Today we begin a new series of blogs on the immorality of Conservatism.
Each day, we will take up a current intractable problem in American society and show how it is caused and sustained by the Major Myths of Conservatism.
As will become clear, the underlying perspective from which all these posts are generated is a decided viewpoint on the nature of so-called Conservatism:
Conservatism is not a legitimate world view that can be tolerated by people of good faith; it is a twisted network of ideas, all ultimately motivated by fear and selfishness, that harms everyone it reaches—even those who believe it.
Or, to put it more succinctly, Conservatism is unethical and immoral.
Each day, we will show how our most intractable problems are caused and sustained by conservatives acting on unethical and immoral “principles” based on fear and selfishness.
As we go through the issues day by day, it will become clearer and clearer how the Major Myths of Conservatism are making life more and more intolerable. I hope that the clarity generated by these posts will inspire more and more people to take action to minimize or eliminate the influence of the Major Myths in the world, and to remove those who believe them from positions of power.
Today we will discuss the “Sequester”—that utterly asinine collection of forced budget cuts taking effect today in Washington.
HOW THE “SEQUESTER” WAS CAUSED, AND IS SUSTAINED, BY IMMORAL CONSERVATISM
Washington is currently abuzz with charges flying back and forth about who is to blame for the “Sequester,” which, at least for now, all parties are calling a foolish crisis that should never have happened. Bob Woodward has recently claimed that the White House came down hard on him over his opinion that the Sequester was the brainchild of President Obama, who is going back on a deal he made with Republicans in 2011 that the Sequester would contain no tax revenue. As would be expected, the conservative media has played this up as a “revelation” showing the President’s mendacity.
Woodward is wrong, of course, about the history. This article in today’s Washington Post discusses why the White House never agreed to take tax revenue off the table in any negotiations.
But the reason why this little fracas even has any relevance is that each side is trying to blame the other for the Sequester just in case any untoward consequences follow from it. And in this matter, there is no doubt which side is responsible. As is almost always the case when terrible ideas grip American politics, the source is Conservatism and its “principles”—namely, the Major Myths that infect all conservative thinking.
Whether the idea of the stupid across-the-board tax cuts came from Obama or not, it was the result of complete Republican intransigence about raising taxes. Having gained a majority in the House in 2010, the Republicans took this as a mandate to blackmail the American people into continuing to support their ridiculous policy of never raising taxes. And this despite the absolute shambles that their policies had made of the nation’s economy during the Bush regime, which both cut taxes unnecessarily and spent wildly.
Now the Republican mania for tax cutting comes from their uncritical belief in the Myth of Capitalism, which tells them that all economic activity ought to be free from government restraint of any kind. After all, they imagine, what is liberty once it is hedged in? Of course, they also scream for government protection from the inevitable bad consequences of not having government restraints on any individual actions that might disadvantage them. As is customary with conservatives, they don’t see their own contradictory behavior as being contradictory, nor do they see their own hypocrisy.
As we pointed out long ago, the Myth of Capitalism is also bound up with the Myth of Self-interest and the Myth of Competition, both of which are ultimately rooted in the fear of shortages and of other people. This is even more ironic: the “freedom” that conservatives want in their unrestrained capitalism contradicts the very essence of capitalism, which requires government oversight to prevent the selfishness and unethical competitive practices that will inevitably arise if people pursue economic activities without restraint.
This pattern of self-contradiction inhabits all of conservative thought. Ultimately, it comes from the conflict between unethical and immoral principles (e.g., the immorality of the selfishness underlying the Myth of Self-interest, or the unethically mindless contention underlying the Myth of Competition) and the psychological need to regard oneself as decent. This gives rise to the characteristic personality traits of conservatives. Because they know deep down that they live according to unjustifiable principles, they must project self-justification at all times. Hence they become arrogant, preachy, holier-than-thou, and completely uncompromising.
The Sequester is the offspring of the uncompromising stance that conservatives have taken regarding their fatuous “principle” that taxes are always bad and must only be cut, never raised. No political opinion has been demonstrated to be wrong more conclusively. Raising taxes does not lead to economic stagnation. (See the 1990s.) Lowering taxes does not lead to economic boom times. (See the 2000s.) And austerity does not lead to solvency. (See Europe now.)
Yet we are still dealing with the consequences of Republican intransigence. Their rebuke at the polls in 2008, their rebuke by the world finance community after their attempt to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised in 2011, their even greater rebuke at the polls in 2012—none of this registers with them. They continue to insist that taxes never be raised, and that the only path they will allow the American people to take is the path of extreme austerity. And this despite the wealth of poll data that shows a substantial portion of the American people against nearly all their policies.
This sort of unethical and immoral behavior—and it just cannot be called anything else when the people’s representatives insist on shoving demonstrably false policies down the throats of the people who have voted agains them and continue to voice their opposition to them—this sort of behavior is what can be expected from those who believe unethical and immoral Myths grounded ultimately in selfishness and fear.
As long as nothing can be done to remove these people from office altogether, or at least to whittle their number down to an ineffective minority, America will continue to waste her resources and deprive her children of the future they deserve.
What is called conservatism today is the perversion of politics and the vector of the disease of selfishness. Those of us who are still free of disease must eradicate it before it infects everything that is good and true.
Next we will tackle the problem of guns, and show that immoral conservative Myths are all that stands between us and a much less violent society.
Until Monday, then.
1 March 2013
by Alfred George