Saturday, February 9, 2013

Andrew Bacevich Defines Conservativism

After blasting the type of conservatism found on the pages of The National Review and The Weekly Standard, Andrew Bacevich, writing in The American Conservative, offers a conservative alternative.  He calls it "Counterculture Conservatism."  Here are some its characteristics:
  • Counterculture conservatism is NOT the "conservatism" of Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul, Robert Murdoch, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, or Grover Norquist.
  • Counterculture conservatism IS the "conservatism" of John Quincy Adams, Henry Adams, Randolph Bourne, Reinhold Niebuhr, Christopher Lasch, Flannery O'Connor, Wendell Berry, William Appleman Williams, and Frank Capra.
  • Counterculture conservatism protects things of lasting value.  It discriminates "between what is permanent and what is transient."
  • Counterculture conservatism is skeptical of utopianism.
  • Counterculture conservatism celebrates community and "little platoons" (Burke) over individualism, appetite, and ambition.
  • Counterculture conservatism upholds a belief in Original Sin.
  • Counterculture conservatism favors the "local" over the "distance."
  • Counterculture conservatism is patriotic, but does not "confuse country with state."  America is not the military.
  • Counterculture conservatism favors change through "incremental" and "thoughtful" action.
  • Counterculture conservatism knows that it will be virtually impossible to dismantle the welfare state, outlaw abortion and gay marriage, and stop the "sexual revolution."
  • Counterculture conservatism subordinates economic growth to the well-being of "planet Earth."  (Bacevich: "conservatives should make common cause with tree-hugging, granola-crunching liberals").  Sounds a lot like Rod Dreher here.
  • Counterculture conservatism opposes "the excesses of American militarism and the futility of neo-imperialistic impulses." No neo-conservatism here.
  • Counterculture conservatism preaches fiscal responsibility
  • Counterculture conservatism believes children should be raised by traditional families.
  • Counterculture conservatism defends the health of churches and religious freedom
There is a lot here that I can embrace, if not champion.  Does that mean I am a conservative?

6 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

There is a lot here that I can embrace, if not champion. Does that mean I am a conservative?

Well, it's what liberalism should be anyway, instead of the corrosive force it's become.

Naum said...

Well, it's what liberalism should be anyway, instead of the corrosive force it's become.

Really?

Interesting thought, given the fact that over the course of the 20th century, it was *liberals* that fought against exploitation and oppression of workers, ushered in the ubiquitous middle class (1933-1980) which hitherto never existed on such a scale, social safety nets like social security that almost completely eliminated poverty amongst the elderly, gained women suffrage, marched for advances of civil rights, etc.… In every one of those, it was *conservatives* who opposed such *radical* measures that would destroy the fabric of society.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, "liberal" is a catchall for all human progress, "conservative" for all that's wrong about the human condition.

Zzzzzz.

But to play this useless game, it was "conservatism" which ended Nazism and the boot of communism, the murderers of millions. That alone puts "conservatism" head & shoulders above all other ideologies.

Naum said...

…it was "conservatism" which ended Nazism and the boot of communism, the murderers of millions. That alone puts "conservatism" head & shoulders above all other ideologies.

Got your historical facts all wrong again.

It was the nation's most historical *liberal* chief executive (along with that evil "communist" Stalin USSR, which is another OT meandering as their enactment of "communism" much more akin to fascism or tin pot authoritarianism ) whereas the *conservatives* of the time (i.e, Henry Ford, IBM, etc.…) were actually quite sympathetic (until war broke out) to the Nazi cause and poured lots of money into them (with many corporations, see Edmund Black comprehensive work, still propping up the Nazis during WWII).

And "the boot of communism", mistakenly credited to Reagan by today's myopic conservatives, was more the doing of Pope John Paul II (and the labor union movement which for *conservatives*, a dreaded loathsome anathema), Gorbachev (though it was more just the wheels coming off a 3rd world country propped up by a facade and U.S. military industrial complex to justify large defense disbursements) and George Soros (that vaunted evil bogeyman to today's *conservatives*).

But it's nice jingoistic fairy tale *conservatives* are quite enraptured with, actual history be damned. :D

Tom Van Dyke said...

Of course. "Liberalism" is the catchall for all that is good, "conservative" for what is not. We've established that.

I did find Bacevich spellbinding on the Byzantine Empire, but like anyone else, his emotions make him quite incoherent when it comes to the present day.

Naum said...

How exactly do "his emotions make him quite incoherent when it comes to the present day"? That's a rather broad charge bereft of any substance…