Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Conservatives Are Always Wrong

"Why Conservatives are Always wrong," subtitled, "Keeping perspective for perplexed progressives," by Jeff Smith at Badrepublicans.com is a lengthy article delineating one of the main problem with Conservatives: besides they're fake philosophy causing untold misery in the form of theft, extortion, and murder, to name a few results of their continual efforts to benefit the 2 percent to the detriment of the 98 percent, they're always wrong:

"Suppose you had a friend you had known for many years, one who was very opinionated, who always seemed absolutely certain about everything, and yet who was always turning out to be wrong. He got you to buy stock in Enron and swore it would just keep on rising. He bet on the Yankees to sweep the Red Sox in ’04. He said mobile phones were just a fad, and before long people would give them up and go back to sending telegrams.

"Would you trust this person’s powers of analysis? Would you continue putting any faith in his predictions?

'Conservatives,' or those who call themselves this nowadays, have an equally good and much longer record of faulty analysis and wrong prediction. In order to exist as a viable movement, they depend on everyone forgetting that they’re basically always wrong.

"Unfortunately, progressives and liberals have obliged. They seem to have forgotten who they’re actually dealing with. I’m not the first to point out that conservatives are always wrong – on any longer view, it’s hard to miss – but after years of observing the dispirited moderate left and the hapless, helpless leadership of the Democratic Party, I thought it was about time for a few reminders. If we step back from the issues that preoccupy us at the moment, it’s easier both to see that conservatism has consistently been failing and to examine the deeper reasons why. There are flaws in conservative positions that eventually cause them to collapse, and those same flaws are at work today. It’s true that one side in America’s great political debates is playing a very weak hand. Fortunately, that side isn’t ours.

"If they recognized this, if they remembered how reliably the conservative cause has come to grief in the past, I think my fellow progressives would be in much better spirits. I hope the analysis I’m offering here will not only brighten their mood, but suggest some specific arguments and approaches they might find useful once they figure out that they’re already winning – and have been for a very long time.

"How are they always wrong?

"Conservatives’ terrible track record 

"Conservatives depend on everyone forgetting their past positions because those positions consistently come to look worse as time goes on. We find this happening in every generation and every century. Whatever the issue, a new consensus on it eventually develops around some view that conservatives once opposed, and the old conservative ideas are so discredited that even conservatives themselves no longer try to defend them.

"In a few cases the conservative error was so clownish that it passed into legend and therefore hasn’t been forgotten. The old belief that the sun and everything else in the universe went around the earth, for instance, wasn’t merely what people assumed when they looked at the sky; it was a carefully structured system of doctrine with a great deal of ancient authority behind it, including Aristotle, the Bible, and an elaborate theology that put human beings and human history at the center of the cosmos.

"By the 16th and early 17th centuries, though, evidence was mounting rapidly that this doctrine was wrong. It didn’t fully explain the movements of the planets or the things people saw when they began looking through telescopes. So scientists like Galileo looked for new explanations. Based on the data, they said, it seemed that the earth actually goes around the sun.

"Ideas like this were a giant step toward modern science. They cleared the way for a whole new picture of the universe as governed by a common set of physical laws that could be understood through calculation and experiment. Galileo and his like-minded colleagues plainly weren’t conservatives; their goal was not to save the orthodoxies of the past. The conservatives in this dispute were the theologians and churchmen who tried to defend the old religiously-based theories. And while they did have the power to stage a heresy trial and force Galileo to recant, today we know who really got the worst of that confrontation. As Galileo said, eppure si muove: For their efforts, the conservatives have gone down in history looking both vicious and idiotic.

