Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brief Thoughts on Human Nature & Political Philosophy

While I share the progressive dislike of former president GW Bush, I disagree with the source of their sentiments. Their concerns were not that Mr. Bush so expanded the size of the state, but rather he was the "wrong helmsman." Most hoped for a leader who could utilize the largess of the federal government to promote social and economic transformation, whereas I as a conservative am skeptical of the "ship itself." This brings us to an underlying difference in the ways in which liberal and conservative thought tends to view man. Historically, liberals like Jean-Jacques Rousseau have viewed man either as a tabula rasa, a blank slate shaped by socialization or being born good, but corrupted by society. Conservatives have tended to believe more in a set human nature with innate vices. For this reason, liberals have been more inclined to support a powerful state that pursues the "perfection of mankind" or in the case of Che Guevara, the creation of a "new man". And conservatives have sought to limit the folly unleashed when flawed men with power seek to perfect the social and economic lives of other flawed men and communities. The great conservative commentator Jack Hunter artfully expresses these sentiments in this brief piece, in which he reserves his harshest criticism for neoconservatives who he refers to as:

 "...a collection of trigger happy John Lennons who continue to imagine a middle east that will happily embrace American values at the point of the gun, that in Iraq and now Afghanistan the scenario has yet to play out hasn't seem to deter the right wing utopians that continue to champion it."
 Here are some other excerpts that most caught my attention:

"Grandiose liberal efforts do not work not because they are simply led by the wrong kind of men, because they are lead by men period."

"Multiculturalism is well intentioned, yet is seems ever time different cultures cohabit it creates more friction than friendship."

"I've been uncomfortable with the term conservative for some of the reasons that I've already mentioned, also because so many big government Republican hacks have so damaged the term...after all GW Bush called himself a conservative, yet no other popular label better describes my philosophy, I believe in limited government primarily because I do not want other flawed men who inevitably create so many flawed systems, programs and bureaucratic schemes to have that much power over me...I am screwed up enough as it is."

Liberals seem to believe that man is inherently good and the larger the collective effort, the quicker humans can evolve tending ever closer to earthly perfection. I believe that individuals can be and many are good people despite man's overall flawed nature which does not evolve and can never be perfected on this earth. Some might find this pessimistic view of humanity depressing, but its actually quite liberating. Those who keep wondering when we will eradicate racism, sexism and religious strife often drive themselves bonkers with their futile efforts. The only way to truly due away with such problems is to eradicate man altogether as ethnic attachments, differences between the sexes and even yearning for G-d are significant constant aspects of the human experience. and that we often become jealous or nasty about such differences is also unfortunately part of our makeup."

"Conservatism recognizes man's flaws and seek to do the best with the reality at hand. Liberalism tries in vain to create its own reality and ideal, never taking into account the flawed nature of the material that it seeks to work with."

"That the ridiculously large government that we suffer under today had to  circumvent our nation's founding document at every turn to become so powerful is no accident...And seeking a return to constitutional government is much more than some cheap conservative catch phrase. Though it might seem contradictory, being a conservative in America necessarily means being a radical, because any serious attempt to actually stuff our modern federal government back into its constitutional box, a colossal unprecedented reversal of more than a century and a half of government expansion would be nothing short of a revolution."

"Will this ever happen, perhaps not, perhaps I am being utopian thinking that a return to constitutional government is even possible. Yet as liberals continue to argue that the solution to our problems is to place even more power into even fewer men, I will continue to argue for fewer laws restrained powers and smaller government, so when men do their inevitable worse we can at least minimize the damage."

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