Date Added: 2009-03-02
Date Modified: 2009-03-02
American "Conservatism" marries their Rabble
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American "Conservatism" marries their Rabble
by Hunter Gray, 2 March 2009
While I watched via CNN portions of the Conservative Conclave at DC, I had some approximation of the feeling I'd had decades ago when, with a young woman from California [a short-lived relationship], we toured the San Diego Zoo's snake exhibits. [It's been many decades since I've killed snakes, but, frankly, they do make me uneasy.]
From several personal perspectives, I like the idea and practice of a healthy measure of individual freedom and I strongly support the concept that a society should enable its people to have a maximum number of -- reasonably reasonable --choices. I've always seen this as a basic challenge confronting mass urban-industrialism, whatever the respective flag. I like the time-honored practice of "tribal responsibility": i.e., the individual has an obligation to the tribe and the tribe has one to the individual; when the two conflict in a substantive way the tribal good can transcend; but there are always areas of individual and family autonomy into which the tribe cannot intrude.
There was a time when American conservatism had a strong and explicitly libertarian dimension. Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk, and others could often write and speak articulately and sensibly on behalf of their perspectives -- even as they could become entangled in, say, McCarthyism -- and I [however cautiously] occasionally read and listened. In the end, of course, I've always felt most emotionally comfortable with the free homegrown spirit and stirring idealism exemplified by the American -- and particularly the Western -- Wobblies. The more of That is in something, the better I like it.
The current so-termed conservative affair makes me very uneasy -- not about a sooner-or-later coup -- but about their total intellectual bankruptcy and obvious abandonment -- some rhetoric notwithstanding -- of any really libertarian pretensions. With the partial exception of Ron Paul, who -- like Bob Barr -- does maintain some of those qualities, what I saw and heard were Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and who I heard touted were people like Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.
American conservatism, shaken by the contradictions of corporate capitalism, has obviously abandoned our always-to-be-defended Bill of Rights in favor of their version of antithetical "cultural conservatism."
And, to use, for me, an uncharacteristically plebian term, their Rabble has taken over their battered and sputtering "flagship" -- now far, far back in the wake of the powerful forces which now come at all of us, for better or worse, from the very Four Directions.
David McReynolds comments: I watched most of Rush Limbaugh's rant - by accident. I had turned on CNN to get the news, and they were carrying Rush. At first I was irritated they were giving him all this coverage, and not moving on to news, but then I watched the whole thing and felt maybe it was good for the country to see what this guy is like.
I've never seen more the clips of Hitler speaking, but he struck me as well organized, while Limbaugh seemed scattered, more filled with ego and cliches than even coherent thoughts.
When Reagan spoke for Barry Goldwater in 1964 I felt that was a very effective speech (so did the conservatives, who, having seen him, decided to make him governor and then President).
Part of me feels that Limbaugh's audience comes from the bottom end of gene pool (I know, very nasty and incorrect of me). Part of me felt he was a comedian doing an imitation of a wind bag.
It is clear that where Hitler made Jews the enemy, for Limbaugh it is a combination of intellectuals and liberals.
What I think pissed him off most of all was that he hadn't been invited by Obama to the famous dinner meeting with conservatives.
And what was most interesting (to me) was that he clearly has his shotgun ready for any conservatives who don't agree with him.
Cornet Joyce comments: On the train, a little gaggle of rightist youth was talking about an event they wished they were going to. I guess that's the event.
They were not unlike the YAFers of years ago, with Ron Paul as the principle tubthumper for mock-libertarian plutocracy in the place of William Buckley.
For many more pieces by Hunter Gray click to his Bear's Lair Library here in mytown. And perhaps save Hunter to your favourites or desktop and visit regularly.
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