So we’re on for a discussion with Corey Robin about his book “The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin” next Wednesday (January 11) at 8. I’m excited! I highly recommend the book to all of you. One thing I like about it is that it is fairly empathetic/sympathetic to the conservative world view. There were portions of the passages about Burke where I felt I could genuinely understand why someone would be drawn to this philosophy.
One part of modern conservatism that I cannot sympathize with at all — and this is something I’d like to ask Corey Robin about during the discussion — is the embrace of rantings about “thugogracies” and cluster bombs that go straight through the heart of Muslims and the cheapness of Muslim life. How do people — and in those three examples, people who started off on the left — end up as such assholes as Michael Barone and Hitchens and Marty Peretz? That’s a mystery to me, and it’s also a mystery to me why conservatives are so happy to claim such assholes as their own (not Peretz so much, but Barone and Hitchens).
i just dont feel like the book is worth a read unless “Corey” is going to address race.
There are any number of things it would be impossible to explain “conservatives” loving if they actually stood for anything at all. They don’t. They want to win, more specifically they want to beat liberals. Everything else is negotiable.
If you doubt it, watch as the guy the conservatives hate wins the nomination.
conservatives don’t have souls. they’re sociopaths
Villago Delenda Est
Wallah! That means you won’t be commenting on any of the threads, doesn’t it?
yay, doug. I’ve missed you.
and no, it doesn’t matter if it’s not reciprocated.
doug, did you know your boss is involved in a huge fight with a lefty? did you know that?
I’m excited too. He certainly put into better/bigger/cooler words things that I’ve been saying for a while. So, ya know, I think he’s right on target.
Plus he has an awesome blog. Who doesn’t love awesome blogs?
Yeah, I’ve been following that somewhat.
it goes the other way too, doug. incidentally.
Feel free not to participate in those threads, then, if he’s unwilling or unable to satisfy you.
Cause Moozlims! Holy duty to Conquer Jerusalem for the church!! End of days apocalypse as the Jews meet the Anti-Christ!!!
Does this make any more sense as to why the right takes this stance?
@Samara Morgan: What’s with the scare quotes around the guys name? It’s his fucking name!!
@Little Boots: Is this a twitter fight by any chance?
what’s funny, is the neocons were supposed to be just another group brought in, but they took over the whole damn thing. as they do. it’s kind of amazing. most people think Bill Buckley is the epitome of conservatism, but really, it’s Norman Podhoretz.
I understand, the twitter may be involved somehow.
Political preference is not an ontological category. Anti Muslim/Arab/Iranian bigotry is not limited to parties. Besides, racism is best thought of as an energy – it can neither be created nor destroyed, only applied to someone else. Look at Israel’s treatment of Arabs and Palestinians.
You should read Larison occasionally.
This is an interesting statement. For a liberal like yourself.
I don’t have time to read the book right now, but it sounds interesting. So, I’ll take a look at the thread if not participate much.
I think people tend to confuse the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘reactionary’. I see the history of the current GOP, which I think goes back to Birchers and segregationists, as reactionary, not conservative.
The U.S. has had a couple of great conservative minds. I think of the later John Adams and John Marshall, some aspects of Hamilton, and…. well, that’s probably it. Anyone like them even remotely related to the current GOP? Crazy even to ask.
A lot of great Republicans in in U.S. history, but most of them were (by current standards) moderates or liberals, or progressives of some kind.
So, I will check in and see if anything about the reactionary vs. conservative distinction.
how bout checking in and bringing that up?
@Little Boots: If I am around, I will do that.
BRW, a song for this evening, apropos of nothing in particular.
Don’t Start Me Talkin’ Sonnyboy Williamson2
Villago Delenda Est
As always, it’s projection.
Guys like the deserting coward and Darth Cheney treating the lives of US soldiers like kleenex. No better than they consider the lives of civilians, both Christian and Muslim, in Iraq.
They’re all disposable peasants.
You are awesome.
not Dough awesome, but awesome.
