A culture war truce?


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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106 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    The problem with this approach is that governing on economic issues is really, really hard, especially right now. To do it successfully, you have to both end the hard economic times we’re in and balance the budget. To govern on social issues doesn’t even take any successful legislation. Just a lot of noise about how teh gays are after your children.

    So while I think it would be great if Republicans could put aside social issues, there are structural reasons why they can’t.Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Is there really a “true” tea party? The problem with a movement like that is that the don’t begin with sufficient substance to keep others from filling them in with their own pet issues. Even those who focused on core economic issues began with a lack of real substance because their outrage was so opportunistic–while claiming not to be party of the Republican establishment, they didn’t manage to gin up any outrage over out of control government spending until the Republican president was out of office and a Democrat was in. They seemed to have been fairly comfortable with record deficits under Bush, and with the post 9/11 Republican controlled Congress ratcheting up non-defense spending by more than 1/3.

    I suspect that if the Republicans take the White House in 2012, basic spending policies won’t change, but the tea parties will wither away as most of their adherents are lulled into believing they won.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      I’ve said much the same thing on occasion, James. I don’t see how the Tea Party (broadly understood) can survive Republican successes over time.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      they didn’t manage to gin up any outrage over out of control government spending until the Republican president was out of office and a Democrat was in

      There was the porkbusters movement and there was the whole “screw you guys, I’m staying home” issue in 2006.

      There were a lot of things that got interrupted by 9/11… but I assure you that there were fights a’brewin’ back when Dubya signed on the Steel Tariffs.Report

  3. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Huckabee is yesterday, and the NRO blogger is a run-of-the mill sceptic. Understanding the Tea Party movement requires acknowledgement of a movement which is transcending the different Tea Party groups, which were only the ignition of a limited government movement. The major movement will not be housed within an indentifiable group — it will be a silent shift in the way the private sector relates to government — the push will be for less spending, an end to big,sweeping legislation, and the election of people more dedicate to serving than to ruling.Report

  4. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    While I enjoy the speculative conversation re: the TP, the truth of the matter is that without ‘leadership’ it may be that they won’t divert down some path that promises personal glory, wealth, and power. In fact it may be the ‘leaderless’ element of the TP that defeats the ever present ‘libido dominandi’ and allows the organizatin, such as it is, to stay focused on recovering the first principles of the olde republic while defeating the perverse, foreign, and derailed ideologies of the current regime.

    And, I really do enjoy all the negative comments about my beloved TPers who did exactly what they said they were going to do and thus provided, for those of us in flyover country, the hope that they will continue on to purge the ‘fascist’ Republicans and destroy the Commie-Dems.Report

    • Avatar 62across says:

      Could you delineate what exactly the TPers did that they said they would do. I’m not clear. Was getting elected the only objective?

      Now if that’s the case, do you have a scorecard that will tell me who the TPers are? Because, they all ran as Republicans, so I’ll need to know who with an R after their name counts as a great hope of flyover country and who is a fascist.

      Much obliged.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Give me a little time 62. I’m aware my rep, Mr. Johnson, of the Ohio 6th is one. That is a good question and a worthy endeavor. Someone must know and be keeping score. So when I get the info I’ll post it.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    and the election of people more dedicate to serving than to ruling.

    Care to make a wager on that over the next, say, three election cycles? Most of the tea party affiliated candidates this time around were moralists more than they were classic economic liberals. Moralists never are interested in serving–they’re always interested in using the authority of government to require us to behave in the ways they think are appropriate (that’s true of both right-leaning moralists and left-leaning moralists).Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      Moralists James? I find that interesting. Can’t we argue that anyone who pursues a political career at least begins as some sort of ‘moralist?’ And, aren’t the people who support the TP phenomenon ‘moralists’ to one degree or another?

      Re: “Moralists never are interested in serving–they’re always interested in using the authority of government to require us to behave in the ways they think are appropriate (that’s true of both right-leaning moralists and left-leaning moralists).
      Broadly speaking, isn’t that why people do politics. And following Voegelin, the first principles of the nation, long neglected, are in fact nothing more than the expression of a philosophical common sense while nothing exemplified by the perverse ideologies of the commie-Dems speaks to that same common sense.
      The fact that the TP movement, such as it is, expresses that common sense, at least at this time, provides, at its ground, a decided strength, that I’m beginning to believe in. The TP movement MAY be a political Great Awakening….we’ll see.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      Yes, I would bet on it. I don’t think there will be a change in their focus regarding cutting spending and rolling back government over-reach.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Yup, they’re going to be focused on cutting spending. Their own, anyway.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        MFarmer–so do you think they’ll make any effort to curb the growth in executive power? That type of government over-reach? Or are they only going to cut social programs? Are they actually going to make a serious effort to balance the budget, or just make a pretense of fiscal discipline by cutting taxes further? They’re not serious people. They’re shallow and emotional people with very little understanding of politics beyond, “we good, they bad.”

        Robert Cheeks–Some people go into politics to work productively to solve problems. One of them, a guy I’ve recently had the chance to get to know, was elected as my Republican state senator. He believes government’s role is to help those who can’t help themselves, keep order, and resolve collective problems the market doesn’t solve. He’s a devout Christian, but his response to a question about social issues was to squirm uncomfortably and say he didn’t think it was appropriate for him to legislate those issues. Sure, most people who go into politics are moralists. They and the crowd that go into it for their own personal gain are what make it a vile business. I’m not going to give them a pass just because they’re the dominant group–we all learned from our moms that just because everyone else is doing it that doesn’t make something respectable. But fortunately there are a small number of truly decent people in office (and perhaps more than a cynic like me realizes).Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          They’re shallow and emotional people with very little understanding of politics beyond, “we good, they bad.””

