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Monday, October 20, 2008

12. How did we get here and how can we get back?

One of the roots is Darwin's theory of evolution, oddly enough. Here's Goldberg's view:
The godfathers of the liberal God-state were the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel and the scientist Charles Darwin. Hegel had argued that history was an unfolding evolutionary process, and the engine driving that process was the state. ... The movement of the state through time was the "march of God on earth." Darwin's theory of evolution seemed to confirm that man was part of a larger organism, governed and directed by the state as the mind guides the body. For the "modern" clergy this meant that politics was a religious calling; after all, politics is nothing less than the effort to define the mission of the state, and the state was the hand of God.
As I explain here, by Darwinism, both left-wing and right-wing fascists principally meant eugenics - controlling who is allowed to have children. (Meanwhile, Darwin's theory of evolution has itself become the object of a cult, but that's a story for another day.)

In general, Goldberg notes,
"By lending scientific credibility to the Hegelian and Romantic view of nations as organic beings, Darwinism bequeathed to scientists a license to treat social problems like biological puzzles. All the ills of modern mass society 0- urban crowding, a rising population among the lower classes, poor public hygiene, even the dumbing down of mainstream bourgeois culture - now seemed curable through conscientious application of biological principles. ( p. 247)
Remember that when you hear people say things like "Darwin's is the best idea anyone ever had" (philosopher Daniel Dennett). The best idea ever? If you are a liberal fascist, you will certainly want to think so. Otherwise you might think that ideas like civil liberties are better.

Did I write this in order to persuade you to vote for conservative candidates? Not exactly, no.
"Vote for Schmoe and he will solve all your problems" is precisely what I do not advocate.

For one thing, today, conservative parties have also bought into fascist ideas like "the government is here to help whenever people hurt." George W. Bush said that, and there is no misunderestimating what he means by it: People used to say that the church was here to help when people hurt, and now they say the government is - which essentially means making the government a religion.

Non-fascist politics is politics as if the government is not religion. In closing, Goldberg writes about what conservatism should be:
... conservatism is neither identity politics for Christians and/or white people nor right-wing Progressivism. Rather, it is opposition to all forms of political religion. It is a rejection of the idea that politics can be redemptive. It is the conviction that a properly ordered republic has a government of limited ambition. (402)
If that's conservatism, I'll vote for it. The alternative is intolerable. But don't be surprised if the person who happens to embody those principles in your district is not running for a conservative party, but for some other one. We must find our friends and allies where we can.

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