Knight of the Living Memes
Delineating the history of “conservative thought” as between Edmund Burke and Sarah Palin holds zero interest for me. Burke was an 18th century political rightwing philosopher while Sarah Palin is a 21st century attention whore.
Indeed, conservative “thought,” sans class warfare, has always been intellectually absurd when not pretending towards egalitarianism. Plato, Aristotle and Hobbes were pretty open about their political philosophies.
I don’t understand twitter.
How do people—and in those three examples, people who started off on the left—end up as such assholes as Michael Barone and Hitchens and Marty Peretz?
When they’re not feeling holy/ Their loneliness says that they’ve sinned.
Many people that call themselves Christians despise everything Jesus stood for. I feel unqualified to say who is or is not a Christian. By the same token, if people want to call themselves conservative, I’m not the one who gets to say they don’t meet the standard.
@Little Boots: thanks, but I was about to post an apology for doing mean things.
Henry Purcell, Remember not, Lord, our offences
Hitchens saw life in really black and white, good and evil terms. He thought that Saddam and apparently a large number of Muslims were either evil themselves or complicit in evil, and saw the west as fighting on the side of good. No amount of violence couldn’t be justified because we were fighting on what he saw as the side of tolerance, justice, free expression, etc. I think a lot of conservatives share this view when it comes to the war(s). Sometimes they’re more nuanced than that, but unfortunately much of the time they’re not (Laura Ingraham saying in 2006 that dead Lebanese kids would just grow up terrorists anyway, the indifference about dead Pakistanis because afterall, who lives near terrorists without doing something about it). There is also an amazing, disturbing lack of empathy.
yeah, it was nuts. it is hard not to admire hitchens, but damn, he started to embrace some crazy shit. really, really sad.
@Stillwater: Some people like to “put” quotes around apparently-randomly-“selected” words like “this” to make what “they” say sound more “interesting”, or something.
The conservative “philosophy,” such as it is, consists of two ideas only. One is “I’ve got mine, Jack, fuck you,” and the other is that some people — specifically, themselves and their family & friends — are inherently better than other people and so deserve to have money and power. That’s it.
@Knight of the Living Memes: Isn’t this type of intellectual insularity what we object to in conservatives?
@jl: posted before finished listening to the whole thing. They ‘chickened out’ on the ‘dissonances’. Too ‘bad’. But, ‘a’ calming performance’.’
I don’t think Hitchens is a conservative, but I don’t know if he’s embraced by conservatives either, except as a case of “even the liberal Christopher Hitchens agrees.” Hitchens seemed to think that devout theists of all kinds were a menace to the secular values of the Enlightenment, so, pfft, zealots are better off dead, end of story. Is that a conservative view?
Douthat, Gerson, Parker all fellated his corpse like you wouldn’t believe. I call that embrace.
Someone in an obituary said how weird it was that a man who dedicated so much effort to demonizing Kissinger would fully embrace Cheney, Feith, Wolfowitz, etc.
@Tehanu: This. There’s really nothing more to it than that.
The liberal philosophy pretty much boils down to “that (unfortunate person) could be me so I should work to make a better world” and “I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone.” That’s my take on it anyway.
Easy: they are insecure cultural supremacists who need to define themselves against inferiors.
The difference between a fascist and a civilized person is that the civilized person realizes that the prime benefit of Western culture is magnanimity.
But limp-dicked perpetual victims like the names you listed, well, they die before they can muster the self-confidence to admit that
if you’ve ever been conservative, you feel like there are certain things, permanent things you are upholding. that is the real draw, it really is. you feel like you are connected to some kind of long-lasting part of the universe, like the Catholic Church or the Constitution or “the way of the world.” It really is so much more emotional than any kind of love of the rich or greed or anything like that. that is what liberals who have never been conservative don’t get.
No, he thought Muslims should die and Christians should merely feel shame, because he was a racist and a prick and hid it behind a veil of hard-nosed skepticism
@DougJ: Maybe they didn’t condone everything he said but believed that he added a fascinating voice to the public debate about vital issues. I think we all just got through learning that doing such is thing is hardly “fellating,” but rather nuanced and limited support that’s totally reasonable and doesn’t at all minimize the most loathsome things about him.