          Of course, James, unlike your viewpoint, which is so open, comprehensive and objective. Man, you’re funny.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      I don’t know how you ot on this authoritarian kick, except it’s some remnant in your mind regarding fascism. The left is far more authoritarian-leaning right now than the right — what concerns me about the left is collectivism and the danger of a 21st century totalitarian push, but that would be hard to set up in America. Us ignorant southerners, especially, don’t like to be told what we can think, eat, screw or drink.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        Actually yall rather like to tell people who they can screw. It is a past-time of some tradition. Telling people what they can think is right up there as well. Why else do you think they are so anxious to have the government lead schoolchildren in prayer?Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          You’re mistaking southerners for fundamentalist Christians in general. The southerners I know don’t give a damn who you screw. The thought of homosexual love-making might turn some off, but they don’t care what people do in their private lives. You guys have a very limited, caricatured view of the south. The town I live in has a large openly gay community — per capita, it’s significant.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Come to think of it, some of the most bigoted people I’ve met regarding gays have been from Brooklyn and Philadelphia __ I used to travel up in that area a lot dealing with Am-Trak employees.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:


            Average support for same-sex marriage in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia: 29%

            Average support for same-sex marriage in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio: 42.6%.

            And I didn’t even choose any particularly gay-friendly midwestern states, certainly none that actually have same-sex marriage. If I had chosen Oregon and Washington the average would be 53%, and if I had gone to the Northeast, I could select New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and the average would be 58.6%. (You can check my numbers.) I’m glad you live in an urban area where it’s ok to be gay, but if you really want to argue that people in the south don’t care who sleeps with whom, you’re arguing against the data.Report

            • James,

              You picked three Southern states with large black populations. I’d be curious to see what the % would be for whites only in those states. Opposition to gay marriage seems to cross party lines if the results for Prop 8 were indicative of the rest of the country.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              I was talking about giving a damn about bedroom issues — the south is not anti-gay — supporting traditional marriage is a different subject, plus, like Mike Big Stick said, the majority of blacks are firmly against gay marriage. Conflating the two issues is silly.Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            I’m merely describing the people the south elects. People like Jim Demint who wants to make it so that gay people cannot be school teachers.

            I’m describing the people who won’t let muslims build a mosque in murfeesboro.

            I’m talking about my home state. Are things changing? Yes the young people are becoming more liberal and think the older generation is crazy. But we are totally outvoted.

            I acknowledge that you are different that the southern electorate we both are. We are both from the south.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I despise collectivism, but it’s simply a gross failure to carefully observe the world to think that the left is more authoritarian-leaning than the right. It’s the right wing that orgasms over the thin blue line, thinking anyone who questions the cops is bad, and that anyone who gets railroaded by the justice system probably had it coming anyway because they wouldn’t have been arrested if they weren’t guilty. It’s the right that called people–I was called this–unpatriotic and un-American for criticizing the Iraq war. It’s the right that frets about whether people are pro or anti-military. It’s the right that wants to religiously indoctrinate our kids in the public schools.

        What does the American left want? Gay marriage, abortion rights, and legalized drugs. Hardly the stuff of authoritarianism. Yeah, they foolishly want to over-regulate the economy, but the truth is that the proportion of the American left that actually wants to go beyond that to collectivize and nationalize is vanishingly remote. Even the anti-globalization crowd mostly just wants to limit international trade, not collectivize their local grocery stores. They’re far more likely to favor home-grown co-ops, voluntary collectives of a sort. And that’s fine. They’re annoying as hell, but they should be able to do that in a free country.

        Of course if you happen to spend a lot of time listening to Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity, you are likely to think the left is on the verge of a communist take-over, but they’re only saying that because doing so pays well.

        Believe me, I’ve been following the right-wing closely since the early/mid 1990s, and those b******s are the greatest threat to American political liberty.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          You are just one big cliche, James — now you suggest I’ve been brain-washed by Limbaugh — that’s cute. I won’t argue with you — it’s futile — we’ll just see what happens. This type of mindset has placed us in a bad situation — the left only wants to control the economy, you say, not a biggie — they want to let you smoke pot legally, relax. That’s a good one. And you claim to be a libertarian? I’m beginning to think you guys don’t understand libertarianism.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            Mr. Farmer, I believe you’ve nailed our new interlocutor, Mr. Hanley quite accurately.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger says:

              Sadly, Mr. Cheeks, it appears The Nutty Professor is having a complete breakdown before our very eyes. I knew it was inevitable–just didn’t know it would happen so quickly outside the safe confines of Positive Liberty and One Best Way, his previous blogospheres.Report

          • Avatar Anna says:

            What? Libertarians should accept laws barring people from enjoying activities that enhance their lives but do not impose on anyone else (yes gay marriage among many others)? Be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Study a non-science curriculum in science because some vocal local yokels think their religious beliefs trump the rights of others who don’t share those beliefs? Support laws which don’t allow people to serve our county based on who they bed with? Consider people who happened to be born on the wrong side of an imaginary line as undeserving of equal rights and opportunities? – Yeah right the conservatives policy ideas have it all over those authoritarian liberals when it comes to Libertarian ideals. What planet are you on? Libertarianism is not just about economics and as far as social ideals regarding freedom, the liberals have it over the conservatives hands down. Part of what make libertarianism so complex to describe is those who hypocritically align themselves to social and moral conservative policy. That is for the tea baggers.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          “What does the American left want? Gay marriage, abortion rights, and legalized drugs.”

          The American left ought to hang out with the libertarians!

          They can complain to each other about the party that everyone else assumes they vote for. (I assume the American left doesn’t vote for a party that holds its views in contempt, right?)Report

        • Avatar Boegiboe says:

          Both the Right and the Left in US politics have authoritarian leanings. The Right wants to preserve their particular personal, bodily and spiritual virtues and punish like vices using the long arm of the law. But the Left does the same sort of thing about some of the same and some different topics. Here’s a list of typical knee-jerk authoritarian Culture-War positions (not saying anyone here necessarily holds these):
          The Right hates: irreligiosity, which they’d fight with school indoctrination and by exacerbating the War on Christmas; having fun with substances except tobacco; gay people and open attitudes about sex in general, so they attack gay rights, abortion, birth control, and STD prevention; and colored people immigrating into the country, unless the immigrant in question is working for them.