"Because other examples are less well-remembered than Galileo’s, it’s easy to see his as an isolated case and to imagine that progress is usually widely applauded. In fact, though, virtually every development of the last few hundred years that increased knowledge, improved society or made people’s lives better was met in its time with furious conservative resistance. If we scratch the historical surface just a bit, we can see how wretched a record conservatism has actually been compiling since the dawn of modern times:
"In the 16th century, medical pioneers set out to chart the workings of the human body. Where the old doctrines relied on sacred symbols and mystical 'spirits' and 'humours,' the new science mapped internal organs, watched blood circulate and began to uncover the physical causes of disease. These first steps toward modern medicine filled conservatives with horror, and they tried hard to bring the whole enterprise to a stop. They opposed the use of autopsies to learn how the body worked. They insisted that disease was caused by Satan’s influence, epidemics by collective sin, and mental illness by demonic possession. And even as the scientific facts were becoming known, later conservatives kept up the fight against further new developments, like vaccines and anesthetics – which, they said, violated 'nature' and usurped God’s right to decide who should suffer and die.
"In the 17th century, while Galileo was fighting his battles, other debates were getting underway over the sources of government power – whether it lay within families and was rightly conferred by birth, or whether it rose from the people and should rest on the consent of the governed. Against proposals for electing rulers and other novel 'democratical' ideas, conservative opinion came down firmly on the side of aristocratic privilege and the so-called divine right of kings.
"In the 18th century, movements developed with the aim of reforming the system of criminal justice. Liberal thinkers argued for speedy and public trials, rejected the “cruel and unusual” in favor of penalties that fit the crimes, and supported modest efforts to see that even prisoners were treated humanely. Why did these arguments need to be made? Because at a time when dozens of minor offenses carried the death sentence, when political and religious dissent was criminalized and when legal penalties included literally cutting people to bits, conservatives thought the laws were, if anything, too soft.
"In the 19th century, women were still unable to vote, own property or practice professions. When reformers called for giving them these rights, conservatives invoked both nature and the Bible to prove that women were created subservient to men, belonged in the home, and didn’t need to participate in public decision-making because men knew their interests better than women themselves did.
"In the 20th century, another movement declared that people should be treated equally regardless of race. Progressive reformers like Martin Luther King Jr. called on America to live up to its founding promise, and to honor Scripture’s true meaning, by guaranteeing civil rights for all. Conservatives – including some still alive today – replied that King was distorting both the Constitution, which left it up to each state to decide how racist to be, and the Bible, which licensed white supremacy based on some tale of an ancient curse. Defiantly standing in the schoolhouse door (literally and figuratively), conservatives darkly warned that 'unnatural' mixing of the races would lead to all manner of social evils.

"In these and innumerable other history-shaping debates the conservative position was discredited, sometimes quite soon thereafter, and the godless, un-biblical, unnatural, liberal / progressive position came to be all but taken for granted. Today it’s not controversial that the earth goes around the sun, and that, in any case, priests shouldn’t be prosecuting scientists for heresy. Today it’s universally agreed that people should be able to elect and un-elect their leaders, that women should be able to vote, and that a person’s skin color shouldn’t determine what school she can go to or where she can sit on a bus. But the reason these matters aren’t controversial is that in each case, the conservative side lost.

"Precisely because they lose, however, it’s forgotten that conservatives have repeatedly taken positions that no one but a crank would even try to defend today. Conservatism perversely benefits from its own failures: Because its past arguments were beaten back and its fierce resistance overcome, we don’t hear those arguments anymore. They’ve faded into history, and we have to study history even to know they were once made.

"This is crucial to the conservatism of today. If the public recognized the American conservative movement as the latest growth of the same tangled weeds that previously tried to choke off science, democracy and civil rights, today’s conservatives would have a much tougher time. Like the friend who’s always wrong, they’d be asked to explain why the rest of us should put any stock in the typical conservative arguments of today – arguments like:
"The Bible is the best guide to the natural history of life on earth. Evidence indicating that human beings evolved like any other species will prove to be some kind of illusion or huge mistake, and even though science eventually displaced biblical doctrine in astronomy, physics, geology, chemistry, meteorology, historiography, and even linguistics, in this one case the Bible (or one interpretation of it) will at last be vindicated, and a whole, worldwide scientific enterprise proved wrong. Also wrong and contrary to nature, meanwhile, is research on cloning and stem cells, which should be subordinated to theology even if this delays discoveries that could cure diseases and save lives.
"Huge inequalities of wealth and power, and the persistence of these from one generation to the next – the various means by which privilege is routinely passed on from parents to children – are just the way things are. Any serious attempt to reform these arrangements will lead to either anarchy or totalitarian oppression.
"Due process is fine – except for criminals, and especially “terrorists,” for whom some of the old methods need to be revived (and have been). OK, maybe the death penalty is wrong for children under, say, 14. (Or maybe not.) But life sentences aren’t. And while we grudgingly accept a penal system that treats even the worst offenders somewhat humanely, we nonetheless want those people killed, in substantial numbers, and the sooner the better.
"America is a uniquely virtuous nation; its decisions in world affairs are best for people everywhere, even when those people themselves don’t see this. It’s ludicrous to think that anyone else, even in the democratic West, might have equally good ideas about how the world should be organized.
"Same-sex relations are sinful and should never stand on an equal footing with the natural, God-given, heterosexual order of things. The fact that America lags most other advanced societies, which have rejected this view and are rapidly liberalizing their policies in this area, isn’t a sign of where the world is headed; it’s merely further proof of America’s unique virtue (see previous point).

