We do not assume that all ideological divisions may be neatly characterized with respect to a Left/Right dichotomy. To the extent that political ideology may be so categorized, we offer Chapter XII of the Conservative Debate Handbook, a guide to the most apparent characteristics involved in such divisions. The function, here, will be slightly different. In an effort to encourage soul searching on all sides of the ideological divide, our focus will be on particular subjects--an attempt to isolate factors pertinent to five subsets, rather than on the overall division: To aid individual readers to clarify what they believe, apart from a more general identification, or lack of it.
It is our hope that this approach may prove constructive to many in reconciling sometimes conflicting aims & values. Believing, ultimately, that truth is the only beacon that can help any of us achieve any worthwhile objective, we do not fear strengthening anyone's level of understanding. We are not naive. We do not believe that all players are altruistic in their purpose or sincere in their advocacy. We do believe that the vast majority of those who will ever read this are; and there lies the benefit. The purpose: To broaden the appeal of a message that we have pursued since high school; the target, men & women of high intelligence, however they may presently see themselves.
For the Conservative view of Government, one must look first to the specifics of the people involved. Acceptable forms of Government will always reflect the ethnic heritage, and are as varied as the earth's peoples. In the American context, we can be very specific. From the Declaration of Independence on, a specific concept has prevailed.
Government, as a functioning ethnic concept in America, was based upon a compact theory. The functions & power of Government, arise in compact (a social contract if you prefer) between the functionaries, carrying out those functions, and the people of the political societies socially involved. As reflected earlier in the history of the mother country by Magna Carta, the remedy for out-of-control Government, was a rising--in each experience, led by men of property--against usurpers. Yet, absent such a rising, there is still no moral duty to support usurpation in Government.
The Leftist view of Government is actually a throwback to a primitive mystique--although ordinarily without claim to divine origin: The authority of the Government to act is not questioned, only the wisdom & justice of its actions. Generally, actions directed towards egalitarian goals are defined as "just," and to the extent that they succeed in redistributing, what is deemed as excessive wealth, to those without, are seen as wise. To American Conservatives, such actions are not only illegal. They constitute a blending of injustice with folly, destroying the human incentive to produce.
Ideological views of society reflect parallel aspects of the same underlying philosophic orientation as drives a particular subject's view of Government. The Conservative, seeing Government's role as limited by a social compact & intended to serve the society or societies that are parties to the social compact, views society as an organic reality--reflecting the social development of a particular people; independent of, but preceding, Government. Thus Government should reflect & further the ethos of that people, as seen in their existing social norms.
In this, a society will tend to represent its unique ethos in who it recognizes as social leaders; and while, independent of such recognition, a goal will usually be to provide fair & even handed treatment of all before the Courts & in access to the service of public institutions, such as Police & Fire protection; in reality, Conservatives understand that who one is, will often prove distinct advantage. Without institutionalizing that advantage, many Conservatives tend to accept & understand the psychological bases.
The Left sees Society, not as a driving force behind Government, but as an object to be reorganized; a project, if you will, to be redefined to conform to Egalitarian (one size fits all) objectives, where the private achievements of members of that society will be treated as assets for a cadre of social planners, seeking to manage that reorganization to fit personal theories.
While the Conservative views Society, in general--and particular societies in turn--as having developed under Natural Laws that predate the emergence of Mankind, to postulate a rational framework for why things are as they are; the Left denies foundational concepts, to substitute theories as to how things should be for any Conservative argument based upon past experience.
The Conservative sees education, under parental direction, as a vehicle to prepare children to live in and appreciate the values, opportunities, history & strictures of a social order; to develop what skills each individual may have, to do as well as he or she can within that social order--or, reflecting that order's priorities, anywhere one may find oneself. In that process, pride in the accomplishments of one's forebears is a constructive resource, strongly encouraged. In like spirit, so is patriotic service & the Faith of one's Fathers.
To the Leftist, education--especially public education--is a weapon in the battle to reconstruct Society & all traditional institutions (in some cases, to completely undermine traditional institutions). This means not only introducing Leftist, Socialist, Collectivist/Egalitarian values, but largely suppressing elements of a traditional curriculum, as in changing the whole thrust of history courses; largely eliminating such subjects as physical geography, and following the Norman Cousins' anti-patriot approach to the study of other Nations. (See Myths & Myth Makers In American "Higher" Education.)
