Who are the conservatives? Let's examine the conservative minds, the various types of conservative, how they think, and their legacy. We shall see that conservatives of different stripes all agree on this: they are superior and right and the rest of the world is inferior and wrong!
The FauxCons: Moderate "Conservatives?"
"Conservatives" come in all shapes and stripes, sizes and styles. You may even think of yourself as a conservative. But if you define "conservative" as being prudent or frugal, or believing in small government, low taxes, and a strong defense, then you may be very confused about what a "conservative" really is.
Prudent. Frugal. Religious. Moderate. Middle-of-the-Road. All-American. These descriptions may well apply to the good-old-boy or gal out there in the populace, generally hard-working, meaning no harm, just trying to live their lives and allowing others to live theirs, and hoping to pass on a better life, a better country, a better world, to their children.
There are tens of millions of these across America who might self-describe as "conservative," "independent," "centrist" or sometimes "socially liberal, fiscally conservative." They represent a very significant - perhaps even the largest - contingent of those who might think of themselves as "conservatives."
But the truth is, these folks really aren't as "conservative" as they might imagine. Actually, the vast majority of these types turn out to be FauxCons, as in false, fake, inauthentic conservatives.
Being prudent, frugal, religious, moderate, middle-of-the-road, and/or "All-American" is not what makes a political conservative. Nor does believing in the smallest effectual government, the lowest effectual taxes, and a strong defense. These are common sense values. Liberals also want a strong defense, as well as the smallest government and lowest taxes we can have and still maintain a modern, intelligent, fair and just society, providing for the "General Welfare" of We the People, as specified in the Constitution.
As for supporting "traditional" values, yes, liberals are up for that too... as long as they are real, universal values and not just hoary old habits or obsolete or unfair institutions. Liberals do not want to throw away "tradition" just for the hell of it. Liberals are just much, much better at discerning which "traditions" deserve to be "conserved," and which need to be swept into the dustbin of history. Just because something is old or a "tradition" doesn't make it good. Human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, the divine right of kings, the subjugation of women, slavery, keeping poor people poor and dumb, all were "traditions," even "institutions" at the very heart of many cultures. Most people on Earth today have perceived the gross error of these "traditions," and moved forward into a more civilized way of being. This progress was made in spite of the concerted efforts of conservatives all through history to "conserve" even these backward, ignorant and harmful practices... and there remain places where some of these "traditions" are still practiced... places we would likely describe as highly "conservative," certainly not "liberal."
More like liberals than conservatives, FauxCons actually take to heart true American values, including liberty, equality, justice for all, and religious freedom. They also believe in real moral and spiritual values such as love, forgiveness, mercy, caring for the poor and downtrodden, the unity of all people, and trying to not be so damned judgmental. So unlike a true conservative, FauxCons are willing to dump old, unfair and often downright un-American and un-Christian "traditions," such as separate drinking fountains and restrooms for "colored people," you know, the segregation "tradition" that replaced the slavery "tradition." Conservatives loved both of these unfair, unjust, un-loving and un-compassionate "traditions," and threw a hissy-fit when actual American (and Christian) ideals were enforced by law. And NEVER FORGET, in American history, conservatives were willing to go to war, and kill their own countrymen, to "conserve" the institution of slavery!
FauxCons don't feel a strong need to impose their beliefs on others, or to stick their noses into someone else's life. "Live and let live." Not for conservatives, for whom the mantra is "My way or the highway."
FauxCons sharply veer away from true conservatives in almost every category. They value public education, science and the arts. They try hard to match up their belief system with the real facts of the world, including the discoveries of science. They do not believe that the universe was created 6,000 years ago. FauxCons don't own a bunker full of guns and food rations, ready for the apocaplyse. They do not believe that the government is always the problem, but recognize it is sometimes the most effective - often only - solution to most problems that affect a large number of people. They want the government to help make sure their food and drugs are safe. They want the government to help enforce workplace safety. They want the government to lower the boom on polluters of our air and water. They want the government involved in promoting public health and supporting research to cure diseases. They want the government to take the lead in helping manage natural disasters. They want the government watching over the shenanigans that big banks, Wall Street and many big corporations are continually trying to perpetrate on the rest of us in their insatiable quest for ever-larger profits. They want the government to help protect consumers. Most of them do not want to overturn Roe v Wade.
They love the Post Office, the Interstate Highway System, the National Parks, the space program, the National Weather Center. They are mighty proud of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, plus their local firemen and law officers... all of whom are government employees. They wholly support and fully realize the importance of programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They want the richest nation in the history of the world to help other countries when natural or manmade disasters strike. They want the government to come to the aid of the most vulnerable in our society. To support all these things they like, they are even willing to pay their fair share in taxes without too much belly-aching.
On the other hand, they don't support military escapades just because some party, politician or pundit tells them to. They don't believe that corporations are people. They don't like it when very rich people get away without paying their fair share of taxes, and have all kinds of built-in advantages over the rest of us. They are innately suspicious of charismatic, authoritarian political leaders such as Donald Trump, whom real social conservatives easily fall in love with. They do not like corporations that ship American jobs overseas, or that have turned into bullies or pirates. Not for a New York second do they believe that capitalism (AKA "the free market") can regulate itself.
Perhaps most importantly, they are not overly fearful of people who are different from them, and they are OK with cultural change. Such change may take some getting used to, but they realize that often it turns out for the better. They especially approve when such changes bring greater liberty, equality and justice to We the People, including those people who may be different from themselves.
So, for all these reasons, FauxCons are seriously at odds with the definition of a conservative, which is: one who wishes to conserve traditional hierarchies, institutions and traditions.
So FauxCons are actually way more liberal than they are conservative.
They may feel a bit uncomfortable with that term: LIBERAL. That's completely understandable. The word liberal has been intentionally demonized by professional conservatives over the past half century. This is truly a shame, and prime evidence of how the conservative movement manipulates and distorts the truth. Let's take this opportunity to tip our cap to the great conservative myth-making machinery. It is truly a marvel, and liberals have done a very bad job exposing it.
The word "liberal" actually has a far more profound and prouder heritage than the word "conservative." One can see the qualitative difference even in the origins of the two words: liberal is from the Latin liberalis, meaning "worthy of a free man;" conservative is from the Latin servare, meaning "keep, preserve." The ancient roots of the two words still ring absolutely true today in the fundamental principles and purpose of the separate ideologies. Liberals seek to expand rights and freedoms, and conservatives seek to conserve the old order. The march of progress, science and truth aren't kind to conservative ideology, which continually, desperately, attempts to "conserve" the old ways. So history tends to have a strongly liberal tilt, which can be summed up: Liberals shine, conservatives whine!
Throughout the ages, an education that was wide-ranging, comprehensive and promoted critical thinking has been called a "liberal" education. Who would want a "conservative" education, which by its definition would be severely stunted? There are liberal arts colleges. A "conservative" arts college would be an oxymoron, for the true arts, not to mention the sciences, philosophy and the study of other religions, give conservatives the willies.
Throughout history, the greatest thinkers and innovators, including the principle American founding fathers, considered themselves "liberal," while those stubbornly trying to preserve older ways, that actually thwarted greater liberty, equality and justice, were "conservative." Do a little research and you'll see for yourself that there have been very few (if any) "conservative" heroes in American, or even world, history. The great individuals and movements that the entire world still reveres today are liberal in orientation, always trying to knock down established "traditions," that, in fact, were bad traditions. Conversely, it is the "conservative" ideology that sought to conserve those bad traditions.
(NOTE: Ronald Reagan is the one and only figure that modern conservatives point to as their hero. All other conservatives have not passed the test of time. Sadly for conservatives, however, the Reagan that these conservatives remember is not the real, factual Reagan. Conservatives are very good at making up their own myths, and they have applied the only artform they excel at in remolding Ronald Reagan to fit their own narrative. So even their one hero is a fraud! They have gotten away with it for some time now... but just like all the other conservatives, the real Reagan legacy will soon supplant the myth, and he will join all the other conservatives as a failure, indeed, one of the worst of all.)
Conservativism throughout history has been the opponent of not just progress... but liberty, equality and justice, as well.
One way to understand the vast chasm between liberal and conservative ideologies is to perceive the general world-view that each side holds. Liberals have evolved to believe that we are one human family, all in this together, most (but not all) of us are good-hearted, and we should try to love and help each other if we possibly can. For liberals, it's one for all, and all for one. Liberals really do believe in We the People.
Conservatives? Not so much. They are selfishly oriented, with a "we against the world" mentality. They believe that most of the people in the world are evil and out to get them, so they maintain strict barriers between themselves and all "others."
Once again, by this yardstick FauxCons line up not with conservatives, but with liberals.
It is because of the general support of both confirmed and proud liberals, true independents, as well as FauxCons that the arc of history over the past 300 years has tilted dramatically toward liberal ideology, pushing aside many age-old conservative traditions and institutions. America started off as a radical liberal experiment in governance, throwing off the yoke of bad tradition, and has become more liberal ever since... even despite the recent re-ascendency of economic conservatism ushered in by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
It's certainly true that FauxCons got Ronald Reagan (and Bush I and Bush II) elected. You see, FauxCons are not only the largest contingent of people thinking of themselves as "conservative," they are the most important... simply because they are less rigid in their thinking than the other types of conservative. In a democratic governmental process, they can easily swing an election one way or the other.
It is true that FauxCons can be politically apathetic. Often they don't pay that much attention to politics and social issues; they're too busy leading their lives. They are not always as well informed as they should be on the issues (including, importantly, the real differences between liberals and conservatives). They are basically unaware of the horrid history of conservative ideology. And they, like anyone, are susceptible to having their emotional strings plucked by Machiavellian myth-spinners. These are the reasons they sometimes swallow the myths and distortions that the loud conservative machine spews out. Such pliancy lends credence to their moniker as the "squishy middle."
So, yes, they sip the conservative Kool-Aid periodically, and go temporarily stupid. But they are not swilling the Kool-Aid like true conservatives. They are not completely co-opted by conservative dogma. When they vote, they may vote Republican or Democratic. In most elections, they determine who wins! And just look at how they have voted: These are the "conservatives" who helped elect Woodrow Wilson (twice) Franklin Roosevelt (FOUR times), and put Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton (twice) and an interracial guy named Barack Hussein Obama (twice) in the White House. Now some of these guys weren't true liberals, but they were a heck of a lot more liberal than the Republicans that ran against them. These facts, alone, obliterate the mythical notion that America is a conservative nation!
Our purpose here is to help FauxCons better recognize that taking even a sip of the conservative Kool-Aid is very risky... because a vote for conservative anything (person or policy) is most likely a very bad long-term mistake.
Following the 2012 presidential election several surveys were conducted to see just who these "centrists" were. The results were depressing for conservatives. Among this group of "independents," the most "trustworthy" Republican was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, at two percent (Rush Limbaugh scored zero percent). Meanwhile, these independents scored Obama at nine percent. Less than 30 percent of the independents were regular church-goers, less than 35 percent owned a gun, and only eight percent strongly opposed increasing the minimum wage. If the Republicans think that this group represents a vast untapped reservoir of conservative angst, they have a rude awakening ahead.
Indeed, it would be far smarter, on their part, for conservatives to just discourage these FauxCons from voting at all if their inconsistency actually skews more toward liberal values. And, of course, that's one of the fundamental approaches of conservative politics: divide and conquer, and sow the seeds of fatalism and nihilism and distrust of government, hoping that a huge percentage of eligible voters just won't bother to go to the polls at all.
But don't buy it, FauxCons! Your votes absolutely count! You swing elections! Always remember, when you don't vote, you actually are voting... FOR the person/thing you would have voted AGAINST... by denying your vote to your preferred candidate or issue.
For those who have read this far and still cling to the word "conservative," consider this:
Social conservatives are the biggest losers in American history!
Really. It's completely true. They always eventually lose every argument, and their most cherished ideas are swept aside. Today they are busy trying to re-fight the contraception wars of the 1960s. They want to put women back in their places, bring back coathanger abortions, somehow put gays and lesbians back in the closet, and reinstitute Jim Crow election shenanigans. Watch as they get clobbered again by the arc of history! Meanwhile, distracted as they are by "wedge issues," social conservatives have no clue how they are unwitting dupes and pawns of a powerful financial elite, the CorpCons.
So social conservatives are the ultimate losers. Why on earth would anyone want to join that pathetic club?
Think about it FauxCons. And don't take our word for it. Open up the dictionary, the thesaurus, a history book, a science book, a philosophy book. Unlike true conservatives, you're fair-minded enough to figure it out for youself.
This website is written for both liberals who are seeking a fuller understanding and grounding of their own idelogy, and for FauxCons, who are generally open to both rational truth, and a higher spiritual awareness. So follow us, as we take a closer look at the actual conservatives and see if we can figure out how their minds really work.
The SoCons: Living in Black and White
These are the social conservatives. Some are wealthy. Some are middle class. Many are poor. Some of them are the sweetest people. They'll invite you in for milk and cookies.
But beware. They have some serious issues. And if they decide they don't like you, that you're not "one of them," they can be very mean.
By definition, social conservatives have a fixed mind. They are rigid, inflexible, closed. They are adamant. Their ideology is set in cement, then encased in lead. They are utterly and irrevocably convinced they have the world figured out. They believe righteously in their rightness, totally unaware that it is usually wrongness. They think they know exactly what God wants. So, of course, they won't compromise. There is no "evolving" of viewpoint (even if they were to believe in evolution, which they don't). Their worldview is the same as it ever was... unchanging. They are very proud of that. They presume their worldview is exactly the same as their mama and papa, and grandmama and grandpapa... all the way back to Adam and Eve. The idea that they may be wrong never enters their head. Even when they feel that queasy feeling in their gut that they just may be wrong, they simply stiffen up more. In the face of mounting evidence that undermines their beliefs, they will double-down. They will not admit error in opinion or judgment. And they do not apologize. They are that sure of themselves, and their beliefs.
Among the wisest people who ever lived, Socrates and Lao Tzu, both famously claimed, "all that I know is that I know nothing." SoCons are just the opposite. They think they know everything that needs to be known. After all, it's so simple. The entire Universe is one Big Binary to them. Everything is Either/Or. Black and white. Us vs. Them. Good and Evil. Righteousness and Sin. Heaven and Earth. Divine and Base. Body and Soul. Right and Wrong. Up and Down. Male and Female. Heterosexual and well, anything else. And, of course, Conservative and Liberal. The only question they have is, why doesn't everyone think the way they do? Ergo: Those that don't must be crazy, bad, dangerous.
