Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What, If Anything Is A Conservative?

Politics is simple. There are two natural political doctrines:

Every person is as important as any other.
Every dollar is as important as any other.

“Democracies” try to work on the first principal, hoping that everyone’s vote will count as much as anyone else’s. In theory, the resulting policies will benefit everyone equally. At the same time, the parallel system is at work everywhere and at all times. It’s called the marketplace. Society’s resources simply go to the highest bidder.

In other words, the fundamental political struggle is between the rich, who naturally want to each of their dollars to count and the masses, who think it’s only fair that each warm body should count.

A third factor comes into play: the use of force. If the police work solely for the “dollar people”, we have fascism. If the police work solely for the “people” we have communism. In practice, both sides have at least some power and the resulting system settles down somewhere in the middle as a “liberal democracy” or some such hybrid. In such a system, the political parties will assume confusing labels. “People” parties will adopt names with “Democratic” and “Social” in them, signaling a preference for the “people” point of view. The “dollar” people never come out and baldly say what they stand for. Most often, they call themselves “conservative”. This is misleading. They should instead call themselves the “Business” party or the “Bottom Line” party. They are not conservative.

What does “conservative” mean? We’re supposed to think that “conservatives” want to hang on to the tried and true values of the past. Stuff like “family values” and “small business”. They seem to stand for cautious change. But they don’t. Conservatives want lots of changes. The changes they oppose are the ones the “people” want. They don’t want universal medical insurance. They don’t want to raise the minimum wage. They oppose any change that will give all people, rich and poor, the same access to resources. They want all resources to go to the highest bidder.

There is no moral high ground here. If you’re poor, you’ll want resources divided equally. If you’re rich, you’ll be happy to bid for resources. To put it another way, if you can afford everything you need to be comfortable, you’ll be happy with the status quo. If you can’t afford something you need (like a heart transplant), you’ll favor measures that make those things available to everyone equally.

It’s that simple.

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