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On Conservatism

These days I seem to identify with the political left almost all the time. This is unusual for me. I don’t consider myself either a liberal or a conservative; what I am is a lapsed Ayn Rand guy who takes his positions without regard to labels. If you were to call me an independent I wouldn’t argue too hard with you.

As such you’d think it’d be pretty easy for the right to get me on side, but in fact the opposite has been the case; they’ve pushed me away. Conservatism as currently constituted strikes me as mean and stupid, and I can’t sign on with mean and stupid.

And it leads me to wonder. What is conservatism, exactly? I can think of two things it might be, but it’s impossible for anyone to authoritatively say which one is true because anyone who does is only revealing something about himself or herself.

A) Conservatism might be a political position that says that the status quo, whatever its problems, is worthy enough that it should only be changed slightly and carefully, because it’s a lot easier to make something worse by changing it than to make it better.

B) Conservatism might be a political position that says that society exists to concentrate all wealth and power in the hands of as few really rich people as possible, that any means necessary to accomplish this goal are acceptable, including all manner of outlandish lies and fantasies, and the more cruelties and indignities that can be piled on everyone else, the better.

Obviously if A is the truth, then it’s a perfectly normal kind of thing to think, and there will be plenty of cases when one might want to adopt a conservative viewpoint. Not all the time, of course. But sometimes.

And obviously if B is the truth, then we need to fight conservatism all the time in as many ways as we can, because it’s basically pure evil. And I don’t think B is the truth. I hope it isn’t. But look around.

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