"Looked at in historical perspective, all these arguments rest on one big claim: that conservatism is finally getting it right. OK, conservatives are in effect saying, maybe conservative positions of the past look foolish to us now. Maybe, time and again, conservatism has subverted reform, perpetuated injustice and slowed changes which, in retrospect, we can all see were needed. But never mind all that. The issues today are different, and if you don’t agree with us now then you’re the fool or subversive. The positions we conservatives are taking today, unlike conservative positions of the past, won’t be found lying on history’s trash heap in thirty, fifty or a hundred years, after we’ve lost these arguments too and the world has once again moved on.

"Needless to say, contemporary conservatives would deny that this is their message and reject the parallels I’ve been drawing. If we remind them of their sorry track record, they’ll swear it isn’t theirs at all: They can’t be blamed for the mistakes and limited vision of those benighted conservatives of old. They weren’t even around when Galileo was on trial or when women were demanding suffrage. If they had been (they no doubt imagine), they would have taken the forward-looking side in those disputes. They, unlike their forebears, would not have been loudly insisting that progressive proposals were wrong-headed, impossible, and a threat to everything good. No, they merely insist that today’s progressive proposals are wrong-headed, impossible and a threat to everything good.

"Why do they keep getting it wrong?

"Conservatism’s faulty assumptions

"Comparisons with the past would provoke other objections from conservatives too (which is ironic, since conservatives often claim to revere the past). We’ll get to those a bit later. But to the big objection just stated, there’s one big answer. Think again about the friend who’s always wrong. If that friend insists that no, this time he’s right, that the idea he’s urging on you now is different from any he’s had before, wouldn’t the obvious question be: But is it based on different principles than those other, failed ideas? Are you making different assumptions or following some new line of reasoning? Or are you asking me to believe that the same way of thinking that steered you wrong before is now, improbably, steering you right?

"In waving away past mistakes, conservatives are in essence making just that claim. They’re asking us not to notice the basic, structural similarities between their current views and the discredited ideas of yore. Because if we do examine today’s conservative positions closely, we find they’re just as deeply rooted as yesterday’s were in a few basic attitudes and axioms."
There is more - much more - and to see the rest of the article, click here --> (http://www.badrepublicans.com/conservatives-always-wrong.html)

One of the more interesting bullet points of the article delineated some historical points of Conservatism at its worst.  We've all seen 'toons showing the benefits of Democratic legislative victories and Supreme Court decisions that benefit the nation, but we've yet to see a compilation of GOP legislation and bad decision-making by Conservative-run Supreme Courts that have led us down the path to ruin for the People...and one of these days, we'll post something summarizing the Conservatives' political and judicial excesses.

As the author noted, "If the public recognized the American conservative movement as the latest growth of the same tangled weeds that previously tried to choke off science, democracy and civil rights, today’s conservatives would have a much tougher time," and now is the time to summarize the excesses over the last century that led us to our present state that is driving us closer to the New American Century of Feudalism.

The vast right-wing criminal conspiracy can be easily proven with a historical summary of the depredations by Conservatives in Congress and in the Court, together with the ongoing menace of their actions in Washington and the States' legislative excesses.


I have a simple philosophy: Fill what's empty.  Empty what's full.  Scratch where it itches.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth.