August 20, 2004

Conservatism, the Enemy of Reason, Democracy and Modern Civilization

For the past several months, I have been wondering where Phil Agre has been, and why we haven't been hearing anything from him. The answer, it now appears, is that he has been preparing an essay on "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?", and it's glorious and essential. This is how it begins:

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

And this is how it ends:
Conservatism until very recently was quite open about the fact that it is incompatible with the modern world. That is right. The modern world is a good place, and it will win.

You owe it to yourself to read everything in between. (Which is not to say that I agree with everything in between.)

(Via Sidelights and Red Rock Eater.)

Update, 27 August 2004: Reprieved takes a rather more negative view of Agre's essay.

The Beloved Republic; The Progressive Forces; The Running-Dogs of Reaction

Posted at August 20, 2004 13:02 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth