Tuesday, February 01, 2005

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?

Phil Agre has an extended discussion which has had further play and commentary on Body and Soul. I agree with quite a bit of it, though I think he mixes conservatism, fascism, and a fundamental opposition to reason and rationalism that is common to many mass movements.

He doesn't seem to get to what I consider one of the core issues: "the problem of the weak". This is the great moral challenge for human societies.

Yeah, it's a politically incorrect term. Someone might be cognitively weak and pull down a $50 million/year sports contract. Another person might be brilliant but almost completely paralyzed (but make bundles from his popular physics books). I use the term to mean those for whom there isn't a path to independent unassisted living in modern society; that includes a lot of people with cognitive and behavioral disabilities, including addiction, dementia (really a complex of behavioral and cognitive impairments), low IQ, memory disorders, schizophrenia, etc. This is not a small number of people. This is perhaps 5-10% of America. Some are young, some are old, some are middle-aged. In the modern world they are disabled.

There's a smaller group of people who are blind, deaf, missing limbs, have debilitating diseases etc. They all have significant challenges -- depending on their personal and family resources they may join the the "world of the weak" -- despite the good work the ADA brought us.

Most of us, at some point in our lives, will join the "world of the weak". If we were deer, the wolves would take us. Too many Republican policies translate to "let the wolves take the weak".

Weakness happens. Have enough children, one of them will be weak -- your genes aren't that good. Live long enough, you will be weak.

The battle my side is losing is the battle for the weak. Make strong those who can be healed, care for those who cannot.

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