Monday, August 23, 2004

An Essay on Conservatism

Has anyone seen this? It's a long but interesting manifesto entitled "What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?" written by Philip Agre, a professor of Information Studies at the University of California.

The essay references different decades and political figures, in order to help liberals today win political debates based on history. I was referred by Roz Kaveney on livejournal, where there is also minor discussion of the essay.

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives" have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

Read the rest here.