          The Left hates: religiosity, which they fight by whining about Christmas trees (yes, they did provide the tinder for the War on Christmas) and the Pledge of Allegiance and generally wishing those fundies would just shut up; personal control over one’s diet (twigs and berries are all we evolved with, anyhow!); having fun with substances except marijuana (hurray for Schumer leading the anti-4loko charge); sexual commitment, which they fight by…OK, no , Lefties just aren’t authoritarian about sex; oh, and white men having money and power (unless they are gay or related to The Daily Show).

          The Right loves cops; the Left loves regulators.

          The Right wants to “increase freedom” by blowing people up; the Left would increase freedom by destroying multinational corporations.

          The Right wants you to keep quiet about our brave men and women overseas; the Left says hate speech is a crime.

          The Right wants wage slavery; the Left wants to tax the country into the deep abyss.

          The Right wants the executive to have ridiculously unchecked powers over lives and information; the Left…apparently wants exactly the same thing.

          If there’s anything the Right and Left in this country agree on, it’s that if they were in power, they would use authority without abusing it, but when the other guys are in power, they’re Authoritarian. The problem is, as has been said many times here and elsewhere, that the majority of people who seek office think exactly that way.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            “I despise collectivism, but it’s simply a gross failure to carefully observe the world to think that the left is more authoritarian-leaning than the right.”

            It simply isn’t. The left is more authoritarian leaning to than the right.

            “It’s the right wing that orgasms over the thin blue line, thinking anyone who questions the cops is bad, and that anyone who gets railroaded by the justice system probably had it coming anyway because they wouldn’t have been arrested if they weren’t guilty.”

            There are some people who think that. I’d venture that the people who do think that are politically to the Right of the average American, but not by very much. Among other things, cops are unionized government employees (and lots of them), with all the political implications of that. More than that, it ought to be pretty clear that, say, 97% of contemporary conservatism in America is not about supporting the cops.

            Getting back to the first point, I hate to get all Tea Party on you, but you’re either ignoring basic Hayek here, or contesting him which is pretty odd for a poli sci professor. Besides being true in this particular circumstance, Left wing economics is necessarily authoritarian because the foundation of all authoritarian rule is the assertion of control over the private capital base. You simply cannot have authoritarianism without it.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              “Among other things, cops are unionized government employees (and lots of them), with all the political implications of that.”
              I’ve got lots of cops in my family. I’ve never met a left-leaning cop before.

              “Left wing economics is necessarily authoritarian because the foundation of all authoritarian rule is the assertion of control over the private capital base. You simply cannot have authoritarianism without it.”
              Napoleon sure had something like it.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “I’ve got lots of cops in my family. I’ve never met a left-leaning cop before. “

                Maybe. But if all the conservatives you know are cops, you’re hanging around a very narrow group of people.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Dude, I know a lot of conservatives. Not really sure why- I think it’s because they appreciate that I’d rather have lively discussions with them over beers than angry fights about Hillary or whatever. I’m actually a pretty social kind of guy in general. I know lots of members of every political leaning. Haven’t met a Marxist in at least two decades though. Last time I was in San Francisco…

                But, like I said, I’ve known lots of cops and all of them were right-wingers. In fact, most of them have said to me some variation of, “A liberal doing this job sure wouldn’t be a liberal after the first week”. They might be unionized, but it doesn’t seem to make them very fond of liberalism.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Shorter version: I’ve known a whole lot of conservatives, some of who were cops. I’ve known a good number of cops, and all of them were conservatives.

                Suprisingly, I’ve also known a decent amount of conservative academics, which the Internet tells me is something that never happens.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                So I think it’s a fair statement to say that, contrary to James Hanley’s earlier assertion (“It’s the right wing that orgasms over the thin blue line….”), that support for the police is not the animating energy of contemporary conservatism.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                No, it’s that they hate Nancy Pelosi. (I’m kidding!)Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                You’re getting warmer, at least.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I’ve got to say I mostly agree with (yeah, I admit) my husband here.

            Tweedledum and Tweedledee
            Agreed to have a battle;
            For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
            Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

            Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
            As black as a tar-barrel;
            Which frightened both the heroes so,
            They quite forgot their quarrel.


  6. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t urge the GOP to set aside the social issues, but I would (and have in my humble way) urged social conservatives to advocate for their positions without the destructive, counter-productive, adversarial and generally poor strategies, tactics and rhetoric of the culture wars. One can be both a social conservative and a culture war pacifist.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger says:

      “I would (and have in my humble way) urged social conservatives to advocate for their positions without the destructive, counter-productive, adversarial and generally poor strategies, tactics and rhetoric of the culture wars.” That’s funny! “So destructive and counter-productive and generally poor strategies” that they won 63–SIXTY THREE HOUSE SEATS!! And SIX SENATE SEATS!! Liberals are so wonderfully insane.
      Did you know that they recently identified a “liberal” gene? It’s called, “DRD4”. Not sure if it’s able to be identified in the fetus, but hey, if it was, it might even give pro-life folks second thoughts. Of course I’m kidding. I can’t imagine a world without you DRD4s giving us nonstop unintentional humor and belly aching laughter! Vielan Dank!Report

  7. Personally I think that if the GOP adopted 90% of the Simpson-Bowles report they could hold the majority for a generation. The American public is ready to make the hard sacrafices and they will respect them for doing it. I think the TP folks would be placated and the mainline folks would get the reality check they need on fiscal policy.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      I think it would rather be the opposite.

      People don’t care about the deficit they just say they do. They actually care about the economy. The two are not the same. The cuts would be unpopular and people would only remember the pain.Report

    • Avatar 62across says:

      Simpson-Bowles is the team that Obama put together over the objections of the GOP. How is it that, should 90% of the recommendations of Simpson-Bowles be adopted, this will reflect favorably on the GOP? The reality check on fiscal policy is being driven by a Democratic administration, as tends to be the case in recent history.Report

      • Because 90% of the proposals were geared towards conservatives.Report

        • Avatar 62across says:

          You need to re-read the proposal, Mike. The ratio of bitter pills for liberals to bitter pills for conservatives is nowhere near 1 to 9. That’s why you are hearing nearly even discontent coming from both sides of the spectrum.

