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Define conservatism

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by flaja, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. flaja

    flaja New Member

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    1. Big business or small business.
    2. Profits now or conservation of natural resources for later use.
    3. If it feels right do it or absolute moral standards.
    4. Isolationism or pro-active foreign policy to promote democracy.
    5. Small government or letting the government do whatever needs to be done when private enterprise cannot or will not do it.
    6. Individualism or society.
     
  2. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Self-responsibility, patriotism, loyalty, humility, loyalty, sacrifice, dedication, respect, hard work.

    In terms of politics: strict constructionism, strong defense, low taxes, secure border, minimal gov't interference.
     
  3. flaja

    flaja New Member

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    I was asking an either/or question. Which of the positions I gave do you accept as the conservative position?
     
  4. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    All business.

    Minimal gov't interference means minimal regulations. Who's to say the gov't owns the land and its natural sources?

    If it feels right -- except in regards to the Constitution.

    Depends. In places like Iraq, where our national defense is invested in promoting democracy then yes, we believe in that kind of pro-active foreign policy. Likewise, we put America's interests above the worlds so if that means some isolationist policies -- so be it.

    Limited government -- very low taxes for the military, infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.), and to secure our borders (defense). See below for self-responsibility on all other issues.

    Definitely individualism. Personal responsibility is a central quality of conservatism -- i.e. why most don't support Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.
     
  5. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Honestly, I don't really see these issues as being debatable. It is purely opinion. I prefer to rely on myself over the some overbearing "Big Brother" government force. You might prefer dependency on the gov't.

    And I see what you're trying to get at with this thread. You ignore the central conservative tenets and try to use sweeping generalizations to make it look flawed.

    I could easily do this with liberals too:

    (1) you've had an abortion
    (2) you're gay
    (3) you're a vegan
    (4) you're a Communist
    (5) you want the terrorists the invade and conquer the U.S.
    (6) you don't believe in punishing criminals because it might hurt their feelings
    (7) you think the UN and international opinion polls should determine U.S. foreign policy

    Shall I continue?
     
  6. flaja

    flaja New Member

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    Wrong answers. Big business equates to oppression- trade is restricted because a few companies dominate the market and consumer choice suffers accordingly. It also leads to a wider gulf between rich and poor- meaning societal cohesion threatened. Above all a conservative, in the tradition of Edmund Burke, is opposed to social upheaval. They do not support pure laissez faire capitalism; they want enough government regulation of the economy to maintain fair market competition. Above all conservatives oppose the concentration of power. They want to regulate the rich so the rich cannot oppress the poor due to their money and they want to regulate the poor so they cannot rob the rich due to their number.

    Abortion?
    Sodomy?
    Prostitution?
    Adultery?
    Drug use?
    Insider trading?

    It sounds like you are a libertarian, not a conservative.

    What reason do we have to promote democracy in Iraq as opposed to promoting democracy in places like Rwanda or South Africa or Haiti or North Korea?

    Individual responsibility for society as a whole is also a hallmark of conservatism- as a bulwark against social upheaval. By and large America was founded on the basis of joint community action- barn raisings and husking bees were the norm rather than the exception.

    A classical liberal is a conservative by today's standards. I see little difference between them. I do, however, see a large difference between a conservative and a libertarian. Libertarians believe we can still live in a state of nature, i.e., no government. But the last time humans lived in a state of nature, Cain killed his brother. Conservatives, on the other hand, understand human nature and they know that human nature makes government necessary.

    Conservatism has no place for the absolute liberty that libertarians call for. No conservative is totally free to do as he pleases. Conservatives have an individual and corporate obligation to their God, their family and their country. As Edmund Burke commented: "...Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed amongst the blessings of mankind, that I am seriously to felicitate a madman, who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and liberty? Am I to congratulate a highwayman and murderer who has broke prison upon the recovery of his natural rights?"

    Libertarians are Burke's escaped madmen, highwaymen and murderers.

    Furthermore, Conservatives see an essential role for government in regulating liberty that has to be fettered for the sake of the commonweal. Again Burke: "I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government, with public force, with the discipline and obedience of armies, with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue, with morality and religion, with the solidity of property, with peace and order, with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things, too, and without them liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations which may be soon turned into complaints."

