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Wed Jul 16, 2014, 01:59 AM

Who We Are (A Rumination)

I hate conservatives. Like, seriously hate them. In their attitudes, their values, and their actions they embody a rejection of basic humanity - a rejection of conscious rationality in favor of blind violence, a rejection of the connections among people and life in general in favor of dividing the entire universe into themselves and everything else. And they pack so much malice and desire for destruction into every word they speak on political issues that it's a wonder they don't give everyone listening to them instant cancer. They are, fundamentally and completely, something very wrong with the world.

Long before I was old enough to understand political issues, I could sense that about them - that what came out of them was something vile and diseased, and had far more to do with the things that were wrong with them as people than with any honest assessment of the world around them. They don't try to persuade you of their viewpoint, because they don't have a viewpoint - they simply have an idealized self-image, and try to violently propagate that image by carving it into the people around them.

Ask yourself what drives conservatives to the absolute most intense state of rage: It isn't when their fears and prejudices are confirmed - quite the opposite. You will never see a conservative more comfortable than when everyone around them is living down to their most prejudiced expectations: This is their Paradise, their idea of The Natural Order. Their pettiest, most unexamined impulses, reflected in the world around them rather than challenged by it. But confront them with a person who shatters their prejudices before their eyes, and the reaction will not be humble, contemplative, or grateful that the world is a better place than they assumed. No, you will see them at best annoyed to be discredited, and often enough in a state of barely-contained murderous rage that anything they don't already understand dares to draw breath in their world.

Ever wonder why the Confederacy made learning to read a capital offense for slaves while simultaneously insisting they were subhuman morons incapable of a white man's intellectual thinking? This is why. It isn't that the people of this arch-conservative dystopia literally, factually believed their victims were dumb - it was simply a convenient position to take to justify doing what they did, and the truth was immaterial. What conservatives do - the crimes they commit, the havoc they wreak on the life around them - is a direct and inextricable expression of their existence, so telling them to not behave like that, or even so much as challenging the lies they cavalierly tell to excuse it, is from their perspective a direct assault on their souls.

If another person's very existence challenged them in this way - say, a highly intelligent slave capable of arguing the best white academics under the table - that did not cause a reexamination of their opinions and values, it simply caused that slave to be murdered. That is who conservatives are: It's who they were in the past, who they are today, and who they always will be - a psychological parasite that scars and disfigures human societies into photographic negatives of life, love, and truth. They believe fundamentally in only one thing: Power. Everything else they define as a function of power, much like the Inner Party member O'Brien in 1984, who insists to the protagonist that he can make 2 + 2 = 5 through the power of torture. They are People of The Void, who define being right as the state of having successfully suppressed everyone from contradicting them.

So...I hate conservatives. I hate them on an aesthetic level, as something ugly and disheartening to witness. And I hate them on a personal level because they waste our time fighting twilight struggles over settled matters of obvious fact when our country and our species could be so far ahead of where it is by now. All because they're such living abortions that they can't look in a mirror, admit that anything about themselves could be better, and actually try to be better instead of forever trying to jackhammer every leprous crack in their diseased minds into divine commandments that others most worship and obey.

But if the story of who we are ended with this understanding, we would always be just sad little sparks of light forever in orbit around the conservative black hole - never falling in, but our future forever controlled by what we reject. We already allow it to dominate so much of our time and energy, obsessively staring into the abyss of the latest conservative crime against humanity that we forget to get on with the business of humanity. We forget, in all the obstruction and sabotage they constantly throw our way, that we don't actually need their permission for the vast majority of what we want to accomplish - and that most of what we already have accomplished arose from roots far beneath the level of grandiose federal programs.

It's easier to pornographically focus on Creationist madness and climate denier corruption than to live in the headspace of science and understand its enemies for the desperate, self-limiting dead-enders they are. It's easy to be infected with the conservative negativism, that sees a world of holes and flaws, like some kind of philosophical body dysmorphic syndrome, rather than see the living, growing things that we are and that we represent collectively. And that sad state - that eternal enslavement to the infinite voids between rather than the infinite presence of what is there - is the source of a large part of my differences with some of the more ideological strains of left-wing politics that can never seem to escape from that conservative black hole. They will always sullenly orbit what is wrong, like eternal Accusers standing sentinel, rather than breaking away entirely.

