Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Say, Larry Craig, What Is Conservatism?

Apropos nearly nothing I worked this little piece up the other day, but imagine my surprise and delight to see it so aptly confirmed today by the long suppressed news of Larry Craig's arrest (and guilty plea) for cruising an airport tea room. What a surprise, a Bible-beating right-winger turns out to be aggressively but hypocritically gay! How could this happen?

It's only ironic if you have an adolescent notion of human nature, an ignorance of history that eclipses the existence of witch-hunting closet cases like Roy Cohn, and have never had concepts like "projection" explained to you. Well, I'm here to clear all that up for you. My only quandary is, whose picture do I use for the poster boy?

“What is conservatism?” the “Maverick Philosopher” asks. And of course, like so many sophists of the movement he answers his own question with all sorts of high-toned crap that nowhere touches upon what a self-described American conservative is like today, if ever they were. It’s not what he thinks it is anymore.

It’s more:

Conservatism: 1. a neurosis characterized by hypercompensating preoccupation with the trappings, postures and measures of masculinity, manliness or machismo and strongly linked with projective transference, fervid adulation of (“strong man”) figures irrationally or delusionally invested with the “masculine” qualities seized upon in the preoccupation; marked strongly with tendencies to confuse: aggression with effectiveness; cruelty with toughness; fixation with resolve or perseverance; contrarianism with originality or independence; and, above all, punitive zeal with rectitude; marked also by distrust of or hostility towards ambivalence, ambiguity, and qualities associated with the feminine such as: subtlety, sensitivity, empathy, refinement, self-consciousness, circumspection, forbearance, tolerance and forgiveness. The neurosis seems often to be based in gender-insecurity and/or failure to fully individuate as adults, resulting in a tacit, perhaps subconscious self-condemnation for lack of the very qualities, accomplishments and experiences valorized by the overarching code of “manliness.”

The conservative is strongly (if inauthentically) drawn to the role of “protector” of others from enemies or corruptive influences, for this places premium value on the martial qualities he espouses. But the strongest appeal of this role probably lies in the moral immunity if affords; defense of the (usually abstract and ill-defined) Good, or the defenseless, necessitates whatever evil the protector employs. This rationalizes, pardons, retroactively legitimizes the conservative’s arrested ethical development – always evidenced by a pronounced, even self-congratulatory lack of empathy, and the correlative predisposition towards self-pity, or feelings of persecution. Other indicators of this stunting are failure to embrace an ethic of reciprocity (usually substituting an atavistic sin-based code), and the utter devaluation of consistency and moral authority (that is, leadership by example) as components of ethical deportment. Indeed, with respect to moral authority the ethical debility is often strongly associated with pronounced self-blindness, leading often to floridly self-disclosing projections: condemnations, preoccupations, excoriations and paranoias about putative threats, ills or failings, which are rooted in the neurotic’s guilty or devalued sense of self since he or she craves, embodies or enacts that which is condemned.

2. a mutual reassurance society of said neurotics.


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