Sunday, April 13, 2003

I'm still rewriting this.
There is a link between what I sometimes refer to as the 'real' -meaning principled- left, and the conservative right. There is nothing new in admitting it. Liberals, on the other hand, and to put them in the least charitable light, want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the power and be liked for it.
Liberals are interested in freedom, their own and by extension, and most often only as extension, the freedom of others. The Left on the other hand sees capitalism as a fragmenting of social order; regardless of its benefits, after a brief flowering, the result is atomization and destruction. By such a definition, health, welfare, and education are more important freedoms than the one of economic independence.

I am not interested in economic freedom. I don't want to be wealthy, and I find the desire in others distasteful. The idea that I can or should hire someone else to clean my bathroom floor I find offensive. Private accumulation is inevitable, but that doesn't mean I have to celebrate it; on the contrary, it needs to be controlled and regulated. But then again most shopkeepers don't want to go around gobbling up their competetion, so there should be nothing really abnormal or about my opinion. Still, in this country many people, whether they are educated or not defend desires in strangers that in they shy away from or even abhor in their own lives.

To a principled conservative, however, freedom is at least as problematic as it is to a leftist. A conservative after all wants stability, and capitalism prides itself on being the opposite. In the best of times it works by 'creative' distruction; even if the surface is calm, it's always churning below. Neoconservativism is famous for papering over such conflicts. Because of this, I've enjoyed reading Sub Judice.

The contradiction conservatives in capitalist cultures face is simple: if they are conservatives by sensibility, and not merely in the service of shallow self interest- the kind republicans enjoy and which gives liberals such tsuris, then they would be as conservative, and as principled - and maybe even happier- somewhere else. Plainsman is caught in a dilemma. On one level he might enjoy the debates going on in Tehran right now. On another level the limits on freedom would disturb him. He can't make up his mind between self interest and principle. It's interesting to watch the back and forth.

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