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  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.


    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Sunday, May 30, 2004

    Where's the conservativism in conservatives?

    By Nick

    Read Full Article: The Conscience of an (ex-)Conservative. By Philip Gold
    Civil liberties? Like limited government, this commitment now resides with the libertarians, a pert little faction composed mostly of people who, when told about something going on in the world, reply, “Yes, but how would it work in theory?” Blessings on the American Civil Liberties Union for its activism and its questioning, and on some right-libertarian single-issue groups. But that’s just another way of saying that, like downsizing Leviathan, upgrading freedom is no longer a significant conservative concern.

    A foreign policy that does not presume the world is ours to remodel and redeem as we please, and that our resources of coercion and control are limitless? Conservatism once cherished a sense of modesty, disdaining attempts to root up societies and force people to be free. But now, according to the imperial conservatives, history begins again with us. The Beltway catchphrase du jour: “Hard Wilsonianism.” Perhaps they should study Mr. Wilson, and the mess he made, a bit more closely.

    A cultural commitment to tolerance, appreciation of difference and an inviolable private realm? Why are we even asking this question?

    Respect for the planet? Yeah, there’s a lot of junk science out there serving lefty environmental enthusiasms. But conservatism invented junk refutation. Rudy Vallee, a crooner of the 1920s, had a hit entitled, “You’re Going to Do It Someday, So Why Not Do It Now?” When I suggested to several conservatives active in the global economic policy realm that this might prove a wise conservative approach to environmental responsibility, they looked at me as though I’d proposed sodomy on the Capitol steps.

    For all the blather about the “war of ideas,” 20th-century conservatism produced virtually nothing of lasting value. Most of the major conservative economists — Milton Friedman, especially — have eschewed the title, preferring to call themselves libertarians or classical liberals. Usual-suspect senior columnists such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Bill Safire are always worth a read. But their stuff does not age well between covers. With one possible exception (Thomas Sowell), there are no Walter Lippmanns here, destined to be read for decades more. As for the great neoconservative efflorescence — well, as neocon godfather Irving Kristol loves to point out, it was a generational phenomenon: the public odyssey of some very bright but also very self-referent intellectuals. It passes now into the realm of historical curiosity.

    As Lind summed the situation: “The conservative movement has had half a century to incubate a similar [to movements such as transcendentalism and progressivism] efflorescence; its leaders have had vast financial resources and public attention at their disposal. What is the result of the conservative intellectual renaissance of late twentieth-century America? A few position papers from think tanks subsidized by the aerospace and tobacco industries; a few public-policy potboilers slapped together by second-rate social scientists or former student journalists subsidized by pro-business foundations; a few collections of op-eds by right-wing syndicated columnists. Not one philosopher of world rank, not one great political or constitutional theorist, not one world-class novelist or poet has been enrolled in the ranks of late twentieth-century conservative intellectuals, or had anything more than a fleeting association with them.”

    After a decade or two, it started to get old. And by the latter ’90s, I’d begun to sense something about conservatism that left me increasingly uneasy. I came to think of it as “The Sneer of Dismissal,” and once I became aware of it, I also became astonished at how often I encountered it.

    A few of the milder examples:

    I was talking with a prominent D.C. conservative about classical virtues as an alternative to Judeo-Christian ethics. He blew me off, noting en passant that people are stupid and need simple ideas in order “to be controlled.” I showed something I’d written on the subject to a local conservative, a good man and a good friend. “Philip,” he replied heatedly, “this is crap.”
    heard a colleague muttering about some liberal who “dabbled in Buddhism.” I asked him if he would describe an American who went to church maybe four times a year as someone who “dabbled in Christianity.”

    I tried to explain a new movement — civic feminism — to another colleague. A radical feminist friend back in D.C. was writing that women must participate in the defense of civilization. “Oh,” he replied, “Xena, Warrior Princess.”

    Then there’s Rabbi Daniel Lapin, head of the Mercer Island–based conservative (very conservative) Toward Tradition — a man I’ve found to be charming, erudite, a brilliant teacher. I was listening to one of his audiotapes, on the deeper meanings of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. At one point he mentioned the Greeks and “their ridiculous gods.” Why the gratuitous insult? Leave aside the immense importance of those deities to Western culture. Forget for a moment that there’s nothing inherently more ridiculous about Zeus and Aphrodite than the notion of a creator of the universe who cares which end of the cow you eat, or whether you kiss with your mouth open. Why The Sneer of Dismissal?

    After 30 years, I realized why. Deep down, these people — these people who can be so gracious and so decent in their personal lives — believe that they’ve been deprived of their proper place at the center of the universe. Deep down, they know that, were the world right, everyone would be like them, or at least aspire, or pretend to aspire, to be like them.