The poor dears are very confused. They are confused all the more because they don't even know they are confused. Unlike Socrates and Lao Tzu they have not a filament of humility or real openness to truth in their worldview. Like the denizens of Plato's cave, other viewpoints - especially from the outside - do not impress them. The enlightened traveler comes back to share with them the good news of the real light, the real world, but the shadows playing on the cave wall have always worked well enough for them. They don't want to be "enlightened." They deny, mock, and perhaps even attack, the messenger of actual truth. They think they know what they believe in, and they denigrate, or simply ignore, anything that challenges it. You can expose the rigid conservative to truth, but they will absorb it as much as a spoon tastes soup! You can give a conservative a cup of reason, but you can't make them think.
Are social conservatives stupid because they are conservative, or conservative because they are stupid?
SoCons are emotionally energetic, but intellectually very lazy. Part of this may have to do with the lower intelligence of many SoCons. Echoing John Stuart Mill's proclamation that "all stupid people are conservative," psychological studies have proven that children with lower IQ are far more likely to develop socially conservative beliefs. As psychologists explain, "People of low intelligence gravitate toward ideologies which feature structure, order and resistance to change, ideas that make it easier to understand a complicated world."
Researcher Philip Tetlok of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that conservatives are less tolerant of compromise; see the world in "us" versus "them" terms; are more willing to use force to gain an advantage; are "more prone to rely on simple (good vs. bad) evaluative rules in interpreting policy issues;" and are "motivated to punish violators of social norms (e.g., deviations from traditional norms of sexuality or responsible behavior)." Read more about such studies at www.theatlantic.com.
A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Arkansas (not exactly a bastion of liberalism) summarized that "low effort thinking promotes conservatism." In this report conservatives are linked to acceptance of hierarchy, and preference for the status quo.
However, many social conservatives are clearly quite intelligent, just stunningly stunted in the breadth of their education, experience, overall awareness, and, certainly, compassion. They are famously uninformed, and they like it that way. Take Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann (please): these are obviously intelligent people, just stupendously ill-informed. How about George W. Bush? Imagine if you were the child of a family of great wealth and power, and could freely go exploring anywhere in the world. Where all would you want to go? Well, that was George W. Bush, but by the time he ran for President he had visited only one foreign country, Mexico, the one across the border from the state where he lived most of his life. He could have thrown himself into the study of any of the loftier disciplines: philosophy, science, history, spirituality. But what captivated his mind the most was... baseball. Though George W. Bush was certainly more CorpCon than SoCon, he shared the social conservative's general uninterest in (and devalue of) the greater world, especially people, places and ideas outside his shallow belief system.
But that's exactly the way conservatives like it. You know the old saying, "Ignorance is bliss." Conservatives take this as a mandate. And, actually, they must... because broad learning quickly undermines social conservative ideology. You know, they don't call well-rounded learning a "liberal" education for nothing.
So SoCons conveniently avoid learning too much... even about their own beliefs. Most social conservatives haven't thought deeply about their beliefs, except to go round and round inside the echo chamber of their own social circle. (If they happen to live in a conservative area of the country, that Great Conservative Echo-chamber can be very powerful, indeed). Social conservatives prefer "bumper-sticker" (or "sound bite") ideology. Sum it up for them in two or three words or their eyes glaze over. Although the universe, and the world, and human culture are all incredibly complex, nuanced and constantly changing (evolving), conservatives just can't deal with all that. It's too much bother. For them, the simpler, the better. If it sounds good in just a few words, and jibes with their emotional predispositions, it simply must be true.
They also simply don't want to dig too deep into any particular issue because they sense (usually correctly) they will be very uncomfortable with what they might find. The psychological condition known as "cognitive dissonance," that queasy feeling when you realize that your worldview and mindset don't match up to changing realities, is an ever-present danger for conservatives who venture too far into the world of facts and ideas. So they stick to the tip of the iceberg of the most important issues of life, believing in the bumper-sticker, going along with the flow of the slice of society they belong to. Not without significant justification, these folks are known as "low information voters." A big difference between them and low-information FauxCons is that SoCons are more reliable voters and always vote conservative... guided by an array of dubious information, sometimes known as "Conservo-Facs."
"The Bible said it! I believe it! That settles it!" is quintessential SoCon bumper-sticker ideology: rigid, fixed, simplistic, uncompromising, unchanging, self-serving, mythological.
SoCons are often, but not always, very religious. The religious type regularly fall into the "fundamentalist," or "religious right" camp. "Fundamental" is a synonym for basic, or simple. Simple is a term for "not too bright." And yet, they can't even get the basic/simple stuff right. For instance, the real basics of the teaching of Jesus comes down to one word: love. But "fundamentalists" typically aren't too comfy with that most profound concept. Instead, they prefer the strict and punitive Old Testament narrative of orthodox Judaism to the love and forgiveness and non-judgmental New Testament tenets of Christianity. As to the New Testament itself, they skip right past all that socialist, mushy, lovey-dovey stuff, and go right for the most intolerant and damning extrapolations of Paul, and the apocalyptic, fire and brimstone stuff of Revelations. They fully accept - indeed revel in - the notion that humans are awash in sin, and that God has a "chosen people" who are superior to all other people. Originally the "chosen people" were the Israelites, but now it's the Americans (defined, in their minds, as white, Anglo-Saxon-Protestant).
Someday Jesus is going to come back and send all those un-chosen people - that is, eveyone else - to burn in hell... forever. They're really looking forward to that. That'll be a great day of love, will it not? A disbeliever would be forgiven for almost wishing such a day will actually come... if only to relish the shocked and horrified expressions of millions of hyprocritical conservatives as their ticket to the underworld is stamped.
Religious conservatives do love the idea of hell... for others, that is. This religious conceit allows them to separate themselves from the heathen rabble, and explains why they don't want anything to do with a "social contract" that binds them to such others. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what their lord and savior Jesus Christ had to say on the subject. But that doesn't faze them. Their religious ideology is as convoluted and contradictory as their political ideas.
Most religious SoCons develop their religious beliefs by doing... nothing! It falls in their lap. They don't find religion; it finds them, and commences their indoctrination not long after birth. They don't go out and learn about the world's other religions to find the one that brings them closest to God. They don't go on a personal spiritual quest. They don't wander in the wilderness, or endure that "dark night of the soul." In general they are conformist clones and accept the religion that they are given to believe by their parents, spouse or some other close influence. In this regard they are little different than most religious believers all around the world. Isn't it a weird coincidence that most people born in America are Christians, while most people born in Iraq are Muslim, those born in India are Hindu, and those born in Japan are Buddhist? No, it is not a coincidence; it's the opposite of a coincidence. It is the self-fulfilling prophesy of the power of peer pressure and societal inculcation. It is the titanic momentum of conformity. It's clan mentality.
So one must wonder just how deep such a "belief" really is. When you haven't lifted a finger to see what all your choices of belief are... do you really even know what you are believing in, or are you just following the crowd, believing in believing?
As religion expert Huston Smith explained, "A nation can assume that the addition (in 1954) of the words "under God" to its pledge of allegiance gives evidence that its citizens actually believe in God whereas all it really proves is that they 'believe in believing' in God."
The hard evidence would suggest that conservatives really don't believe in God, or give "Him" much real thought at all. If conservatives really love God as much as they say they do, wouldn't they make a little more effort to learn as much as they can about God by understanding what other major religions and independent thinkers have had to say about the subject? But no, they are satisfied to take the easy way out and just buy into what they have been told to believe and/or what everyone else around them believes. So they conveniently believe that they have found the one, true religion, which by mystical coincidence was waiting for them in their own family or home town. And then it pleases them to believe they believe in it, fundamentally, and some of them will go to great lengths to find the most fanatical (and most judgmental) parts of the Bible to base their worldview upon, leaving behind all that love and peace stuff - which are the actual "fundamentals" of Christianity. Now these peace and love bits are precisely those that liberal Christians tend to value... so in a real sense liberal Christians are the more "fundamental" practitioners of "Christianity," while fire-and-brimstone, judgmental, prejudiced, fearful and greedy conservatives are really just faking it.
Let's take a look at once such conservative religious boob. Here's the "traditional" dominator hiearchy in action, folks. Fundamentalist pastor Steve Anderson, of the "Faithful Word" Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, clearly lays it out. Men rule over women. It's in the Bible. It's scripture. Believe it or go to hell, you heathens. It's a commandment (by someone, somewhere). Women, Shut Up! Don't speak! Don't ask questions! Don't even say, 'Amen' in church. Submit and obey your husband. Steve is speaking scriptural truth here, even if he's not touching a lot of other "truth" in the Bible, which is too crazy even for him (though he does support executing gays, as is required by the Old Testament). Steve doesn't realize modern society has moved far beyond this particular Biblical "truth" as well. And that's true!
Crazy, isn't it? That's conservativism for you... whatever "truth" it claims... it is far more likely that the exact opposite is actually true. Are you beginning to see how so much of conservativism is based on sheer distortion?
"There’s a cottage industry of people building careers off hating immigrants and the Latino community in general, starting with Trump but also Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingram and Todd Starnes, the Fox correspondent most steeped in manufactured, artificial piety," says former fundamentalist and George W. Bush voter, Edwyn Lyngar. Read his full article discussing his disgust with the religious right and its legions of faux Christians.
Yet not all social conservatives are particularly serious about religion, even many who regularly attend church. Some are what might be called "social" Christians, not really too interested in the dogma, but willing to play along for the social benefits, and because they have no interest in bucking conformity. Since conservatism is all about "conserving" old traditions and hierarchies, "conformist" is a virtual synonym for conservative. After all, it definitely does make life a lot easier if you just fall into line with what other folks around you think and do. That's why conformity is so popular.
This is true all over the world... in all religions. The vast majority of people who claim to be religious, even those adamantly proclaiming such, don't seem to actually truly believe - or even understand - what they profess to truly believe in. There's a tell-tale bit of hardcore evidence that most "believers" are faking it: they go into deep grief when their beloved dies. Why should this be? In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic scheme of things, if the departed individual was a true believer they are now surely reveling in paradise with God! The still-living should be celebrating, throwing a big bash, deliriously happy that their loved one has escaped this wicked plane and moved on to the Big Show. But no. They wail in despondency. Are they afraid that the dearly departed was (like them, probably) not really a true believer and now is roasting in hell? Or is this whole belief system just a sunny-day proposition that quickly collapses when the storm comes?
And this shows exactly how "godless" Communists are also usually conservative. Like non-religious American conservatives, they've dumped God, but they sure haven't dumped what is really sacrosanct: the hierarchy! (When and where has a "Communist" government ever remotely engaged its theoretically egalitarian root philosophy, and not quickly organized into a ruling class and those who are, usually ruthlessly, ruled over?) Equality is a myth in the Communist system, at least as displayed by those countries that have actually tried it. There is always very definitely an elite running the show, ordering everyone else around, living in the palaces and dachas while the proletariat stand in bread lines. Conservatism doesn't need God at all. Hierarchy, conformity, fear and obedience are its true gods.
"My Country, Right or Wrong!" is a famous slogan, common during the Vietnam War era, that illustrates the shallowness of conservative awareness and ethics.
The political orientation of SoCons is equally emotionally energetic and intellectually lazy. They'll get all wound up and wave the American flag like mad. They'll fly it from their porch and pin it on their lapel. They think of themselves as the real patriots. That's actually an utter myth and sublime joke. (See our Top Ten Conservative Myths: No. 1) They actually don't know a heck of a lot about what makes America America, nor do they really give a damn about America, except their tiny, myopic sliver of it.
If they love this country so much, it seems they would have carefully studied American history and closely follow all of the nuances of the major political issues facing the country. If they think of themselves as conservative, shouldn't they have a pretty good clue of where conservative ideology came from, who it really favors, and how it has figured through American history? Nope!
Most conservatives have never really studied and don't closely follow politics... or they puff themselves up with some assumed knowledge that is really just communal conservative disinformation, echo-chamber axioms, streaming from Fox News or the many conservative think-tanks or bombastic conservative orators... or the continual griping and sniping of other conservatives. Most often these political positions, or "talking points," are based on nothing more than sheer mythology, not factual knowledge. Though they may wax quasi-learnedly about the Civil War or World War II, most SoCons don't really know much about American history; and what they did learn was likely a simplistic, white-bread, jingoistic version of American history tailored by other SoCons just for their conservative sensibilities in the first place. Conservatives from the South and heartland of America are particularly vulnerable to this kind of indoctrination (the Civil War wasn't about slavery, you know). As you read this, conservatives are busy trying to rig textbooks (and Wikipedia) to skew toward their worldview, while leaving the world of actual facts far behind.
So what keeps this conformist, uneducated, disinterested, selfish impulse going strong? Let's look at the social mechanics behind social conservativism.
As good conformist clones, SoCons follow the herd. As a loyal member of the herd, they hear all kinds of reasons why they should believe in their herd. They are constantly being told their herd is the best! The other herds are weird, flawed, deviant, possibly dangerous. Like most herd animals, they learn to be distrustful and fearful of members of any other herd. They look to authority figures and charismatic leaders - typically blustering, macho, alpha males (but sometimes blustering, macho, alpha females) - for guidance and protection, and thoroughly enjoy being whipped into a fake religious or patriotic froth, which serves to reinforce their belief in belief.
Far from being the "rugged individual" of their own tall tales, conservatives are actually scared shitless clones who need and love authority figures, at least those that affirm their prejudices, to lead and protect them. They easily buy into the cult of personality, as long as that figure reflects their sense of hierarchy and mythology. Alas, their ability to spot charlatans is not very keen. So buffoonish religious figures like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (remember them?) hold them breathless, while political hacks like McCarthy, Agnew, Reagan, Bush the Lesser, Sarah Palin, Ron (or Rand) Paul, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, as well as shock-jock media cartoons like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly are expert at stirring their emotions.
Indeed, it's often the most outrageous, in-your-face, over the top leaders who easily win the loyalty of SoCons by seemingly belonging to their "herd," and then by exploiting three primal negative emotions: prejudice, fear and greed.