    And note what Alexander Hamilton, the quintessential American Conservative said, “Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”
     
  7. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    How any particular person answers these questions, whether they are conservative or not, would hardly "define" conservativism. Conservativism is a philosophy and can't be defined by an answer to any or all of these questions.

    There are 6 tenets that all true conservatives hold in common. They are as follows:

    * Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.

    * Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.

    * Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a 'classless society'.

    * Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and the Leviathan becomes master of all.

    * Faith in prescription and distrust of 'sophisters, calculators, and economists' who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs.

    * Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.

    You can apply these 6 tenets to any of the above questions and get the answer. That answer, however, can vary even among conservatives depending on which aspect of the question you are addressing. Question number one for example. Big business or small business. What do you believe you could glean from such a question? There are aspects of big business that conservatives may not like and aspects of small business conservatives may not like.

    A simple set of questions is hardly an effective way of learning the nature of any philosophy. That comes by long study, and genuine conversation, and a willingness to accept what you learn and apply that knowledge to the real world.
     
  8. flaja

    flaja New Member

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    But doesn’t adherence to this philosophy lead you to favoring certain things while rejecting certain others? Which of the options would a conservative support and which would he reject?

    Be more specific. Libertarians believe it is possible for humans to live in a state of nature. But, the last time humans did live in a state of nature, Cain killed his brother. Conservatives believe that government is necessary because human nature will turn any state of nature into dog-eat-dog chaos.

    A conservative also fears class warfare and will gladly see steps taken (even by the government) to even-out class differences in order to reduce class tension that could lead to social upheaval. Remember that the European arch-conservative, Otto von Bismark, implemented the first social security system in the world. The German left had been clamoring for social security and Bismark feared that the left would launch a communist revolution to get it. By giving the left a little of what it wanted, Bismark staved off even greater social revolution.

    As long as the rich are regulated so they cannot use their economic power to oppress the poor- again the fear of class warfare and social upheaval.

    Give some examples. By and large a conservative should favor small business because that implies a multitude of individual businesses, meaning no business can likely dominate the market and thus engage in monopolistic trade practices.

    BTW: Did you gather your tenets from any published source, or are they of your own design? I base by view of conservatism mainly on the work of Edmund Burke, whom historians and scholars generally credit as the founder of modern Anglo-American conservatism.
     
  9. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Again, a conservative might support or reject certain aspects of all of the choices you listed.

    Big business or small business.

    I would reject the fact that small business (mom & pop) tend to have higher prices as a result of the way they do business. That is not good for the consumer. On the other hand, I support small business in that employers, in some ways, almost bring employees into the family so to speak and one has the opportunity to enjoy a close relationship with the owners. On the other hand, I don't like the fact that in small business, one can see a limit to one's chain of advancement almost from the first day one goes to work.

    I like the fact that a small player can own stock in a large corporation and enjoy the profits of big business without having to be a real part of a large somewhat impersonal business. I don't like that large corporations are somewhat impersonal, but that is just me. Other people may not want to be friends with the people they work with which is their right. There are aspects of big business that I like and aspects that I don't like.

    On the whole, I favor business, large or small, over government.


    Profits now or conservation of natural resources for later use.

    Both. One should take profit now from resources with an eye on concervation for later use. The millions upon millions of acres that have burned in the past 8 or 10 years are a fine example of what happens if one takes conservation too far. Had that land been thinned properly (profit now) it would not have burned to the point that all was lost until entire forests can regrow. I don't know how old you are, but I can remember environmentalists warning us that by the early 1980's, resources were going to become so scarce that only the most wealthy people were going to be able to afford anything if we didn't stop consuming. Well, here we are almost 30 years beyond the beginning of the 80's and resources are less scarse than at any time in human history. Recycling has become one of our largest industries.

    So I favor taking profit from our resources while managing those resources for the future.

    If it feels right do it or absolute moral standards.

    There are no absolute moral standards. I have no right to impose my morals on you. What you do in the privacy of your own space is not my business so long as you are not breaking any law. For example, it is my business if you are killing the mailman in the privacy of your basement.

    By the same token, "if it feels right, do it" is a sure prescription for the failure of society. What if it feels right to you to kill the mailman in the privacy of your basement. Each of us is a single entity in a larger society and we each have a responsibility to the rest of society. We are not the center of the universe and our actions do not take place in a vaccum. Everything we do creates a ripple through the entire society and if we can't restrain ourselves from actions that are harmful to the society in general, then society has a responsibility to restrain us.

