[Edited for Clarity – CD] I have a question. Curt stated that conservatism consists of true premises advanced by mythology and irrationalism. The theory that “conservatism = true premises advanced by mythology” is itself a descriptive theory that is part of conservatism, i.e., it is a self-description of conservatism. There are other descriptive theories associated with conservatism, such as supply-side economics (which is likely mythological). Which conservative theories are mythology and which provide the “true premise” that mankind flourishes under conservatism? If there is no way to differentiate propaganda from science, then what prevents us from concluding that the theory that “conservatism = true premises advanced by mythology” is itself mythology? — Harris
Note: I think he has a good question under there. So I had a run at it.
1) conservatism is a relative position to the status quo. Classical liberalism (representative government limited by rule of law under a hard constitution) and aristocratic manorialism (individual property rights, the rule of law, the separation of powers, the institution of marriage, and prohibition on consanguineous bonds) are the institutions that conservatives are conservative ‘about’. These two systems can be articulated with a high degree of specificity. Socialism (control of means of production) and democratic socialism (control of the results of production) left-classical liberalism (property is individually owned but that we have a moral responsibility for charity) can be articulated as well. Progressives favore one of these two positions.
2) Science is observation. Measurement improves science. Logic is analysis of statements. One can test both progressive and conservative prescriptions by testing their outcomes over some extended period of time. We know that the principles of communism and socialism are logically impossible, and contrary to observed (scientific) human behavior, but that did not stop people from applying them. We knew that the progressives were wrong on incarceration, and wrong on urban construction projects, and wrong on welfare, and wrong on price controls, wrong on state ownership of property, and wrong on collective ownership of property.
3) While “Supply side” economics does not work because we incorrectly understood the degree of taxation that could be appropriated without Pareto-Inefficient externalities, the concept that we should invest in productivity is not false. The germans have proven it yet again. The practical problem with productivity enhancement is that the left believes that consumption (demand) is the driver to the economy and that here are no negative externalities to that proposition — which we have just demonstrated to be false, by misallocating a generation of human capital and making lower class americans uncompetitive with their international peers. So it is better to say, that we are simply unsure of economics and are experimenting upon ourselves. The conservative model eliminates this problem through individual accountability. The concept is called ‘calculability’. Or, the ability to plan. The ability to plan is secured by institutions that disallow involuntary transfers. The government we have created however, conducts a multitude of involuntary transfers. This is the difference between the aristocratic meritocratic manorial and the communal egalitarian authoritarian models: conservative models are calculable. People posses the knowledge to plan. Fiat money, pooling of taxes, credit inflation, all serve the purpose of increasing demand, and eliminating the problem of scarce hard currency, but they also distort planning and provide people with an inaccurate picture of reality – precisely what prices do for us. The present us with an accurate and simplistic view of the needs and wants of others. Distorting the pricing system basically ‘lies’ to us.
4) A mythology consists of history, moral narratives, moral and ethical codes and religious dogmas as well as rituals. They produce good or bad outcomes regardless of whether the rationally articulated statements they contain are true or false. Effectively they are analogies. Or general principles that can be applied in a multitude of circumstances. Conversely, Economic and social hypotheses consist of either true or false statements. The presumption of Physical, mental and economic equality is a false statement because we an test that empirically. We are unequal. We are only equal in that the common law and the constitution must apply the same rules to all of us equally. The invention that we have equal clame to outcomes is an invention that arose out of the luxury of temporary wealth created by the use of fossile fuels, wich allowed us to move labor from farm to factor, and factory to burger joint and health food store. The question is whether it POSSIBLE to make it appear to be a true statement by using institutions available to us, without at the same time undermining the very economic system that allows billions of us to cooperate despite our pervasive ignorance and fragmentary knowledge in real time. THe answer is no. We know we cannot do it. At best we can ameliorate the very worst if we inhibit the breeding of the lower classes.
5) The conservative strategy since the late 1970s has been to starve the beast: to force the bankruptcy of the socialist state before the socialist state could gain control of the entrepreneurial class. To some degree there is nothing honest in the progressive or the conservative public debates. In effect, as Schumpeter stated, there is a war between the capitalist / entrepreneurial class, and the proletarian / labor / public intellectual (academic) class, over the control of government. The stakes in this struggle are very high. I suggest that the numbers work out that they left has accomplished through immigration what it could not accomplish through argument — and that the days of conservatism, and the days of a united states that spans a continent are numbered. I do not have any idea how long it can persist, but history contains no example of this diverse a region with these varied a group of cultures and economic interests that can persist. So in the end, no one will win. That will be the lesson we will leave behind us. Despite the fact that the libertarians did come up with a solution, they were unable to do it quickly enough with the 1980’s to early 90s probably being the last possible era where action was possible.
6) Mankind flourishes under property rights. Classical liberalism consists entirely of property rights. THe manorial system controls against dysgenics, and controls the ethical economy: manners, ethics, morals, norms and myths. All societies that have urbanized have died. The reason i propose, is that the systems of economic calculation (property rights and the institutions that support them) were not possible to compensate for density. I argue that credit score and access to credit has now taken the place of reputation and citizenship. However, that is no defense against the destruction of norms and in particular loss of the high-trust society.
So yes, mankind flourishes under conservatism, because conservatism is property rights and control of breeding by the underclasses, and over consumption of resources, and progressivism is the destruction of property rights, destruction of our capacity for economic calculation, destruction of the nuclear family and the high trust society, dysgenic overbreeding of the underclasses, overconsumption, pollution and destruction of the resources of the planet.
The main difference between the world views is the belief that a woman has a right to bear children that are the responsibility of others to pay for, or whether a woman only has rights to bear children that she can afford to pay for without the assistance of others. This is the underlying conflict. Without this conflict there is no dispute. Just as all political questions can be reduced to a problem of property rights. All political conflict can be reduced to this one question: the difference between the masculine and feminine mating strategy.
And in that sense, nothing we say in politics is rational, but everything we do is entirely so.