          And again, it took a Democratic administration to get it to happen. When the Republicans were last in charge, the mantra was “deficits don’t matter” (per Dick Cheney.) The idea that the Republicans = fiscally sane is one of the great hoaxes ever foisted on the American people.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      > The American public is ready to make the hard sacrafices and they
      > will respect them for doing it.

      The American middle class might for a while (but I doubt it, with everyone yelling about the upper tax brackets). I’m not so sure that the American poor will. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the American poor are pretty pissed off right now, and once you chop off the social programs that many of them use to survive (especially when 17 million households of the country aren’t eating 3 squares any more – http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/11/0605.xml), you’re going to see major problems.

      Support from the American middle class will go right out the window with the crime rate. You’re also not going to be making any friends with Veterans when you’re talking about adding copays to the VA.

      Do I think we should cut a lot of stuff? Yes, absolutely. But I don’t expect the outcome of that to be all grins and giggles, in any way.Report

  8. Avatar Simon K says:

    Really Mike? I didn’t really hear rapturous applause coming from the fiscons. I heard whining about how it capped government spending 2% higher than then wanted it to, which is obvious evasive nonsense – how can you reject something on grounds that it not quite enough of an improvement when its obviously an improvement? Because you don’t really want an improvement, that’s why.

    Unfortunately the base of the Republican part is old and relatively rich. The Simpson Bowles plan cuts medicare and social security, increases capital gains tax to income tax levels, and makes the tax code massively more progressive by removing tax expenditures that mostly benefit rich people.Report

    • I’m just going to quote Jonathon Chait on this one:

      “The fair thing, it seems to me, would be to craft a solution that meets halfway between Republican and Democratic priorities. Of course a plan like that wouldn’t pass, because it would violate the GOP’s prime directive to oppose tax increases in any and all circumstances, and Democrats wouldn’t jump out to endorse a proposal that couldn’t get any Republican support.

      Anticipating this dynamic, the commissioners crafted a plan that’s tilted, overwhelmingly, toward Republican priorities. About three-quarters of the savings come from spending cuts. And the one-quarter that comes from increased revenue comes through an overhauled tax code with lower marginal rates and corporate income tax rates — that is, something that is a fairly good deal for conservatives on its own terms.”Report

      • Avatar Simon K says:

        I don’t see it I’m afraid – Chait seems to assume conservatives are really interested in spending cuts. They’re not. They’re interested in tax cuts.

        The tax code overhaul seems to be widely misunderstood. People seem the marginal rates go down and assume that this is good for rich people, but don’t understand how the current system of deductions is wildly, massively regressive and that the 8% rate would apply to all of the income of almost all taxpayers. In order to claim the mortgage tax deduction for example you need to have housing expenses of over $1000 dollars per month. This puts you just above the median income for a family of four, with a mortgage of at least $280k at current rates. By definition that means most taxpayers do not benefit from it.Report

        • I would repeat what i said above which is that i am suggesting the general public would support the plan and the GOP would be wise to adopt it. I realize that is an extreme longshot.Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            Mike I think your right about our politics not being up to passing something like this.

            I don’t think you are right when you say that politicians who did pass it would be rewarded. People don’t care about the deficit they care about jobs and the economy. If we had full employeement right now combined with low inflation then no one would care how big the debt was. Not even if it were 100 times the current level.Report

            • I think that the longer that we have high unemployment, the more people begin to understand the problems with the budget deficit and national debt. There are too many people out there having to make tough sacrifices and wondering why the government can’t do the same.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                “There are too many people out there having to make tough sacrifices and wondering why the government can’t do the same.”

                This is the weird thing. If the government(I mean state governments) hadn’t laid off so many people then less people would be having to make tough sacrifices. Cutting the deficit at the present moment will only deepen the trouble that non-government people are having.Report

              • Pirate Guy,

                My probably naive remark is that even a lot of government employees know there is some considerable waste in government and I suspect a lot of them even understand their jobs were part of it. And for the rest of us in provate sector, my gut feeling is that there is a huge amount of sympathy for government workers. Of course, that is until we have to wait in a long line at the DMV or wait for a garbage pickup.Report

  9. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    “The fair thing, it seems to me, would be to craft a solution that meets halfway between Republican and Democratic priorities.

    That’s the standard argument from the left. However, the ratcheting effect of social entitlements ensures only that the GOP slows things down at best—every agreement is merely the starting point for the next negotiation.

    I never said that the GOP had the fiscal street cred. I said that adopting this would give it to them in triplicate.

    Mr. Stick, I, like many conservatives and/or GOPers, look back on the deficit hawk Bill Clinton with a certain respect. Not as hawkish as the GOP congress he ended up with and kept him on the steady and righteous, but close enough to the center to be considered centrist.

    I, like many conservatives and/or GOPers, didn’t cry too hard when the GOP lost congress in 2006. The near-universal sentiment was that the GOP “had lost its way,” with Democrat-lite “compassionate conservatism.”

    That said, Bill Clinton might be said to have been a “Democrat-lite,” and he was a disaster for his party down-ticket. I don’t know if there’s another like him on the immediate horizon. More importantly, I do not know if fiscal responsibility and the Democratic Party as it stands now are compatible, having moved so far from the center with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis.

    The question now—and it’s being asked in Europe as well—is whether the “social democrat” philosophy is even compatible with fiscal responsibility. Fiscal achievability!

    There is one centrist Democrat ala Bill Clinton on the horizon, whom this GOPer considers the most centrist, and the most qualified as well of either party—Evan Bayh. The political tides were unfavorable to him in 2008: he was a political ally of Hillary Clinton and could scarcely oppose her; then there was that Obama fellow as well.

    Bayh will be 61 in 2016 and still only 65 in 2020. Just sayin’.Report

  10. Avatar Heidegger says:

    The Left—Communist, Socialists, National Socialists, Stalinists, Maoists, Pol Potists, Che, Sandinistas, Castro, mass murderers of 100 million+. Hitler was the essence of the ultimate left-wing archetype.Report

  11. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Heidegger, Hitler and the Nazis weren’t left-wingers. Way to demonstrate that you’ve been watching Glen Beck rabidly and hanging on his every false word.

    Please tell us which mere “socialists” murdered so many people?

    And it’s quite naive to think that Stalin and the Maoist Chinese (particularly the post-Mao) government are well-defined as being left-wing. Nominally communist, yes, but really just straightforward authoritarian. Very conservative in that their primary goal was simply to conserve their own power and keep a hierarchical society with a subservient mass.

    But if you’d rather deal with simplistic labels rather than dig down to the heart of the matter, I don’t suppose anyone could persuade you differently.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      Besides, if he was really Heidegger, he wouldn’t want to talk about the Nazi era.Report

    • Avatar AMW says:


      I can understand that Fascism was “right” socialism, and therefore not left-wing. But is “conserving” something all it takes to qualify as a right-wing (i.e., conservative) authoritarian regime? Surely every authoritarian regime seeks to conserve some new power base, which would seem to make all authoritarian regimes right-wing by definition. Is it possible to be a left-wing authoritarian? Who, historically, has qualified?Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        AMW, Actually, all of the fascist countries that I can think of had economies that were organized along corporatist, instead of socialist, lines. I think it’s actually part of the definition, although fascism is notoriously hard to define. Of course, countries with governments across the political spectrum have had corporatist economies and corporatism often causes the same problems as state socialism.

        The fascist ethos desires not only conservation of the status quo, but actually turning back the clock and recapturing a supposedly purer, largely mythical past, usually through a struggle of ‘purifying’ violence. It tends to be both backward-looking and forward-moving: lots of talk about regeneration and renewal of a nearly-lost past state. This ethos tended to attract reactionaries, while actual fascism often destroyed the existing institutions of the society and replaced them with totally new structures. Fascists also explicitly reject equality as an ideal, arguing that people, and groups of people, are superior or inferior by nature. Finally, in spite of the radicalism of fascism on the ground, the cultural ideals tended to involve the traditional family, a mythical past, and a rejection of most of the tenets of liberal modernity.

        Not that any of this actually clarifies whether fascism was left-wing or right-wing. It might help to explain why it’s often seen as right-wing, although I tend to think of fascism as a rejection of the modern left and right, and a rejection of the ideas of the Enlightenment altogether.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          AMW, I see that my comment doesn’t actually answer your question, which is about the socialist countries, instead of the fascist ones. Sorry about that. But, hey, if you secretly wanted to hear about the fascist regimes, enjoy! 🙂Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          Fascism/communism/socialism are the denouement of the Enlightenment and modernity.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            Bob, you think everything that’s not religious came out of the Enlightenment. More specifically, you think that everything that came out of the Enlightenment is a “gnostic derailment”. And, you know what? While I don’t fully agree with that argument, I see where you’re coming from. If you wrote a book making that argument- provided it didn’t just rehash Voegelin- I’d read it and at least be able to respect where you’re standing.

            With Communism, this argument works fine- Kantian idealism begat the Hegelian ‘spirit’ of history, which is a central point of the Marxist telos/ideology. The “scientific” historicism in Marxist ideology can be traced back to German idealism, which derives much from Kant even though, ironically, I’m pretty sure Kant is trying to prove the existence of God in the Critique. But, fine- communism as an Enlightenment ideology. The god that failed. I can follow that line of thought.

            But fascism? No. The liberal governments of Europe in that era are founded on Enlightenment beliefs, which is probably why the fascists explicitly reject every single tenet of the Enlightenment. Could they have been lying? I’d say they probably were. There is certainly scientistic rhetoric behind the race theory- the problem is that it really derives from Herder, a Romantic, who was explicitly rejecting the universalist pluralism of the Enlightenment. When Voltaire said that the men of all nations were formed from the same wax, Herder was rejecting that idea. The Romantics, in fact, as much as I love them, came up with many ideas in rejection of the Enlightenment that were adopted, and perverted, by the Nazis.

            And this is the really sad thing because I really do like the Romantics. You’d probably like them too- I think you’d love Chateaubriand’s memoirs if you haven’t read them. But, I hear a lot more of the Romantics in Hitler than I do Kant and Voltaire.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              R-man, love the critique. There’s a great deal of insight there but no, I don’t think everything out of the Big E is a ‘gnostic developement.’ Lots of good stuff, but hey I’m here to annoy and be provocative…it’s fun.
              Re: the Gnostic thing my thesis, or at the one I’m looking at now, is predicated on Schelling’s ideas engendered by Deus Revelatus in Freedom/Love and the antithesis e.g. gnosticism represents that aspect of a substance engendered by the demonic opposite of Eternal Being. Anyway we’re talking about a mystical movement that lies beyond “historical theophanies” where it has existed forever…the Daemon, that entity that permeates reality and existence…where Voegelin touched on the subject in his work on Bodin explicated and analyized the function of “mysticism in a time of social disorder.”

              Rufus, I sometimes miss ‘comments’ here, stuff happening pretty fast. If you have anything you want me to know my emails: robertcheeks@core.com.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                One more point, the Nazi movement, while your point is well taken re: Kant, Hegel, and Boheme in the line-of-meaning that helped develop Marxism, was the very essence of modernity in that Nazism, along with the socialists/communists and whatever ideology you’d carry to tack on, abrogated the Augustinian Amore Dei and replaced it with the Amore Sui. Now, that’s a Voegelinian observation and one I quite agree with. Consequently, in that sense my original statement is correct. While the Communist saw the future as the “Superman,” the Nazi saw the “Aryan” …really very similar, wouldn’t you say?
                Yous guys are just a bit anal about the semantics of the debate.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                My job is being anal about semantics. Here I see your sense, but it’s a very loose sense. If the Enlightenment establishes Amore Sui, then a huge spectrum of ideas that are post-Enlightenment are solely products of the Enlightenment. But there’s a lot more going on in the 19th century, including a fair amount of anti-Enlightenment reaction. You reference Nietzsche here and he had some very hostile views of the Enlightenment. His overman idea is a perfect example as well as his stuff about the Aryans. I don’t think his ideas were fascist, but hey, the fascists didn’t use my ideas.