It should be obvious, with any reflection, that these views are not compatible; that a functional reconciliation between such antithetical concepts is not possible. Since the function of this essay is to focus on differences in perspective--on goals & purpose, rather than remedies--we will defer any proposals till later. Yet it must be obvious that there is no "moderate" answer.
To the Conservative, private property represents the fruits of human achievement. It may be something acquired in the immediate past by the present owner. It may be something inherited from a provident & frugal forebear, but the natural result of doing something worthwhile; something with inherent value, either to the doer or to others willing to reward the doer, to compensate for a benefit found in what he did. Almost always, the property is seen as something the rightful owner deserves. Concepts of Natural Law--of endowment by the Creator--are very much in play.
We recognize the attributes of ownership, including--or especially--a right to pass property forward to one's heirs & loved ones. We recognize the multi-generational purpose of the provident & frugal; concepts inherent in the Fifth & Tenth Commandments, implied in several others. [We do not necessarily approve excessive salaries & compensation packages with which some Corporate Managers, in contemporary situations where ownership is too fractured for effective control, award themselves. That is another issue.]
To the Leftist, private property is never really private. Whether, as under a Communist regime, there is outright confiscation, or--as under the Nazi & more radical varieties of American Legislation--one retains title to property, but loses more & more of the normal attributes--such as whom one may hire & under what terms; or to whom one may sell & what;--the underlying assumption is that property rights flow not from Nature or the Creator, but merely by permission, or at the whim, of central authority.
These differences are also irreconcilable!
Not surprisingly, in considering the most basic aspects of man's nature--hereditary endowments, division into sexes & family formation;--differences in the perspectives of Conservatives & those in common Leftist movements take on very emotional manifestations. This is most evident on the Leftist side.
Many nominal Conservatives avoid such subjects, at least when in ideologically mixed groups--some even mouthing "politically correct" euphemisms for thought. Yet, those truly Conservative understand that media & academic smears of natural human preferences--such as "taught" at Harvard, in the last century by Gordon Allport, a documented "fellow traveler" (Myths & Myth Makers)--were absurd, cause-serving, fantasies of men trying to refashion human society to a Jacobin, Marxist &/or Internationalist purpose. People, unafflicted by such goals, have no problem in accepting that family, sex, race & nation, properly influence our identity, nature & preferences; that, while no reason to treat any person with disdain, or to cruelly misuse another, no one is entitled to an apology when one prefers to associate with those who share a common identity, whether ethnic or purely historic, or--if, of the other sex--more physically appealing.
Conservatives accept the concept of the Nation, of a people who share a common identity, common ancestry, common history, common triumphs & defeats, joys & heartaches, over the generations, as an honorable one. And, in the context of the American experience, that it is possible to honor one's own, and yet treat all others with the respect they deserve; yet being ready, in Jefferson's words, to "punish the first insult," if, instead of returning respect, they return injury.
Some Leftists, who reflect the Gordon Allport bias against normal human identification & preference, those whom we have described as "Mipips," practically foam at the mouth at mere suggestion that race is important; that men & women should be identified by traditional sex roles; that people should put families first, in dealing with others. Here one can observe the full frenzy of those manifesting the Leftist variety of what we describe, below, as a "Compulsion For Uniformity."
It is apparent that this frenzy is emotion, not reason, driven. Why? Because in embracing the Norman Cousins' emphasis on ways that people are alike, while seeking to deny meaningful difference, they lose sight of the unique aptitudes of unique people; inhibiting other people from enjoying the full benefit of their natural talents, while denying Mankind the optimum employment of human potential. Finally, they create completely unnecessary hostility between races, nations & sexes; removing a common sense understanding of why different folks have different results in different areas of endeavor. This only boosts a capacity of demagogues to sow the seeds of hatred, fear, envy & resentment. The potential for mischief is as broad & deep as the actual differences between the groups, confused & misled. In accepting Allport's almost demonic attack on loyalty to family, they undermine the basic structure for retention of human achievement--the foundation for spiritual, cultural & material growth.
For generations, mainstream Americans have been bombarded with a three pronged challenge to the continuity of their values, culture & identity. These have included the absurd, yet oft repeated, lie of an equality of human potential; a direct attack on the ethnic pride & identity of mainstream Americans as unique peoples--coupled with the pretense that they are somehow guilty of causing most of the earth's problems;--and the promotion of a cynical Utilitarian view of Government, which imagines that despite a written Constitution--precisely intended to prevent such misuse of power--the Government has whatever power a majority desire, to address any & all problems of unhappy individuals.
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