Fox News and conservative talk radio are broadcast juggernauts built around the cult of outrageous, authoritative personalities propagating fear, prejudice, greed and conservative mythology. Conservative viewers are drawn like flies to the sticky-as-molasses message that affirms their emotional beliefs. Often, the more wacky and outrageous the broadcast, the bigger that audience becomes... and the more money the professional conservative talking heads and networks reap.
These professional conservatives are long-practiced in crafting simplistic, bumper-sticker messages, infused with emotional triggers, that frighten and anger, and thereby hoodwink and capture the social conservative's mind. It's a negative feedback loop, very lucrative for the media pundit or politician, but very debilitative for the conservative believer, themself, who is being led further and further away from facts and truth and any idea of compromise or the slightest openness to alternative ideas. And this is why it is extremely dangerous for the nation as a whole.
Those that base their ideology on a bumper-sticker can be led by the nose to just about anywhere.
As Stephen Colbert regularly lampoons, SoCons mostly rely on their "gut instinct" and "truthiness" about what is right and wrong, but that instinct is fostered largely by what everyone else around them seems to believe, and is very easily manipulated by peer and authority-figure pressure. And this turns out to be their great vulnerability, and why they are so easily snookered time and again to actually vote against their own best self-interests.
One of the strongest "gut instincts," of course, is fear. Conservatives are the most fearful people around. Scientists have discovered that conservatives have a larger amygdala, which is the part of the brain that processes primal emotions like fear, and the reaction of "fight or flight."
A 2008 joint study from Columbia University, New York University and the University of Texas defined conservativism as "an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear... Similarly, concerns with fear and threat may be linked to the second core dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality."
What are they afraid of? Turns out, pretty much everything. The way the world works in general, for instance. Researchers have found that they can distinguish between the liberal and conservative mind by showing just one image to their subject. Conservatives have a visceral negative reaction to such things as blood, vomit, poop, worms, spiders. You would think that after four billion years of evolution they would have figured out that these things are natural objects, not to be eaten or played with perhaps, but not to be feared or loathed either. So, if you get queasy at the sight of poop, how difficult must it be to see anything beautiful in an ant, lizard or toad? When the sight of natural things makes you go a little crazy, how difficult does it become to bond with nature, other living creatures and the biosphere itself? And, importantly, if such substances are fearsome and loathsome, how thrilling to pit yourself against them in some sense, as in making jokes about them, threatening others with them, or intentionally harming them? Something to think about.
CorpCons know that SoCons are ridiculously easy to frighten, actually like to be frightened, and conservative authoritarian figures know exactly how to manipulate that emotion to keep them divided from other people and ideas. If you watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh you'll quickly note the ongoing effort to make their audience mad and fearful about something/anything out there in the world. That helps the CorpCons get elected and do their dirty work, but causes problems for the SoCons and the rest of society. Remember SoCons are the folks who know what God wants, so they will not back down. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the message propagated to the minions is certainly not "flight," or even "compromise," it's "fight." So you've recently seen Tea Party "wacko-birds" (John McCain's description) like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas rousing social conservative angst and fear over the "train wreck" of "Obamacare" or immigration, and not willing to back down an iota, even if it means shutting down the government and crashing the economy to keep from compromising.
Psychologists speak of "in-groups" and "out-groups," but there's another phrase which defines this group psychology: "clan mentality." Clan mentality is a mindset and worldview of a group of people who share racial characteristics, cultural heritage, religious beliefs, socio-economic conditions or other commonalities that set them apart from other groups of people who are in such ways different. Clan mentality is usually strongest in groups that seem to have an upper hand or perceived superiority over other groups, and the strong impulse is to maintain or expand that status quo by continual recognition and reinforcement of the differences between the groups. Thus comes "pride" in one's clan status! Pride, to a degree, can be a good thing. But if not mitigated by empathy and compassion for others (which by its nature a clan lacks), pride can quickly become a tool of narcissism, prejudice and oppression.
Clan mentality is essentially conservative in that it seeks to conserve a specific group's purity, separation, authority superiority... above all others.
In this way, systems of subjugation and domination have been established in cultures all around the world, and throughout history, and strict hierarchies of wealth/power/dominance have flourished right up to the present day.
Sociologists have long recognized that human societies are stratified into different layers of consciousness and empathy. On the leading edges are those individuals who are flexible, pliant and open to new ideas, change and diversity. These outside edges willingly interface with other individuals and cultures which may be very different in orientation (unconventional). But the deeper you dive into the interior layers of a culture, the more unmoving and stuck become attitudes, awareness and amiability toward exterior realities. Deep inside the culture, kept in check by the momentum and pressure of convention (tradition, stasis), are those who cling to old ways and are fearful of and resistant to anything new and strange.
Philosopher Ken Wilber describes this interior, less evolved mass: "If you are a member of the group - a member of my tribe, my mythology, my ideology - then you are 'saved' as well. If you belong to a different culture, a different group, a different mythology, a different god, then you are 'damned.' So this sociocentric or conventional stance tends to be very ethnocentric. Care and concern are expanded from me to my group, and there it stops."
We might grant that there was a time, long, long ago, when such a mentality may have been useful, logical and evolutionarily adaptive. There was a time when your little clan needed to be ever on alert for the Huns or Visigoths or Vandals or Mongols or Vikings or Angles or Saxons or Normans or Lakotas or Mayas or Incas or (fill in the blank of thousands of different aggressive human clans) charging over the ridge into your valley. Human "civilization" used to be virtually non-stop invasions of various "barbarian" hordes.
Thankfully, that time has long passed. We live in a MUCH safer, saner and more compassionate world now (yet another Conservative Myth is that the reverse is true). Clan mentality is now an extremely dangerous relic of antiquity, and clan "values" are selfishly warped and woefully out of date. The modern world doesn't even organize in clans any longer; we live in nations of millions of people, and we are interconnected through modern communications, commerce and culture with billions of people around the globe. Setting yourself apart from others, thinking of oneself, one's in-group, one's authority figure, one's religion, or one's nation, as innately superior to all others, and fearing or trying to subdue or exploit the rest of world is a dysfunctional mindset, and a pathway that can lead to catastrophe. Submitted as evidence: almost all of the great conflicts of human history, including the cataclysmic 20th Century experiments in overlaying nationalism with clan mentality: Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, both of which accepted the notion that they were the greatest "pure" cultures ever, when in reality they were two of the worst. Also submitted as evidence: America's ideas of righteous "exceptionalism" which has given it justification for rampaging and bullying and stealing and terrorizing around the world, sticking its nose in the business of almost every other country, stirring up a whirlwind of animosity, and sometimes reaping the sting from the hatred it has inspired.
Clan mentality must be overcome if the world has any chance of lasting peace and prosperity. Standing in the way of that ever happening are the conservatives (in every culture). They are not going to give up their perceived "superiority."
This is why conservatives are a drag on the evolution of culture. The notion of "reflective equilibrium" describes a process where deep reflection upon the true morality of a particular societal habit (say, slavery) eventually results in a revision of our acceptance of the prior tradition. Conservatives are always way behind in such deep reflection simply because they believe they benefit from the existing tradition.
SoCons have no idea that the way they think and act is actually clan mentality... and no clue that it is not superior. It's actually inferior thinking and behaving, backward, and dangerous. They think their worldview is just normal. After all, everyone around them thinks and acts the same way! They believe they are being good Christian people by believing and behaving as they do. They are completely blind to what truly atrocious Christians, and Americans - actually un-Christian and un-American - they often are.
SoCons say they support "traditional values." This is absolutely true. But what "traditional values?"
It turns out that the ideas that conservatives really believe in are not what the rest of us would consider a "value" at all. It turns out the word "traditional" simply means "old." It often has nothing to do with "value." SoCons really believe in traditional clan structure, not what might be considered true ethical, or universal, values. Because they are really confused, the SoCons themselves are unaware of which true, ethical and universal values they really believe in and which they only believe they believe in.
The "traditional values" of clan mentality go way, way back, tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, deep into the mists of time and human evolutionary history (and therefore far beyond what many SoCons believe is the age of the universe). These so-called "values" are really primal negative emotions. Prejudice. Fear. Greed. Mix in a big gulp of Ignorance and reinforce by Conformity and Hierarchy, and there you go... you have a clan of social conservatives!
Primal positive emotions, of course, also go way back. Love, happiness, compassion, empathy, cooperation, curiosity, creativity are the primary impulses that higher civilization is built upon. Liberals tend to emphasize these emotions, while conservatives wallow on the negative side... in the very same way as they dote on the punitive parts of the Bible.
It is these more sophisticated moral and ethical values, including Christian and American values, that have been offered up by the greatest teachers, philosophers, spiritual leaders and political ideas over the past several thousand years of human history. These values emphasize love for one another, including - especially - beyond your own clan... fairness and equality above self-serving emotions, togetherness rather than divisiveness, inclusion rather than exclusion, open mindedness rather than closed minds. These are higher intellectual and spiritual values, and in an enlightened, progressive society they override the lower negative emotional values of clan mentality. Such values, in fact, are the precise opposite of clan mentality... they are values open to everyone... or universal values. THE CLAN CANNOT ACCEPT UNIVERSAL VALUES... because if a value applies to everyone, that defeats the very purpose of the clan, the clan is no longer needed, and disintegrates.
We can think of these as universal values because every individual wants these values for themselves, and they are now widely recognized as beneficial to societies and the entire human species. They are uniting values, good-hearted (empathetic) values, the values of democracy, and the shared values of most religions (minus the divisive dogma). Liberty. Equality. Justice. Peace. Love (even toward enemies or rivals). Forgiveness. Non-judgment. Unity.
SoCons say they believe in these values, too, but time and again we see that they really don't. Or rather, they are all for these values for themselves and members of their clan, but not so much for others. So in this important sense they don't believe in the core value in and of itself, but only when it applies to them... or their clan.
A recent case in point is that of Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman. For decades he was staunchly opposed to gay rights, in fact, he was outright anti-gay... right up until his very own son came out of the closet. Then, bingo! Portman had an epiphany. He saw the light. Now he's a born-again gay rights supporter... claiming that his new-found appreciation for gays is entirely compatible with his "conservative" support for individual rights.
Well, congratulations Senator Portman on finally dropping the scales from your eyes and perceiving the link between individual rights and gay rights... after all, gays and lesbians and transgender persons are individuals. Alas, the facts suggest that he would never have had this virtuous epiphany without his own son's gayness, and so would have remained mired in conservative clan mentality: deaf, dumb, blind, antagonistic and hurtful toward the sons and daughters of millions of other Americans. Portman was mean enough to withhold the universal rights of liberty, equality, justice for all to gay people... until a beloved member of his own inner tribe came out as gay. At that point his mind quickly cleared and he saw the light. He loved his son more than his ideology. That's a nice conservative. There are other conservatives who wouldn't do that... they love their ideology more than their children... they would have banished the gay boy from their lives! Whether "nice" or "mean," both types of conservative are confused, selfish, inconsistent and mean-spirited.
Meanwhile, the remaining conservatives continue to persecute gays and attempt to withhold the individual rights that Portman (along with Dick Cheney, whose daughter is gay) now believes are consistent with his conservative views. Actually, the only thing consistent here is the inconsistency, selfishness and meanness of conservative thinking. In embracing gay rights, both Portman and Cheney have actually left conservatism behind and become liberals on this issue.
Of course, most SoCons vehemently disagree with Portman's new stand... because to them gays are "bad." Heterosexuality is an important component of the traditional hierarchy. SoCons believe that only their hierarchy is worthy of conserving, and they are its defenders, the good and chosen clan, while the rest of humanity is awash in sin. SoCons feel the need to keep themselves apart from such sinners. Alas, almost every other individual or group outside their own clan also falls into the "bad" category. This is the root of their true beliefs... and their troubles with the world.
None other than Glenn Beck, himself, has finally seen the light!
He perfectly explains the SoCon drive
to conserve "traditional values" (in this case ignorance, fear, homophobia)
rather than universal values (i.e. freedom, equality, justice)...
and why they so often end up on the wrong side of history.
So it's time to take a look at some of the myths of the SoCons, and how clan mentality values clash with universal values.
SoCons profess to believe in freedom. But only for themselves. And even then, it is freedom to conform to the ways of the clan. Step outside of that conformity, and even a clan member risks denigration or banishment!
What they actually believe is that because they are members of the preferred clan, they have the right and the privilege to conform to the way their clan thinks and acts. That's clan mentality. When someone actually acts upon their freedom through non-conformity, even someone within the clan, it makes social conservatives very uncomfortable. The clan, the herd, is threatened by such behavior. To function smoothly, all members of the herd should look, think and act alike. The precept of freedom is not a clan value. That's why Senator Portman and Dick Cheney should not expect much understanding from their fellow conservatives; their children broke the rules of clan conformity and therefore will be ostracized by the true believers in the clan... that is, maybe, until they, too, have a relative come out of the closet.
Glenn Beck (above video) says, "The reason they've won is they've made it about freedom, and basically everyone understands freedom. More freedom, not less." Duh! Yet conserving the "tradition" of bigotry against homosexuals - and in the process very explicity denying their freedom - is the very essence of social conservatism.
Of course, gays are just the latest targets of the conservative impulse to deny freedom to anyone who is lower in the dominator hierarchy, much less those completely outside the clan. BILLIONS of people worldwide and throughout history have been oppressed (and often exterminated) by conservative bigotry.
SoCons pay lip-service to equality. But this concept really ties them in logistical knots.
What they actually believe in is the traditional clan hierarchy, which is anything but equal. Equality and hierarchy are muturally exclusive. A fundamental conservative precept is that some people are just naturally superior to others. It's no longer politically correct to admit this as freely as conservatives used to quite forthrightly, but deep in their hearts SoCons believe it, corporate conservatives (CorpCons) even more so.
This belief in hierarchy, with its inherent superiority/inferiority (i.e. inequality), is the main tenet SoCons and CorpCons actually share, and it goes a long, long, long way to explaining their unholy alliance.
In the usual American schematic, white, male, wealthy, Protestant, heterosexual represents the very pinnacle of the hierarchy (in other contries adjust the skin color and religion accordingly: male and wealthy and heterosexual remain constants). SoCons fully accept this idea, even though they realize that they, themselves, might not be near the top of this "traditional" hierarchy. But at least they are a member in good standing of the best herd, the best clan. From that comparatively lofty position they can look down upon all others: anyone different, including females, but also people of a different culture, religion, skin color, disability or sexual orientation. Such people are automatically inferior, not to be respected or trusted, and subject to oppression or exploitation. So, equality just doesn't work as a value in a traditional hierarchical clan.
In the great tradition of the West, SoCons proclaim they are "rugged individualists." This is one of the funniest of all conservative myths.
On the scale of individualism, where 10 is extremely unique and original, conservatives stuggle to manage a rating of 1. Conservatives are the farthest thing from rugged individualists. They are members of a herd. They are frightened clones. Indeed, it is a basic axiom that the more conservative someone is, the more conformist and less of a "rugged individual" they really are, especially the males. This holds true from the Catholics to the Amish to the Baptists to the Mormons to the Hasidic Jews to the Taliban. They more conservative they are, the more they blend into one another. Eventually they share the same dress, the same hats, the same hair styles, the same beards (or lack thereof), the same customs, the same thought. The more conservative a person is, the less original, the less creative, the less truth-seeking. The word individualist is squandered on them. They are rank conformists! That's why, typically, they are not very creative.
Just look at them: all dressed in their uniforms, whether it be business suit or blue-collar uniform or sports team outfit. The men wear the same clothing style from birth to death. They have the same hair style from birth to death. At least the women change up their appearance on occasion. But the men, rugged individualists? It's a big joke, right?
"And the Home of the Brave....." SoCons sing it loudly because subconsciously they so wish. It ain't true. Not even close. Back in the real world, conservatives are terrified of everything! So it's no wonder they cling so tightly to their guns.
Fear is one of the great motivating factors for SoCons (usually propagated by CorpCons), though they twist themselves into pretzels to keep from admitting it. Encouraged by their macho leaders (who continuously exploit fear to keep themselves empowered, but rarely get anywhere close to the field of combat themselves), they bluster and posture and rant and rail against all those other herds and ideas that just keep coming at them (in never-ending and escalating waves). But deep inside they are petrified that the "other" is coming to get them, and they keenly sense their world is crumbling... which it is.
The irony is that they are right: the world is out to destroy them... at least their backwards mindset that threatens progress toward real, universal virtues. Even as the rest of the world is coming closer together, democracy is rising, liberty, equality and justice for all are expanding in country after country, the poor conservatives are like cornered animals, howling, growling, and sometimes biting, out of a desperate sense of disorientation and sheer fear. This is the force that leads some of them to the most horrendous behavior: prejudice, hate, bullying, lynchings, bombing.
And not just in America. The real terrorists in the world are almost all radical conservatives! The only reason modern "Christian" conservatives are not usually as violent (there are some exceptions: Anders Behring Breivik, Eric Rudolph, Wade Michael Page, et al) as their Islamic counterparts is because they are FAR MORE LIBERAL! "Christian" conservatives used to be just as violent as modern Islamic extremists (though they didn't have planes to work with). And certainly the Qur'an is hardly more radical than the Bible in its exhortation to hate, bigotry and violence. It's just that the "Western" cultures have largely de-emphasized religion, whereas some Islamic countries persist in being radically "fundamental" to their faith. Don't worry... liberalization is coming to the Muslim world, as well. It just may take another century or so.
Most SoCons claim to be Christians. If the term "Christian" means someone who follows the tenets of Jesus, then this is another big myth... one of the biggest myths of all, in fact! Most conservatives don't seem to have the slightest intention of following what Jesus said.
Jesus was a wild-eyed, radical liberal with a very complex message that is exceedingly hard to live up to... and the very early Christian church, called "The Way," headed by Peter and James, was an early example of a socialist commune. St. Paul continually urged his congregations, "Don't forget the poor." Bumper-sticker-thinking conservatives just don't get it. Or we should say, they don't want to get it. They are too selfish, too greedy, and too fearful.
The overriding message of Jesus was the exact opposite of clan mentality. He said let go of your fear, your greed, your selfishness. He professed love, forgiveness and not judging lest you be judged. "Love they neighbor as thyself." "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." "Take care of the poor." "Blessed are the peacemakers." "The meek will inherit the world." "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
This is an inclusive ideology, an ideology for anyone... most particularly the downtrodden and oppressed. In other words, the message of Jesus is for those who are lower on the hierarchy... or are willing to intentionally place themselves lower on the hierarchy. Jesus was out to undermine the hierarchy... conservatives want nothing more than to conserve it. These ideas of Jesus are like fingernails on a chalkboard to the hierarchy. Clan mentality values the hierarchy far more than the message of Jesus. Clan mentality is pointedly and aggressively exclusive, and supports a hierarchy of superiority. Nothing could be less Christian.
Jesus' essential message was to extend your love and compassion beyond yourself and your clan to the rest of all of humanity. (And St. Francis urged us to extend that love and compassion to the rest of all other beings... an even more profound and higher level of spirituality). Yet the vast majority of "Christians" in history have utterly failed to even attempt this. They don't understand a whit of it. In baseball terms, they stand there in the grand stadium of Christian ideals, flailing at the plate, mugging back at their teammates in the dugout, none of them ever even getting to first base, all the while thinking that they are exemplary players.
The core Christian philosophy is effortlessly discarded by clannish sects in favor of a mentality that focuses on superiority, fear of and a willingness to exploit or subjugate "the other." Love and forgiveness outside the clan is heretical to clan mentality, and clan mentality is all about judging. Following the lead of their radically conservative leaders, SoCons cleave to the most punitive and divisive precepts of the Bible, cherry-picking their way around Jesus' central message of love for one another. This is why so many "Christians", including most SoCons, are about as un-Christian as it comes. There are Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Taoists, agnostics and atheists who FAR better embody the ideals of Jesus than these CINOs (Christians In Name Only).
NOW HERE'S SOMETHING TO PONDER: America is really just three things: land, people, ideals. And most SoCons don't care much for any of them.
As bad of Christians as they often are, social conservatives are equally lame Americans.
SoCons claim to love America. But they don't really understand what that means either. They think it means their clan, their own social group, or maybe their home town. That's just scratching the surface of what America means. They think it means their religious denomination. That's definitely not what America means.
To a real American patriot, the American landscape is sacred. Our majestic landscape and magnificent wildlife are something to be revered and protected. SoCons frown. They don't claim much affinity for the land, except perhaps when they're rampaging through the back country on their snow machines, wandering in their RV, or mowing their five acres on their new John Deere. And they seem to have utter disdain for America's only true natives... its wildlife.
Except when their "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) hackles are raised, their philosophical, emotional and spiritual investment in the American landscape is basically nil.
Ironically and tellingly, conservation of the environment should be the one area where reasonable people should be able to agree that the "conservative" way is best! The original "traditional value" is Mother Earth! If there is anything in the world worth being conservative toward, it is surely our home planet. But no, conservatives again show the self-serving flimsiness and inconsistency of their ideology by wanting nothing to do with this kind of virtuous and rational conservatism.
So once again, a "universal" value, that of taking care and responsibility for your own home, is cast aside for the "traditional" value of looting and pillaging, using and abusing, exploiting and subjugating. (There have been a very few conservative exceptions, such as Iowa Congressman John F. Lacey... and, surprisingly, Richard Nixon).
In this regard, it is the liberals who hold true to the root of the word conservative: to protect, to preserve, to "conserve" a "traditional value:" in this case God's most wondrous creation: Mother Earth. So it seems that the truest conservatives are actually... liberals!
What's up with that? Well, we told you in the world of conservatives, down is up and right is wrong. It shoudn't be a surprise that true, virtuous conservativism is actually liberal. So the defining characteristic of modern conservatives is that they have no clue as to what needs conserving. You see, conservative "traditional values" regarding the environment involve not conservation, not protection, but exploitation. To them, our planet is not a precious jewel of the Creation of God, but just another commodity to be conquered, dominated, subjugated, bought, sold and then... junked.
In the case of your "private property," you should be able do anything with it that you want. That's the sacrosanct conservative philosophical pillar of "property rights," which, of course, springs from the "traditional values" of greed. "I OWN this! This is mine! Keep away from it! I can do what I want with it!" Their own stuff is sacred, yet SoCons will sit idly by, and willfully approve, as the natural resources, land, native species, pristine beauty, grand diversity, livability and sustainability of our country (and the planet) is utterly ravaged in order to generate ever more garish corporate profits... or personal consumption... or, maybe, just for the hell of it. They don't give a damn about this America.
Conservative values don't include fighting against, or even getting much perturbed at an American river being polluted, or a smokestack belching poison into American skies, or an American mountain-top being lopped off, or an American forest being clear-cut, or an American wilderness being punctured by oil wells or gouged by mines or criss-crossed with roads, or an American aquifer being tainted by industrial toxins, or American native animals being used, abused, even pushed to extinction. Indeed, social conservatives thrilled at blasting every last Passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet out of existence; they intentionally tried to kill off every last buffalo, wolf, coyote and Grizzly bear, and cared not one bit that poisonous chemicals nearly wiped out the bald eagle and peregrine falcon. To this day they harbor not a whiff of regret or remorse for these crimes against the Creation!
Their recent conservative mantra of "Drill, baby, drill," is a transparent window into a sick ideology of not just quiet acquiescence but full-bore cheerleading for rampant, unregulated exploitation with absolutely zero regard for environmental concerns, a drunken addiction to fossil fuel-based gluttony, and the lack of a scintilla of concern for the natural resources, and spiritual, needs of future generations.
When it comes to exploiting the environment, SoCons imagine that it's probably a member of their clan cashing in on these natural resources, and that's just fine. Hey, somedbay it might be them striking it rich with an oil well or coal mine in their backyard! To such people America the Beautiful is just a tuneful ditty... not to be taken at all seriously.
In their lack of respect for the American environment and native wildlife, a shallow and ignorant and/or cruel and greedy side to their character is clearly revealed.
This blatant disregard for nature is yet another window into their true beliefs, or lack thereof. If they really loved God, wouldn't they be very motivated to protect the world that he created for us? Shouldn't those who believe literally in the Bible take some responsibliity for protecting the creatures that God commanded Noah to go to all that trouble to save?
Either conservatives just don't have that kind of common sense, or rather than God, or Jesus, what they really believe in is simply greedy selfishness. Conservative obedience to greed and clan hierarchy has turned them away from the most righteous, moral and sacred trust ever bequeathed to humankind: loving and protecting nature. As dupes and useful idiots of the CorpCons, social conservatives are partners-in-crime in the abuse and destruction of the very realm that most needs and deserves to be preserved - the biosphere: God's green earth and all its children.
Nothing - repeat, NOTHING - is more important to the human family and spirit than loving, nurturing, protecting the Creation (which includes humans). But "Christians" (along with the "true" believers of most other religions) would rather hunker down in species-centric selfishness and stupidity, dividing from each other, misunderstanding and fearing each other, and fighting to the death over musty scripture. Such is their interpretation and practice of the "love" that they all (falsely) claim is at the core of their faith.
Without doubt, willful, ignorant, selfish damage to the biosphere will be considered the most egregious of sins by their very own grandchildren... and all other generations to come. When it comes to defending the land of America, not to mention God's sacred creation of Earth, from its most dangerous threats, predatory corporatism and over-consumption, SoCons are selfishly, stupidly and immorally AWOL.
Certainly their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will also resent the wanton and wasteful burning of fossil fuels - as fast as we could dig them up - cheered on by crazy conservatives and their corporate puppet-masters. Such fossil fuel gluttony is now powering global climate change that is already ravaging lives... and will only get worse as those future generations inherit the Earth. How do you like those crazy blizzards, searing summers, unprecedented wildfires, February tornadoes, hurricanes in New England, and historic droughts, those FrankenStorms and Snowmageddons, and rising sea levels that we are already experiencing? So far, global warming is offering just a tiny preview. Just wait 'til you see what's in store in the decades to come! One of the great ironies of this coming catastrophe is that in America the worst-hit regions will likely be the South and Southwest... bastions of conservatism.
Drill, baby, drill! Burn, baby, burn! The generations to come will curse the deluded idiots who championed that mindset!
As for America's people, well, SoCons aren't happy with them.
SoCons have a dislike - or even hate - for a HUGE MAJORITY of real Americans: Native Americans, black Americans, brown Americans, Asian Americans, unemployed Americans, poor Americans, non-conformist Americans, alternative lifestyle Americans, feminist Americans, Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, Islamic Americans, Hindu Americans, Buddhist Americans, Taoist Americans, Sikh Americans, Jain Americans, Shinto Americans, Confucian Americans, agnostic Americans, atheist Americans, gay Americans, lesbian Americans, transgender Americans, Americans with disabilities, any recent immigrants (legal or not)... and certainly liberal Americans, who coddle and enable all the above.
The Statue of Liberty is a socialist plot!
America's people represent the melting pot of the world. The Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Such immigrants from around the world made America what it is... these people determined to make a better life for themselves and their children, and industrious enough, and creative enough to somehow make it to these shores. But that's not the way conservatives see it. Though Lady Liberty's message is all-American and entirely Christian, SoCons gag... at least when her welcome is applied to anyone other than their own beloved immigrant ancestors. Certainly clan mentality doesn't have any use for the tired, the poor or tempest-tost. Immigrants have long been one of the favorite whipping dogs of the SoCons, who, again, display their hypocrisy, selfishness and inconsistency: their ancestors were noble and brave to come to America, but all others are illegitimate.
SoCons also trip over America's founding ideals.
As for the ideals of America, social conservatives are in a state of complete denial of their befuddlement. The ideals and founding principles of the United States of America are: "All Men are Created Equal," "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," "Justice for All," "We the People," "One person, one vote" and "E Pluribus Unum" ("From Many, One") SoCons readily claim these values and rights for themselves and their clan, but they are ever eager to deny these rights to others.
That "All Men are Created Equal" proclamation has always been a thorn in the sides of diehard conservatives, who have simply never believed in it, but have been stuck with it since it's in the Declaration of Independence. They had better success demoting the democratic phrase "E Pluribus Unum," the original national motto, in favor of their theocratic preference, "In God We Trust." So, you see, conservatives are only beholding to tradition, the Constitution, or any respect for the ideals of the Founding Fathers when it suits them.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
For conservatives, this Preamble to the Constitution is a mine-field of explosive threats to their ideology. Included are not only the dangerous words "We the People," but also the dirty words "union" and "welfare", plus the disagreeable, likely profit-reducing, mandate of responsibility toward "our posterity." Hey, you know, screw those grandkids and great-grandkids if we have to sacrifice any of our material comfort and conformity.
