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conservative oxy-morons
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Posted: Nov 20, 2010

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It's a simple fact: progress is made possible by progressives. Progressives believe that we should strive to improve our knowledge of the the world and ourselves, and use that knowledge to improve the human condition. Conservatives--by their nature--place primary emphasis on the continuity of traditions and habits. But progress is not possible without change, and change is the antithesis of tradition. So all improvements in the human condition--in culture, science and technology--have been introduced by progressives who were persecuted by their contemporary conservatives. But nature itself is progressive: strategies and techniques for survival that used to work stop working when conditions change, or become obsolete as new outcompetitive strategies and techniques are invented. In order to take advantage of new ideas and techniques, conservatives are always quietly redefining their traditions all the while insisting on the involatileness of those same traditions.

Examples are numerous, but the the case of Republican Robert McDonnell is typical. In 1989, he wrote an academic thesis which argued that working women, homosexuals, lax divorce laws and birth control were a threat to the family and advocated changes to tax code, public school system and welfare to actively promote conservative Christian values. As many of these traditional values had fallen out of favor by the time of his 2009 Gubernatorial candidacy, he tried to distance himself from these views by claiming that ?his views on many issues had changed as he got older?. This makes him either a progressive or a boldfaced liar who will say anything to get elected. Apparently, the progressives he battled in the 1980's were right after all, and the traditions he advocated back then were outmoded rubbish. But of course he's still out there pushing timeless conservative Christian traditions and values even if those values are different from the timeless conservative Christian traditions and values he once advocated.

Conservatism is riddled with contradictions. For example, consider the so-called 'Constitutional Conservatives': the Constitution was in the time of its creation and to this day an inherently progressive document. The notion of an elective representative government free of a privileged class structure was a radical break from the traditional style of rule by the divine right of royalty that Englishmen had lived under for many centuries. The soldiers and statesmen whose efforts led to the ultimate adoption of the Constitution were all progressives: they wanted a break from the traditions and habits of the past and create a new world order. Conservatives of the day fought against the revolution. So how can conservatives of today embrace the Constitution? When did this inherently progressive document which rejected traditional ideals in government become something to which conservative values became applicable? The Constitution could not exist without progressives, so an endorsement of the values expressed in the Constitution is an unequivocal endorsement of progressive values. If the transition from government before the Constitution to government under the Constitution improved the human condition, advocation of a letter by letter, word by word conservative interpretation of the Constitution as written can only be justified if one thinks the Constitution is somehow perfect as is, or if improvement of the human condition is not a primary concern. For example, we often hear the cry for an 'original intent' interpretation of the Constitution. But original intent argues against women's suffrage, against any civil rights for blacks, against direct election of senators and for the lawful accommodation of slavery and a host of other rights and liberties we today take for granted. Conservatives fought against all these advancements, all on the basis that traditions are paramount and we should continue to keep things the as they were just because.

Another absurdly obvious oxymoron is the 'conservative nudist': people in Western society have worn and were expected to wear clothing for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Right up to the present, public nudity is considered by mainstream conservatives as lewd, immoral, and a danger to child sensitivities. Indeed, the impropriety of public nudity is a tradition that spans an unusually large diversity of countries and cultures across extremely long periods of time. So one has to wonder exactly what a 'conservative nudist' is. No conservative could have originally questioned the traditional expectation of public modesty, since by definition conservatives only very reluctantly abandon traditions. Instead, what we have here is the common phenomena of progressives open new paths and new ideas and conservatives see something they like and follow, slamming the gates one everyone else. A rational and open minded person who discovers the benefits of questioning the time honored tradition of a strict adherence to public modesty aught to recognize the justification to question all societal traditions that lack a clear and present usefulness. The key word here is question, not abandon. The progressive's goal is not to discard all traditions wily-nilly, but instead to demand that continued adherence to 'traditional' expectations and prohibitions should be justifiable on modern and scientific criteria and not simply on the basis that 'that's the way its always been' and maintenance of the status quo just for the sake of the status quo.

One thing progressive and conservative nudists do have in common, however, is the motive for their reluctance to self identify themselves as nudists to the outside community: to avoid persecution from non-nudist conservatives.


Posted: Nov 21, 2010

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Let's not forget George W. Bush's favorite oxymoron: "Compassionate conservative." As clearly evidenced by the right's desire to destroy health care reform, destroy unemployment benefits, destroy Medicare and Social Security, and extend Bush's irresponsible (not to mention deficit contributing) tax cuts for the wealthy, Republicans and conservatives do not care about you if you are not insanely wealthy.
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