Thursday, December 30, 2004

Academic Polemics, or I Went to College and All I Got Was This Lousy Progressivism

Jayson at PoliPundit strikes gold by linking to this post by a UCLA (i.e., taxpayer-supported) associate professor in the Information Sciences department, Philip Agre. If anyone should wonder why the vast majority of Americans reject the liberal elite, he should be forced to read this drivel through to the end. Let's go fisking, shall we? (In case you get confused, Agre will be in bold; he's pretty subtle, so I want to make sure you know who's who).
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

Well, thank God this is going to be a rational, well-reasoned article and not some 'Progressive' rant, huh? Do me a favor: read that again, slowly, and wait until the laughter subsides before you continue.

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.

The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are.

Wow, is that an ugly piece of writing, and I don't just mean the sentiment behind it. '....the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome'!!!! Let me suggest another paragraph written in the same style:

'From the time of the cavemen to the era of Al Gore's Internet, there have been jackasses who assume that everyone who disagrees with them is, by definition, a delusional pawn. Most such people are insufferably arrogant. I am one such person.'

See? Flows much better, no?

I don't know of many, if any, conservatives who have any use for an 'aristocracy'. One of the defining principles of conservatism is the meritocracy of the individual.

...many of the aspiring aristocrats of the United States are appointing their children to positions in government and in the archipelago of think tanks that promote conservative theories.

The archipelago of conservative think tanks is indeed surrounded by the ocean of liberal academics and members of the fourth estate. The line about aristocrats appointing their children to positions in government is so baffling that one wonders if Agre has any concept of America. Things look different from the ivory tower, indeed...

The opposite of conservatism is democracy, and contempt for democracy is a constant thread in the history of conservative argument. Instead, conservatism has argued that society ought to be organized in a hierarchy of orders and classes and controlled by its uppermost hierarchical stratum, the aristocracy. Many of these arguments against egalitarianism are ancient, and most of them are routinely heard on the radio. One tends to hear the arguments in bits and pieces, for example the emphatic if vague claim that people are different. Of course, most of these arguments, if considered rationally, actually argue for meritocracy rather than for aristocracy. Meritocracy is a democratic principle. George Bush, however, was apparently scarred for life by having been one of the last students admitted to Yale under its old aristocratic admissions system, and having to attend classes with students admitted under the meritocratic system who considered themselves to be smarter than him. Although he has lately claimed to oppose the system of legacy admissions from which he benefitted, that is a tactic, part of a package deal to eliminate affirmative action, thereby allowing conservative social hierarchies to be reaffirmed in other ways.

Agre 'argues' the opposition of conservatism and democracy (say, was I just imagining all the lefties who have been unable to accept the result of the last TWO elections without resorting to conspiracy theories?), then gives away the game by admitting that conservative arguments actually favor meritocracy. To cover for this wholly unexpected admission, he digresses into some garbage about George Bush, ignoring the fact that he earned an MBA, our first president to hold that distinction.

Conservatism promotes (and so does liberalism, misguidedly) the idea that liberalism is about activist government where conservatism is not. This is absurd. It is unrelated to the history of conservative government. Conservatism promotes activist government that acts in the interests of the aristocracy. This has been true for thousands of years. What is distinctive about liberalism is not that it promotes activist government but that it promotes government that acts in the interests of the majority.

Liberalism doesn't promote activist government, but instead government that acts in the interests of the majority? Can I have 'gay marriage' for a thousand, Alex? Anyone hear of 'Roe v. Wade' and the 'implied' right to privacy?

Another example of conservative twisting of the language of conscience is the argument, in the context of the attacks of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, that holding our side to things like the Geneva Convention implies an equivalence between ourselves and our enemies. This is a logical fallacy. The fallacy is something like: they kill so they are bad, but we are good so it is okay for us to kill. The argument that everything we do is okay so long as it is not as bad as the most extreme evil in the world is a rejection of nearly all of civilization.

No, 'Professor', flying jet airliners into skyscrapers is a rejection of ABSOLUTELY all of civilization. We kill in order to protect freedom; they kill in the name of terror, knowing that their cause cannot stand the scrutiny of rational debate. No political document, not the Geneva Convention, not the Charter of the United Nations, could ever imply an equivalence between the United States of America, the very beacon of freedom in the modern world, and the cowardly murderers of al-Queda. When the choice is between pacifism and freedom through the use of the military, I choose the latter 100% of the time.

The flamboyant nastiness of rhetors such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter represents the destruction of conscience as a type of liberation. They are like cultists, continually egging on their audiences to destroy their own minds by punching through one layer after another of their consciences.

Two words: Michael Moore.

Projection was an important part of the Florida election controversy, for example when Republicans tried to get illegal ballots counted and prevent legal ballots from being counted, while claiming that Democrats were trying to steal the election.

Here is the classic example of projection attempting to define itself. Pathetic.

It is often claimed in the media that snooty elitists on the coasts refer to states in the middle of the country as "flyover country". Yet I, who have lived in liberal areas of the coasts for most of my life, have never once heard this usage.

Agre is 100% correct on this matter. The states in the middle of the country are not known as 'flyover country'. As everyone knows, the correct phrase is 'Jesusland'.

It is difficult to identify a single pundit in the media who consistently explicates liberal ideology.

True, if by media you mean ancient stone tablets found in caves in the Middle East.

George Soros is an excellent citizen., cough....

Alright, enough already! I could go on, and on, and on, and on like, say, Agre, but I respect your intelligence far, far more than he does. Agre reveals the liberal's view of the Red States: you are suffering from a disease. Look out, Agre, based on Election 2004, I'd say it's contagious.

No comments: