They seem to think that I don’t understand what they stand for
by Tessa Schlesinger
So let’s talk about your point that all conservatives are not the same.
It boggles my mind every time a conservative wants to discuss his views with me. I have yet to meet one that doesn’t seem to think that I don’t have a good knowledge of what they believe and stand for. They appear to think that because I’m a progressive, I must be misinformed.
The truth of the matter is that I have been a progressive since 1966 — that’s probably before they even knew the word existed. I grew up in a political family and I have lived, voted, and worked in several countries. I have lived under a variety of political systems, including apartheid, welfare states, neoliberalism (laissez faire capitalism), and mixed economies (democratic socialism).
So Let’s Forget About Trump and the Crazies for the Moment
Let’s talk about traditional conservatism — the type that upholds American traditions (or British ones, if you’re living in the UK), less government rather than more, Judeo-Christian beliefs, American exceptionalism (Oh, yes, and British exceptionalism), individualism, a strong military and police force, limited welfare options, and Christian prayer in schools.
I have no time for outmoded traditions. Traditions belong to tribes, and there is no place for tribalism in the world anymore.
I am a hardcore atheiest — Judeo-Christian beliefs are primitive myths. They have no bearing on reality, and a great many of their so called ethics are anything but ethical. It’s perfectly okay to be gay, to sleep with people before one is married, and to have an abortion.
Individualism is the root of narcissism. People who grow up been taught that they are entitled to do and have anything they like without checking the consequences of their own actions on others are not good people. They are self-centered, and, over a period of time, communities comprising them fail. That’s because communities only work when the people within them work collectively for the greater good. Virtually all religions have been based on the greater good — individualism has no place in any civilization. Nor do I have any interest in the pursuit of happiness. I am in pursuit of fairness and dignity for all people — black, white, pink with purple spots, and dark green.
American exceptionalism boggles my mind. Sorry, but there is nothing great about America. America is technologically behind Europe. Its food is both more expensive and very unhealthy. It’s misinformed about a great many things, and because most Americans don’t travel to Europe, to New Zealand, to Australia, etc. they have no idea how limited and retrogressive they really are. American exceptionalism lives only in the minds of a percentage of Americans (the conservative type).
“Welfare only for those who are genuinely in trouble” is a diatribe that I constantly hear. I happen to believe that it’s welfare for everybody who wants it. I firmly believe in Universal Basic Income, and having studied Modern Monetary Theory, I think it’s true that governments can print their own money, and there won’t be any negative consequence. We are producing twice what we need on this planet, and most of it is being trashed and going into landfills and the seas. I am a strong believer in the Welfare State. Germany has the third largest economy in the world, and she is very, very much a welfare state, and she pays her people well. So Margaret Thatcher’s famous statement “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” is poppycock. Welfare is part of the political system in Western Europe.
While I accept that there needs to be a core military and a police force (there will always be crime and wars), what I don’t accept is that 60% of American taxes must go to the military. Nor do I think it’s sane to provide military weapons to the police. In no other western country are the police militarized.
Small government, i.e. privatization, is a serious misunderstanding of the goal of government. Yet conservatives constantly put the profits of business above the business of government. I am keen to shut down 50% of business to stop producing all the excess that is causing climate change, as well as completely removing lobbying (state capture) from government. I don’t believe that business should have any input whatsoever in government. And I believe that government is elected in order to serve the needs of the people. The more the population grows in numbers, and the more complex society becomes, the bigger government needs to be.
Prayer in schools. I don’t believe that mythology about non-existing entities who live in the invisible world ought to be taught to children as facts. Nor should they be encouraged to believe that their prayers will be answered. This leads to delusion. To my mind, schools are there to teach people working skills, the sciences, the numbers, the liberal arts, and language. That’s it. Religion ought to be totally abolished.
Ah, yes. Capitalism — the great love affair of conservatives. Well, capitalism is responsible for making most of the world poor. Modern civilization is the result of the Enlightenment — not capitalism. Capitalism (like totalitarianism) effectively slowed down progress. Marx pointed out the long-term outcome of capitalism a century and a half ago, and he was right. I’m also tired of conservative ignorance confusing totalitarianism with communism and socialism. Then, again, they also don’t know the difference between liberalism and progressivism.
Family values. Oh — lordie. Which family would that be? The ones where the husband shoots his wife and 2.5 children because he had a bad day? The ones where the husband forces his wife into submission because the bible tells him that women are to submit to him? The ones who are interfering in woman’s contraceptive choices because they don’t want women to have sex outside marriage? The world has moved on. Jesus Christ does not exist. And there are more important things in life (like climate change, poverty, billionaires) than trying to prevent a woman from sleeping with the men she chooses to sleep with.
They’re all dead now. All the unofficial fathers of modern conservatism: William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan. All of the self-anointed torch bearers for Edmund Burke are dead, and you might be tempted to think that these men (always men) … were men of principle. Good men. Strong men. … That is because the entire philosophical foundation of conservatism is a template for exploitation. William F. Buckley was a rich asswipe with an affected accent who never had to worry about money a day in his life. There must be a moral order, although whose morals should be adhered to isn’t quite clear. You cannot create a Utopian society, so there’s no point in trying. Change is bad and dangerous. Inequality is not only inevitable but necessary. Men should only count on their fellow man for help, and not on any kind of state-created support system. Source.
My Disconnect with Conservatism
Of course, I have not gone into details here. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the inclination. And I really am sick and tired of going over and over the same thing again and again. I’ve been going over it for half a century. So forgive me, if I don’t want to debate or discuss conservatism with one more conservative. I understand exactly what it is. It worked in a tribal world — it does not work in a global one.
Nor do I have time for the type of people who are enamored with guns, think America is the most free country in the world (if only you knew), and that America won WWII on behalf of the Allies.
All Conservatives Are Not the Same
When I tell a conservative that I have no desire to debate him, and that I don’t debate conservatives, I am told “But all conservatives are not the same.”
Oh, I’m sure that there is a green one with yellow dots, tall ones, ones that speak two languages, others that don’t own a gun, and more. However, none of this eliminates the core philosophy and value system of conservatives. And it’s the core philosophy that I have a problem with.
So, no, I’m 70 this year. I have lived in enough countries, read enough books, and have sufficient inches of qualifications to reach an accurate decision. The fact that many conservative men have an issue with my not wanting to discuss conservatism with them has more to do with their belief that they can influence me than anything else.
Not going to happen.
I’m a kick-ass woman with a mind of her own.