Are Conservatives on the Right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Philosoblog: "'Right' is a vacuous term properly used only in the speech act of calling one's fellow socialists to the task of opposing an enemy. It's a demented term, and for conservatives to continue to use it impairs their ability to reason about political matters. Left and right are, by inalienable senses of the English terms, progressivistic. They signify motion away from the existing frame of reference. Inevitably, if you say that you are on the right, you connote the notion that you have some cockamamie plan for taking our society and moving it away from its existing values to somewhere else, somewhere to the 'right.'"

So far, these posts are the most interesting commentary on Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism I've seen.


truepeers said...

Yes, I think this writer has it right. The left-right distinction, a (leftist) product of the French Revolution, accentuated by socialist internationalist and Stalinist war against the national socialist "right", is sign of how the left thinks. The left is more focussed on war with its close cousin "fascism" than on many varieties of conservatism which many leftists don't study and don't understand.

People who call themselves conservatives are all over the map in terms of their attitudes to change and what should be conserved; but if one can generalize, a conservative is a defender of some established center(s); and yet, defense of a center entails all kinds of tactics and strategies that may or may not embrace change, even as they will inevitably engender some.

Anyway, if we are to reject the left-right distinction with the attendant slander that you can scratch the surface of every "rightist" or "conservative" and find a fascist underneath, I think we have to admit that there will always be a need to make some kind of differentiation of conservatives (defenders of norms or centers) and liberals (critics of the normal). Of course, in life, we are all a mix of the two. But at any given point in time we are going to lean and identify more one way than the other, depending on what we think is in short supply at the moment.

Our times are confusing because the critics of the normal are now the mainstream. And so conservatism, the call to renew sacred centers, has a radical force