Karen in GA
I’m looking forward to this. Not sure how far into the book I’ll be by then (currently reading Kafka on the Shore, but should be done soon), but I’ll be lurking during the discussion, at the very least.
I just want someone to please explain how these freaks happened.
@FlipYrWhig: I don’t think Hitchens is a conservative
But he’s a believer in state-sponsored liberalism, and that makes him friends across the aisle, no?
Okay, Mr. Broder.
Easy: Hitchens was a Red and still had that old school spirit. He was never a Muslim so exterminating Muslims never bothered him, he loved the idea
Interesting thing if it actually meant a damn thing. Outside the political scrum it probably at least means a preference for the status quo or a previous status quo.
Inside the political scrum… holy shit – meaning?
Conservatism caused Gallileo some problems and if you’d care to back the train up, that Christ guy, or Socrates, or… The “intellectual” underpinnings of conservatism? OK.
The prophet Nostradumbass
That is a grotesque lie. There was enough reprehensible about Hitchens without saying stupid garbage like that.
Nom de Plume
The one part I can’t sympathize with is the utter rejection of science and reality in general.
@DougJ: Shit, I was trying for “Mr. Greenwald.”
@The prophet Nostradumbass:
Hard to take the facts, aint it: Hitchens went red to brown like shit from a bloody asshole
can everyone just back off a step and get that not everything is quite so black and white as, me lefty, me good, me righty, me evil?
The prophet Nostradumbass
@AA+ Bonds: Facts? There were no facts in your comment, at all. There was a ridiculous, unsupported assertion.
OT, but noticed this is up. Nice Sonny Boy Williamson 2 song, that is hard to get a hold of. But due to the magic of youtube, here it is.
Sonny Boy Williamson, Unseen Eye
I read that SBW2 saw himself as a ‘singing preacher’, whose music had lessons for people.
Also seems to me, from what I have read, that he was a manic depressive, boozing, womanizing, contrary, crotchety lunatic. But maybe those two go together.
See on the side bar that there are some Johnny Winter versions of unseen eye. I’ll probably need a few drinks before I listen to those.
Just because self-described “conservatives” have motives I can grasp and understand doesn’t make their proto-fascist ideology any less vile or dangerous.
This is really what was behind “Islamofascism” – people like Hitchens saw Hamas goose-stepping and smelled competition
Hah, if I could tell you my own history with him, you’d know I’d never say that to anyone here…not even ThymeZone or Burns!
no, you’re right. you don’t need to accept anything.
but you should understand. and having understood, you are more than free to say, fuck that, that is bullshit.
he’s tough. I admire him enormously, but I hope you don’t put up with his bullshit.
@DougJ: I was trying to pull a Douthat : Hitchens :: Greenwald : Paul maneuver. I blew it. Alas.
@Little Boots: Shaun White had Red Bull build him a half-pipe to invent cool new snowboard moves. If I could just get a sponsor, I could devote myself to more and more arcane meta-meta jokes about the blogosphere. I’m not holding my breath.
Agreed-o, for what it is worth, I think that liberals get rolled by fascists time and time again because many liberals can’t grasp the mindset of conservatism and many more refuse to admit that they do.
Personally, I’m a kind of conservative, in the sense that any American can be anymore… Whatever else they did, FDR’s people built a social compact long before I was born that allowed America to survive what I believe was an existential crisis and even flourish afterwards. Maintaining that compact means America’s survival; if it is destroyed by radical reform the country faces a slide into ruin, which makes me absolutely vicious in its defense, tapping into that very well of emotion
I think if liberals could get over the delusion of human perfectability, realize that social justice serves to harness the utility of envy, and proceed from there, they’d be able to build new institutions with the same sort of stability – then again, I don’t know if they’d be liberals per se if that happened, perhaps “neo-Madisonians”??
you’re kinda funny, kinda evil.
@Chris T.: “Exactly.” “Chris” I agree. I “think” the “problem” (“here”) is that when poseurs don’t have anything to “say” it’s more “comfortable” for them to express empty idiotic “cyn”icisim.
doug, what do you think? John or Glenn? You decide, bud.
don’t start! we’re having a breakthrough here.
@FlipYrWhig: Don’t beat yourself up too badly. These feats sometimes take practice.
and where the hell is doug?
WHAT THE HELL!!!!
If you’re unfamiliar how the sausage was made with the New Deal, ahem ahem rrmm mRMMRRMM, check this recent Nation story:
When Upton Sinclair’s ’99 Percent’ Movement Sparked the Birth of the Modern Election Campaign
though I blame him for this whole glenn thing, it’s all Doug’s fault.
let’s all yell at doug. dammit.
why am I the only one who like yelling at Doug!
@Little Boots: Insults are the BJ way, my friend.
I know, but we’re talking about Doug.
we must mock.
but we still love our Doug.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I’ve never read Burke, one of those books on my list I never quite get around to, but one thing that I’ve always assumed was that, as an Enlightenment figure, he wouldn’t be impressed with a conservatism that not only scorns but demonizes science.
Isn’t Barone one of those, like Fred Barnes, who embraced Jeebus after his career was established and he just stumbled further to the right, never losing an iota of his reputation with him as became increasingly looney? After reading that in-depth profile of Peretz in the NYT a couple years ago, I came to the conclusion that he is quite simply a stone racist. Hitchens was a brilliant, self-righteous lunatic, and (forgive me for practicing internet psychiatry without a license) I can’t imagine all that romanticized boozing wasn’t both a symptom and an aggravating factor of what could charitably described as a personality disorder.
Fred Barnes is such a complete whore. really, it’s embarrassing. I don’t think Fred Barnes has ever had an actual thought in his long pundit life. just pathetic.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
I dunno, Doug…Was there a big difference between OBL and Eric Rudolph? Was there a big difference between Saddam and Stalin? Other than scale, that is?
Thirded (supposing AA+ Bonds is the second)! I’ve spent much more of my life among conservatives than among liberals, and this is exactly the sense I get, right down to the details. (Why else would people go ape over, for example, the prospect that a guy might grow his hair long? It’s that sort of thing, as if every little thing might cause a rend in the cosmic fabric if changed.)
pseudonymous in nc
The answer re Hitchens is obvious — a refusal to pass true judgement on the enemy of his enemy. His entire life, he was looking for an equivalent to Orwell’s time in Spain, but failed to learn what Orwell learned there.
Still, ideologically speaking, the path from “60s Trot” to “modern neoconservative” is well-worn and well-discussed.
Libertarians like to claim “let’s leave each other alone” for themselves, but then claim that “working for a better world” somehow breaks that deal.
I don’t know if liberals have had much truck with “perfectability” lately. Constant improvement, maybe, but not “perfectability”. Always a new horizon, etc.
I’m on John’s side, obviously!
EDIT: whoops, I had no idea what you were talking about. I am on ABL’s side.
I assume that 8pm, EST? I’ll be there, but late, since I’m west coast…
I’m almost done with the book, which is very good. I’d say Robin explains the appeal of conservatism well, which isn’t quite the same as being sympathetic. So far, I’d say it’s both a fair and damning book.
@Stillwater: its his first name. im not on a first name basis, DougJ is.
@Roger Moore: i am just saying i dont get the point of the book if Robin doesnt deal with racial animus.
its the single greatest factor that informs modern conservatism.
In the good old days of conservatism there was Only One Race.
im axin’ a question to the people that have the book– does Robin touch on race at all?
because i wont waste my time if he doesnt.
@Villago Delenda Est: well, if its like most BJ threads anymore…i prolly wont.
im just trying to determine if its worth reading the book at this point.
@wilfred: i try to avoid Daniel “League of the South” Larison.
hes a spinner.
Why don’t you read the book, and find out for yourself?
No, she already said she would not read it. That would be unfair, to actually examine the book might influence her opinion about it and there is no sense in doing that.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Of course she’ll still comment on it. Its becoming a BJ requirement to comment on how you feel about something not what you read.
86 comments earlier you implied you would not read it – why the change of heart?