You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

8 Jan

 

“And while the mavens of the right would probably prefer four more years to four good books, they might want to rethink that. They wouldn’t be in the position they’re in—when, even out of power, they still govern the country—had their predecessors made the same choice.”

That’s the conclusion to my latest article, “The Conservative Mind,” just out in the The Chronicle Review.  The piece is basically an adaptation of the introduction to my book, framed around the rise of Occupy Wall Street and what it means for the conservative movement.  Punchline of the piece: “Occupy Wall Street may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the right.”

Check it out here.

6 Responses to “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”

  1. Neil January 9, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    I think there is a great deal of truth in the observation that “the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been to cede the field of the public, if he must, but stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field”.

    Some may be conned into seeing such a stance as a genuine concession to democratic ideology, however I think it actually needs to be seen as the consequence of a profound insight of the conservative mind – albeit possibly primarily unconscious – that political orientations are primarily formed in the ‘private domain’ and therefore he who dominates there controls the ‘public domain’. It certainly helps explain the widespread persistence of conservatism across all social strata and casts false consciousness in a new light. It also helps explain why even when ‘left’ governments are in power they have tended to act in remarkably similar ways to the right. The implications for radical democratic strategy are obvious.

  2. doloyeung January 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I would like to be nicer but unfortunately I am still unable to see a way of looking at your thesis which makes it look any better than a muddle of obvious contradictions held together by the thinnest rationalisations and cavalier disregard for the very purpose of words. The conservative of your thesis longs both to rule others and be ruled by others, he wants to preserve the ruling class by replacing it, he wants to achieve stasis via an eternal flux. Reading you on conservatism is like reading a biography of the mad hatter written by humpty dumpty.

    • Ilari Kaila January 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Wow — that’s a lot of quasi-literary insults, considering that you aren’t able to point out a single example of “obvious contradictions” in the article. Robin is inspecting various aspects of and perspectives to the conservative ideology and identity. Despite its ubiquitous usage, the term “conservative” is problematic and often self-contradictory. For instance, we associate vast military spending, rejection of habeas corpus rights, and warrantless wiretapping with the right and with the Republican party — despite these policies implying a huge government that radically interferes in our lives. (And under Obama these policies have become completely bipartisan.)

      Perhaps Robin’s article is too academic and too thoughtful for you? Maybe she should just define “the conservative” — like Fox News does with “liberals” — and proceed to rail against this fictional entity?

      • Ilari Kaila January 10, 2012 at 1:34 am #

        “He,” not “she!” (Sorry, this happens to me too often. Pronouns have no gender in Finnish, my native language.)

    • Neil January 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Perhaps Robin will respond to you himself, but in my opinion the examples you mention are not contradictions in his theory. For example, if you think about it, for those who want to be ruled by others there is no contradiction in also wanting to rule others and vice versa; as Robin points out conservatism is an ideological defence of the principle of hierarchy, for the conservative it’s all about recognising your ‘superiors’ and ‘inferiors’ and behaving towards each accordingly. In other words it is an ideology of both domination and subordination not, as you see it, solely domination.

      Similarly, there’s no contradiction in replacing, or more typically renewing the ruling class, or between stasis and flux, if you see conservatism as not a static defence of a specific status quo but rather a defence of hierarchical order in general and longing for hierarchical continuity. The archetypal conservative literally dreads a temporal break in the hierarchical order and sees it as imperative to restore order as quickly as possible. I think the common ancient European saying ‘the King is dead, long live the King’ is perhaps an ideal expression of this.

  3. Erstwhile Anthropologist January 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Corey, I think this attack on you/your article will be of interest: http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/stupid-st-liberals-write-about-conservatives/42913

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