J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

End of the World(View), and a New Conservatism

Conservatism has seen better days.

Conservatism has seen better days.

As far as I can tell, the world isn’t ending today. The Mayan calendar rolls over to a new stone, or a longer ring cycle.

So what is ending? Certain worldviews are on the decline, and I say good riddance.

On their way out:

  • the belief that gays should be second-class citizens, without equal legal rights
  • the belief that cruelty to animals is an acceptable and/or necessary cost of food production
  • the belief that maximizing corporate profits should be protected at the cost of public health, worker safety, and the environment
  • the belief that having mentally ill people living on the streets is a necessary cost of a capitalist/free-ish market society
  • the belief that the right to self-defense should extend to unlimited private ownership of and access to military-grade weapons
  • the belief that religious beliefs are necessary in order to be a good person with moral principles

I see evidence that all these beliefs are on their way out, especially among younger people. This isn’t to say that the consciousness change is strictly demographic — not every brain over 40 (or 60, or even 80) is completely fossilized and resistant to change.

So, in the United States, and maybe all over the planet, the trend is towards more compassion and more empathy. Steven Pinker calls this the “The Expanding Circle.”

Is this just a liberal fantasy?

I don’t think so. For one, I’m not that liberal. Politically, I’m a centrist — I believe in private property, reasonably-regulated free-ish markets, the right to bear arms, and that the maximum income tax shouldn’t exceed 50% except under extreme circumstances (it’s only 35% at the moment). I’m just calling the sea change as I see it.

I’ll be blunt. Old-style conservatism is dead, at least among literate young people. Conservatives who wish to stay relevant need to get out of the gay-bashing, automatic weapon shooting, veal eating, Bible waving, racial fear-mongering, free-clinic bombing gutter.

Here is the rational, relevant future of American (and in some cases global) conservatism, is five points:

1. End government cash incentives for unproductive behaviors, like discouraging children from learning to read so they can qualify for benefits for being “intellectually disabled.” Kristof handed this one to conservatives on a platter, and he was right to do so.

2. Gradually replace most “qualified” welfare benefits with universal benefits (like national healthcare, and free education from early childhood through graduate school, and maybe even free high-speed internet). Instead of welfare, create universal public wealth. Charles Murray got the social welfare state at least partially right as per Murray’s Law.

3. Fight tendencies towards tribalism and help build a new national American identity based on “traditional” values (family, charity, community, service, moral character). Drop whiteness, straightness, and Christianity from the “required attributes” list, so this national identity can be universally aspirational and truly inclusive (and realistically represent what our country looks like).

4. Build national strength (and the national economy) via a focus on (and funding for) education, scientific research, domestic manufacturing facilities, high-tech infrastructure, and non-polluting energy independence.

5. Work with liberals on reasonable corporate charter reform (basically, reform the corporate charter so that corporations are at least allowed to consider other factors besides shareholder profits when making decisions that influence public health, the environment, and so on). Corporations behaving badly, and being perceived as parasitical money-stealing entities instead of job-creating, useful-product-creating entities, helps no one. Reign in corporate power, influence, and rule-bending (thereby increasing citizen and community power), and everybody wins.

Republicans and Libertarians — am I wrong? Am I missing something here? Is this not the future of conservatism? If it’s not, then what is?

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11 Comments

  1. great post, JD. i enjoy most of your writing, especially the thoroughly hyperlinked posts that are your trademark. Honestly, i don’t even know what my political views are called anymore, but i do know that i back the idea of taking humanity into consideration when forming policy.

    • Thanks, and glad you enjoy the links. Some bloggers recommend against adding so many links (because it drives traffic away from the post, and can be distracting to the reader) but if I don’t provide supporting evidence I just feel like I’m pulling stuff out of my ass. So the links will continue.

  2. Hollis Pickett, Redding CA

    You mean, like, take each individual on their merits instead of their religion, skin color, ethnicity or economic background? Really?!? You mean, like, (to quote Eminem, loosely) – “I don’t care if you’re short or tall, skinny or fat, gay or straight, black/white/red/yellow/brown, rich or poor, religious or not – if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”? You mean, like, arrive at a place where we can have thoughtful, considered discussions on a variety of topics without hating one another? You mean, like, being willing to acknowledge the possibility that you may not be 100% right about everything all the time, so maybe you should at least listen to other points of view? You mean, like, coming to the realization that the human species is the only species on the planet capable of multiplying beyond the ability of our environment to support us? You mean, like, never looking down on someone unless you’re helping them up? Heck, if it was just you and me, we could get this done in a couple’a days. Nice post – thank you!

  3. Hollis Pickett, Redding CA

    P.S. I vote for the links – useful and educational

  4. it’s always a treat to meet a thoughtful view (and keep the links!)

  5. Hollis Pickett, Redding CA

    Are you kidding? It’s snowing……love it……just beautiful!

  6. Could not agree more. Very good post.

  7. I been unemployed all my life. I seem to be unable to get a job. My mother is tried of my supporting her son that is in his 20s. Do you have any advice what should I do?

    • Pick up whatever kind of work is available (temping, delivering pizza, whatever), then find some roommates and rent a cheap apartment. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment from supporting yourself, even if your standard of living drops for awhile.

      • Q 1: I’m trying my best and it does help since I’ve never had job experience plus my college schedule also conflicts with job applications because businesses mainly want full-time. I’m kind of a isolated person Q 2: Any way I was wondering if you know of a program similar to serato pitch n time that works for Windows 7. I have this whole BT/Hybrid thing when time correcting my stuff. Q 3: Did React 2 Rhythm, Duncan Forbes & Charlie May (Spooky), Leftfield, and X Press 2 create progressive house.

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