    Isolationism or pro-active foreign policy to promote democracy.

    Again, both. There are times when we should take care of our own before we adventure into the world to promote what is obviously the best way of life on earth and there are times when taking care of our own requires that we venture into the world to eliminate malignant governments from the face of the earth. If you posess the strenght to stop needless torture and misery being heaped upon a people and you don't, then you are hardly better than the one who is heaping the torture and misery. There are times when you simply have to get involved for the good of all.


    Small government or letting the government do whatever needs to be done when private enterprise cannot or will not do it.

    I favor small government, but realise that there are things that government does that the private sector can not, and should not be tasked with. The more important issue you bring up here, is a question that should be directed to those who favor large governement. I would ask you for a few examples of government taking on a task that it has succeeded in that the private sector could not do.

    If you are speaking to welfare and social programs, they are, as a group, abject failures that have cost trillions of dollars, created generational dependence, and destroyed an entire culture. I don't believe that you can be forgiven for destroying families just because it was an unintended consequence of a project that was taken on with good intentions. Welfare programs harken back directly to one of the tenets of conservativism, that being: Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.

    When one undertakes grand projects, one should take the time to genuinely look for the ways that said projects could go wrong with more dilligance than one looks for the possible benefits.

    Individualism or society

    Individualism is the basis for a strong society. See tenet of conservativism #2:

    Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.

    Being an individual, however, is not license to take actions that harm the entire society. One has the responsibility to recognize that as one individual, among many, we are not the center of the universe and existence does not revolve around us.

    It is the modern liberal philosophy that is destroying individualism. Consider the irony of a philosophy (modern liberalism) that calls for live and let live and enforces that demand by supervising everything. For the sake of our freedom it empowers bureaucrats to reconstruct our very human nature. It appeals to " we the people," while reserving the right to make us into whatever it thinks fit.

    Individualism is the very essence of freedom but if you ask any modern liberal whether he favors freedom or equality, equality is the answer you will get and equality is not compatible with freedom. If you are a student of math, you know quite well that equality only exists at the lowest common denominator.

    (continued)
     
  10. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    (continuation)

    I believe you are misinformed. Conservatives favor societal pressure through tradition over government mandate. Tradition is an amalgam of commonly accepted attitudes and practices that has evolved over time through the societal strengthening of things that work and rejection of things that lead to conflict and failure. Tradition is a collection of habits that have proved useful in a huge variety of practical affairs. Through tradition, we can know subtle and fundamental features of the world, and how it relates us to others that would otherwise escape us, and allows our understanding of those things to assume a concrete and usable form.

    Modern liberals call on government to organize society. The obvious alternative to a reliance on tradition is reliance on theory and theory can only be enforced upon us by the government. Taking theory literally, however, can be costly because it achieves clarity by ignoring things that are difficult to articulate. Tradition has shown us over and over, however, that such things can be important, The reason that traditional politics and morals are learned mostly by experience and imitation of those that have come before, is that most of what we need toknow about them is expressed in habits, attitudes and implicit beliefs that we couldn't begin to put into words, even if we wanted to. There is no means other than tradition to accumulate, conserve and hand on such knowledge.

    Here you are clearly misguided or at the very least, misinformed. See conservative tenet #3:

    Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a 'classless society

    The most obvious step taken by government to "even out" class differences is the redistibution of wealth. Clearly an idea of the modern liberal. Consider the progressive tax system for example. The idea literally punishes success. In reading your statements, it seems that you don't separate in your mind, the modern liberal from the classical liberal. The classical liberal of a couple of hundred years ago is today's conservative. The men that founded America were classical liberals. The Constitution of the US is classical liberalism at it's best and yet, the modern liberal finds it of little use today and seeks every way at his disposal to get around it.

    This is a socialist concept and perfectly describes the attitudes of modern liberals. Not conservatives.

    It is clear that you have a misconception of what conservativism is. Conservativism is the spirit of live and let live. Conservatives don't really care so long as the business is not breaking the laws of the land. If the business is built on a bad model, the market will either correct it, or put it out of business. It is modern liberalism that feels the need to tether business though not for any reason that they would be willing to honestly articulate.

    I don't know if they are worded exactly the same, but they originate from a book called "the conservative mind". I would warn against trying to form a rational opinion about a philosophy as it exists in 2007 from the writings of a man in the 1700's. Classical liberalism lives today in modern conservativism.
     
