Encephalon

What is healthy conservatism?

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This could be a fun exercise.  Or not.  Either way...

I once read that the modern political spectrum was created by the French Revolution. if you were for the aristocracy, you were a conservative.  If you were for the peasantry, you were a liberal.  

While there are some who are firmly and ideologically committed to one end of the spectrum or the other,  I believe it is generally agreed that most of us can plot ourselves on multiple points of the left-right spectrum.  I am firmly in the socialist camp, or what in Scandanavia is referred to as a social democrat, because I feel this is the most consistent political expression of interdependency as I've come to understand it through the lens of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism.  My spirituality is defined by the way I feel connected to all phenomona, and I approach ecology as the science of the reality of that interconnectedness. 

 

One writer once referred to conservatism as a "potent idea," the presence of which is critical to a healthy society.  Conservatism is the acknowledgment that human qualities we admire such as wisdom, courage, imagination, and athleticism  and others are not equally distributed throughout the species.  Some people are more talented than others in different arenas and should be rewarded.  Beyond a few parts per million, conservatism quickly devolves into rationalizations for favoritism and a toxic individualism that dismissed the critical role of a healthy public sector.  

 

I confess I am less informed about the dark side of modern liberalism.  Identity politics, victim consciousness,  submitting oneself to purity tests when pursuing elective office come to mind.  Liberals are feckless and hide behind the facade of fake egalitarianism in order to show the world their 'advanced' ethical development and concern for the commonfolk, but all they end up doing is wasting time trying to find consensus when a critical task requires they immediately send in a Navy Seal Strike Team. 

 

A great deal of the "warrior" literature from the east, especially the Samurai material, makes it clear that balance is paramount; martial prowess must go hand in hand with civil and aesthetic development.  Trying to ascertain which is more important is like trying to guess which wheel of a bicycle is more important, but as the saying goes, "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war."

 

There are critical distinctions here between Buddhism and Taoism that should be teased out pretty quickly by the TTB crowd.  I think it was Deng Ming-Dao who said "The quality of the scholar is awareness.  The quality of the warrior is readiness."  

 

I'll just open this up and see what percolates!

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41 minutes ago, Encephalon said:

This could be a fun exercise.  Or not.  Either way...

I once read that the modern political spectrum was created by the French Revolution. if you were for the aristocracy, you were a conservative.  If you were for the peasantry, you were a liberal.  

While there are some who are firmly and ideologically committed to one end of the spectrum or the other,  I believe it is generally agreed that most of us can plot ourselves on multiple points of the left-right spectrum.  I am firmly in the socialist camp, or what in Scandanavia is referred to as a social democrat, because I feel this is the most consistent political expression of interdependency as I've come to understand it through the lens of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism.  My spirituality is defined by the way I feel connected to all phenomona, and I approach ecology as the science of the reality of that interconnectedness. 

 

A social democrat is not a socialist they are two different things.

 

 

41 minutes ago, Encephalon said:

One writer once referred to conservatism as a "potent idea," the presence of which is critical to a healthy society.  Conservatism is the acknowledgment that human qualities we admire such as wisdom, courage, imagination, and athleticism  and others are not equally distributed throughout the species.  Some people are more talented than others in different arenas and should be rewarded.  Beyond a few parts per million, conservatism quickly devolves into rationalizations for favoritism and a toxic individualism that dismissed the critical role of a healthy public sector.  

 

Conservatism is more about the wish to preserve (conserve) current institutions and social structures.  There is an emphasis on the individual rather than collectives in terms of rights and freedoms.  It is perfectly possible for instance to embrace something like universal health care under a conservative umbrella.

 

41 minutes ago, Encephalon said:

I confess I am less informed about the dark side of modern liberalism.  Identity politics, victim consciousness,  submitting oneself to purity tests when pursuing elective office come to mind.  Liberals are feckless and hide behind the facade of fake egalitarianism in order to show the world their 'advanced' ethical development and concern for the commonfolk, but all they end up doing is wasting time trying to find consensus when a critical task requires they immediately send in a Navy Seal Strike Team. 

 

Identity politics is a project of the left based on neo-marxism which replaces class struggle with various forms of oppression based on gender, race and so on.

