Saturday, September 26, 2009

Things To Know: Origins of Conservative Philosophy and Liberal Philosophy

It all began in the Age of Reason. Basically, the things to know are everything Bill Whittle has ever written or videotaped. Whittle video upon which the following text is based.

Conservative Philosophy

Paraphrasing Whittle: Conservatives believe man is inherently flawed; is "constrained by the essential unchangeable weakness of his nature."

Thomas Hobbs: "Mankind lives a life doomed to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

"That political vision became coupled with the equally constrained economic views of Adam Smith, who saw common good coming from what are essentially selfish, individual pursuits.
If you are conservative, you view all of history as a laboratory, as experiments that test an unchanging human nature against various forms of government. You want to 'conserve' this wisdom."
America's founders recognized and incorporated freedoms which call to man's spirit; created protections which protect man from fellow men who are inherently flawed.

Liberal Philosophy

My paraphrase of Whittle:

Liberals believe man, in a state of nature, is not a brute. Man, rather, is virtuous, compassionate, sharing, noble, and kind.

#Noble Savage;
#Jean Jacque Rousseau said all wars and conflicts are the result of people staking claims to property and ownership: primitive man never envisioned such claims. Rosseau: "You are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody".

"[For liberals] Mankind's past would not be a source of wisdom to be conserved, but rather philosophical and political shackles that one must be liberated from through a process of reasoned debate and introspection that is the outgrowth of what many have called 'the cultivated mind'. Nothing would be beyond the power of a few such reasonable, virtuous men".

French Revolution = Unconstrained Revolution, i.e. man had no inherently flawed nature which needed constraining by law or ethic; man was naturally virtuous, compassionate, sharing, noble, and kind. Result: French Revolution reeled hither and tither; became hugely bloody and unjust.

Whittle's summation:
"The unconstrained view of a perfectible, naturally virtuous man, and his Utopia on Earth, has given us 11 million gassed to death in National Socialist death camps; no less than 30 million killed, and purged in various starvations, in the Soviet Union; 50 million killed in the Communist Chinese Utopia of Cultural Revolution and the great leap forward; millions more executed for lack of revolutionary virtue in Cambodia under the Khymer Rouge, and in Vietnam....

And yet, there in the [conservative] gloom and pessimism about what and who we are lies the unlovely, narrow, stony path: a vision, not of what might be, but rather of what is and always was. It's a road - not of ideals and unity - but of messy and imperfect compromise: where scandal and corruption are never defeated, but are merely contained; where hundreds of thousands of people, going about their own lives, making their own decisions, function not without mistakes or tragedy, but only do so far less than they would if only the best and brightest had been thinking for them. The so-called 'cultivated mind' is not a match - none, history records, none - for the collective wisdom and the common self interest of imperfect, and flawed, but fundamentally moral and decent people.* It's far from perfect. It's merely good. That's all it is. You see, the shiny golden road of the unconstrained vision leads to the death camp. The gloomy, narrow path of the constrained vision leads to Disney World. Disney World isn't perfect. It's just the happiest place on Earth."

*B/c I believe our morality and decency is supernaturally inspired, I would have tweaked "flawed, but fundamentally moral and decent people" to become flawed people who are inspired to morality and decency.

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