Skip to comments.Writing a paper on conservatism
Posted on 04/17/2005 1:13:01 PM PDT by Piedra79
I sorry to take up space on here. I am working on a paper on media bias and people on here were helpful enough to help me find a book on it. In my introduction I am trying to come up with a succint definition of conservatism. Any ideas?
Core Conservative principle: SELF-RELIANCE.
As in, "Do you own F(*kin' research."
LOL.....Don't worry I am writing my own paper. Just looking for a small suggestion.
In contemporary politics, conservatism is the opposite of liberalism. However, when compared to Feudalism or Totalitarianism, contemporary conservatives are actually classical liberals. Liberal and conservative are like the Einstein's observations regarding the speed of light. It depends upon the relative position of the observer.
You are correct. It is closest to the classical liberalism of more than one hundred years ago.
It's essentially a respect for the literal interperatation of The Constitution and the principles endowed in it by our Founding Fathers.
(If what I just wrote makes you sad or angry,
Rots of ruck. You will have to decide for yourself what the definition is. I will however make some suggestions:
OK, that's Evans on American conservatism. What about American Beliefs by John McElroy?
McElroy notes that there were four main colonial powers in America, and each of them found different things and wanted to do different things:
The conclusion is that Americans respect any honest work. If you reflect on English costume drama, you will realize that we didn't get that attitude from England - where the emphasis was on who you were rather than what you did - but in the American melieu where people who were respected because they were useful, and were respected for the caluses on their hands.
- Spain found bronze-age civilization, and conquered them in a conventional manner as they would have liked to have done in Europe, especially England. Since they found a going concern their only interest was in dominating and exploiting it, rather than creating it. So the only people they sent to their colonies were soldiers and gentlemen to be in charge. No Spanish peons need apply.
- France found in Canada not a going bronze-age civilization but a stone age one. But like Spain, France's primary motivation was control - of navigation of the St. Lawrence River - and trade with the natives. So there was need of traders, but mostly of gentlemen and soldiers to control. Very few peons, even French ones and certainly none other, were neededD
- Portugal found stone age peoples in Brazil. In order to exploit Brazil they sent over workers - in the form of African slaves. Plus of course, gentlemen to control the operation.
- England (it wasn't Great Britain until later) found in the portion of North America which it was able to claim nothing but stone-age people and forests. The land was rich and had tremendous agricultural potential but wasn't farmland until it had been laboriously cleared of trees and vines. The English colonists found that gentlemen were pretty useless; what the situation cried out for was farmers. So England sent over poor people - some, including some of my ancestors, came from Lutheran Germany - and so the American polity was dominated by practical people (even if they often had religious motivations for wanting to come, still they learned that the situation required diligent work).
Now consider the Constitution of the United States of America. That obviously defines American conservatism. And what defines the Constitution (which, BTW, is considered to crowning achievement of the Enlightenment) is its preamble. There we find an echo of "the theme is freedom" in the mission statement "to preserve the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"."
In the reference to "posterity" - which variously can mean "descendants" or, more generally, "those who live after us" - defines conservatism as preserving something for the future. That seems to make sense for a definition of conservatism except if you consider the object being preserved. Liberty, after all, is the possibility of doing things differently than your parents did them. Working in different occupations, inventing new ways of doing things. "Liberty" is about the strangest possible form of "conservatism."
In fact, American conservatives weren't always called "conservatives." Historically we were "liberals." Why then is "liberalism" a dreaded label to shun when you are running for political office? For the simple reason that the word was misappropriated and run into the ground by people who had the ability to manipulate the language - journalists and intellectuals - and who had an agenda other than "liberty." Their agenda was the overthrow of liberty, and they hit on a way of subverting it. They took the word for the public - the word "society" - and appropriated it into the coined word "socialism."
I put it to you that the word "social" has nothing inherently to do with leftism; there's nothing "social" about a business call from a policeman. If you are an American Conservative you probably have learned to check your wallet whenever you hear someone use the term "social" or "society," and you are right to do so. Because leftists adopted the form of usage of the term which inverts its natural meaning. When a leftist says "society" s/he means nothing other than "government."
That is the con. Because "liberty" is only what remains when you subtract "government" from "society." If there be no difference between "society" and "government," then "liberty" is logically excluded. And that is the leftist project.
Well, where was I? I was saying that "liberalism" is a word which once related to "liberty" and applied to the people who are now in America called "conservatives." The transformation of the meaning of "liberalism" occurred in America before it happened anywhere else. Indeed it still hasn't happened everywhere. If you hear or read a foreigner refering to "liberalism" you have to do a context check to determine whether they refer to leftism or to American "conservatism." The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek is a 1944 clasic which was reprinted many times, as recently as 1994. In a foreword to one of the printings, Hayek bewailed not only the fact that his use of the word "liberalism" was so easily misunderstood in America but the fact that that essentially "indispensible word" had been destroyed as far as Americans were concerned. IMHO that destruction had already been accomplished in America by the time of the advent of the FDR Administration. Because FDR used the deformed American version of "liberalism" entirely unselfconsciously.
I put it to you that the reason that America's leftists, and not the leftists of other nations, misappropriated the label "liberalism" lies in the fact that the term "socialism" - which I have noted is deceitful in its etymology - was a smashing success outside the US but a flop inside America. We already had a country which was governed by society; you couldn't promise us one in name which was actually "governmentism" (tyranny) in practice and con us into thinking you were offering nirvana. ("Socialism" in leftist speak actually means "governmentism" in plain talk, since as I noted earlier leftists always mean "government" when they say "social" or "society" - or, for that matter, "public").
I realize that you asked for a "succinct" definition of "conservatism." But I did warn you that it wouldn't be simple to be "succinct" and still be at all accurate. And your problem is compounded by the fact that your professor is almost certainly far too leftist to give much of anything I have said here a respectful hearing.
If you're interested in analysis of the leftist tendency of journalism, I refer you to
I knew I'd sent p79 in the right direction. ;^)
Perhaps this will help with defining a conservative:
Here's the text. (Stay tuned for more after I copy/paste!)
Ten Conservative Principles
by Russell Kirk
Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries. After some introductory remarks on this general theme, I will proceed to list ten such conservative principles.
Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word conservative as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.
The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.
In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy change is the means of our preservation.) A peoples historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude.
It is not possible to draw up a neat catalogue of conservatives convictions; nevertheless, I offer you, summarily, ten general principles; it seems safe to say that most conservatives would subscribe to most of these maxims. In various editions of my book The Conservative Mind I have listed certain canons of conservative thoughtthe list differing somewhat from edition to edition; in my anthology The Portable Conservative Reader I offer variations upon this theme. Now I present to you a summary of conservative assumptions differing somewhat from my canons in those two books of mine. In fine, the diversity of ways in which conservative views may find expression is itself proof that conservatism is no fixed ideology. What particular principles conservatives emphasize during any given time will vary with the circumstances and necessities of that era. The following ten articles of belief reflect the emphases of conservatives in America nowadays.
First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.
This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.
Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order.
It has been said by liberal intellectuals that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good societywhatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad societyno matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.
Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through conventiona word much abused in our timethat we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutionswhy, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.
Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they dont know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted. Burkes reminder of the necessity for prudent change is in the mind of the conservative. But necessary change, conservatives argue, ought to he gradual and discriminatory, never unfixing old interests at once.
Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescriptionthat is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquityincluding rights to property, often. Similarly, our morals are prescriptive in great part. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any mans petty private rationality.
Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.
Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety. They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality.
Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontentor else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order. But if the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: the ceremony of innocence is drowned. The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell.
Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic levelling, conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.
Sir Henry Maine, in his Village Communities, puts strongly the case for private property, as distinguished from communal property: Nobody is at liberty to attack several property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled. For the institution of several propertythat is, private propertyhas been a powerful instrument for teaching men and women responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of ones labor; to be able to see ones work made permanent; to be able to bequeath ones property to ones posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really ones ownthese are advantages difficult to deny. The conservative acknowledges that the possession of property fixes certain duties upon the possessor; he accepts those moral and legal obligations cheerfully.
Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for a successful spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. Some of these functions are carried out by local political bodies, others by private associations: so long as they are kept local, and are marked by the general agreement of those affected, they constitute healthy community. But when these functions pass by default or usurpation to centralized authority, then community is in serious danger. Whatever is beneficent and prudent in modern democracy is made possible through cooperative volition. If, then, in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political directionwhy, real government by the consent of the governed gives way to a standardizing process hostile to freedom and human dignity.
For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities. That experiment has been made before; and it has been disastrous. It is the performance of our duties in community that teaches us prudence and efficiency and charity.
Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. Politically speaking, power is the ability to do as one likes, regardless of the wills of ones fellows. A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic. When every person claims to be a power unto himself, then society falls into anarchy. Anarchy never lasts long, being intolerable for everyone, and contrary to the ineluctable fact that some persons are more strong and more clever than their neighbors. To anarchy there succeeds tyranny or oligarchy, in which power is monopolized by a very few.
The conservative endeavors to so limit and balance political power that anarchy or tyranny may not arise. In every age, nevertheless, men and women are tempted to overthrow the limitations upon power, for the sake of some fancied temporary advantage. It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for goodso long as the power falls into his hands. In the name of liberty, the French and Russian revolutionaries abolished the old restraints upon power; but power cannot be abolished; it always finds its way into someones hands. That power which the revolutionaries had thought oppressive in the hands of the old regime became many times as tyrannical in the hands of the radical new masters of the state.
Knowing human nature for a mixture of good and evil, the conservative does not put his trust in mere benevolence. Constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws, the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetitethese the conservative approves as instruments of freedom and order. A just government maintains a healthy tension between the claims of authority and the claims of liberty.
Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society. The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate.
Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.
Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.
Such, then, are ten principles that have loomed large during the two centuries of modern conservative thought. Other principles of equal importance might have been discussed here: the conservative understanding of justice, for one, or the conservative view of education. But such subjects, time running on, I must leave to your private investigation.
The great line of demarcation in modern politics, Eric Voegelin used to point out, is not a division between liberals on one side and totalitarians on the other. No, on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.
To: conservatism_IS_compassionThis is a long read, but illuminating on the topic of "What is a conservative?"
Here's a link to the article, Why I am not a Conservative, whose title Michelle borrowed for her essay, the subject of this thread. I couldn't say what her opinion is of Hayek's original, but even though it was written 45 years ago, it is amazingly insightful and appropos for the current discussions here on FR. I recommend it.
217 posted on 05/04/2005 11:56:28 AM EDT by Sam Cree
Hayek basically says that his political philosophy - and that of many Americans who count themselves as being "conservatives" - is essentially that of the early Whigs. He counts Jefferson as radical, and Hamilton as conservative - and (father of the US Constitution) Madison as an "old Whig" (later on the Whigs lost their way). Hayek counts "conservatives" as being too nationalistic on the one hand, and as being merely reactionary (i.e., having no political philosophy other than whatever is familiar) on the other.
So I guess most of us are "paleowhigs." The link really is worth a read, even if it is long.
I define "conservative" according to Theodore Roosevelt's dictum:"It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena - Theodore RooseveltIf you agree with that and live by it, you're a conservative. If you are a journalist, as a practical matter you define "objectivity" as being the exact opposite of that. You do nothing, but you promote yourself and your craft above those who actually get things done. And you do it by criticizing and second guessing businessmen and the police and the military - anyone who works to a bottom line.
And if you are a journalist, you describe as "liberal" the exact same political attitude which in a fellow journalist you would style "objective."
IOW "liberalism" is whatever is in the self interest of journalism. Journalism defines itself as being the public interest.
Um, I HOPE she got that paper turned in by now.
Free enterprise, yada yada yada, enormous wealth.
I certainly assume so. I'm surprised that anyone picked up on my posting so quickly, frankly - but theoretically others could have the same question and could somehow google up this thread.
I simply did it for completeness, and so I could bookmark this thread and refer to it as future utility might arise.
All of the above is, IMHO, hidden in my definition of conservatism. After all, "liberalism" is mismangement - the systematic seperation of responsibility from authority. "Liberals" lust after authority but shun responsibility, and use propaganda (PR) power to obfuscate the fact that that is exactly what they are doing.
IMHO conservatism is simply refusing to bite when the propagandists try to heap unlimited blame on people who are trying to do useful things in moral ways, but who are not precient and who therefore are vulnerable to the second guess.
Then there's Thomas Sowell, who actually does display brilliant logic and understanding of a wide variety of things in life, but would be the first person to admit he doesn't know everything. I'd be tempted to disagree with him, though, because I sometimes wonder if there's anything the man doesn't know or isn't right about.Surgeons succeed because they stick to surgery. But if we were to put surgeons in control of commodity speculation, criminal justice and rocket science, they would probably fail as disastrously as central planners.
There is an ironic comment to the effect that "if a man talks about his honor and a woman talks about her virtue, shun the former and cultivate the latter." I can't seem to google it up, but . . .
