Sunday, 28 May 2017

How The Right Subverts Conservatism: Traditional Values And Rule Of Law Are Anathema Now

Friendship, by Wendy Cockcroft for On t'Internet
The recent atrocity in Manchester has attracted a lot of media and social media attention. What's getting to me is the rabid desire of people on the right to go out and get all violent and stuff. In case you haven't noticed, this doesn't work. And it's not how Manchester rolls.

We are united in Manchester despite the bombing because we know it is the work of a horrible, hateful minority that is not sanctioned by the vast majority of our Muslim neighbours. I've already blogged about how neither "the left" nor "the right" nor "the liberals" nor "the progs" have a lock on morality. Each group and sub-group thereof has invented its own relative morality, leaving behind the social norms that created the traditional values we used to believe in. I expect that from the left/liberal/progressives; that's how they are, always looking for a way to push the boundaries further out. What annoys me is what I'm seeing coming from the right.

There are three main ways in which the Right is subverting conservatism:

1. Advocating "alternative" morality
2. Abandoning traditional attitudes
3. Refusing self-examination

Let's take a closer look.

Alternative morality

This is the Eleventh commandment:

When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

I've seen many Americans advocating precisely this kind of attitude, though they often seem disinclined to "ask him to stop" and proceed straight to "destroy him." You know how saying this is not Christianity appears to invite accusations of employing a "No true Scotsman" logical fallacy? Well it's not; this is a Satanic commandment. Compare the Satanic ones with the Old Testament Ten Commandments and see what the difference is. Look again at David French's thread where he calls for vengeance on the bombers; he gets little support because his views are not conservative, they border on the downright Satanic.

Here's the Fourth commandment:

If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.

Oh, sorry, did you want the Biblical one, not the Satanic version? Here you go:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

'Nuff people being forced to work on Sundays due to zero hour contracts, etc. 'Twas the Left that gave us the weekend. However, in a world that says you are worth what the market says you're worth, shut up and get on with your under-paid work, peasant.

It fails us in real life

Per The Telegraph, Britain's small businesses are overwhelmingly rejecting the Tory manifesto. This is because they recognise the interdependence of our society. The sort-it-out-yourself cant the Tories are pushing on to us isn't working out for them. Meanwhile, for all the claims that Labour would bankrupt the country, I refer you to the IMF. We've had seven years of Tory rule so they've had all that time to fix the problem. Erm, they've made things worse — it turns out that trickle-down is a lie. Meanwhile, our all-for-money-money-for-me attitudes are coming back to bite us: climate scientists are pushing back against government gagging and even kids are pushing back against fossil fuel lobbyists.

Traditional attitudes

Men ought to lift their knuckles when they're walking, that's all I ask. So what the flippin' 'eck was going through Montana GOP candidate Greg Gianforte's mind when he body slammed reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian on Wednesday evening 24th May? His and Jacobs's accounts of the incidents differ but it's the public reaction I'm more interested in: right-wingers were pleased with Gianforte for assaulting a man. Now read this thread: the dirty lib'ruls aren't getting the message, they still believe that violence is fine for as long as they are the ones meting it out.

Traditional friendships need to be maintained

Donald Trump's visit to NATO was a national embarrassment, by all accounts. Since he gets his news from Fox and Breitbart he doesn't know much and it shows, particularly where climate is concerned. He's even crapping on Britain, allowing his intelligence services to pass information to the press before we'd finished unpacking it over here.

It's not okay when our side does it

Trump is the alpha example of current right-wing thinking; he's exactly what they'd be if they had the cojones and they know it. They just wish he'd be more subtle about it, that's all. Case in point: Russian sanctions. I know that making friends with them is good but letting them get away with shenanigans is not okay. It's not okay when anybody does it; imagine the furore had Bernie Sanders advocated this. But it's not the democratic socialist, it's the alt-right "conservative" who has no position on sanctions and finds the constitutional emoluments clause impractical.

Modern masculinity

So it is that we arrive at modern masculinity, the right wing edition. It's as ugly as sin. My idea of masculinity is basically the tender warrior type: tough as nails but gentle with women, kids, and small furry animals. The current American Republican (GOP) version tends to just do what he wants and to hell with the consequences. Even John McCain finds it embarrassing. Okay, let's ask the question: is it manly to body-slam a reporter who asks awkward questions during a political campaign? Grover Norquist's comparison of election victory to actual violence is downright discomfiting given the situation. Reason reporter Mike Riggs has earned my respect with this tweetstorm:

Now this is the kind of thoughtful, intelligent masculinity I can get behind, not the gung-ho vengeful demon kind I can't be dealing with.


I've been unsuccessful in my efforts to persuade Tories to check out the fourteen defining characteristics of fascism. Let's go through them:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. 

What a nasty list that is. I see everything in that list being broadcast on the news and in the papers. The Express "monstered" judges calling them enemies of the people. The Sun is always ragging on socialists; when Wallonia trashed CETA, the Sun called them "crazed" instead of examining their arguments. I could go on and on but the point I'm making is that self-examination is anathema to the Right. At no point will they step back, sit down and ask themselves if what they think and believe is reasonable.

Self-deceit reigns supreme

If you lack self-awareness because you won't sit back and take stock of your actions and attitudes, how in the world are you going to stop others laughing at you? New Zealand is sticking the boot in over Brexit:

I'm sorry, I thought other countries were struggling to form an orderly queue to strike new trade deals with Britain. As it is, there's not enough of them to form a queue, a fact missed by financial columnist Matthew Lynn:

Only in the minds of deluded Brexiters can slow growth be okay because it's slowing immigration and a structural deficit be no biggie because we would finally be out of the clutches of the dastardly EU. I've never once seen any of these people go and look up the wording of the treaties or check out the stories behind the headlines. They run on "Rule Britannia!" and dreams of faded glory.

What happened to conservatism?

Conservatism has been hijacked by the far right, adherents of which own our newspapers which gives them a firehose to spew their crap. The internet is the great leveller, enabling people to communicate, compare, and contrast views on a range of platforms. This is the only real challenge to the status quo. I can see a way forward but I may be the only one; everybody else appears to be either lurching further to the right or hard to the left.  Either way, the traditional definitions of both left and right have been stretched to breaking point.

Conservatism needs a reboot

Conservatism needs a reboot. We need to rethink what it actually means to be conservative. This new iteration needs to have its roots in community, tradition, and the rule of law. Work should be rewarded and truth should be valued. The poor should be supported and enabled as much as possible to find work and to fill skills shortages. Where this is impossible because of illness, etc., they should be provided for.

We should encourage each other to avoid being a burden as much as possible, and provision should be made for old age; an extra tax or savings fund should be provided for elder care as this is becoming a problem. National insurance used to pay for this but if it's not enough we need to start looking at practical ways to provide for ourselves when we're too old to work. It may be worth noting that expecting people to go through life avoiding having kids or having a home for the government to sell from under them even though they work as hard as their zero hour contracts allow isn't going to provide the funds to save. Therefore the new iteration of conservatism needs to be hard-headed and realistic with a plan for how to manage poverty instead of making excuses for not helping the poor.

The hard right has had its own way for too long. I can't be the only moderate out there. Let's be talking about this and making it clear: we've swung too far to the right. It's time to rethink what it means to be conservative before we swing the other way.

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