                I don’t know what you mean about the Communist “Superman” at all. The commies believed that all men are, by nature, equal in abilities and that society should be rebuilt so that all men would be equal in society. This was supposed to remove all oppression of one class by another. The Nazis argued that human equality is fiction- some men and some races are, by nature, superior to others and should dominate their natural inferiors. They wanted the master races to dominate the slave races in their ideal society. In practice, of course, both societies were totalitarian and mass-murderous; but the Nazis made no bones about it from the start- their ideology was explicitly anti-democratic and geared towards the domination of the weak by the strong. Communist ideology is opposed to masters and slaves from the start- although of course Communist countries did a good job of producing them.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Rufus, I think the loss of the love of God spelled the doom of modenity. It’s just that Amor Dei had to be replace with something and what better something than self or at least the old French existentialist Sarte thought so. The Marxist Superman acted as a replacement for Nietzche’s death of God, something had to. Sadly, Marx was not able to comprehend Hegel’s philosophical problem and he got it wrong, he could not deal with reality. And, philosophy, as you know, seeks reality, truth , immortalizing.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger says:

      Mr. Hanley, I’d suggest you read the, “Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression”—-to think a college professor as yourself is an apologist for “socialism” is just sad. Remember, Professor, the Soviet state had always identified itself as the true manifestation of true, authentic Socialism. And you want numbers??? Are you denying the Gulags, the re-education camps–Goodness, have you morphed into a Noam Chomsky? Do you think Stalin was running some kind of Outward Bound camp?

      “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel or envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – ChurchillReport

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Bravo, Heidegger, bravo!Report

        • Avatar Heidegger says:

          Well, thanks Mr. Cheeks. And just love your posts–smart, and very, very funny! Here’s how crazy and off the rails Mr. Hanley has gone. Recently, in a post on another site, I had expressed my absolute adoration of Bach and Schubert. Guess what? He even called THAT strongly authoratarian!!! I am currently in contact with professional deprogrammers–ones that work with Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, Global Warmers, 9/11 conpiratorialists, and such, and seeing what they might be able to do with Prof. Hanley. He might very well need to be abducted for a while, but hey, as a Christmas present, I’ll even pick up the tab! A good mind really is a shame to go to such doctrinaire waste.Report

          • Avatar Heidegger says:

            Perhaps Professor Hanley thought the benevolent Stalin was actually just running Fat Farms in Ukraine. They certainly worked–to the tune of 20,000,000 weight-loss corpses.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              H-man, stop it, you’re killing me. Hey, I love Hanley, he’s like salt and pepper in the stew but, darn, I’d be pissed if my kids were paying big bucks to sit in his classroom.Report

    • Prof. Hanley,

      I’ve got to object to the way you use the word “authoritarian,” both here and in anti-South comment thread on your previous post.

      It seems like you’re saying any society that violently enforces a social hierarchy is authoritarian. But in many hierarchical societies, there’s considerable freedom within certain levels, as long as the members of each social group don’t do anything to violate the social order. So even as the Jim Crow era South constrained and oppressed African-Americans, the idea was that the law (and other extralegal groups) were policing boundaries rather than asserting total authority. There’s a genuine libertarian streak in, say, the mountain folk of Western North Carolina. I’d posit that the further thing you need to call a society authoritarian is either the strongman or the implacable bureaucracy; the post-Reconstruction South, despite the power of the old Democratic party, never really had either of these things.

      As for Stalin and Mao, I think you’ve got your axes of analysis a little entangled, unless conservative is just defined as authoritarian. The stances Stalin and Mao took toward the traditional social forms of their respective countries were radical, precisely because the traditions would have limited their power.


  12. Avatar James Hanley says:


    Authoritarian doesn’t mean “total authority.” That would be totalitarian.

    Yes, using violence to enforce the social/political hierarchy is authoritarian. I make no apologies for how I use the term. Keep in mind that authoritarianism is not a binary variable. It’s not simply there or not there, but exists on a scale. The south is traditionally distinctly more authoritarian-leaning than most other regions of the country.

    As to the libertarian streak of the mountain folk–I absolutely agree. They’re doing their best to actually stay out of the political hierarchy. They’re not challenging it directly, they’re avoiding it. Are you familiar with James Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governend? He’s writing about SE Asia, but the analysis perfectly applies to many Appalachian folk.

    As to Stalin, in particular, I have no objections to calling him radical. I object only to calling him leftist. Keep in mind, the underlying essence of conservatism is to conserve the existing social order and hierarchy. Not necessarily an ancien regime, but whichever one you’ve managed to create. That’s why most successful revolutionary movements quickly harden into, let us say to avoid political kerfluffle, preservationist organizations. For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party of Mexico, which was nominally leftist, but in real fact anything but liberal.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Golly, you must really sympathize with the folks who say that Dubya wasn’t really a Republican then, huh?

      Here’s my problem with the “Of *COURSE* Stalin and Mao weren’t leftists!” argument: The arguments being given at the time. Look at, for example, Walter Duranty. Look at the all of the apologists at the time who explained that Solzhenitsyn was exaggerating, that the Kulaks *WERE* being selfish, and so on.

      It’s 80 years later. We can look back and say “of course he wasn’t *REALLY* liberal.”

      But I have a sinking feeling that, 80 years ago, you would have been a full-throated defender explaining to me that, hey, you can’t make an omelet without breaking any eggs and we really shouldn’t be involved in any war in Europe WAIT WHAT HITLER ATTACKED STALIN????Report

      • Avatar Heidegger says:

        And don’t forget, Jaybird—the Left WORSHIPED Hitler until he invaded the USSR–Operation Barbarossa.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Yeah, Jay, don’t you forget. “This machine kisses fascists”. Satan too.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Pete Seeger?

