Nov 022011

Here’s a rant for the sake of a rant. There’s bugger all going on in the office right now, so I might as well use the time productively, and branch off into something entirely personal.

What is it with conservatives, which they simply will not attempt to engage with interlocutors, support their own preferred ideological stances, or worse, explain what those stances are? More annoyingly, conservatives will adopt a quasi-moral high ground approach when questioned, belittling any attempts by those who would challenge the conservative ideology with ad hominem, which as we all know is no substitute for reason or logic. The Twitter stream of this individual is a prime example of the obscurantism adopted when asked to address a simple question, that being “…define what you mean by this mythical ‘left'”. You see, the only response a conservative is able to offer to this question, or indeed any challenge to their ideological position, is to label their opponent a ‘leftie’. Why? What is that nominative intended to infer? Do the users of it understand what they mean? I contend the only reasonable answer is no, they don’t. It’s a pidgeon-holing exercise intended to (a) insult the interlocutor; and (b) dismiss any attempt at engagement as being beneath the respondent.
Conservatives don’t like being questioned. They don’t enjoy being asked to explain themselves, don’t believe they need to explain themselves and spurn any attempts at engagement, ostensibly on the grounds that their ideology is beyond the necessity to respond to a polite enquiry. In short, it is an elitist position. Of course, there is another view, and one to which I subscribe. Conservatives, in the main, are unable to explain their ideology because they don’t truly understand it. They don’t know why they think as they do, only that they do. It’s the way they’ve always thought, so why bother considering any differences. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In essence, the core of the conservative belief is apathy.
However, that is not to say that conservatism is an altogether bad thing, just as social democracy/liberalism is not an altogether good thing. A world populated entirely of like thinkers would be a world devoid of intelligent life, in my view. There is nothing to fear in engagement with one’s fellow human being, indeed, there is much to be learned from engagement, especially with someone of the opposite belief system. Yet, conservatives simply will not engage.
I am a student of philosophy. One of my favourite thinkers is the American poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson and my favoured piece of his writings is ‘The Conservative’ wherein he espouses my own thought processes on the nature of conservative and reformer mindsets. I highly recommend the essay, written in 1841 as a lecture address to the Masons of Boston, as a seminal treatise on just why we all, conservatives and reformers, should be engaging each other in a bid to further understanding of each other and for the betterment of our democratised society. Trouble is, in the current socio-political climate in this country, together with the level of isolation conservatives have surrounded themselves with, genuine engagement between progressives and conservatives is not likely to happen any times soon, despite efforts from progressives to encourage that engagement. Logical fallacy, ignorance and outright abuse seem to be the only responses conservatism has to offer, and that’s genuinely a sad thing.