Again, all of these high-minded values and virtues and rights are just fine and dandy... as long as they are being applied strictly to clan members. But once women, blacks, browns, gays, workers, poor people, immigrants, non-Christians - or any others lower on the dominator hierarchy - start chirping about wanting these rights, too, that's where conservatives draw the line. "America is for me and mine," is their true belief, "and all you other weirdos can kiss my red-white-and-blue ass."
Such is the real commitment of conservatives to American values.
So we see that SoCons actually have a love-hate relationship to America. They love their tiny part of it, and hate everything else.
SoCons claim to love America, but buy right into their clan masters' ideology of hating the government, especially when it tries to live up to those original American ideals.
They "love" America but not enough to pay very much, if any, taxes to support it.
They "love" America, but willingly allow the desecration of its natural resources.
They "love" America, but grow queasy when contemplating true American values for anyone outside their own clan.
They buy into the big conservative myth that government is not the solution to the problem but rather is the problem.
They complain about people who "blame" America for its mistakes and sins, while they, the self-identified moralists, are willing to ignore America's great un-American and un-Christian sins and refuse to learn from her mistakes.
They "love" only Americans who look, act and think like them, and basically despise all other Americans.
They take full advantage of the American economic engine, the electical grid, highways, airports, the water supply, dams and bridges, the internet, the fireman and the policeman, the postman, Social Security, Medicare, the Space Program, the National Parks, the Center for Disease Control, plus, of course, the armed forces, but they hate and fear "socialism", which is pretty much what all of these things are.
Even though they don't show any inclination to actually put into practice the precepts of Jesus, SoCons still think America is a "Christian nation." It is not, nor has it ever has been. Yet American ideals are complimentary to the major tenets of Christian love, forgiveness and fairness to all. It is conservatives who are so confused they don't realize their clan mentality is opposed to both American and Christian ideals.
American and Christian principles emphasize the importance not of the clan, but of the wider community, the whole. Jews and Gentiles, even Samaritans. We the People. All of the people. All of your neighbors. Not just the white ones. Not just the rich ones. Not just the Protestant ones. Not just the straight ones. Not just the ones you like.
In fact, both American and Christian ideals stress, most importantly, the commonality and shared interests between you and those who are different, or "the other." Jesus, as well as Jefferson and Madison and Washington, attempted to break clan mentality. That's because they were all liberals.
The idea in both systems, American and Christian, is to break out of clan mentality, and become a good member of a greater whole. This is true at a deeply authentic level: to become our best human self we must break out of self-interest and enthusiastically accept our responsibility for one another... and even beyond that... for God's creation. This is our sacred duty. It's our highest human self. Let's take care of each other, and our planet home.
Indeed, love one another. What a concept! We're all in this together. All for one, and one for all. Yes, be a rugged individualist (which, as stated, is nigh impossible for a conservative), but remember that your rights end where the next person's rights begin, and your rights definitely come to an abrupt end where the community's rights begin. The most authentic and enlightened individuals embrace a drive to respect and protect the people and the commons. The greatest individuals eventually come around to recognizing their duty, and desire, to serve others. The community, the nation, the whole, is more important than you. "We the People", "E Pluribus Unum" is the American way, not "it's my property, I'll do what I want" or "I've got mine, screw you."
For SoCons, clan-mentality trumps all. It is more important to them to conform to the herd than to think deeply about and embrace true Christian or American values. Their pseudo-Americanism and pseudo-Christianity are both a hodgepodge of self-serving, divisive, negative and punitive edicts which veer far away from the virtues and spirit of the real America and the truth of Christ's message. And so, they actually remain bad Americans and bad Christians, often actually downright un-American and un-Christian, all the while living with the psychotic delusion that they are the true standard bearers for both.
As a modern political (or religious) philosophy, conservatism is an absolute mess. It's Swiss cheese ideology. Pretzel logic. It only makes sense as clan-mentality.
Like all true conservatives, SoCons have bought into the notion of preserving, protecting, promoting, or in some cases working to restore, traditional values, systems and hierarchies. They may be basically good-hearted people, but they don't understand that it is these very "traditional" systems and hierarchies that are contrary to both real American values and real Christian values. And so conservatives find themselves in a situation of eternal conflict. It's their clan against all others. It's them against the world... a world that in their mind is going to hell.
So they withdraw to their bulwarks and batten down the hatches. They double-down on their clan values, their own perceived exceptionalism, superiority, righteousness, morality, their own brand of divisive religion. Feeling embattled, they stand fast and determined. They will not budge an inch. They will not compromise, and they hate change (which is the only constant in the universe). Prejudiciously, fearfully, greedily, they cling tightly to their own herd, and look to strong leaders to rally them and tell them what they want to hear, thence being led around by the nose, even to the point of voting against their own best interests.
It turns out low information can carry a high price and hard lessons. Their strategy has actually not worked well for them at all. We'll state it again: Social conservatives are the biggest losers in American history. They stand against change, and against facts, and this is a sure-fire losing strategy. Their most cherished beliefs are swept aside by the tide of culture and the arc of history.
A 2008 psychological study of over 22,000 self-professed conservatives discovered several variables that predicted their conservativism. It's not a pretty list: Death anxiety, system instability, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, closed-mindedness, low tolerance of uncertainty, high needs for order, structure, and closure, low integrative complexity, fear of threat and loss, and low self-esteem.
Worst of all for the SoCons, they are deaf, dumb and blind to the clever tactics of the myth masters that keep them perpetually enslaved to an ideology that so often severely punishes them. The toxic alliance of SoCon and CorpCon has them believing it is patriotic to unquestionably support some of the most morally bankrupt individuals in the country, the very wealthy professional conservatives and corporations that laugh all the way to the bank after legally stealing their life savings, slashing their pensions, sending their jobs overseas, charging them 30 percent interest on their credit cards, denying their insurance claims, foreclosing on their house or farm, polluting their air and water, plying them with unhealthy meat and fat, antibiotic and hormone laden junk foodstuffs and sugar-poisoned drinks, conspiring to keep them satiated with mindless entertainment and dumb as a brick, sending their children to go fight stupid foreign wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with national security but everything to do with corporate profits, and then rigging the legal system to screw them over should they ever dare go to court to protest any of this injustice.
SoCon devotion to CorpCon leadership extends to utter blind faith in the CorpCon "trickle-down" economic scheme that has never worked - in the history of the world - for the Middle Class or poor... though it has been tried again and again and again for hundreds, if not thousands of years. This economic system leaves many SoCons in utter financial ruin. As well, SoCons gulp down the CorpCon Kool-Aid that debunks global warming and serves to protect the villains behind it - the fossil fuel and factory meat industries - even as vast swaths of SoCon territory (the South and Southwest), livelihoods and lives are being devastated by the early effects of Global Warming: wildfires, drought, rampaging tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms and other freakish weather events.
All of this... and SoCons beg for more. Despite all the evidence, they continue to stake their very lives on flimsy conservative mythology... propagated mainly by the myth-making CorpCons and their juggernaut media manipulation. Perhaps there should be some studies to determine if SoCons actually crave sadistic punishment. Certainly their determination to conserve the hierarchy, no matter the personal cost to themself, suggests a severe pathology.
It's actually a bit surprising that there are many SoCons any more. You would think that most human beings would have figured all of this out by now. The fact that there are still millions of them tells us three things. 1) Clan mentality is a very deeply ingrained emotional state for those who have not evolved past a certain mindset, and easily invoked by tweaking self-serving emotional strings; 2) Professional conservative leaders have masterfully exploited their many nefarious advantages to "conserve" the viability of their own creed, most particularly in their almost flawless co-opting of the SoCon herd; 3) Even as they have dominated cultural evolution, liberals have recently done a very poor job of consistently holding conservatives accountable for their rational and moral transgressions (that changes here).
Probably there will always be some SoCons around. Conformist, emotionally charged, intellectually lazy, self-centered, being a SoCon is an easy mindset to fall into. It's a worldview that coddles the selfish impulse. And so it is contrary to universal values... which seek to override that very same selfish impulse. As universal values grow stronger - and they certainly do in the course of human evolution - the tide of history will grow stronger and stronger against conservativism. Rightly so, the conservatives sense they are embattled, and so the continual angst, anger, bitterness, hatred, discomfort. What a terible way to live.
Someday, SoCons might just stop and reconsider their worldview, and realize how they have been duped. There's a better way out there for them and their children. It's called liberalism... or its called moderation... anything but conservativism.
And if and when they do reconsider their worldview, they might just meet, like old friends, the universal values they always thought they believed in, but now see they only believed they believed in, while they actually were doing everything they could to defend sorry tradition over true virtues.
The CorpCons: Masters of the Universe
And now it is time to meet the guys at the top of the conservative dominator hierarchy; the chiefs of the clan and manipulators of the herd. We come at last to the true keepers and shapers of conservative greed and creed, the myth-makers, the far smaller but infinitely more powerful group of professional conservatives who have thought about politics (if not ethics) very carefully and are the true masters of working it to their advantage. In fact, no one else comes close to their mastery of politics, mostly because no one has as much to win or lose, no one has their tactical and material advantages, and no one plays as dirty.
Today these are the corporate conservatives, the CorpCons, the true owners and operators of the Republican Party and conservative ideology, and the staunchest defenders of the (socio-economic) dominator hierarchy, because they sit at the very tippy-top. And they have no intention of allowing that to change.
These professional conservatives, conservative power-mongers and myth-makers are a quantum leap apart from rank-and-file SoCons, and individually they rarely share many social conservative beliefs... though they often shamelessly pretend to. Nor are they as confused as the SoCons. They have seen and understand more of the world - hell, they own it - and know exactly how to work any system to their advantage. The common denominator among all CorpCons is that their economic ideology is wholly self-serving (and logical to that degree), not self-defeating as for so many SoCons and Libertarians.
CorpCons do not believe the myths and yarns they spin... because they know full-well they made them up. And they are not so driven by fear and/or prejudice. As religion's hold on society continues to wane, most CorpCons (but certainly not all) have abandoned insistence on maintaining the "religious order" that their ideological forebears once held sacrosanct, leaving that mythological realm to fundamentalist SoCons and the CorpCons who control them (i.e. the religious professionals).
So then what do SoCons and CorpCons have in common? Why are both thoroughly conservative?
CorpCons and SoCons meet in agreement in their determination to "conserve" "traditional" socio-economic values and institutions. This we can call the "dominator hierarchy." Conservation of this hierarchy is the very definition of conservatism, and both CorpCons and SoCons consistently meet this criteria.
The dominator hierarchy, of course, is where the emotion of greed comes fully into play. But whereas, for the SoCon, this hierarchy is but a piece of an overall cultural tapestry that includes some semblance of ethics and morality, for the CorpCon the hierarchy itself, and specifically the rewards for its leaders (which is them), is the All and the Everything. Ethics and morality, along with truth, justice and equality, are just other aspects to be manipulated, or dispensed with altogether, to suit their ends. And so, anything goes in their quest for ever more power and wealth. And because SoCons follow like sheep behind their CorpCon masters, they, too, often end up abandoning true ethics and morality in order to preserve the hierarchy.
However, we might grant the benefit of the doubt of inner goodness to Mom and Pop social conservative. Beyond their confusion, deep down inside, there is a good heart to most Social Conservatives; they are just terrified of the world (thus the absolute need for guns), believe everyone is out to get them, crave security and a modicum of self-esteem; they don't really want to hurt anybody.
CorpCons are another matter entirely. They are super-narcissistic, and crave not mere self-affirmation but dominance. Morality is often entirely absent in the SoCon. When we talk about SoCon greed, we're talking nickles and dimes, a defensive mindset of "I've got mine, keep away from it." But with CorpCons we enter the realm of greed as mantra, as obsession, as addiction, as ideal, even a religion unto itself, an aggressively offensive perspective of "I've got mine, now I need more, more, more!" And rather than the SoCon's flimsy sense of prejudice as in, "Well, at least I'm better than that (poorer, darker-skinned, older, different religion and/or female) person," we peer into the demented psychology of the professional conservatives, corrupted by wealth and power, who come to consider that fabulous material success is their birthright, and they will do anything to claim it. Many would fillet their own grandmother for an extra thousand; they would sacrifice 1,000 American soldiers for an extra million, 10,000 for an extra billion; they would destroy America for an extra hundred billion, and the entire planet for not much more... and sleep like a baby afterwards.
Now we say, rightly, that SoCons are the biggest losers in American history. Alas, we can't say that about CorpCons. And this is the key to their retention of power.
While social conservatives are regularly battered and bruised, mind-controlled, subjugated and exploited, their cherised "values" tossed out like yesterday's garbage, CorpCons almost always come through anything smelling like a rose. That's because they don't really have any "values" to lose, other than maintaining their status on the socio-economic hierarchy. Somehow, through hook and crook, through boom and bust, they manage to come out of any tumult with hardly a scratch. Witness the latest Great Recession, which CorpCon greed directly caused. While everyone else was left holding a big old bag 'o crap, the CorpCons were bailed out, given a wag of the finger by a doting government, and went right back to their old tricks before you could say "Buddy, can you spare a few trillion?" The People - both conservative and liberal - watched, stunned, as the Banksters and their enablers got away with wrecking the economy with hardly any accountability whatsoever.
No matter what, these guys always win. But the concept of "win" here is as hollow as it comes. They win physically, but lose psychically. They gain gold, and lose their soul. These people have no conscience; they have no principles; they have no honor. Though some are rich beyond description, they are beggars of the spirit, scavengers of virtue. They are squatters, hoarders, afflicted with a type of obsessive-compulsive malady that someday soon will be formally recognized for what it really is: extreme narcissism and lack of social empathy or responsibility... in other words, a form of insanity.
These opportunistic thugs, pirates and parasites have plundered America's treaure, raped its landscape, stained her honor, attempted to keep huge swaths of the general public confused, ignorant and under their thumb, swindled and wrecked millions, deliberately set Americans against their government and Americans against Americans, sent us into ill-conceived wars (including the Civil War), and trample, spit and piss on the Constitution at will. They are the prime subjugators, exploiters, oppressors, abusers, deceivers, bedevilers, and flim-flam/shim-sham operators of American history. A slimy litany of abuses has been perpetrated upon the American people, and the Republic itself, by those of the CorpCon persuasion. Research the greatest scandals and abuses in American history, and on the scene you'll find some variety of CorpCon grinning like the Cheshire cat.
