Friday, September 14, 2007

The danger of navel-gazing and the princess bride

Atrios asks:
...why is that conservative bloggers are perpetually writing some version of "what conservatism means..." or "what conservatives think..."
Let me suggest that when the meaning of an ideology can't be determined from the policies espoused by its proponents - or when those policies are manifestly unpopular and wrong - adherents suffer cognitive dissonance. In this particular case the belief that conservatives are good and right is conflicting with fact that the policies conservatives have favored have lead our nation into more than one cluster-f*ck. What can one do when the group you've decided you belong to turns out to be stupid?

Well, I know what you don't do. No self-respecting Homo sapiens would even think of leaving said group. Not while other options are available. Like anyone experiencing cognitive dissonance the very first thing you try is contorting logic beyond all recognition to avoid the fact that you have no idea what your doing. In this case, a lot of energy gets focused on slicing and dicing the exact meaning of "conservative".

What kind of wacky beliefs and tricks of logic are they looking for? The basic requirement is tribalism. Your new definition of conservative has to include all the people you like and exclude all the people you don't (no matter how decent your enemies may be). Plus on some abstract level it has to exclude all those stupid beliefs you and your friends supported and all your opponents fought against. Case in point.

In my many years of blogging nothing has amazed me more than the capacity of certain people to call themselves "conservative" or "liberal" while holding positions and fundamental values diametrically opposed to their stated ideology. Honestly. If you suspect that the president should be allowed to spy, imprison, and torture you, without judicial oversight of any kind and if you also call yourself a libertarian - well - I do not think that word means what you think it means.

I don't want to sound like I'm immune to cognitive dissonance. I was a fake Catholic for many years. But the point is, we should all try to be more aware of what we believe and who we claim to agree with. This time, I mean it!

Does anybody want a peanut?