Archive for the ‘conservatism’ Category

Wrong-Headed on Slavery

Márta 28, 2009

I agree with Mr. Zmirak’s overall criticism of “Slavery and Abortion” by Lewis E. Lehrmann , while being profoundly frustrated – again – with the perennial conservative prediliction for self-torpedoing a perfectly good point, with a completely unnecessary lack of respect for, and insight into, the experiences of others outside one’s own cultural fold.

I’m not at all suggesting there was any ill-intent. But it is simply not appropriate to compare the cruelly efficient, institutionalised barbarity of slavery – made all the more acute by it’s contrast with a legal regime promoting “liberty” – with “theft of labour”. Slavery as practiced was not the Internal Revenue Service; neither was it greedy capitalists exploiting the workers. To use such a phrase is to trivialise the experience of slaves.

The response above about Africa only further highlights this cultural blind spot: American slaves had families, communities and homes right in America that they were ripped away from – what African slavers had done to their ancestors could hardly be expected to lessen the barbarity of American slaves’ actual experience of this cruelty, could it?

The destruction of an isolated human life-form still in the process of being formed in the uterus is horrendous; but I don’t think many on the opposite side of the aisle (nor a lot on our side) will automatically buy into an argument, that it is obviously worse than the collective years of degradation suffered by already existing and fully-formed human beings – with their families – fully conscious of an entire lifetime of brutalisation of them and their loved ones. “Easy for you to say, Whitey” is probably an understandable and justified response.

I often wonder how nice liberals who are horrified at vivisection for science experiments, or at cruelty to animals in factory farms, can square this with an unquestioned right to rip apart humanoid organisms in the womb. I am deeply gratified to see some conservatives take cruelty to animals as a valid moral and social concern – and think that might make a far better platform on which to approach restriction of abortion: you wouldn’t do this to a farm animal, would you?

But in a similar way that animal rights lefties are way, way off when they start comparing mink farms to the Holocaust, the clinical (“Patriotically Correct”?) use of nice, polite philosophical terms like “theft of labour” when contrasting slavery to abortion, is a self-laid land-mine waiting to be stepped on in public discourse; and there’s no point in blaming others if you wind up with the legs cut from under you as a result.


Conservatism: WTF?

Deireadh Fómhair 21, 2008

I’m responding to three posts on three US Conservative blogs, by John Schwenkler, Rod Drehrer, and Clark Stooksbury. It concerns a suggestion by Christopher Buckley (son of deceased, famous US Conservative William F. Buckley) – himself recently purged from the magazine his father set up (he endorsed Obama). The suggestion is a conference examining what has gone wrong with American Conservatism, particularly with regard to ideological and political alliances.

Now, as the proud grandson of both a 1916 IRA man, and a New York union organiser, “Conservative” is not a label I would always have considered, em, close to my heart. Particularly since that brand was associated with some of the most obnoxious attitudes towards the Irish, and towards Catholics, in both Britain and America.

A French writer in “Liberty Magazine” (Pierre Lemieux?) once referred to the US Republican party as “the American House of Lords” compared with the Democrat “House of Commons”; and that’s about the best analogy I’ve ever heard, and it gels with the notion traditionally common in many Irish American households that the three defenders of the working man were the Church, the Union, and the Democratic Party.

It’s interesting to hear about the “Obama is a Muslim” attempted smears, in that this was essentially the same kind of smear used against JFK (swap Catholic for Muslim) when he was running for the white house (a TV News anchorman joked that he would turn the Statue of Liberty into one of the Virgin Mary – this was also the era when Catholics were held suspect because they went to confession, and would thus pose a security threat by disclosing information to agents of a foreign potentate…)

However, in the last few years (basically, since 9/11) I’ve been surprised – very, very surprised – by the genuine intellectual diversity and even radicalism shown by the more thoughtful people on the Right, at least in the US. In Ireland, much of the Neocon yuppy-larvae of the Celtic Tiger have seemed happy to mindlessly regurgitate whatever talking points that seem most likely to piss off opponents, as if annoying lefties and traditionalists was the primary source of hipster political authenticity.

So, I now consider myself a Sean-Tóraidhe/Paleo-Tory; both because it refers to a historically-grounded Irish practice of resistance, a native communalism and spirit of independence consistent with traditionalism and religious practice, and because it may even get up the nose of obnoxious arch-British Tories of today. In the spirit of solidarity with those who would prefer an intelligent opponent rather than a stupid friend, I offer my own list for consideration (the rule is, you have to offer up one sacred cow of your own for consideration):

1. Beyond Political Flat Earth: What About Conservative Democrats?

2. Here There Be Dragons? Left-Wing and Socialist Traditionalists.

3. Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Union?

4. The Three Champions of the Working Man: The Church, The Union, and the Democratic Party.

5. Traditional Socialism: Monastic Orders as Functioning Non-State Communism.

Just sayin’.


Regarding the “one sacred cow” of my own – well… considering I’m not from a Conservative background… the whole list?