Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Conservative-Liberal Comments Comments

with 9 comments

robert_e_lee.gif
One of history’s great liberals: Robert E. Lee

Yeesh, I have had so many thoughtful comments the last few days I hardly know where to begin. OK, that’s a lie, I have some idea. Several lines of thought have been inspired. I’m one of those people who thinks a lot. I’d say I think too much, but frankly I don’t think the race suffers from any surfeit of thinking. And heck, I’m a guy, so a lot of my thinking is about girls. Especially in my case since I never waste any time thinking about sports. Well, maybe girl’s sports. Heck, most of my life most of my friends have been women. If it worked for Robert E. Lee, it works for me. Does that make me a girlie man?

OK then. First I would say that for most purposes liberal/conservative is a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is where two positions are considered to be the only two options, and other positions are not considered. (There are other nuances and terms, but that is how I am using the term here.) Most people’s views do not pigeon hole into one or the camp neatly. I’m an ex-Marine, former National Socialist who favours a balanced budget, the draft, abortion rights, the right to bear arms, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Am I a conservative or a liberal? Beats me. I’m definitely not a Republican or Democrat, and have little good to say about politicians of almost any stripe. My point is that people who have blanket condemnations of liberals, conservatives, whatever…aren’t saying much about the real world. Few, if any, people will neatly fit into the mold of those they are decrying.

I’m still curious why more pro war folks aren’t calling for a draft and war taxes. Bush for example, he seems to be big on the decision thing. Why did he decide to fight what has clearly become a long, expensive war using credit cards and reservists? He’s not running for election again, there’s no reason he can’t make unpopular decisions. And while we are on the subject of Bush, I thought I’d throw out that whatever I may think of his policies, I’d still take a bullet for him. Yes, if an assassin goes for Bush and I’m around, I will be one of the folks protecting him with my body. Granted I sure hope this never happens, and if it’s not obvious, I would do so out of respect for the office, not the man. I would hope that any self respecting person, liberal, conservative, or otherwise would do the same for their leaders.

A point was raised about how America is “soft” now and doesn’t have the stomach for wars. I’ve been thinking about this lot, and I’ve decided it really isn’t true. I think it’s closer to the truth to say that wars have always been popular with war profiteers and certain politicians, much less so with everyone else. I’m willing to bet that even the most popular wars in history had plenty of people at the time who thought “surely there has to be a better way to settle this.” McClellan gave Lincoln a run for his money in the 1864 election for example. It’s real easy, and popular, to look back at glorious wars in the past and claim how popular they were. In fact, it’s such an obvious way to try to drum up support for a current war that it almost goes without saying that the glory and popularity of past wars is exaggerated. And again, it shouldn’t need to be said that wars tend to be more popular if they go well.

While I appreciate all the hopeful and optimistic views on Iraq, it’s still interesting to me that many people still believe that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” In the real world, things are much more complicated that simple truisms allow. That statement might apply to an individual buying used car or passing the bar, it doesn’t apply to nations fighting wars. There are an infinite number of factors that determine who wins a war, willpower may be important but it doesn’t trump the rest. It’s entirely possible there isn’t a winning strategy in Iraq, this isn’t a football game, the greatest Hail Mary pass in history might not pull our fat from the fire.

In fact the two preceding paragraphs can be used to understand pro-war propaganda. It’s easy to claim that people who are against a war compare badly with heroes of the past. (Especially when said heroes aren’t around to comment on the current situation.) And it’s a lot easier to claim a war is going badly because “we aren’t trying hard enough” than to ask hard questions about how the war has been and is being fought. “What if” arguments and “if we’d only done that” arguments need to be used with great care, since it’s easy to manufacture one to support any position. I wish we hadn’t invaded Iraq, but arguing about it is mostly pointless now, what is done is done.

Someone asked if there are other blogs in Berkeley. I think the Daily Kos is based in Berkeley. There might be a few others, but as far as popular and important blogs go, we’re it. hehe. I almost never read the Daily Kos, it usually gets into the minutiae of politics and politicians. All well and good I suppose, but I kind of think that the minutiae of politicians and politics is about as important as keeping up with the plots and characters on Soap Operas. Also a lot of liberal thought makes my flesh crawl, yuppies and Billy Crystal affect me the same way.

I do appreciate a reader’s helpful suggestion that if I burst into flame, I can just douse myself with the coffee I spilt. It’s always nice to know that people are looking out for me. It’s a refreshing contrast from my enemies, who are looking for me as opposed to looking out for me. One isn’t really living unless one has enemies, but that’s for another day. :)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6

(The above image of General Robert E. Lee predates 1923 and is public domain under US copyright law. I just love old photographs.)

