by Levin’s own admission, a belief system. But being so it can never demonstrate itself as being true. It’s an ideology actually formalized by Russell Kirk who provided 6 canons that conservatives follow. Canons? Conservatism today has taken on the mantle of a religious cult. It has a doctrine that must be followed religiously or you risk excommunication. It is a Theory of Rationality that cannot justify itself through any authority other then itself. It’s a circular argument and irrational. A theory cannot use itself to justify itself.
The problem with ideological thinking like this is that it assumes its own infallibility. That it is flawless. Yet it was created by fallible men. Is it even remotely possible that it could be wrong? Can an idea created by fallible men be infallible? The question is can it even demonstrate how it’s true. If it can, then maybe Levin could provide the methodology that he uses to prove it. He writes a book that is the Conservative Manifesto, defining conservatism. By defining it, he is unconsciously limiting the reach of its own effectiveness. Once he defines it then it’s not possible to be something beyond that definition. Its potential for greatness is limited to what he’s described. That is self limiting and completely contrary to free-thought and democracy. If, in a democracy those ideas are rejected as they have been recently, then perhaps he might reevaluate his ideas. But no! That isn’t possible because the ideology can’t be wrong. He can’t demonstrate how it’s true, but it can’t be wrong. But if something cannot possibly be wrong, then how can it be right. In order for something to be right it must contain the possibility of being wrong. For something to be true, it must contain the possibility of being false otherwise you’re merely preaching a belief, rather than something that can be proven right or wrong empirically. You would have nothing to compare that truth to. In the world of Mark Levin, conservatism cannot be wrong.
The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Mark Levin has no interest in democracy. His only interest is a return to an aristocratic society of Lords and serfs.
I was asked by a poster on a political forum once to tell why I thought conservatism is a “twisted ideology”. I was expected by this Poster X to define conservatism. But that isn’t my job. That’s the job of conservatives. They look for definition but since the Enlightenment, liberal thought realized that it wasn't abstration and definition, but rather observation and experience that was important. That the real power of reason lay not in the possession but in the acquisition of Truth.They present themselves and say,” this is me”. They don’t present themselves and expect me to define them to satisfy my preconceptions. But these very people will attempt to define a liberal in a monolithic sense as if all liberals are this, or all liberals are that. Liberals want to kill your granny. Liberals want to take your money. Liberals want to eat your kids. Liberalism = tyranny.
Sweeping generalizations that are simply stunning in their stupidity. It would be like me trying to define what a muslim is. Not being a muslim, how could I possible know what it means? A Muslim can define his religion far better and more accurately then I ever could. So the complaint that I’ve used the definition of conservatism as provided by conservatives themselves, is empty headed and shows enormous ignorance of how the process of critique is done. This critique is based on conservative definitions of themselves and the lack of logic and rational critical thinking that it uses. There is no basis for it to rationally justify itself, any more than any other religion. As Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind, the man that gave the Conservative movement its name, and Ronald Reagans political guru said: "Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. It cannot demonstrate itself as true, and is simply another authoritarian theory of rationality that has all the charactoristics of a cult religion complete with it's own doctrine, rigid ideology and dogma.