Saturday, November 19, 2016

Liberals & Conservatives: Do the Names Even Mean Anything?

"A man who is not a Liberal at 16 has no heart; a man who is not a Conservative at 60 has no head." ~Benjamin Disraeli

"A Liberal is just a Conservative that hasn't been mugged yet."    !~Anonymous

What began as a joke when I was in college became a project that has been ongoing for several decades. A Conservative professor friend and I would show how most Liberal academicians were intellectual frauds by employing Stanislaw Andrzejewski's Law of Nebulous Verbosity- "Verbiage increases to the extent that ambition exceeds knowledge." I was to write a paper and present it at an academic conference. My friend contended that the thesis would soar over the heads not only of the audience, but the panelists as well. And it did, like a TWA! I guess I should point out that at this time I was still an undergrad, in my Sophomore or Junior year.

For a thesis I chose, how the Liberal and Conservative paradigm was an unreliable model for political analysis because they tend to change, particularly with age. There must be some more reliable model based on some immutable characteristics of human nature. I contended that there were, instead four rather that two political types. In keeping with Andrzejewski's law, I entitled my paper: The Will to Power: An Analysis of Power Distribution Developed Within a Quadra-modal Political Typology Model- a mouthful, to be sure. In other words, people fell within one of four political types. As my research went on, the cumbersome moniker not withstanding, I found that I might be on to something.

There are leaders and followers. Leaders being people that possess some innate leadership abilities, not those who lead by fiat. There are also followers whose personalities really bear no explanation.   Outside of leaders & followers, there are two other types of people that each fall within the leader/follower groups. There are Positive and Negative types, for lack of any better names. Positive types are driven by what is typically called rational self-interest. As Adam Smith points out, "the butcher does not sell us meat out of the kindness of his heart." It is in his own best interest to do so. Likewise, if I am to live in society, it is in my best interest to attempt to get along because my survival is dependent upon the survival of the society at large. Traits such as altruism are identifiable characteristics of the Positive type. In psychological terms people of this type would be labeled as "outer-directed."

Conversely, there are people that are driven by what I call irrational self-interest. Psychologically, they are "inner-directed," suffering by what can be described as myopic selfishness. They see the world only in terms of what they can gain personally from any relationship. Unfortunately, this group is the one that is attracted to power, particularly those with leadership attributes. Some of these would be Hitler, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Castro, etc..

To clarify, let me backtrack a bit. The four types would be A+ (Positive Leader) A- (Negative Leader) B+ (Positive Follower) B- (Negative Follower) For purposes of analysis, the Followers are fairly inconsequential except in a Republic, they vote (and act out as in the case of the rioting going on currently).

When I began to apply the model to America and looked at who was in power terms like Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative seemed almost irrelevant. Especially once I began to look at the meanings of terms in an historical context. Edmund Burke is widely known as the "Father of Conservatism." Yet I doubt that few if any Americans who consider themselves Conservatives are familiar with him beyond, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." The term Liberal would be unrecognizable to Classical Liberals: men such as John Locke, Adam Smith and most of America's Founders.

The only category that maintained any meaning, as far as the model applies, is "The Left." There is, despite the ravings of the Left, no Right in America. There is the Left and people that disagree with them. When applying the model, I found that the Left in it's entirety, falls within the Negative type. They have leaders and followers all driven by the myopic selfishness inherent in their movement. Republicans are not exempt from the Negative types at all. It was only after America spoke in the recent election that Mr. Trump, a political outsider, garnered any support from them. Lamentably, politics seems to draw Negative types. Lord Acton's admonition, that "power corrupts" is only too true, especially in a profession that seems to draw the inherently corrupt to begin with. The only way we can expect any meaningful change in America is for Positive types to become involved. If the treatment that President-elect Trump has been subjected to is any example of how the Negatives can be expected to behave, I'm not optimistic.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, President Elect Donald J. Trump has a very large swamp to drain.Political corruption is the accepted norm in his target and they wont go down without a fight.