We consider Sowell to be sagacious. The irony is that we would not have the same attitude if in fact he went around claiming to be wise:sophist1542, earlier sophister (c.1380), from L. sophista, sophistes, from Gk. sophistes, from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "wise, clever," of unknown origin. Gk. sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt. Ancient sophists were famous for their clever, specious arguments.philosopherIn fact I would almost go so far as to say that Americans who call themselves "conservative" are actually "philosophers" in the etymological sense given above - and that journalists and those whom journalists call "liberal" are sophists. Certainly, "liberals" are recognizable as Theodore Roosevelt's "critics":O.E. philosophe, from L. philosophus, from Gk. philosophos "philosopher," lit. "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" + sophos "wise, a sage."
"Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty." [Klein]
Modern form with -r appears c.1325, from an Anglo-Fr. or O.Fr. variant of philosophe, with an agent-noun ending. . . .There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.Theodore Roosevelt's 1911 speech at the Sorbonne
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds . . .
Obviously people who have been "brainwashed cannot be convinced by a short article. FA Hayek wrote his classic refutation of socialism/communism during WWII, and it was a sensation in America (Hayek wrote in Britain) when The Road to Serfdom
(Link to the Readers' Digest Condensed Version in PDF!) was published while Hayek was sailing to America for what had been expected to be a routine authors tour promoting his book - but which played to overflow audiences everywhere.Serfdom is filled with topical references to people who were famous at the time but are now little remembered - but you could focus on the chapter entitled (IIRC) Why the Worst Get on Top. It treats a fundamental fallacy of Communism - the bland assumption that a dictatorial government will naturally be run by well-meaning people. The Black Book of Communism - Crimes, Terror, Repression is a validation of Hayeks thesis on this point.
The Wikipedia link above also mentions the similarity of Communism and Naziism; Serfdom hammers the similarities, and discusses the nuances of difference, heavily. Writing before the death camps were public knowledge, Hayek predicted, on the basis of the public knowledge of the Gulag (as Solzenitsen later styled it), that revolting systematic crimes by the Nazis would be come to light.
Of course propaganda is central to communism and other forms of socialism, including our own democracy in which shocking portions of the public at large can be systematically diverted from significant facts about the government, and can be convinced of fantastic improbabilities like the idea that Mitt Romney is a criminal. My own theory on the brainwashed problem is that our journalism is propagandistic because it can be, no other explanation is necessary. Why wouldnt it be, if it had opportunity? And my theory on the reason journalism has the opportunity is because journalism is unified. Journalism it is unified becausePeople of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book I, Ch 10And of all people, journalists meet together, at least virtually, more than anyone. The Associated Press newswire is nothing but a continuous, 24/7 virtual meeting which determines what is, and what is not, news.
IMHO propaganda always has to begin with sophistry. The term sophistry comes from the Greek word Sophist denoting a party which claimed superior wisdom. Such a claim leads to very short, very unsatisfying arguments: I am wise, you are not. Therefore I am right, and you are wrong. Claiming wisdom came into very bad odor on that account. The school which rose up in competition with the Sophists was the Philosophers. Philosophers eschewed a claim of wisdom, but claimed only to love wisdom - thus, to be open to arguments based on facts and logic. AP members claim objectivity for all AP members - and IMHO objectivity, as they use the term, is merely code for the Sophists claim of wisdom. Another way of saying that is to assert that it is inherently impossible to know that you are objective, and that anyone who claims actual objectivity - instead of having the humility to limit oneself to claiming to try to be objective - is guilty of arrogance. And a claim of trying to be objective must be backed up by explicit admission of the known reasons why you might not be objective. Sincere admission of the possibility of failure in the quest for objectivity, of course, is logically incompatible with membership in an organization - Associated Press, exhibit A - which you know will claim that you actually are objective.
Why is journalisms propaganda leftist? My theory is that the internal logic of any institution which does nothing except criticize, condemn, and complain is and can only be socialism. Socialism is simply the theory that the complainers should be in charge. Whereas capitalism takes for granted that people should have authority only to the extent that they get things done of, by, and for the people.
The word progress appears once in the Constitution - as a good to be promoted, and in the context of creativity of the people, not politicians. One of the ironies of progressives is that they oppose progress. Drill for oil? It is progressives who will oppose it, and conservatives who will support it. Which only tells you that our political labels are Newspeak. As does the fact that the meaning of the term liberal was (according to Safires New Political Dictionary) inverted in the 1920s - but only in America. Note that Serfdom was written in Britain, by someone who learned English in America before the 1920s. He uses the term liberal heavily in the book, and in its non-inverted sense. It is a confusion factor which he acknowledges with sorrow in a later edition.
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