  11. flaja

    flaja New Member

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    They don’t. If the only business is a single mom & pop, then they are a monopoly as much as a big business is. But, if you had a half-dozen, or so, mom & pops, then you’d have price competition. Furthermore, these mom & pops also have to compete in the area of product selection and customer service- things that are sorely lacking in a big business like Wal-Mart.

    There are not many people who would give up being a lowly employee of a mom & pop in order to become a store manager and work 60 hours a week for a company like Wal-Mart.

    Wouldn’t it be better to own 1/10 of a mom & pop rather than 1/1000000000 of Wal-Mart? You’d have more say in how the mom & pop is run and there’d be less chance that a corporate decision will cost you in the long run. Just consider how bad things are for Wal-Mart right now. That company has spent so much money building supercenters that it can no longer keep its shelves stocked. Wal-Mart will likely be the next Kmart and how many investors will go down with it?

    How do you achieve both? Human nature being what it is few people will sacrifice profits now for the sake of profits for their grandchildren.

    How much profit would have been available from such thinning? Do you mean to cut trees that are 100+ years old or would you just remove the underbrush- that you may not be able to sell?

    I’m almost 40 so I have vague memories of the environmentalist scare mongering from the 1970s. But, I also remember how conservation efforts were encouraged. Our economy was larger in the late 1980s than it had been in the late 1970s, but we used less energy because of conservation efforts and we were less polluting (in terms of economic output) because of government regulation.

    God. No moral absolutes are part and parcel of liberalism.

    Give some examples. Where should we be intervening in the world now and where should we not be?

    To some extent Social Security. Due to the tendency of business and industry to consolidate (in the absence of antitrust regulations) investment companies could easily get to be too large to want to deal with people that don’t have thousands upon thousands of dollars to invest.

    Education is another area. Granted public schools are not a good deal considering the results to cost ratio, but they are far better than your average private school is here in Florida.

    Only to the extent that individuals agree to not be greedy and are willing to be civic minded.

    Most historian and scholars trace modern Anglo-American conservative thought to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, in which he declared, “I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government, with public force, with the discipline and obedience of armies, with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue, with morality and religion, with the solidity of property, with peace and order, with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things, too, and without them liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long.”

    Conservatives don’t expect tradition to be able to accomplish everything, and tradition without force has no effect.

    If conservatives do not fear class warfare, why did the Founding Fathers create the U.S. as a republic rather than a democracy? Why do you think they put checks on political power- especially checking the power of the (poor) majority?

    Maybe now, but not historically, at least in the U.S. Both the Homestead Act and anti-trust laws were bulwarks against the concentration of wealth and the power that comes from wealth.

    Then you need to do some research into what conservatism is and how it originated.

    Live and let live is what you just said is the aim of “modern liberal philosophy that is destroying individualism.” Are you sure you know what a conservative is?
     
  12. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Of course they do. It doesn’t matter whether you have one, or half a dozen mom and pop stores, you still have small entities that simply don’t have the buying power of a large store and therefore they don’t have the ability to offer the same sorts of price breaks as a result of buying in very large quantity as you see in the big box stores. The possibility exists, I suppose that a group of mom and pops could pool their resources and buy in sufficient quantity to get the price breaks you find in big box stores, but then, the mom and pops would have effectively become big boxes themselves.

    My experience has been that customer service is far superior in big box stores. It has been my experience that mom and pop are loathe to give you your money back if you find that your purchase doesn’t meet your expectations or you simply decide that you don’t want it. Big box stores will very often simply exchange a product that is defective as well rather than asking you to jump through the warranty hoops as is the case with mom and pop who will try every means to get you to deal with the manufacturer on warranty issues.

    Of course there are. One only need look at walmart to see that their management is fully staffed. Maybe you wouldn’t want to do it, but you shouldn’t suggest that there are not many when in fact, there are more than plenty.

    First off, mom and pop aren’t for sale on the exchange and second of all, few could afford to actually buy 10% of a small business even if it were for sale. Since small business is far more likely to fail than large established companies, the risk of owning 10% of a mom and pop is considerably greater than owning a similar amount of stock in larger corporations. And if mom and pop’s children decide not to follow in the family tradition, your investment would be lost all together.