 

41 minutes ago, Encephalon said:

A great deal of the "warrior" literature from the east, especially the Samurai material, makes it clear that balance is paramount; martial prowess must go hand in hand with civil and aesthetic development.  Trying to ascertain which is more important is like trying to guess which wheel of a bicycle is more important, but as the saying goes, "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war."

 

I think samurai codes and so on will be inherently conservative - especially as they embrace things like filial piety and the respect for the social hierarchy.

 

41 minutes ago, Encephalon said:

There are critical distinctions here between Buddhism and Taoism that should be teased out pretty quickly by the TTB crowd.  I think it was Deng Ming-Dao who said "The quality of the scholar is awareness.  The quality of the warrior is readiness."  

 

I'll just open this up and see what percolates!

 

Certainly in terms of Buddhism you will find practitioners on the left and those who are more conservative - so I don't think dharma and politics mix uniformly.  Indeed the record of Buddhist countries in terms of the actual practice of compassion or human rights is decidedly patchy to say the least.

 

I would also place myself on the left, as I think one of the roles of state is to look after and protect the vulnerable but my overall attitude is that we should ease suffering to the extent that engaging in 'hate politics' and manipulation must be avoided on the spiritual path.

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I think I got my best idea of healthy conservatism from the Wenzi, a taoist classic allegedly written by a disciple of Laozi and canonized as Tongxuan zhenjing.  Don't remember the exact phrasing but years ago that one paragraph changed my whole outlook, which before taoism was that of a rebel, revolutionary, dissident, all in the name of freedom and justice.  But the sage said that a taoist does not rock the boat, does not join political parties or movements, does not start rebellions, stays out of revolutions.  That gave me pause, and I started thinking, why.  Why not if the social order is unjust and enslaving?  Why not try to change it toward just and free?  Then I took a long hard look at history.  And everywhere I looked, shock therapies resulted in exponential increase of suffering and ultimately less justice and less freedom. 

 

So, healthy conservatism then?  Unfolding rather than unraveling, evolution rather than revolution?  Too late for that.  We haven't been healthily conservative in over a century (much longer in fact, but once it became exponential, it became exponentially faster).  Everything is being perpetually revolutionized.  We are the product of adaptation of the human body and mind to technology shaping our very reality in its own image and likeness.  And the shape to which the bodies and minds must conform keeps changing, so we morph this way and that way and it's exponential. 

 

As a result, today we are biotechnological chimeras.  And chimeras are a glitch, an abomination.  They don't last long enough to develop any healthy conservatism, they are transient and become obsolete very fast and go extinct in the blink of an eye.  We see our own parents as obsolete, let alone grandparents, in everything their whole lives were about.  Most people of my parents' generation would be crucified today as reactionaries for 99% of their views that in their own prime were revolutionary AF.  If the world survives the current developments, your own children will despise your views of today no matter what they are, and to your grandchildren what you stand for today will be what was their demolition project yesterday, already accomplished and forgotten, and they will be busy with the demolition project targeting the values of your children.  In the best case scenario.  

 

I don't see healthy anything in the current situation and I don't see a way out of it either.  Too far gone.  Healthy conservatism is what we practiced before the TEOTWAWKI that took place about ten thousand years ago. Stone tools found by archeologists around Lake Turkana in Kenya are dated to be 3.3 million years old, and their design never changed, they used the same stone axe technology for 3.3 million years -- even becoming a new genus of our species didn't cause our ancestors to lose their healthy conservatism.  So...  maybe the next cycle will be nice again, healthily conservative like all things in nature.  I for one look forward to being reborn into that next stable, fully adapted to, conservative stretch of a few million years or more.  Don't think there's much time left for anyone to be reborn into this latest glitch anymore, thank god.     

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But, make no mistake, these connections exist. They are as real as they are invisible to the vast majority of us. So, when you see ‘Tommy Robinson’ endorse [the Conservative] Boris Johnson, remember that the two of them are not as distant, not as unfamiliar, not as unconnected as you might think. None of them are.

 

 

https://bylinetimes.com/2019/11/20/far-right-influence-why-tommy-robinson-endorsing-boris-johnson-is-not-as-surprising-as-you-think/

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I wish I were better at attributing my sources - this most likely came from Ming Deng-Dao again since he's such a terrific writer - or maybe it's from the TTC -

if a particular condition is your goal, create it's extreme opposite. Inevitably, balance gets restored.  

In the most optimistic scenario, we will have an opportunity to fix a lot of broken elements in our culture, not that we will sieze these opportunities - that's another matter - but there does seem to be positive movement in some areas.  

The pandemic has revealed these broken elements like nothing else; the folly of our healthcare system, the food and agricultural sector, transportation and land use, the Department of Education and just about every department in government that's been tweaked into absurdity.

There could be a window of opportunity - a new generation of Americans who have nothing to gain by acquiescing to the spectacle of consumer culture and Trumpism.  We've been flirting with American fascism for years but it looks like we'll reject it this fall.  But it probably won't be the most gentle transference of power we've ever had.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Encephalon said:

I wish I were better at attributing my sources - this most likely came from Ming Deng-Dao again since he's such a terrific writer - or maybe it's from the TTC -

if a particular condition is your goal, create it's extreme opposite. Inevitably, balance gets restored.  

 

I know a Jewish joke to that effect.  A poor guy from a little village comes to the rabbi and tells him, god has forsaken me!  In my house, I only have one room where we all live -- me, my wife, our four kids and my elderly parents, we're all cramped into an impossibly tight space and there's never any peace and quiet, not for a second!  And now my in-laws have lost their home and have moved in with us!  Can you help?

The rabbi says, do you have any barn animals?

Yes, a couple of goats, a dozen chickens, a milk cow...

Take the goats in to live in that room with you.

What?!

Do it, you'll see that god hasn't forsaken you. 

A week later the same guy comes to the rabbi and says, with the goats in the house it's even worse!  No room at all for anyone, and it's a madhouse!  What should I do?

The rabbi says, take in all the chickens!

A week later: Take in the cow!

End of the month, the poor man comes again, weeping so hard he can't get the words out.  The rabbi says,

Kick out all the animals immediately!! 

And a week later the guy comes again, happy and smiling, bringing some eggs and some homemade butter as a gift of gratitude.

You were right!  God has not forsaken me!  My house is so spacious now, so calm and peaceful!  Thank you!!   

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Posted (edited)

I agree that all people are not equal, but that does not mean that all people dont deserve a fundamental set of basic rights and opportunities.  From this basic set, one can rise into power, and earn whatever other freedoms that money and fame allow.

 

Is it fair that money and fame help people attain more privilege and opportunity?  In a world where the effort and quality of labor needs to be rewarded, it only makes sense that the ability to pay for it garners one this advantage.  There could be an argument that fame does not deserve to buy opportunity, but this is a matter of personal preference, so that the person granting the opportunity knows the person of fame and is inclined to trust or appreciate them rather than dealing with someone unknown.  It would be hard to regulate this trade and really, it is unfair, but its only natural.

Edited by helpfuldemon

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"I know a Jewish joke to that effect.  A poor guy from a little village comes to the rabbi and tells him, god has forsaken me!  In my house, I only have one room where we all live -- me, my wife, our four kids and my elderly parents, we're all cramped into an impossibly tight space and there's never any peace and quiet, not for a second!  And now my in-laws have lost their home and have moved in with us!  Can you help?

The rabbi says, do you have any barn animals?

Yes, a couple of goats, a dozen chickens, a milk cow...

Take the goats in to live in that room with you.

What?!

Do it, you'll see that god hasn't forsaken you. 

A week later the same guy comes to the rabbi and says, with the goats in the house it's even worse!  No room at all for anyone, and it's a madhouse!  What should I do?

The rabbi says, take in all the chickens!

A week later: Take in the cow!

End of the month, the poor man comes again, weeping so hard he can't get the words out.  The rabbi says,

Kick out all the animals immediately!! 

And a week later the guy comes again, happy and smiling, bringing some eggs and some homemade butter as a gift of gratitude.

You were right!  God has not forsaken me!  My house is so spacious now, so calm and peaceful!  Thank you!! "

 

This is priceless! Exactly what's going on of late; 

let's introduce the caging of children

opening up wildlife preserves and sanctuaries to mineral exploration

cuttin off health and food benefits in the middle of a pandemic

inflamming race relations

abandoning our allies abroad

embracing authoritarians abroad

practicing crony capitalism 

destroying the credibility of expertise

creating an information environment that trashes the role of objective truth and knowledge

la de dah de dah

and Voila!

something else is born into the world.

 

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