            No, wait, it’ll come to me…Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              I’ll give you a clue: he wrote “This Land is Your Land, Hitler Baby”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Big Joe Blues?Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Okay, help me here. Pete Seeger took way too friggin long to denounce Stalin, which proves that ‘the left worshipped Hitler’?Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                For the record, I agreed with what you were saying up there- although, you know, my great-grandparents were very public members of the left in Paris who very loudly denounced both Hitler and Stalin from the beginning. But they were liberals and never communist, so that probably explains that. And, admittedly most of their circle consisted of people like Hemmingway, who wasn’t really a communist either. But, yeah, they hated Hitler and my great-grandpa made a big point of denouncing him in the American press from the very beginning, and they had to leave Paris over it. So I was born in America. They also hated Stalin.

                But, yes, I agree that most of the actual communists of that time tied themselves up into indefensible knots trying to remain loyal to leaders who were very clearly monstrous. And, I agree with the sense of what you’re saying. It’s too bad we can’t “like” comments here. But the idea that the left of that era was in love with Hitler? Really? You don’t find that statement a bit exaggerated? Was it somehow unfair of me to poke fun at that statement?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, not at all.

                The more eugenicist wing of the Progressives did find Hitler to have a handful of things worth saying… but I stand by how the Progressives didn’t want us involved in WWII until Hitler attacked Stalin at which point the moral imperatives changed from pacifism to Moral Righteousness.

                Which is an interesting progression, no?Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Right, the people you’re talking about were mendacious. I agree. I’m just saying they probably didn’t have Hitler posters on their bedroom walls.

                Also, you’re thinking of Americans and I’m thinking of the European left. Certainly, there were plenty of mendacious communists there too. But, you know, there were plenty of non-communist liberals who had no use for Hitler or Stalin but espoused pacifism because they were hoping against hope that Hitler would turn out to be bullshitting. He wasn’t. But that pacifism- at least among my family’s circle (And to give an idea what I mean, in ‘A Moveable Feast’ one of the characters is based on my great-grandfather) was based on Europe having recently gone through the most destructive war in human history up until that point and hoping desperately to avoid a repeat. Of course, they were wrong about Hitler. But, you know, the Paris left got the point about Hitler’s seriousness long before he attacked Stalin anyway.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Rufus, I can’t really judge the Europeans. I don’t know what it’s like to be European and I can only imagine how awful WWII must have been for those who had living memory of WWI.

                But I am familiar with the American Left and I am familiar with the whole “No True Communist” argument.

                There was very much a progression from Stalin being awesome to his having had, perhaps, some “excesses” to him never really being a communist and if you had actually read Marx you would know that.

                And it’s creepy.

                I do not worry, for a second, about Hitler coming back.

                I used to not worry about Communism coming back (hey, it was pretty discredited, I thought) but when I see people explain how, no, Stalin was just doing it wrong and, no, Mao was just doing it wrong I worry that it’s a prelude to “Here’s how we can do it right!”

                Maybe I’m just paranoid.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Look, I don’t agree with that argument either, but I do know where they’re getting it from. Marx says that Capitalism is doomed and communism is thus inevitable as the last stage of history and that, under communism, the state will cease to exist. Big C Communism is Marxist-Leninism: it’s Lenin’s ideas on how we actually implement a classless society. What Lenin says is that, okay, sure the state is going to wither away, but the transitional period to that actually happening will have to be a dictatorship of the proletariat, but don’t worry- it’s just necessary to get us there. Of course, the dictatorship (not of the proletariat at all) never withered away in any Communist country. Instead, the proletariat withered away!

                What people who say “true communism never happened” are saying, I think, is that none of those countries ever got to the communist society that was seen as inevitable in Marxism. Some see this as a bug; I see it as a feature- not only of Communism, but of all teleological arguments- when there’s a ‘direction’ to history, mere mortals find standing in the way find themselves victims of historical forces that, hey, none of us can be blamed for. Eggs get broken. The new society is struggling to be born. They sewed the seeds of their own destruction- Marx did say that would happen.

                It’s actually hard for me to see Hegel as anything but an ill wind that blew no good. And I’m not trying to say that Marxism or Communism could work next time- not at all- but I suspect that’s where people are going with that argument and maybe there is a historical argument to be had there. I suspect you and I would be on the same side in that argument.

                As for the American left, surely plenty of them were anti-Communist liberals though, no?Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Wow, that was a badly re-written sentence. Make that:
                when there’s a ‘direction’ to history, mere mortals who find themselves standing in the way of that direction often become victims of ‘historical forces’ that, hey, none of us can be blamed for. (Obviously, lots of irony intended)Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Also, I see it as a feature instead of a bug because, under Marxist-Leninism, the dictatorship of the proletariat is supposed to have extraordinary power, which they are then going to just give up and dismantle the apparatus of the state that has become unnecessary.

                Part of the reason that the “transitional stage” was needed anyway was that Marx said the revolution and communism was supposed to be inevitable in a fully industrialized capitalist society. But Russia was a peasant agrarian society, and actually most of the Communist societies had not passed through the Capitalist stage. So people might mean that when they say that Marxism never happened.

                Now that brings us to a real problem in Marx- he believes that Capitalism will ultimately fall due to its ‘internal contradictions’, instead of continually reforming itself so that, you know, people can keep making money. He couldn’t anticipate things like the minimum wage, for example.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Do you believe, for a second, that the Crusades should not be categorized as “Christian”?

                Do you believe, for a second, that the Witch Burnings should not be categorized as “Christian”?

                This is the problem with “Communism”.

                Hell, it’s an argument that can *AND HAS* been used to defend Hitler of all people. “Oh, he didn’t know about what was going on and besides, he never ordered anything, we have no evidence that he even knew about the Concentration camps, Naziism, in its pure form, would never do…”

                We know how wicked the defenders of Naziism are. Right? We do, right?