    Things are not bad for walmart. Three years ago the stock was trading at slightly over $50. Today the stock is trading at slightly over $60. Bad press should not be confused with bad business. The chance of walmart slipping down the drain is pretty remote and anyone that lost money on Kmart did so because they were sleeping. The writing was on the wall far in advance of their actual losses. Another advantage to investing in large companies over mom and pop. When mom and pop go under, it generally is without warning and even if you do have warning, who is going to buy you out?

    One only need look at companies that have been in existence for over 100 years to see the how. Generally, there is an upper limit to the amount of profit that can be had in any market and a good business man works within that margin. Using resources that can not be turned into profit is a recipe for failure.

    Lumber is a renewable resource. We didn’t go in and manage much of the public land and as a result, those 100 year old trees burned to the ground. Of what use are they now? Is it better that they were burned as a result of mismanagement of the resource than if they had been harvested and put to good use? Conservation of resources doesn’t mean hoarding or refusing to allow anyone to use them.

    And we are more efficient in the use of our resources today than we were in the 80’s. Not because of government regulation. I would argue that we are more efficient in spite of it.

    But modern liberalism also tries to remove the concept of community and one’s responsibility to community and make the individual the end all and be all and as such make what the individual wants, more important than what the society needs.

    Personally, I believe we should be in Iraq doing what we are doing. Iraq represented a long term threat to us. I also believe we should be in Darfur. Not because it represents a threat to us, but because it is the right thing to do. Being strong places a responsibility upon us to protect those who can’t defend themselves.

    Social security is a failure. It doesn’t provide security to those who depend upon it. It creates old age poverty and dependence. Considering the amount of money that one is required to pay in over the course of a working career, the pay back is near criminal. If you wonder about the effectiveness of social security consider the fact that federal employees are not part of the system. They retire quite comfortable since their money does not go into social security. Most state government employees are outside of the social security program as well.

    I find that very hard to believe. Pubic schools fare poorly when compared to even mediocre private schools and for the money most public schools spend per student, a child could go to private schools that are far above the mediocre.

    What do you mean greedy? And define civic minded. My bet is that your definitions will fall short of anything that could be called freedom.
    One can trace the ancestry of elephants back through mammoths and mastodons as well, but modern elephants are not mammoths. And while you may trace conservatism back to a point in history, conservatism has evolved as well. As we can see, it was good that Burke withheld his congratulations to France since in the end, they forfeited freedom in exchange for the false security of socialism.
     
  13. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Society can exert tremendous force as evidence by the number of laws that have been passed in an effort to weaken that force.

    Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Democracy is not a viable form of government as it very soon falls victim to the tyranny of the majority. The checks they put on the political power wielded by different branches of the government had nothing to do with class warfare. I would suggest you read the Federalist papers if you are interested in what they had in mind when they put checks on governmental power.

    Suffice it to say that they would be heartily disappointed with the way the government they instituted has turned out. Today, there is little regard for the checks they put on government as it relates to government interaction with the people.

    The homestead act was the single best way to begin populating the vast frontiers west of the Mississippi.

    And it would be pretty hard to deny that antitrust laws have failed miserably to achieve the stated purposes of their authors.

    I am perfectly aware of what conservatism is and how it originated, but I don’t look to the roots of conservatism to try and glean the essence of modern conservatism.

    Maybe you didn’t read what I wrote. Live and let live may be the “aim” of modern liberalism but it isn’t what modern liberalism practices. The flaw in modern liberalism is that it is doomed to become the very thing that it claims to hate most. As I said, modern liberalism touts a live and let live message, but it supervises everything which is hardly compatible with the live and let live message.

    Modern liberalism claims to honor diversity and tolerance above all, but its diversity excludes ordinary people, and its tolerance requires speech codes, quotas, and compulsory training in politically correct opinions and attitudes.
    Modern liberal totems and tabus have no clear connection with letting people live as they wish either. Restrictions, large and small constantly multiply. To conservatives, the rules of modern PC liberalism often seem simply arbitrary: prayer is forbidden while instruction in the use of condoms is required; smoking and furs are outrages, abortion and sodomy fundamental rights. This hardly amounts to live and let live.

