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?