Written by unitedcats

December 18, 2006 at 9:48 pm

9 Responses

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  1. I agree with you sir. More people need to realize that democrat and republican, liberal and conservative are one in the same, e.g. nancy pelosi – “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. It is just another way to keep people in their place, to give them two choices when none exist. Some say we are “doomed” to be free, to have a myriad of corporately endorsed choices; FEMA camps for the rest. After taking a final exam in Aristotle’s “Politics” (I am a classicist), our lecture turned to a darker note. Have the powers of the world cashed in on individualism, on personal identify versus identity within the family. I know it sounds archaic, but Aristotle thinks in terms of group interests and not really individual interests unless its the interests of the oligarchy. When we complain about the current political system, what is the response? You vote, its your problem, if you don’t like it then change it. Always responsibility is shifted to the individual. I do not mean to speak badly about the individual. I personally believe that an individual’s unique and creative spirit provides the ammo against the new world order and the powers at large.

    Gloria in altissimis Deo
    Et in terra pax homnibus bonae voluntatis.
    (secundum Lucam 2.14)

    enthousiazo

    December 18, 2006 at 10:12 pm

  2. I like to think myself as a nonconformist centrist. I hope that I that I believe in ideas for their own merit and how they fit into my own value system, and not anyone else’s.

    I abhor the far-right (because they’re much more liable to force their ideas on you), but I’m also uncomfortable with the far-left. The thing is with Democrats you at least have a number of moderates, while the Republicans had three moderate senators at last count. The political party system has its pros and cons; on one hand you have enough power to get things done, on the other you get stuck with a specific agenda.

    Regarding the whole Iraq war thing, my reasons for wanting to work out may be a little selfish. My country is the tiny one on the southeast border. Things were hard enough when the central government was threatening to reinvade. We were grateful for the American military bases then, and if we were paying through the nose, hey the security was worth it you know? We didn’t expect them to be doing it from the goodness of their hearts; after all they were sending their kids to fight for people to whom they had no allegiance. Then they get it into their heads that they want to fix the region. Now, here we are. If they pull out, it’s not just Iraq that’s in trouble.

    SnoCone

    December 19, 2006 at 5:10 am

  3. Your points in this post are valid Doug, as they usually are. People don’t fit into neat little categories and parties any more than the options for Iraq can be boiled down to “cut and run” or “stay the course”. Its like you said, life is more complicated than that and this situation deserves more than a cursory glance at the alternatives.

    I second snocone on what she said at the end. If the Americans pull out now, I shudder to think what the outcome might be…

    krispydixie

    December 19, 2006 at 9:21 am

  4. On the other hand, the case can also be made that the US occupation of Iraq is like a bad marriage: The divorce is going to be ugly, but the longer it’s put off the uglier it will be. Beats me, this is one of the reasons why I was against this and most wars, things can and do spin out of control. That being said, I think the US can and would defend Kuwait in a worst case scenario, but I think that’s low on the list of unpleasant possibilities. I can see why having a riot next door would make one nervous though. What a mess, you folks are in my prayers. —Doug

    unitedcats

    December 19, 2006 at 9:54 am

  5. So let me see if I understand where you are coming from — you subscribe to the leader principle, it seems to me. Everyone is part of society and whether they like it or not what is good for society is good for most of the individuals that comprise it. But society is disorganized and unable to decide between what is good and bad in many cases. Therefore government is established to help society make these choices.

    Does that sound like a fair representation of your thinking?

    So far as it goes, I agree with this, but I do not emphasize the leader. In fact, in a modern communication network the leader is someone almost certainly invisible, like a spider at the center of a web. But there is not one center, and there are many spiders.

    What is good for society is not to blindly follow leaders.

    whig

    December 19, 2006 at 11:03 am

  6. No, I believe that all governments start out as armed gangs that shoot their way into power, some nicer than others. Left to their own devices, such governments and societies may eventually transform into nation states with reasonably functional and democratic governments. But even under the best of circumstances people should be very leery of government power and limit the scope of what their government can do. My comments about protecting the leader were meant to demonstrate my respect for the law, especially constitutional law. Though at heart I am a monarchist, so that colours what I say I am sure, and surely influences me in how I say it. As always, thanks and regards for the thoughtful comments.

    unitedcats

    December 19, 2006 at 12:06 pm

  7. Who is your monarch?

    whig

    December 19, 2006 at 12:54 pm

  8. Kuwait has a security pact with the US so they would defend us in that case…

    i don’t think the iraqi war as unhappy marriage analogy works very well….

    more like a pushy aunt who overstays her welcome and keeps giving unsolicited advice… :P

    KrispyDixie

    December 20, 2006 at 9:04 am

  9. Doug, I love: “ex-Marine, former National Socialist who favours a balanced budget, the draft, abortion rights, the right to bear arms, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.” ha!!

    Also the terms liberal and conservative are relative terms–thats the reason I never refer to myself as a political conservative (I am an originalist) because I find our contemporary political environment completely reprehensible, nor do I refer to myself as a liberal because I don’t want to take our nation even further down the road to socialism/communism/absolutism, etc.

    After reading much of your work, I would almost characterize you as a (and read this carefully) “LIBERALTARIAN”. This was a new term I found on the net that may explain your above definition of self.

    Will be back. This is a cool post worth sinking one’s teeth into!

    -Jack

    bereans

    December 20, 2006 at 9:55 am


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