Friday, August 26, 2011

The Pseudo Conservative, Pseudo Libertarian Views of Glenn Beck and Ron Paul


Glenn Beck and Ron Paul and most of the other "small government dogma" types that push this "the government is the problem" swill like to pretend that they are "conservatives" or "libertarians".  But, they are really neither if you go by the more traditional, classic definitions of the terms.

The first tenet of original libertarianism, which has cross mojinated with modern "conservatism" at this point,is that the ONLY legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the people. I wonder how you can protect people's rights without protecting their person or how you can abstractly separate rights from physical well being with regards to regulations, laws, government agencies or whatever, but somehow Beck and his followers think they make sense. They don't.  Conservatism also used to be about espousing the traditional, spiritual, community values and care for neighbors or the "least of these".  Somehow, conservatism has morphed into Ayn Rand's anti altruistic, pro business, pro corporate, anti government version of reality.  It makes no sense to me and it probably doesn't make sense to you if you are reading on this website.

Chaps like Glenn Beck and Ron Paul, et al, say they want to minimize government and that no one should expect the government to protect them. He asserted that since the government can't, won't or shouldn't protect us that we need to all keep guns around and be ready to get in line for a bucket brigade in case of catastrophe as if we live in Tombstone of the old west or something.

As Ken Brooker Langston points out in his article "Why I Am Not A Libertarian", its true that of all the political groupings out there, guys like Beck and his followers have the most grandiose rhetoric. They get to spout all that stuff about freedom vs. tyranny and use the quotes the founding fathers made about King George and so on...

It's also the perfect belief system for young, uneducated or fundamentalist people that see things in stark black and white and especially young males. You don't need knowledge or experience or details or nuances on complicated issues. All you need to "get it" is to buy in to essentially ONE BIG IDEA that supposedly resolves everything- that other than a minimalist military and court system that government and taxation is evil, that all you need is more gun rights, slight protection of life by the authorities, to enforce property rights and contracts and then the "free market" AKA Ayn Rand's magical, laissez faire economic principles will take care of everything else. How do I know this? Because for a few years as a college freshman and sophomore between 1982-84 I bought it and learned ALL the arguments before I grew up and figured out that the world doesn't work that way. It never has and never will no matter what you call it, reaganomics, trickle down economics, free market capitalism, whatever. It has been tried and it has a track record of success on par with hardcore socialism, it sucks.  Someone will say that the death toll from hardcore socialism is much higher... but you can only try to make a point like that if you decide not to count the mega- millions of laborers, Indigenous people, American Indians, Africans and so on that died and are still dying in the ongoing conquest of the West and the endless quest for the gold, coal, oil, timber, cotton and gemstones.

Beck and the rest of the pseudo-conservative/libertarian's view of political realities is a caricature, a simplistic right wing fantasy and it just can't work.

The truth is actually that we live in a society that is a hybrid of pure capitalism or socialism and it has been for a very long time... It works somewhat ugly when it "works" (depending on who and where you are) at all... It has boom and bust cycles and trends, but its about as good as we can expect to do at trying to manage a complex, pluralistic country in a complicated and jacked up world, especially when we've put corporations, materialism and consumerism and the profit motive at the very pinnacle of our value system.

As for me, I don't really care if the government is big or small so long as it is doing the right things and doing them as efficiently as possible and it does not impinge too much upon my personal life.  In this approach one does not need either "small government" or "more government" dogmas.

One day guys like Beck and the rest will be mere shadowy and unpleasant memories in a world that has left them behind... assuming we don't crash and burn the planet or Western "culture" first.  Some days I am more optimistic about the future than others.  After reading about Rick Perry's latest poll numbers, today is is one of the less optimistic days.

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