I can never be on board with those of us who consider positivity morally suspect - who find more fault the more that is achieved, because they consider reality a corruption of pure ideals. I can't hang with that, because that's not what motivates me. My liberalism is not a blueprint in my mind for a Gothic cathedral that no mortal hand can build, some perfect system or program that would solve everything if not for those Dirty Betrayers in The Establishment who can never seem to get right what my imagination always achieves flawlessly.

My liberalism is reflection, exploration, and elaboration without end. It is science, without end. It is the maximization of possibilities and the practical human liberty to pursue them (as opposed to the merely negative, libertarian ideology of "magical" liberty they believe somehow pops into existence in the absence of government) - again, without end and without fixed form. It is Life, forever, everywhere, in all possible forms and combinations.

Whether anyone else shares this view or even understands what I'm saying, it's nonetheless staggering to me - a holistic understand of the source of my values and politics in which any given issue is the tiniest grain in a vast ecosystem of thought and understanding. And from that dizzying vantage, the towering conservative devourer of light and hope I mentioned earlier shrinks to nothing at all - a meaningless bit of empty space traversed in the pause between heartbeats. When you think of things in context, conservatives stop being so formidable or even worthy of concern: You see them for the fretful, crippled little cave creatures they are. We live in a bigger world than they would even want to imagine, let alone be capable of imagining.

At this point, there is still one philosophical danger that can trap a liberal mind: The temptation to take pity on conservatives and try to somehow include them - to educate and enlighten them into being something more than they are. You can teach the sad little sparks trapped in orbit of the conservative black hole how to escape, but there will always be the minds within it that can never escape, and trying to "rescue" them from their ignorance just means you pour your energy into an infinitely deep hole. That can lead to frustration and resentment, and ever-growing amounts of effort and obsession devoted to trying to somehow "reverse the polarity" of minds that will always be tuned to negative.

And all that time this is happening, the black hole of the conservative mind simply grows in your field of view, until it's all there is - and then it's too late, because you're in it. Even if you don't call yourself conservative, you're some bitter misanthrope who ignores opportunities for positive change and belittles everyone who makes it as being not up to your perfect standards. You end up in your heart cheering other loser-misanthropes who commit pointless acts of petulance while dismissing or even demonizing people who build and explore. The entire history of Communism is one giant cautionary tale exemplifying this danger - the soaring eagles of 19th century progressive intellectualism tried to penetrate that conservative event horizon in the 20th and "rescue them from themselves," and instead merely added their own passion to its gravity by building horrific dystopias.

We are in no danger of repeating those mistakes, but we can still learn from them to be okay that there will always be conservatives, and they will never, ever learn anything or become better people than the most violent and heinous of their historical counterparts. Our part is simply to refuse their influence on ourselves, both direct and indirect, and build all possible roads away from them broad and well-paved, with signs legible to any who can read.

More concretely, in terms of the Democratic Party, this means a party that does as much as possible on its own initiative and never depends on cooperation from Republicans to accomplish things - but is also perfectly open to it when any from the GOP, for whatever reason, feel like doing something for their country rather than what they normally do. One that spends as much time as possible achieving, and devotes as little time as possible to caring what Republicans say and do, because the best and most absolute victory is to make them irrelevant. It further means a Democratic base that takes an identical disposition with regard to elected leaders and establishment figures, accomplishing things ourselves by default rather than treating grassroots politics as nothing but an impotent demands-and-complaints machine.

Everything we have today was built by progressives who took this attitude: Who didn't wait for the passage of federal programs when they could move on state ones; didn't wait for state programs to pass when they could build local ones; and didn't wait for local ones when they could just do something themselves as individuals. So they were able to leverage their individual actions to pass local programs, leveraged the local programs to pass state programs, and leveraged the state programs to enact nationwide changes. And when institutions were just hopelessly corrupt and unjust, they simply withdrew their recognition and social consent, and the power of the political leaders responsible withered until it could be brushed away by someone who better represented the public interest.

They did not sit in despair, looking at the power of the robber barons who ruled their institutions, and wallow in passive-aggressive apocalyptic fantasies. They saw that what they wanted was not there, so they built it and it grew. That's who we are.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who We Are (A Rumination) (Original post)
True Blue Door Jul 2014 OP
WestCoastLib Jul 2014 #1
hedda_foil Jul 2014 #2
freshwest Jul 2014 #3
eridani Jul 2014 #4
BlueMTexpat Jul 2014 #5
Fairgo Jul 2014 #6
The_Commonist Jul 2014 #7

Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 02:36 AM

1. Interesting read.

I agree with much of it, but I do think you paint with a bit of too broad a brush. I have known a large number of lifelong republicans that left the party when Bush was in office and voted for Kerry/Obama. Though, they are certainly "conservative" they want nothing to do with what is going on with the teaparty or current GOP. They don't embody most of what you suggest. The point is that there is hope for many of them yet.

