Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Conservative Pesimism

I've been pondering a post or two on the nature of conservatism, but haven't had time to gather my thoughts and compose the post I would like to write.  Over at Modeled Behavior, Karl wrote an interesting Pessimist Manifesto, that inspired me to respond.  Here it is, with editorial corrections.

You raise some interesting points, and it would take a counter-manifesto that I don’t have time to think through, let alone write, to give it the response it deserves.

In lieu of that, a couple thoughts.

"Bad things happen because badness is the natural state of the world."

Two differences between progressives and regressives are that (generally speaking) progressives are optimists, and reality based, while regressives are pessimisic and bound either by ideology or some other reality-denying mindset.

You, as an intellectual progressive, but emotional regressive, don’t fit either camp. So, when you speak of conservatives who should share your world view, you’ll find yourself the odd man out.

Conservatism is based on ignorance, prejudice (don’t take my word for it, this is directly from Russel Kirk), negation of reality (WMD, New Deal denialism, etc) and false characterizations (which might just be a subset of reality negation) – most economic models, frex.

A Progressive, like Keynes, when confronted with new data, changes his opinion. A Regressive, when confronted with new data, changes the data. Hence the current regressive attempts at history re-writing, re: the W presidency.

There is not a person in a thousand who arrives at political views via rational thought, vs the emotional comfort zone. I sincerely believe that those who do are former conservatives who overcame ignorance to embrace reality.

Which, I guess, is a bit of a manifesto after all.

Cheers! (And welcome to the real world)

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