    Tolerance is traditionally understood to mean letting people do what they want. (live and let live) Modern liberals, however, have redefined tolerance in a way that allows them to enforce a requirement for equal respect as a fact of social life. These two different understandings are radically inconsistent. As a political matter, tolerance calls for laissez-faire, while the redefined tolerance requires pervasive administrative control of social life. As a result, modern liberals who claim tolerance as the ultimate goal goal must be intolerant because their redefined tolerance requires the control the attitudes people have toward each other, and any serious attempt to enforce this liberal tolerance will require means that are unforgiving and despotic.

    Compare the state of a conservative society to a modern liberal state with regard to tolerance. A conservative state is in one sense the most tolerant possible, but in another does not care about the matter. You can do whatever you want as long as you do not violate certain clearly defined rights. As a result, the conservative state is indifferent between tolerant and intolerant ways of life as long as the intolerance does not take the form of physical attack or violation of property rights.

    In contrast, the modern liberal state is intended to promote social tolerance in the sense of equal respect. To do so, it must be intolerant of many ways of life that do not directly injure or interfere with others. For example, laws against discrimination are intolerant of the ways of life called "racist," "sexist," "homophobic," and so on. They force people to associate with others against their will, denying them the right to choose those with whom they will live and work. Since the human experience is saturated with sexual distinctions and religious and ethnic loyalties that permeate and organize our very lives, the modern liberal state is in fact intolerant of all actual ways of life, and committed in the name of tolerance to transform its citizens radically through the use of force. The new tolerance thus means that no one except a few ideologues can live as he wants. As I said, modern liberalis is destined to become the thing it hates the most.

    I enjoy the conversation, but if we are to continue, we really need to trim it down to a more manageable size. These exceedingly long responses just take more time than I have to give.
     
  14. Lilly Marlene

    Lilly Marlene New Member

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    Gentlemen, I'm brand new here ...I enjoyed your conversation.
    It's a topic screaming for examination because there is truly a split now in "Conservatism".
    I skimmed over some of this discussion but I would submit that only defensive war would be typical of conservatism in the sense I understand it.
    Hope to be back soon, good night.
     
  15. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Welcome. I am new myself. I am hoping that things pick up soon. It is a bit slow here for my taste.

    I don't believe that there is really a split within conservativism. Conservatives believe what they have always believed. The rush of liberals seeking to distance themselves from the term liberal has increased the moderate ranks and those less moderate among them have been, by default, called conservatives.

    With regard to the war. I would argue that the war in Iraq is a defensive war. We entered that war when Iraq attacked Kuwait, an ally which we were obligated to defend. That war never ended. A saddam agreed to the terms of a cease fire. Over the next 14 years, he blatantly disregarded the terms of that cease fire and offered grudging cooperation with inspectors only under threat of force. He undermined the terms of the food for oil program by the willing corruption of our european "allies".

    The iraqi regime showed a willingness to not only attack its own people with both conventional arms and WMD, but its neighbors as well. And those who would suggest that Iraq was not a direct threat to us should take a closer look at what history should have taught them. Prior to 9/11, very few indeed would have thought that Afghanistan, a poor backwater with no air force, no navy, and an army that amounted to little more than ragged militias, could have been considered even a vague threat to us, much less a threat that could strike at the very heart of our financial center.

    There was a time when a nation could afford to wait for the uniformed enemy to fire the proverbial first shot before entering into a war and making the claim that it was a defensive war. Even if intelligence showed the enemy was on the move and mounting an offensive and forces were moved and deployed in answer to that enemy movement and all was poised simply waiting for that "first shot". It could still be called "defensive" even though the war had begun in answer to the enemy's first movements. The war had been engaged by both sides long before the first shot was ever fired and that first shot became nothing more than a formality.

    Today, however, that first shot could realistically take the form of a suitcase nuclear weapon, or a vial of one of a dozen or so biological agents, or easily transportable cylinders of nerve gas. Can one reasonably be expected to wait for that "first shot" if that first shot could end a million lives?

    Radical islam has fired the "fist shot" over and over. There have been dozens and dozens of serious attacks on Americans and America's interests going back to the late 1950's. Do we really need to wait until they manage an attack that would make 9/11 pale by comparison before we get the message that they are charged by their interpretation of their religion to either subdue us totally or kill us?

    The president of Iran believes it is his destiny to bring about armageddon. Do you really want to wait to wait for someone like that to fire the first shot just so you can claim formally that your war was defensive in nature?

    If someone tells you that they are going to punch you in the nose and advances on you fist drawn, do you really wait until your nose is bleeding before you take "defensive" action?
     
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