    After a decade or two, it started to get old. And by the latter ’90s, I’d begun to sense something about conservatism that left me increasingly uneasy. I came to think of it as “The Sneer of Dismissal,” and once I became aware of it, I also became astonished at how often I encountered it.

    So what went wrong with conservatism? A complex question amenable to a simple answer. It went wrong because it failed and it succeeded. Culturally, it failed utterly to march the country back to an idealized past that never existed. Politically, it failed to implement its traditional agenda.

    But it also succeeded. It became Important. Until Reagan, until Gingrich, until the big-money think tanks and media stars, conservatism saw itself as, and was, a minority movement. It still is. But that minority now disposes of a high-viz elite, serious cash and real power.

    Power corrupts. It corrupts especially when you’ve got it, but can’t seem to accomplish what you set out to do, and you’ve jettisoned your ideals somewhere along the way, but can’t quite face the fact.

    So what’s the future of conservatism? It’s still fractionated, of course, but this time into sects and subsects of increasingly ugly demeanor. The Birchers and the militias were peripheral. These are not.

    Intellectually, there’s a two-tier star system. Call it the Senior Usuals and the Brat Pack, a mess of younger pundits and “public intellectuals” not nearly as profound or as clever as they like to think they are, but adept enough at telling the media and the funders what they want to hear the way they want to hear it.

    So now what?

    I’m hopeful. Very hopeful. Our numbers are growing. Who are we? We’re the disillusioned Righties who can’t bear to go left, and the disillusioned Lefties who can’t bear to go right. But we’re going somewhere. We’ll be carrying our principles and values. We’ll also be traveling light.

    Where exactly shall we meet? Not in some split-the-difference middle, one hopes, nor in some phony “radical center.” Maybe somewhere else entirely. We’ll find it. We must.

    posted by Nick at 5/30/2004 08:00:00 PM |

    This highlights the distinction between conservatism properly understood (Burke, Russell Kirk, Oakeshot, etc.) and the Radical Conservatim that Robert Reich has identified as characteristic of the group now in control in DC.

    The problem is traditional conservatism is essentially nothing more than a holding action of certain groups traditionally privileged over others. I think an argument can even be made that Burkean conservatism is to a certain extent progressivism on downers because it tries to slow change but not necessarily stop it.

    Radical Conservatism is far more ideological.

    Radical Conservatism is a novel phenomenon. It is characaterized by ideological extremism, populism, and a developing an institutional presence. It is cult-like.
    What is the difference between radical conservatism and Fascism?
    Fascist leaders were more self-aware of their own desire for power and more aware of realities of power.

    Fascism was a more serious philosophy. Evil? Yes, but serious as Mussolini's piece indicated. These guys had very clear ideas about the world, their relationship to it, and the implications for the use of Power.

    Radical conservativism is more like a psychological disorder than a political philosophy. It is internally inconsistent. It does not deal with reality very well. It certainly cannot come to grips with the realities of power and it is utterly unaware of it's own desire for supremacy.

    One concrete distinction: The Fascist would consiously use propaganda to control the masses and understand that what he was doing was essentially elitist.
    The RadCon unconsciously (occasionally consciously) engages in propaganda but at some level believes that he is really provided genuine information.

    In a sense Radical Conservatism is the longer term danger because there is such a strong unconscious component to it. It cannot be easily wiped out. Whereas when one takes out the Fascist leadership, not much is left.

    This has been rambling description of the differences. Sorry. It is good question to ask though.

    BTW, I use the term Radical Consevative in the sense that Robert Reich uses it in his new book: Reason.
    What worries me is that Fascism was a natural byproduct of realpolitik. It goes back to that article on Inverted Totalitarianism- American Fascists couldn't be too obvious. What worries me is people more like Rupert Murdock, and less like Dick Cheney. I'm wondering whether the politicians themselves are a front. I know it sounds far fetched, and slightly conspiricy-theorist. Yet, the fact that our political candidates are advertised like products...
    Indeed, the people working brutally for their self-interests are the plutocrats. However, as Lenin(?) said the capitalists will sell the noose with which to hang themselves. That can never be said of the fascist ideologue, they're in it for keeps.

    The wealthy indeed buy and sell politicians, but they understand they've got to work in the legal, political, and cultural context that is given. Sometimes they make consious efforts at coordinating(e.g. the Powell Manifesto) but a lot of times they just screw up and start backstabbing one another.

    However, the radcon thinkers and activists are in it for keeps. These people sincerely believe they are working for a better America. Before progressives have any hope of political victory they have to demonstrate clearly the radcon policies are inconsistent with one another and detrimental to the people they are trying to help.
    Hey, I posted those policy briefs up on top. Regarding what you just said: I think it's going to a matter of fishing, the socratic method, and classic manufacturing of consent. The important thing is that the feel they've come to the decision to defect themselves.
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