                Why should we not hold defenders of Communism in exactly as much contempt?

                Because Lenin/Stalin/Mao/Castro/Kim did it wrong???

                Bullshit. Communist apologists deserve contempt. Ptooey.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Jay, I’m not making a moral argument at all. If you hold Communists and their apologists in contempt, feel free to. I wasn’t saying you should or shouldn’t do so. Certainly, I’ve chewed out my share of kids in Che tee-shirts in exactly the same way you do here.

                And I’m not an apologist either. That was the whole point of my ‘feature not a bug’ comment- I believe the Communist states were communist and behaved in line with Marxist theory. I don’t think it was a glitch. I think the ingrediant was there in Marx- actually in Hegel too. When you talk about “historical inevitability”, you’re going to say that metaphysical forces are the ones killing the people standing in the way of the new society that is struggling to be born- not us. Hey, if history is moving in one direction, don’t get in the way. If you do, it’s your fault. The new society will emerge from the death of the old, etc.

                The problem is that there’s no such thing as historical inevitability. We can’t predict the future, not even if we understand the supposed metaphysical order of history, which doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in the end of history or in the Christian rapture. My point is that historicism translated into politics is nearly always murderous. So, yes, the communist states were pure expressions of the ideas on which they were founded. I agree with all that.

                Really I said nothing about my personal feelings toward the apologists; only that I think their argument is wrong.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yeah, I’m not yelling at you.

                I’m just yelling.Report

    • Prof. Hanley,

      “using violence to enforce the social/political hierarchy is authoritarian”

      It seems to me that “authoritarian” also implies a centralizing motion, but to go any further we’d just be arguing over terminology. So sticking with your definition, yes, the South has been comparatively more authoritarian than other parts of the country (as amply evidenced not just by Jim Crow, but also by episodes like the Wilmington coup), but I hope you’ll agree that “authoritarian” is not a good blanket characterization of the whole South’s political culture. Or at least not a good characterization of North Carolina’s political culture, even if there’s an identifiable moral-authoritarian strain. I’m willing to yield the point for the Deep South.

      “the underlying essence of conservatism is to conserve the existing social order and hierarchy”

      I do think this is not a great definition, since it doesn’t account for conservative nostalgia, for the desire to return to a regime that has clearly been eclipsed by another. We can agree that Stalin’s goal was Stalin’s power by whatever means available; I’m not very interested in trying to place him in one of the political categories of liberal democracies (especially if the goal is to tar that category with the association). I want to say that the way that power becomes an end in itself is a feature of institutions more than a feature of ideologies, at least in a country like the USA. In the theories, what you ought to do with power is something more than just maintain control. But clearly various ideologies have different theories of power, so I don’t think I’ve quite got a tenable position here.

      By the way, I’m coming into this discussion with some possibly idiosyncratic ideas about the intensions and extensions of “liberal,” “conservative,” “left,” “right,” etc., so apologies if I’m talking past you here.

      Haven’t read The Art of Not Being Governed. I think the next political book on my reading list is Seeing Like a State, though.


      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        William, your point on power as deriving more from institutions than ideologies is really interesting. As for conservatives, I think that most conservatives, if not all, are nostalgic about an eclipsed world, and at least highly aware of what has been lost. So I agree with what you’re saying. What I’d add is that, in my opinion, conservatism also accepts that the clock can’t be turned back, or at least, thinks that trying to do so would be too dangerous to try. Conservatism, that is, has a tragic sense. There are, however, reactionaries who believe that what has come since that eclipsed past- modernity, secularism, feminism, or whatever it is- is simply so devastating that it must be dismantled and done away with so we can reclaim what has been lost. So both conservatives and reactionaries tend towards a nostalgic desire to return, revive, or regenerate, a lost past- but conservatives generally accept that it can’t be done, while reactionaries dont. Is that plausible?Report

        • Rufus,

          I like the direction you are heading in. My response would be to quote Disraeli (which I’m quite sure I have done before here at the League:

          ““In a progressive country, change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change, which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.”

          The analogy I alsways make about conservatism is that it should not hit the brakes whenever there is a curve in the road but tap them so society approaches the curve at a safe speed.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            Mike, I really like that analogy actually.

            Part of what causes trouble for some progressives, in my opinion, is that scientific and technological progress really does tend to keep on happening a fairly good rate. I think people sometimes wish we could do the same things in society that we do in technology, and humans don’t really work that way.Report

            • Rufus, Well of course the corollary to the analogy (and what you are eluding to I think) is that the liberal impulse is sometimes to hit the gas even when there is danger ahead because they want to get there faster. Technology (i.e. the sports car) certainly encourages this impulse.

              As I’ve also said (taking this analogy to it’s triumphant and annoying conclusion) is that hard lefties are the reckless teenage drivers, hard righties are the slow-driving seniors and the rest of us are the responsible middle-aged dads that drive at a reasonable speed and get the family to Disney World on time and safe.Report

        • There’s a line to be drawn somewhere, but I think we’re in the territory of the many conceptions of conservatism and degrees of radicalism. And then I do think there are non-nostalgic American conservatisms, most notably neo-conservatism. Remember Millman’s Taxonomy? “Progressive right conservative” makes sense on those axes, but would probably be collapsed to just “conservative” in most conversations.Report

          • I’ve often used the term Progressive Conservative for myself (although I stop sub-labeling after watching all of ED Kain’s self-labeling acrobatics ). It makes sense. Society is going to move forward. That’s impossible to stop. Any conservative that thinks he is going to arrest that movement is nuts. The best we can hope for is to guide movement in a positive direction and check liberal overreach. In that sense, I believe conservatives are often reactionary and I don’t necessarily view that as a bad thing.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            I remember the taxonomy and it’s probably very helpful. I’m a bit too steeped in the politics of 200 years ago to judge today very well.Report

  13. Avatar Heidegger says:

    Mr. Hanley, James Scott was a great, great, ragtime pianist and composer–I applaud you on your good musical taste! Finally.Report