The most powerful and influential CorpCons have been megalomaniacal, greed-serving, power-consolidating, exploitative and dangerous villains of the first order.
Read that sentence again. It sounds like over-the-top hyperbole, but it is the simple truth. Conservative politicians and corporate, religious and cultural mega-leaders have been among the most harmful individuals ever to walk the American landscape, or, for that matter, Planet Earth.
Have there been abuses by liberals? Of course. No one is immune to the temptations that await those awash in power and money. But make no mistake: the money and power game is conservative turf. It's all about conserving the dominator hierarchy. Liberals play it because they don't have any other choice... though occasionally they do find a way to level the playing field for the rest of us just a bit. It may be thin hope as we witness today's Democratic Party up to its neck in corporate beholdenment, a "moderate Republican" Barack Obama as its titular head (who from their radicalized position in right-wing outer space looks like a socialist to today's conservatives). Yet a liberal must abandon their principles to engage in behavior that abuses the common people and the commons. Abusing the common people, and stealing from the commons, is built into the professional conservative ethos, and the Republican Party has been submerged fathoms below the surface of the oligarchic and corporate waves since not long after Abraham Lincoln led it as the more liberal party in the Union, coming up only a few times for a gulp of fresh air through the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Ike Eisenhower who were truly "Republican in Name Only."
Since Ronald Reagan, the Republicans have again gone down, apparently blissfully, into the abyss of corporate greed and folly, perhaps never again to see the light of day, common sense or fair play. Even the most corrupt liberals at least nod in the direction of adhering to rational facts, as well as to protecting the commons and the "general welfare" of "We the People" as the Constitution mandates. Whereas above all, the CorpCons worship only wealth and power, and will cheerfully do anything to maintain it, including lying, stealing, pillaging, killing.
You don't believe it? Let's take a closer look at the CorpCons.
There have been powerful defenders of the dominator hierarchy since long before there even were corporations. The CorpCons of today are the AristoCons of yesteryear, the kings and queens of old, the dukes and duchesses, the princes and princesses, the lords and ladies, the pharisees and sadducees, the pontifs and bishops and rajas and sheiks and sultans of that age when, in their minds, all was right in the world, the age of rigid class and caste systems.
Political conservatism has always been about the rich and powerful, who fully understand that they are very small in number - a "traditional value" they are determined to maintain. So in a democracy they must go to great lengths to recruit a "zombie army" to keep them in wealth, power and in control of the socio-economic hierarchy... and government, insofar as it affects the socio-economic hierarchy. As described in the SoCon section above, the conservative political elite have always relied on clan mentality to keep an ignorant and fearful rabble on their side.
CorpCons actually deeply distrust and despise democracy, and have made their attitude crystal clear through the centuries. Nowadays, they realize they have to be much more discrete about it, nonetheless that rancor often bubbles to the surface, revealing a mindset that is wholly self-serving, and perfectly willing to bring ruin unto the nation, or the world, if it would profit them. The run-up to both the Depression and the Great Recession, and their subsequent refusal to essentially change their ways after these twin debacles, speak volumes about their purpose, mindset and character.
They also dislike the idea of liberty. They dislike the idea that just anyone - much less everyone - has the "inalienable" right to pursue happiness. And they especially loathe the idea of equality. All of these ideals imply some sort of cultural balance. That is the last thing professional conservatives want. They don't want balance or liberty or equality, they want that hierarchy, that "chain of subordination" (as the modern father of conservativism Edmund Burke put it). They want control of systems and people, and they want money, power and justice (the law) permanently tilted toward them and stacked in their favor, just like it has always been. If you have ever been involved in the legal system, you know that it is stacked in favor of the richer party... indeed, a favorite tactic of the CorpCon is to "paper to death" their opponent, running them out of money, so that justice is never served.
As the owners, executives, upper managers and overseers of Big Business and Industry, CorpCons believe wholeheartedly, and are professionally invested, in a socio-economiic system that is ruthlessly and agressively unequal. What works best for them is stark stratification of the society: a teeny-tiny uppermost class, a slightly larger, but still tiny, upper class, a seemingly secure upper middle class to do the bidding of the true uppers, and then a precipitous plunge down to a large but struggling primary middle class, underlain by a tenuous lower middle class and then, very importantly, at the very bottom a dirt poor lower class.
CorpCons have not a whit of a desire to elevate these folks out of poverty, nor do they want to provide a structure of higher education, welfare, security or happiness for the middle and lower classes. Ignorance, poverty and insecurity is good, because greed is good. The hierarchy, which is a system of greed, requires a constant threat of insecurity and poverty to all who would attempt to challenge the great hierarchy. And so millions of people remain in crappy jobs with crappy pay and benefits, without complaint, because they are afraid of falling even further down the socio-economic scale. Poor people, meanwhile, will work for minimum wage (or less), and this helps to constrain the wage and benefit expectations of middle class workers higher up.
It's a sweet deal, if you are an upper. If you are not, you, my friend, are, one way or another, just a cog in their machine.
And yet, this is a very tricky system to sustain. After all, by their very definition the CorpCons are a very tiny group of people. How do they keep the house of cards from falling? They do this by co-opting a certain percentage of the electorate to do their bidding. And the bait is access to (if not full membership in) the upper levels of the hiearchy.
Yes, it is sometimes possible to work, sneak, wiggle, cajole, or barge your way up the hierarchy. For awhile there in American history, with liberal economic policy being established during the Great Depression and following World War II, the middle class was rapidly expanding, and even the poor had good reason to hope they, too, could escape their fate. The trend was that the hierarchy had become less rigid and difficult to ascend. Depression-era rules and regulations provided safeguards and opportunities for the People, thus rendering the dominator hierarchy less powerful and more flexible. So rather than being forced to take what the dominator hierarchy wanted to give, the workforce had become a force unto itself.
But that was all too much for the CorpCons. They always want strict control of the workforce. The reason for that is because lots of un-free "slaves" are required for a "free" market.
The Free Market: it sounds lovely, so much more refined than feudalism. Who wouldn't be for a "free market?" It combines that American value of freedom with a mental picture of a lively, colorful marketplace, full of happy vendors and customers, a place where people get what they want and need, and anybody can strike it rich. This is the utopian image that CorpCons like to put forth. But it's another very big conservative myth. There has never been that utopian "free" market, and never will be! First and foremost because the primary players certainly do not want the market to be free, or fair. They want to rig it for their own gain. And so they do, time and again. It's actually the farthest thing from "free." The "free market" is just a sales pitch, a marketing ploy, a catchy brand to con people into going along with the scam.
The vast majority of liberals support a capitalist economic system, but insist that it be controlled capitalism, fair capitalism, virtuous capitalism, capitalism that serves the community and the resource base... not that which exploits it for the benefit of a very few, leaving everyone else with the cost of removal of those resources. For CorpCons, this type of fair capitalism is an encroachment on their religion of greed, and is dangerously oriented to a semblance of equal opportunity. And equality just doesn't work for them. They are already prospering as the big fish in the pond, why would they want to support a system that allows for other fish to grow up to compete with them? Instead, they want unregulated capitalism, which is to say capitalism controlled from within, might-makes-right capitalism, predatory capitalism, capitalism that allows for easy usurping or crushing of little up and coming fish... capitalism that promotes the myth of a market free of governmental intervention - except when the marketeers need the government to protect them, or bail them out, or help them conquer foreign markets - capitalism that extracts and exploits and wrings the last dollar out of a resource, workers and customers, pockets the profits, and leaves a mess to clean up.
The government's the problem!
In the face of a governmental system that supposedly enshrines notions of democracy, liberty, equality, justice for all, and helping the middle class and poor, professional conservatives have come up with a new wrinkle in their "divide and conquer" strategy. The CorpCons were the government back in the feudal days, so they didn't want the people hating authority. Back then they preached the "natural order," conservative father Edmund Burke's "chain of subordination," which required acquiesence by the public to the government and the church. But since 1776 they've never been able to wrest complete and total control of the government. Not often, but occasionally, government (representing We the People) rises up to smack them around. So their new subterfuge is to inculcate a deep distrust of government among the populace, most pointedly amongst the quarter or so of eligible voters they need to win elections. "The government isn't the solution to the problem; the government is the problem," is the mythological maxim that conservatives love to regurgitate to one another. Dividing Americans from their very own government is another stroke of evil genius (just a hair short of treason) they have deployed, and it works best with those who don't know enough about history or government or truth to see right through the flim-flam, the deception... and treachery.
So professional conservatives actively and aggressively risk promoting the disintegration of civil society itself by destroying the essential trust in government for millions of people. It's truly a vile and diabolical tactic... and it works like a charm.
But the treachery doesn't stop there...
When professional conservatives come into governmental power, they do everything they can to fulfill their own prophecy that government doesn't work by redirecting priorities, cutting budgets, and stacking agencies with cronies and foxes guarding the henhouse. Indeed, history clearly shows government often doesn't work...under conservative control... though government works much more effectively, and in support of the vast majority of citizens, when guided by liberal ideology. The entire George W. Bush presidency was a textbook example of this very dynamic: bungled domestic priorites, bungled foreign policy, bungled economy, bungled debt reduction, two bungled wars, bungled mortgage crisis, bungled hurricane response, bungled Great Recession, bungled bank bailout... all squeezed into eight years of conservative flimflammery.
And all of this mischief can be upstaged and hidden by the wedge issues.
Because they are focused laser-like on making money and consolidating power, most CorpCons don't give a damn about the social issues that are so important to the SoCons. But long ago they realized that God, guns, gays, minorities, the poor, immigrants, abortion, patriotism and war are the bait they can use for hooking a mess of half-stupid SoCons. These are the "wedge issues," that they employ to masterfully poke and prod the emotions of gullible, fearful and selfish people who are extremely dependable voters when they feel threatened by something. And so they raise their "zombie army."
Notice that the CorpCons never quite get around to solving any of these threats. Indeed, the threat just keeps geting worse and worse. And when the liberals win an utter victory, the CorpCons quickly shift to a new wedge. There's no shortage of things social conservatives are afraid of. When your countrymen defeat your cherished King George, then turn to defending the exclusive rights of rich land-holders. When your defense of slavery has turned to ashes along with the Confederacy, turn instead to promoting and defending segregation. When your demonization of Native Americans runs out of steam, substitute Mexicans. When preventing women from voting has utterly failed, try denying them their reproductive rights. When prohibition of alcohol turns to disaster, go after marijuana. When jazz becomes acceptable, rail against rock and roll. When the beatniks become mainstream, go after the hippies. When the communist boogie-man and Cold War has flopped, start a war on "Terror." When inter-racial marriage is a lost cause, switch to gay marriage. Some wedges are like fashion styles... wait long enough and they may just come back. Today, social conservatives like Rick Santorum and Paul Ryan and Todd Akin want to refight the women's contraceptive battles of the 1960s. They will get smacked down again... but, see, the CorpCons don't care... it all plays well with the conservative base, and helps these guys get elected. SoCons are so confused they never seem to catch on to the parlor trick.
So this is the basic pattern that the dominators use to maintain their hierarchy. They can easily buy off some politicians and officials. Then, in a democracy, the challenge is to bamboozle just enough voters (sometimes as few as 25 percent is adequate) - through fear and greed and prejudice - to keep conservative politicians in office, where they can do the CorpCons' bidding. And so it usually goes. This is the formula that has run through American history, the CorpCon Cheshire Cats staying in power (or, at worse, just an election or two away from regaining power) by stoking the emotions of gullible people.
Wrapped up in the matrix of maintenance of the hierarchy, a key emotion that CorpCons and SoCons share is... hatred of taxes. Both want all the benefits that a modern, well-run nation provides, but neither wants to pay for it. Always being against taxes is the ace up the sleeves for CorpCons. It's their evergreen issue. It never goes out of style. So being anti-tax is the wedge issue of all wedge issues.
Nobody, liberal or conservative, loves paying taxes. As a general rule, liberals are just less greedy, more educated, as well as more magnanimous in civic spirit (don't forget your synonyms for conservative and liberal). Liberals recognize their own benefits of paying their fair share of taxes. They see the great upside to everyone paying their fair share of taxes. They can also more readliy visualize the downside to not paying taxes. When the lifeblood of a nation runs low... all of society becomes imperiled.
So, once again, we see that liberals can see the big picture... and their role in it. While conservatives see the small picture, their own selfish interests, and build an ideology consisting of what works best for them. The best scenario for them would be little or no taxes, while all the other suckers actually pay for the world the conservative wants to live in.
As it turns out, CorpCons actually largely get away with this. They reap, by far, the vast majority of profit out there in the world, while paying, by far, less (percentage-wise) than the average schmuck strugging to make a living. They justify this gigantic disparity and injustice by claiming to be the "job creators," and thus somehow are magically entitled to a game rigged in their favor. Stupidly, social conservatives back them up... even though they typically do not fully (if at all) share in this gross inequity. Grumble and grouse as they do, SoCons end up paying the taxes that CorpCons skip out on.
Why do SoCons do this? It's obviously not rational; it's all about emotion.
The "big picture" clouded and shrouded by their own personal selfishness and greed, conservatives can't imagine the disastrous reality of not paying taxes. If there is a sure-fire way to wreck the country, it is to "starve the beast," a plan that CorpCons actively promote, and SoCons stupidly agree with. The ideas of "small government" and "low taxation" are myths that both CorpCon and SoCon can enthusiastically embrace because they well serve their own selfish inclinations.
"It's your money... not the government's," goes the conservative creed. And they will go to any length to adhere to this belief, even if it defies all rationality. In the election of 2012, for instance, Obama was castigated by conservatives for the quip, "You didn't build that!" meaning that no one suceeds on their own; all financial success comes from participation in the social system, and its many assets shared by the community: roads, bridges, electical grid, educational system, financial systems, communications networks, etc., etc. Ridiculously, the conservatives, determined to protect their "your money" mantra, actually argued against this most fundamental of realities.
The conservative idea of low-low, or better yet, no taxes, is as sweet-sounding to conservative ears as somebody whistling Dixie. They come running up slobbering and panting like mangy dogs to any politician promising to toss them the bone of lower taxes (which, even if delivered, almost always ends up hurting the SoCon).