However, there is no question that liberal ideas are generally responsible for progress. It's the ideal that looks to the future while conservatives clong to the past.

What I've never understood is how you can support ideas that you know time and again are going to end up being on the wrong side of history. You can't stop progress, you can only slow it down. Why not support trying to make the future the best it can possibly be, rather than simply try to put up roadblocks to progress?

Fortunately I don't know a lot of social conservatives. Fiscal consevatives are pretty much motivated by greed which is bad enough, but at least they are genrally honest about it.





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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 02:49 AM

2. Wow! Thank you for this beautifully written and cohesive description of humanity.

Yours is (imo) one of the most important and.enlightening posts in my 13 years on DU. I look forward to reading future pieces of yours.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 03:44 AM

3. To me they are a low level, malignant vibration. I have no other words to describe them.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 04:13 AM

4. Conservative morality is rooted in genocidal mass murder

Since about the time of the agricultural revolution, that is. Before that, people favored their blood relations, and if a sudden loss of food or other survival essentials happened, they'd preferentially kill non-relatives. But over-reproduction followed by deliberately perpetrating genocide on your neighbors was never a social motivating force.

You see this in the Old Testament and other religious texts that appeared when some societies got enough storable food to be worth stealing. Yahweh promised Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than grains of sand. And where were all those little grains of sand going to live? On their neighbors' real estate of course, after they killed all the men and raped all the women. This moral stance is what conservatives live by.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 04:46 AM

5. I like your essay, but I would substitute

"right-wing zealots" for "conservatives."

There is nothing "conservative" about right-wing zealots.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 04:56 AM

6. Thank you for the POV

This is the dialog we should be having here.

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Response to True Blue Door (Original post)

Wed Jul 16, 2014, 09:29 AM

7. I rarely read these kind of long posts.

But this one was totally awesome. I think you nailed it.

I was 7 years old in the summer of 1969.
I remember very clearly laying back on a swing in the playground where we lived in NYC and looking up at the Moon and saying "there are 2 people walking on that RIGHT NOW!!!" My father, who was a journalist, made sure that we kids watched the moon landing, and the first steps. One of those was at like 4am, and I remember being excited about him waking me up to watch it. Dad also happened to have purchased tickets for the family to go a little Arts and Music festival a couple of weeks later upstate in Woodstock. We had been there the summer before, and he heard that this year there were going to be some great bands playing, so he bought tickets. Naturally, we didn't go because the New York State Thruway was closed, man! But he kept those tickets in his desk drawer for years. I don't know what happened to them.

The point is - I have come to believe that the summer of 1969 was the peak of human evolution (at least thus far), and we've been sliding backwards ever since. And largely because of the people and attitudes that you are talking about here. In fact, I have come to believe that the religious types among the conservatives you discuss would much rather, and have even set out to, destroy the entire planet and everyone and everything on it rather than have their view of god and the cosmos proved wrong.

And I have also come to believe that it is time to ignore, marginalize, laugh at and generally remove any power they have to do much of anything but breathe and eat. And here's the thing - There really aren't all that many of them. There are a lot of people sucked into their orbit, who go along with it and don't really question the prevailing attitudes, but as far as the hard-core, anti-science, Creationist, twisted Conservative? Maybe 10-15 percent of the population? And then another 20-25 percent who CAN be changed. I've seen it with my own eyes. You just get them away from hard-core Cons, and they're happy to be happy for once.

There were a couple of threads yesterday about Gretchen Carlson from Fox News complaining that Festivus, among other things, is persecuting Christians by "helping 'erode' America’s 'heritage' and 'strip(ping) our society of certain things that have been in existence for a long time.'"

And to that I say... Let's do it!!! Let's move on from traditions that at best, make no sense, and at worst are harmful. Yes... Let's persecute the Christians! (and I mean the fake ones, the Leviticans, not the ones who actually do try to emulate Christ) It's time to ignore, marginalize, laugh at and generally remove any power they have, so that the rest of us can move on with evolution and get to the stars. Unfortunately, for them and their twisted worldview, it will mean that their conception of god and the universe will be proven false. But to the rest of us, that's not a big deal. We'll have a new idea of god and the universe, and then that will change as we get new information.

Because that's what smart people do. Grow. And change. We've let the dumb people control the conversation since about 1970. It's time to stop.

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