Conservatives and Liberals

Dave Pollard provides his thoughts on conservatives and liberals and how they got that way. He says the war on terrorism illustrates what happens when conservatives in different cultures clash.

We all have more or less the same bodies, the same ‘perceptual equipment’, so that must mean that liberals and conservatives have had radically different life experiences with that equipment. Conservatives, believers in a world of danger and weakness, must have experienced first hand, through their senses and bodies, violence, the threat of violence, abuse, neglect, repression, deprivation, uncertainty, morally atrocity, and/or moral ‘failure’. We learn from what we see and what we are shown, not what we’re told, which would explain why children of conservatives who live very comfortable lives tend to be more liberal, why children who are abused tend to be both conservative and abusive, and why liberals, as they get older and experience more violence, tend to get more conservative. It would also explain why liberalism peaked in the late 1960s, a time of unprecedented comfort and peace (so that, unlike the Iraq War, most saw the Vietnam War for what it was — ideological aggression — not for what the conservative government portrayed it as — protection). By contrast, conservatism has peaked in depression, wartime and post-war times, when there is more physical evidence of violence, deprivation, danger and the other factors that promote a conservative worldview.

…I think the reason why there are still such an astonishing number of conservatives in the world is simply because the world is filled with violence, abuse, neglect, repression, uncertainty, threats of violence and danger. The fact that the media are obsessed with showing us these things adds to the general anxiety, as does the amazing rate of change in all fields of human endeavour, but these are not first hand things: Most of the world lives with, or has lived with, personal physical or psychological terror of one kind or another for much of their lives, and that has to affect their worldview.

What is particularly surprising to me is that the conservatives who are trying to make the world ‘safe from terrorism’ don’t realize that terrorism is, in most forms, an innately (if extreme) conservative act. Bush can bluster about terrorists “hating freedom” and “being evil” but the truth is that most terrorists are not anarchists who blow things up for a lark out of self-indulgence, but rather devout, conservative fanatics who are acting out of moral outrage against what they see as evil, and who kill others as acts of retribution that they see as profoundly moral. Very much as the American neocons saw their hysterical and immensely-costly destruction of two Arab nations as profoundly moral acts of retribution for 9/11. In this sense, conservatism is self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing, and what we have seen in the last three years is different sects of aggrieved conservatives attacking each other with increasing savagery and calling each other ‘evil’, while we liberals sit on the sidelines saying ‘huh?’

Link How to Save the World