Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Religion Vs Culture

Liberalism is a religion.  Conservatism is a culture.  You might choose different terms for the distinction I am making, but there is a qualitative difference in how they go wrong.  Conservatives are notorious for mixing God, Country, Military, and Tradition, being unable to even perceive that these might be at odds in America at times.  Liberals are notorious for thinking that their values are simply Right, and that Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and Whoever taught those things, or would have if they had the benefit of modern wisdom.  (Alternatively, some liberals believe that those worthies were All Wrong, but we've got it right now, and those who disagree are some sort of phobe or bigot.)

My Uncle again. He is, I remind you, a real person, who lives in San Luis Obispo.  Despite his considerable intelligence, he remains entirely swayed by the social smoothness versus yahooness of political figures as portrayed in liberal media (the New Yorker, Huffington Post, and Truthout are particular favorites), and draws intellectual conclusions from this.  He believes that though their probably is no God, Jesus would support government health care because it is generous, just as an example.

It was an interesting exchange today, which I include apropos of my distinction between how liberals and conservatives go wrong.  Please feel free to offer refinements or corrections.

Uncle: ...the difference between Con and Lib media
is about belief vs  teaching  The first inspires passion , he second option does not
To use Limbaugh as an extreme example, his audience likes to shout  "Ditto"
Limbaugh himself is charismatic; his listeners are loyal to him  They are "fans" as in Red Sox
I know of no "liberal" who can match any of this.

AVI: The misunderstanding of the use of "ditto" is one of the  most profound difficulties liberals have in discussing Limbaugh.  They all assume, because they have not actually much listened to him and know him only through spoon-fed quotes of media they trust, that the word is used to mean "I agree with you completely, Rush.  Little or no deviation whatsoever.  I sign on to your POV because you explain things so well!"

Liberals therefore congratulate themselves that they are not like that.  (As you just did.) They are thinkers, and skeptics, and questioners, and don't accept what their leaders tell them.  It just proves how superior they are to those idiot conservatives saying "ditto."

Except that people who actually have listened to the show know that this is not what the reference is.  It has a specific meaning in context.  It is not completely divorced from agreeing with Limbaugh of course, but it is not synonymous.  It would be entirely possible for a caller to say "Dittoes, Rush!  But I disagree with you about Rand Paul..."

Therefore, when "liberals" criticise dittoheads, as you just have, and clearly get it wrong, conservatives know immediately that they have no idea what they are talking about.  The field reverses completely, and the liberals are the ones who are revealed as those who simply accept what their leaders tell them.  You don't know what "ditto" refers to, but you believe you do, because other trustworthy liberals have told you this is what it must mean.  And you have believed them.

This is why leaving liberalism is always a personal journey that requires painful self-observation.  It is not a set of intellectual principles, but a religious faith.  It is impossible to leave liberalism without personal struggle.

(Addition, not in the email.) This is why conservatives have trouble abandoning even one part of the whole culture.  They believe somewhere in there that it is all intertwined, and giving up one piece will ultimately result in the entire wall collapsing.  That is both a strength and a weakness.  Liberals don't have that problem. They change views as the fashion changes all the time without worrying about it in the least. And the wall doesn't crumble, even when conservatives observers feel it should because of logical consistency.  All walls are and boundaries are unimportant.  The tribe sticking together is what matters.


Texan99 said...

I remain unsure what I am, then: perhaps more of a libertarian than a conservative. I'm all too willing to tear down traditions and embrace progress in many areas: feminism, modern finance, dismantling of unions. I probably violate the Chesterton's Fence rule daily.

But I couldn't agree more with your point about liberal's odd, fact-free, non-negotiable conviction that they're more independent-minded and less provincial--not to mention more kind-hearted or generous.

Roy Lofquist said...


You wrote: "Conservatives are notorious for mixing God, Country, Military, and Tradition, being unable to even perceive that these might be at odds in America at times.".

While this may be true of some self-described conservatives and may be the general perception of non-conservatives it is at variance with the beliefs and inclinations of philosophical conservatives.

I have found the following to be the most succinct explanation of classical conservatism:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I agree that thoughtful conservatives make those distinctions with ease. The rank-and-file, including folks I know personally, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Religions mix things up the same as other religions, they just do it in a different order and priority.

You prioritize the Christians based upon an outsider's point of view, which isn't accurate. Nor is the Left's religion accurate either, on their dogma.