Of course, the CorpCons could not care less about your taxes. They only need your help to get their tax lowered... or better yet, eliminated entirely. And since the glory days of Ronald Reagan, that's exactly what they've managed to do. Their tax rate has plummeted... and in many cases dived down close to zero. Yours? Not so much.
Since 1980, the income tax rate on the wealthy has been sliced in half. For the rest of us, the rate has barely budged.
That right there is grossly unfair, but the news gets worse. A large part of CorpCon income comes from "capital gains," not wage paychecks like us working stiffs. Capital gains is income from a capital asset... things like interest, stock dividends, and the sale of some property such as real estate, mineral royalties and timber. Typically, only rich people have such "capital assets" to realize much money on this type of income. The rest of us must work for a living. Not the wealthy: they can sit back and eat oysters and drink Chardonnay and watch the money flow in. And somewhere along the way, they have rigged it so that they pay less on this easy money than the coal miner, or garbage worker, or secretary, or teacher, or fireman does on their income. Really? Yep... the capital gains tax rate is currently just 15 percent. It's a sweet deal... if you can get it.
CorpCons say that it's absolutely necessary to have capital gains rates low to stimulate economic growth. But that's just another myth! Turns out that low capital gains rates are not such a sweet deal for the country.
In fact, lowering capital gains charts has never stimulated the economy or created jobs. It actually harms the economy. As the chart above shows, everytime capital gains rates are lowered, the disparity of income in the nation goes up. And conversely, every time capital gains rates are raised, disparity of income goes down. Currently the capital gains rates are the lowest they've been since before the Depression... and - voila - the disparity of income in America has soared... right back to where it was in the Roaring Twenties.
Do CorpCons understand this? Of course they do. Do they care? No. As we have seen time and again, they will wreck the country if it means putting more money in their own pockets. During the 2012 presidential campaign, several Republican candidates, including Newt Gingrich, proposed a capital gains rate of zero! Check the chart above and just consider what a zero capital gains rate would do to income disparity in America. It would be OFF THE CHART! Of course, that would be the windfall of all windfalls for the CorpCons... and they would laugh and enjoy their heyday right up until the collapse of the United States of America into third world status.
Now this is really unfair and unsustainable, but the news gets even worse! People... these rich folks have got loopholes and dodges and hideaways and shelters and write-offs you would not believe. So they can winnow their tax bill down far below even the capital gains rate... sometimes to down close to zero!
And they do this feeling very comfortable and smug and brilliant about the whole thing. In their minds, they deserve these tremendous advantages. They are Masters of the Universe. They are at the top of the dominator hierarchy. Everyone and every thing down below is there to serve and prop them up!
NEWS FLASH!!!! THIS JUST IN!!!! (September, 2013).... The rich are robbing us blind! They have so rigged the system (again) that the money is just pouring into their coffers... while the rest of us are left to cut up an increasingly small pie. Check out the chart at right. Look at the disparity? How is that even possible? Today 400 people own as much as 150 million Americans!
What about the great conservative idea that if we coddle the rich, real wealth and financial security will also "trickle down" to us? What about all those jobs these "job creators" are supposed to be creating, according to conservative dogma? What about all those banks, again flush with cash? How about those corporations making record profits? Where is all this flood of cash going? The chart tells it all.. it's going straight into the pockets of the super wealthy. And this system is perpetuated by both the miniscule number of ultra wealthy themselves... and the "zombie army" that keeps them in power, allowing their rigged game of "Money Rules" to perpetuate a corrupt and wholly unjust system that punishes that zombie army as much as anyone.
And so, everyone else has to pick up their slack - which we do to a large degree - but the slack becomes so huge as the CorpCons back off on their contributions to society until the annual deficit of government, and the national debt, start rising and rising. The CorpCons really don't give a damn about this... if the country goes broke, so be it. They made theirs! We see that the largest deficits and debt increases in American history came under conservative administrations (Reagan and Bush Jr.)! Then they use the deficit and debt to call for even lower taxes and deregulation of business to stimulate growth and job-creation, which neither has EVER proven to actually do. It's quite a racket and negative feedback loop.
We got a tiny glimpse into their advantages in the 2012 campaign when Republican nominee Mitt Romney refused to release any more than one year's taxes. That one was bad enough. Romney, worth at least $250 million, paid just 14.1 percent tax rate. He paid nearly two million dollars in taxes... that sounds like a lot, but he made nearly $14 million (while running for President full time). He wasn't working... he was kissing babies, and doing interviews, and palling around with billionaires... and still 14 (very) large ones flowed into his bank account. And on that easy money he paid less than half of what the average working stiff would pay in percentage tax.
But wait! Why would Romney only release one year of returns (and even then, he waited until very near the election to release it)? Most candidates provide at least five years of returns. Only one from Romney... and it proved he paid less than the capital gains rate, which itself is half the rate his income level normally requires. So that was the "good" year he could release. What about the other years? What was he hiding? The strong suspicion, semi-acknowledged by campaign insiders, is that Romney paid nothing - zero - on his other returns. Hell, he may have gotten a rebate check from the government for all we know. We do know that few presidential candidates have a chance of winning without full release of their tax returns... Romney decided to take his chances by only releasing one year... apparently convinced that he had no chance of winning if he released any more.
So that's one filthy rich CorpCon individual. But what about the corporate part of the equation? Where do corporations fit into all of this? Quite nicely, thank you. Indeed, they have profited, not just financially, but socially over the past 30 years. They've graduated from being abstract concepts to living, breathing persons. Well, let's allow Mr. Romney, himself, speak to what has happened:
"Corporations are people, my friends." (Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign)
In "coming alive" corporations have been able to reap all of the rewards and advantages of the super rich... sometimes even more. After all, isn't great to be a "person" who can theoretically live forever, be everywhere at once, merge into other "persons" (or gobble them up), never have to sleep, have no need for a conscience, ethics, morals, scruples, shame or guilt, and can get away with anything, including murder? Not even the rich can do all of that.
With more loopholes even than a Mitt Romney, corporations have been diligently working to shrink their tax contributions to the nation. Once again, Ronald Reagan was their knight in shining armor.
Since the 1980s, corporate taxes rates have plunged and corporate profits have soared. Now, according to conservative dogma, that should be fabulous for the Middle Class, for workers, for the entire economy! After all, conservatives promise us that slashing taxes on the "job creators" creates jobs! That's a conservative absolute maxim. Trickle-down, right? Let the rich have their way, and they will take care of everything. That's an age-old conservative pillar!
Oh if it were so simple. If we could only sacrifice our first born to the wealthy and their great and powerful corporate persons, and all would be well in the world! Alas (we say that word a lot when it comes to conservatives!), it ain't so. It ain't ever been so... in the history of the world... even though the rich have been spouting this very same nonsense for thousands of years. And for thousands of years some of us have believed it.
Let's leave mythology behind, and take a look at reality. Check out the chart above. We lowered the taxes on corporations... and sure enough, their profits skyrocketed. So the equation certainly worked well for them, no doubt! But not so well for everyone else. In fact, that same equation was a DISASTER for everyone else.
This chart shows another very important symbiosis... the link between strong unions and a strong Middle Class. Corporations, of course, hate unions. Unions level the playing field, which is the last thing CorpCons want. Remember, they don't believe in liberty, equality or justice for all. They only believe in their own well-being, not that of anybody else... including the vast Middle Class.
A union is a collective of workers. By their very nature, collectives have more power than individuals. Corporations don't want to face up against a collective. They want to face up against individuals... the least powerful entity. They want you - the little worker ant - to come, hat in hand, to their boardroom and ask for a raise. Whereupon you will promptly be told, "No, get back to work!" And the worker usually has no choice but to obey. The last thing corporations want to deal with is a union, representing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, potentially millions of workers. If the CorpCon says, "No, get back to work" to the union, the union can say, "Oh yeah... make us!"
Now this is more of a "free" market. Each side has its power... and so, theoretically, a balance is reached which works OK for both sides. Both sides should feel like they have given in as much as they truly can. If either side gets out of balance, then things get dicey.
But, of course, corporations don't want that kind of "free" market... they want a market where they are free to do what they want.... not the workers, or the consumers. They don't want any part of workers and consumers being "free" to have a say in how the "free market" runs.
And usually the rich and corporations get their way. And when they do, that particular business may profit - immensely - for a while... but damage is done to the larger economy and social fabric. The fact is, our nation was at its strongest, economically, when unions and the Middle Class were strong. This is fact, not mythology... and it's a fact that conservative don't want you to understand.
Corporations once contributed much more to our nation's governance and operation. In the 1950s, corporations paid a third of the bills. But conservative ideology has chipped away at that once significant percentage.
Today, many corporations barely pay anything in taxes. Yes, you'll hear conservatives whining about how high the U.S. corporate tax rate is. The nominal tax rate is currently 35%, but the effective tax rate is under 14%. And yet the biggest, smartest corporations don't even pay that. Some pay absolutely zero. Others, brilliantly guileless, find a way through the tax laws (set up by corporations) to require us to pay them!
Loopholes, credits and fantastical fiscal shenanigans are available for corporations, and perfectly legal... even if they make no sense whatsoever. Corporations are actually rewarded for closing down plants in the U.S. and moving them overseas. Incredibly profitable industries, like the oil business, banking sector and Big Agriculture, receive subsidies from us, which they happily pocket, while returning little or no taxes in return.
Hey, guess what, after Exxon-Mobil posted $19 BILLION in profits in 2009... one of the largest profits in the history of the world... they paid ZERO tax. Check that... they paid zero tax... and we paid them $156 million!
After getting bailed out by us in 2009, Bank of America made a profit of $4.4 BILLION in 2010, and we gave them a tax refund of $1.9 BILLION.
Over six years, General Electric (GE) made $26 BILLION in profits, paid little or no tax, but still cashed checkes worth $4.1 BILLION from us.
Goldman Sachs in 2008 paid a tax rate of 1.1 percent. Come on, great vampire squid, can't you get it down to zero?
These are just some of the more notorious examples of corporations with a veritable tap on profit... contributing little or nothing to the common good of the nation of their birth.
Again, who takes up the slack for this substantial reduction in the amount of taxes corporations used to pay? Certainly not the wealthy. We've already seen how they dodge and weave out of paying their share of taxes. It's us, of course. We get the bill. And if we can't pay it... well, put it on the nation's credit card... and keep on lowering those taxes for the rich and corporations!
Don't you wish you could get in on this action? Hey, you could buy stock in the company. You could, and you might make a little money... but you still won't get in on the gravy train. Stock holders get paltry dividends from most of these companies... and the stock price doesn't come close to matching the skyrocketing profitability of some of these corporations. All in all, stocks are play money to the real players in the company, those at the tippy-top of the hiearchy.
It's up in the rarified air of the boardroom and upper-upper management where these millions and billions of dollars are flowing... and sticking. Not much really "trickles" down. Remember, the dominator hierarchy is defined by only a very small cadre of people at the very top. It's a pyramid. And their system is a pyramid scheme.
It has gotten completely out of control since the days of Reagan. In the 1970s, the ratio in the United States for the pay of Chief Operating Officers (CEOs) vs. their average worker was around 35:1. Starting in 1981, when Reagan took office, that ratio began to go wild. The "greed is good" ethic took over the boardroom. The ratio today is over 400:1. That's the average in the U.S. for big corporations. Some executives are making even more obscene sums.
Here were some of the wackiest CEO pay schedules of 2012:
Lawrence Ellison, Oracle Corp - $96 MILLION
Where is all this money coming from? Guess who! It's coming from you. It's coming from the gas pump and the insurance premium and the mortgage payment and the silly gadgets we think we have to incessantly buy and, of course, from the taxes we pay that go directly into the coffers of such well-deserving wealthy people and corporations as the military-industrial complex and Big Agriculture. Consider that we subsidize farmers - most of whom these days are giant agri-businesses - to the tune of $17 BILLION per year... the bulk of that goes to support the meat industry and its insatiable need for grain-feed. That price you pay for meat and corn and milk at the grocery store is on top of what you have already paid in taxes to help these mega-corporations post record profits. Meanwhile, that expensive health premium? A big chunk of that is NOT going toward your health and well-being... it's going directly into the pockets of a very few individuals... like the asshole below.
Why are these CEO paychecks so astronomically high? Well, because they can be. That's the real answer. This is the dominator hierarchy at work: unchecked, unbalanced. These are the people at the very tippy-top of the hiearchy richly rewarding themselves for... being themselves.
Note... CEO pay has absolutely zero correlation with job performance. Some of these doofuses manage to run their companies straight into bankruptcy. No problem... as the company is going down in flames, the top executives leap to safety in their "golden parachutes," and laugh at all the poor "little people" going down with the ship. Typically, these "talented" executives are soon rehired, at exorbitant pay, by the gullible and/or greedy board of another company.
Oftentimes, destroying the company is the profit stragegy. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital was one of the bringers of this brand of capitalism. Hey, all's fair in love, war and the "free" market. A "vulture capitalist" group, such as Bain Capital, will swoop down on an ailing company (or even a perfectly healthy company), leverage its assets to get a loan to buy the company, then sell the assets piece by piece, repay the loan... and pocket the profits. It all can be done in a few months. You're in, you're out. That goes for both the profiting capital group, who scamper away with millions... and the employees of the company, who dazed and depressed find themselves likewise "in and out"... out of a job (and sometimes their retirement), that is.
Executive pay is also high because it offers certain sweet tax-reduction opportunities for the corporation. Companies can take the exorbitant salaries and other compensations (especially stock offerings) directly off their tax liability. Normally that would not be allowed. The tax code specifies that only the first $1 million of executive pay can be deducted. But there's a loophole you could drive an oil tanker through. All you have to do is say that the pay package is "performance-based" and you can deduct it all. All told, American corporations skip out on an estmiated $30 BILLION in taxes due to executive compensation deductions.
And so it goes for the wealthy and their corporations. They have rigged the game, oriented every possible advantage in their direction, and reap the rewards of their own self-interest. That their greed and selfishness hurts so many people, and the nation itself, does not in the least concern them. They don't think about it... they don't care about it... they have not a shred of desire to do anything about it.
And it seems like it never ends... indeed, it seems to get worse. That, too, is a myth and an illusion. Conservatives would like for everyone to believe in this myth, to think that this is the way it has always been, and always will be. There is no use in fighting it. Resistance is futile. See, if you think something is all-powerful, the tendency is to shrink from confrontation, and to settle into acceptance. Every individual who opts out of political participation is one less voter that the CorpCons have to convince to vote against their own best interest.
Yet, the death grip that the CorpCons seem to have upon the business, the economy, the nation, the world is actually quite weak. They are the tiniest of tiny minorities. In a modern democracy, they hang on to their advantage and power ONLY because they are supported by a critical mass of supporters who are not even invited to the CorpCon banquet. This mass, of course, is comprised of the SoCons (and other assorted conservatives), who accept the scraps and drink up the Kool-Aid that the CorpCons allow them. In return, the CorpCons attempt to act interested in helping with the SoCons' emotional fears and desperate longing for security and self-esteem. "Trust us," the CorpCons whisper in the ear of the SocCon... "We will protect you from those big, bad liberals who are the ones who really want to destroy your way of life."
And so the unholy alliance is sealed, and the "zombie army" raised.
But the CorpCons and their zombie army don't always get their way. Not by a long shot. The American and French revolutions were proof positive of that. And periodically through history universal values ascend to take the CorpCons down a peg. This happened during the "progressive era" of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and during the Depression, and following World War II, when the worst of CorpCon behavior was constricted by rules and regulations which at least leveled the playing field for working individuals and unions.
Now, of course, we are still working our way out of nearly 30 years of conservative re-ascendency, which started anew with Ronald Reagan, and has extended through the administrations of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. Not even the Democrats among these recent administrations have been willing to seriously challenge the dominator hierarchy in the ways that Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt did in earlier days of our country... and so the banksters got away with crashing the economy once again in 2008, and corporations and CEOs are still gouging at the trough, and so we are still mired in a dangerous disparity of wealth and power in America.
In fact, here's a non-mythologcal fact for you: Since the 2008 collapse of the financial system... 95 percent of the recovery has gone to the one percent! And even with all of that wealth pouring into the "job creators," they are not creating jobs... they're keeping the money for themselves! Surprise. Surprise. Let's hear it for the CorpCons... they really do have it rigged! Where is that socialist, Kenyan, Muslim Barack Obama when we need him?
Most Americans have no idea how wacked-out our economic system has become
in the past 30 years since the advent of "Reaganomics." How about you?
But do not despair, defenders of virtue! Stay in the game! Consciousness is rising... all around the world. And we can see signs that the dominator hierarchy is, again, ripe for serious reform, if not complete dismantling. There may be a day coming soon when the greed and gluttony of the dominator hierarchy is perceived by a critical mass for what it is... a system contrary to the welfare of individuals, collectives, nations and the world. And when (not if) that day comes, the meek will inherit the Earth.
Occasionally, a seemingly new type of conservative will appear on the scene. But don't be confused. It's the same old game, just with the cards shuffled a bit. These are the MongrelCons, an entertaining and colorful gaggle of "thinkers" and/or "feelers" vainly striving to find a version of conservativism that actually makes sense. You gotta tip your hat to them for at least giving it a try, but in the end they turn out to be just as wrong-headed, as any other flavor of conservative.
So original libertarians were sort of like "classical liberals" of the 19th Century. Both sought to protect the individual and the commons while also encouraging free enterprise. They meant well. Then reality set in, and both terms fell mostly out of use.
Today's American "libertarians" are a product of the hate-the-government genie that Ronald Reagan uncorked back in the 1980s. These MongrelCons are a rabid blend of CorpCon and SoCon impulses, synthesized into an unsavory froth of selfishness. They liked the name "libertarian," so they stole it, and have perverted the old term, discarding the system's balance bit altogether. This new movement is one of the most visible of the MongrelCons, recently invigorated by the (perennial) presidential candidacy of Texas congressman Ron Paul, with the banner now assumed by his son Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky.
Modern American "libertarians" are comprised of a strange melange of bedfellows, who otherwise wouldn't want to belong to the same club. Imagine white supremists (or white people in general who feel they are losing power), gun fanatics, End-timers, pot-growing hippies, off-the-gridders, survivalists, alligator trappers, right-leaning egg-headed professors, Chicago school economists, Ayn Rand-drunk college kids, oil drillers and coal diggers, NIMBY ("Not in my backyard") suburbanites, brothel operators, "socially liberal but fiscally conservative" moderates, teeny-tiny government believers, porn producers and anarchists at the same party! Sweet, eh? There you have the libertarians. Of these, the anarchists are the only ones who give two hoots about society itself; for the rest it's all about the "Me and Mine."
What makes them conservative, not liberal, is their staunch desire to "conserve" a "traditional value," namely GREED, while defending their own, unique hierarchy (Me and mine first and foremost), as well as their susceptibility to fear of just about the whole wide world while lacking in any real interest to extend liberty, equality, justice or compassion to others, particularly others very different from themselves.
Claiming to revere liberty above all, their rhetoric at first seems very appealing and draws in even erstwhile liberals: No more crazy foreign wars. End the War on Drugs. Legalize pot, prostitution and same-sex marriage. But this is all smoke to the fire of their core ideology. When they say "liberty," what libertarians really mean is they want the liberty to do whatever they want to do, particularly in the way of managing their property rights.
Right here is a good time to mention that Liberty is not the Prime Value in the pantheon of human virtues. Not by a long shot. "Give me liberty, or give me death," is a valuable battle cry for those engaged in breaking out of an evil oppression. But once acquired, liberty itself must be strictly regulated, and blended with other key values such as equality and justice to form a "perfect nation." And that's precisely what the American Founding Fathers wove into both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For an even more perfec nation, it's also a good idea to have a healthy dose of empathy and compassion for others, you know, that "love" thing Jesus was always going on about!
But no, Libertarians see the world through grossly distorted liberty-only glasses. Their motto is "Life, liberty and property." And make no mistake, it's their life, their liberty and their property that they care about... not yours! And higher values such as love, compassion, cooperation and care about the "General Welfare" the Consitution emphasizes for the greater good of the community, nation or world just don't fit very well in their selfish mindset.
They consider themselves the ultimate "free-marketers," but are held in utter disdain by the actual owners of the "free market," the CorpCons. The big gun CorpCons fully understand that the utopian "free market" that the libertarians imagine is a childish myth, and that a "rigged market" with huge government involvement in protecting it is where the action really is. The real CorpCons know that these naive libertarians would absolutely destroy the nation, and the economy along with it, and the CorpCons just can't stand the thought of the latter.
As small-bore CorpCons, libertarians hate government and love what they imagine a "free market" would be like. They dream of somehow being able to actually transform America into a manifestation of this queasy duality: flimsy government paired with hyper-inflated individualism. Alas, they can't point to a single example in all of world history where this was even seriously attempted, much less actually worked. Only libertarians are confused enough to believe that it could ever work. Clearly they don't really understand government or the free market. They are uniquely, and willfully, oblivious to the well-established fact that capitalism will devour itself if not carefully regulated by some outside force... which is generally defined as "government." And so their dream would actually lead to a self-negating proposition.
Kentucky senator Rand Paul is probably the most popular libertarian politician currently, and he is perfectly emblematic of the confused state of his ilk. Recently featured in the (supposedly liberal) media as "the most interesting man in politics," junior Paul is really a rank amateur. Unlike daddy Paul, he can't seem to decide where he stands on many important issues. He's already flip-flopped on foreign aid, military involvement against ISIL, tough action against Russia, and getting rid of Medicare. He seems too easily conned by conspiracy theories, jumping to a false conclusion about John McCain supposedly paling around with ISIL members.
Recently Rand Paul urged the creation of "Freedom Zones" where businesses would be free from governmental regulation or taxation. Now wouldn't that seem to be a CorpCon nirvana! Imagine lions and tigers and wolves (Big Business) placed into a "freedom zone" with bunny rabbits and piglets (small businesses and start-ups). Imagine businesses truly free from government regulation! We've been there/done that many times, and the outcome wasn't pretty. Now you have a picture of the libertarian idea of how the economy should work.
Don't expect to see "the most interesting man in politics" at the head of the ticket in 2016 unless he undergoes a serious ideological face-lift that reveals a more traditional conservative demeanor, for surely the Republican Party is never going to go Libertarian with both SoCons and CorpCons aligned against such a fractured worldview.
Libertarians love their property. They obsess over their property. They are not usually the rapacious, can't-get-enough, plunderers like the true professional CorpCons, but they cherish what they have, and are determined to protect it. In a sense they are the purest materalists of the political spectrum... even more so than CorpCons. The professional corporatists do very much revel in the spoils of their conquests... but it is the very game of conquest, the exhilaration and power and glory, that is the CorpCon's real motivation... not the stuff, which they discard as soon as possible in their ever-upward mobility (you know, it's embarrassing to be seen in the same dress, the same diamonds, the same luxury car, the same house, more than once). Moreover, the CorpCons are rarely fearful; after all, they are the Masters of the Universe. The notion that they are going to lose their stuff, or someone is going to take it away is rather foreign to CorpCons. The know full well that they, themselves, have rigged the system so that either scenario is highly unlikely. Libertarians are totally different. Feeling comparatively powerless, they share in the general fear of SoCons, but rather than being terrified of poop or gays or Muslims, libertarians are terrified that they might lose their stuff. They must remain ever vigilant, because they are very worried - indeed, often over-the-top paranoid - that somebody is going to try to take it... probably the government. And this paranoia is what drives their weaving, veering, inconsistent, incoherent, and wholly selfish, mindset.
When pushed, many libertarians will reluctantly acknowledge the need for some kind of governmental structure, but insist that it be as tiny, weak and localized as possible, certainly not involving intrusion by the despised federal government. So they sometimes pander to "states' rights" to try to wiggle out of uncomfortable paradoxes and dichotomies that their vehemently anti-fed posture inevitably leads into. Of course, it's an utter contradition... something is terrible, horrible - probably illegal - if the feds do it, but if the states or localities do it, well that's OK. They don't ever go into too much detail about how this would actually work, and don't seem to realize how the message is clearly contradictory: they demand the smallest possible national government (one that could be "drowned in a bathtub"), but potentially BIG government on the state and local level. Of course, implicit in their position is the notion that local government is far easier to manipulate, bully, distort and control.
The ONLY thing libertarians think the feds should be doing is national defense. And that, itself, should be confined to the borders of the nation. To hell with the rest of the world.
Other than that, what good is a federal government?
So, goodbye ALL other national programs... Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all federal welfare, food stamps, all federal grants, loans and scholarships, farm subsidies, the Federal Reserve, the SEC and all federal banking and security exchange oversight and regulation, all National Parks, the U.S. highway system, NASA, FEMA, the National Disease Control Center, education subsidies, the Transporation Department, FAA, Amtrak and all other federal transportation agencies and programs, the Food and Drug Administration and health inspections, the Forest Service, BLM and all other federal land management agencies, the EPA and all environmental and wildlife protections, federal courts, federal prisons, the FBI, CIA and all other federal law enforcement, funding for the arts and humanities, the federal Safety Commission, the Copyright and Trademark offices, Equal Opportunity Commmission, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the Smithsonian and all other federal historical museums and monuments, national flood insurance, National Labor Relations Board, NOAA and all federal weather programs, the National Science Foundation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Nuclear Waste Review Board, OSHA, the Federal Safety Commission and all other industrial and commercial safety agencies and programs, the Peace Corps, the Post Office, the State Department, the U.S. Mint. That should get them started.
Obviously, there's a few items in that list that CorpCons might briefly salivate at eliminating, but, upon perhaps two seconds deep reflection, would quickly realize what a slippery slope to anarchy removing just one or two of these agencies and programs might be. Yet libertarians want to do away with ALL of these federal programs. NOW! They never go into too much detail about who or what would pick up the slack. Perhaps, somehow, the fractious, uneven, inconsistent and discombobled state governments will assume responsibility for some of these matters, while your local churches will take care of all the welfare, food stamps, health care and housing of the poor. Your local Barney Fife can wrangle with all Indians, wild cowboys and outlaws in the county. And your local community college can take up where the feds left off in disease control, weather modeling, the arts and humanities. The rest of it? Why those programs should be sold off to the highest bidder... especially federal land! That's right: BLM land, National Forests, National Parks, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon sold to the highest bidder.
Sometimes libertarians will say that they are "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." This would render libertarians almost diametically opposed to most social conservatives, who (often unbeknownst even to themselves) are actually socially conservative and fiscally liberal... they love Social Security, Medicare, exorbitant spending on weapons systems and warmongering, as well as the federal pork project coming to their community. But libertarians are not really socially "liberal" in any true sense. That would imply some kind of empathy or care for others, or for the commons. Liberals, of course, the original "libertarians," care about everyone's liberty, as well as the welfare of the entire community, state, nation, and world beyond. Libertarians don't give a damn about much of anything except their "liberty" to have and keep their stuff. They don't usually even give a damn about God, abortion, gays, immigrants, pot... the typical wedge issues so dear to SoCons. Libertarians want their liberty, and to hell with everyone else.
Libertarians do come together with SoCons in support of somebody's "liberty" to discriminate against someone else. They staunchly believe that the government shouldn't be in the business of preventing prejudice (forgetting that prejudice inherently crosses the line into injustice). Everyone should have the "liberty" to be prejudiced against anyone else. A business, say, should be able to serve, or not serve, who they want; a club should be able to include, or exclude, anyone they want to; an insurance company should be able to shun anyone they deem unhealthy. Now we're back to talking about property. Don't mess with a libertarian's property. That includes their businesses, their clubs, their churches, their guns... and their cash. No one hates taxes more than libertarians. Well, maybe anarchists. But at least anarchists are motivated by liberty that serves the collective rather than just one self.
On the spectrum of economic ideologies unlikely to succeed, anarchism and libertarianism are right there neck and neck. Considering these two options, the final condemnation of libertarians is that even when compared to anarchy, theirs is the political belief system with no heart.
Let Dusty explain modern libertarianism. (Warning: explicit language)
There's an insightful article on the web by a fellow, once a Ron Paul admirer and libertarian dupe, who has discovered a place where libertarianism is being tried. He says, "Eliminate taxes, privatize everything, oppose all public expenditures, load up a country with guns, and you end up with Honduras." Read his article here.
MORE ON NEOCONS & OTHER CONSERVATIVE MONGRELS... COMING SOON!