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  • Hope and Fear

    Posted by David Foster on November 15th, 2020 (All posts by )

    I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said “Liberals vote with their hope, conservatives vote with their fear.”  Of course the same car was also decorated with a Biden-Harris sticker.

    I think that the sentiment on the hope/fear bumper sticker was, if not 180 degree wrong, at least 170 degrees wrong.

    Take K-12 education, for example:  Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition, providing not only hope for those kids attending the new alternative schools, but also hope for the public schools via the improvement sparked by competition.  Liberals and ‘progressives’, in the current meaning of those terms, seem happy to maintain the current institutional structure, which no serious person can believe will yield meaningful improvement regardless of how many dollars are dumped into it.  Their fear of changing the institutional arrangements that exist dominates any hope for possible improvement.

    Take manufacturing.  Conservatives, or at least the Trump flavor of same, see hope for reinvigoration and growth.  Liberals, generally speaking, do not.  More generally, ‘progressives’ tend to see the entire American economy–and America’s position in the world–in terms of managing the decline.

    Or take free speech.  As repeatedly documented here and elsewhere, there is growing hostility to free speech on the left.  And anti-free-speech views tend to be strongly associated with generalized fear.

    Peter Drucker (I think it was) wrote that before World War I, socialism was largely about hope, afterwards, it was about envy. He was talking about European socialism. In America, I think that the relative amount of hope in the overall “progressive” mix is a lot lower than it was in the FDR era or the JFK era.

    Regarding fear, I’ll note that it is a lot easier to disclaim certain kinds of fear–such as the fear of crime–when living certain neighborhoods (like the high-income area where I saw the bumper sticker) than in others.  Similarly for many other kinds of fear.




    15 Responses to “Hope and Fear”

    1. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      I think it is fair that whenever you run across a liberal congratulating other liberals about how great they are that it’s worth reversing the sentiment and seeing if it makes more sense. “Perhaps the opposite is also true,” as the rabbis used to say. It is also a GK Chesterton standby, to immediately consider the reverse. In this case, yes. Liberals fear Trump is not going to accept the results of the election and might call on the military to keep him in power, which is as paranoid a thought as one can imagine. It is, in fact, projection from the people who did not accept the results of the 2016 election.

    2. PenGun Says:

      “Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition”

      I don’t understand, help me. ;)

    3. OBloodyHell Says:

      }}} and America’s position in the world–in terms of managing the decline.

      A decline they have every intention of **making** happen… >:-(

    4. OBloodyHell Says:

      }}} “Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition”

      I don’t understand, help me. ;)

      ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| There are none so blind as those who refuse to see…

    5. Anonymous Says:

      It is true that conservative by its name seems to indicate a conserving, a keeping of the old traditions. Progressives seems to imply the opposite in its name. David, I completely agree with you, but am going on a second rant of the night which I think comes at it differently, but probably still is unlikely to convince PenGun.

      America was built on the idea of the open market of speech, religion, etc. etc. Open markets are open and therefore constantly changing and moving toward the better idea/product/faith/etc. My friends accuse me of being too optimistic – a Whig long after they’re gone. But still I think that faith is optimistic, has great optimism and a belief in the ability of both the heart and the head of the group to reason and feel its way to the right choice. It is not cynical. And it does believe in the verities – those of natural law, of human nature, of the historical understanding of both what makes us tick and what can destroy us (what is good and what is bad). Human nature can be understood by going to the Bible, going to the Greeks and Romans – it doesn’t change. so, yes, that’s what conservatives believe. And that man is prone to sin but capable of doing and being something great as well. But the world around us, we know that changes – the climate changes, the modes of farming and the products sold, the technology and the medicine and the architecture. So, in our system conservatives are indeed hopeful, optimistic and so they believe in more options, more competition, more speech, more religious freedom. We don’t believe in forcing another’s conscience but we do believe in laws that are equally and sensibly enforced but that have also been defined by the republic and that are transparent and clear. We do not believe human nature has changed or probably will change. We believe a government can enable that nature to be the best it can be by establishing and enforcing minimal, clear, and basic laws against harming one another.

      This may not be good enoughconvince PenGun, but, well, it helps me convince myself. I think the worst thing about the Progressives is they mistake what is static – human nature, the basic rules that govern man’s behavior throughout history – and what is changing – the material and cultural world around us. I don’t know enough about the Whigs, but they were optimistic because of the time they lived in. The world was changing very fast – but some of the big things – steam engines and the Erie Canal, mass printing and guns of war, the rise of the middle class and a bourgeois vision – have changed in important ways. Slavery was criticized by many in that period but they compromised – if they hadn’t maybe life today would have been better for many people but maybe not. The whole world at the time and the whole world in ours needs to be seen from a longer lens than we have now. American willingness to offer up over 300,000 men to destroy slavery also may not be something we would will to do today – but little discussion of human trafficking appears in “thought” pieces and its relation to border crossings and child separations is not mentioned. I am sure those whose ingenuity ruled in that period have descendents with minds as fertile as theirs. We remain capable of big changes if we are not bogged down in the swamp.

    6. OBloodyHell Says:

      AVI, as I suggested… PenGun has no interest in actually seeing. To do so would be to require him to stop parroting liberal idiocy, and start actually thinking for himself.

      Not happening.

      }}} American willingness to offer up over 300,000 men to destroy slavery also may not be something we would will to do today

      Oh, there is zero question that we would do it today. But almost no one self-identifying as a “Progressive” or “Liberal” would do it. They’d talk about it, protest for it, complain about it, wait for a government program to “fix” it… but actually risk their lives and property to make it happen? Never. That requires people with the self-respect, self-dignity, and self-worth to put their own lives on the line for others.

      In short, conservatives and lower-case libertarians. Those ideologies starting with capital Ls wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

    7. OBloodyHell Says:

      Whoops… David. ;-)

    8. David Foster Says:

      Haven’t located the precise Peter Drucker quote I mentioned above, but while searching for it I did find this:

      “Totalitarianism was a revolution that replaced hope by despair, reason by magic, belief by the frenzied, blood thirsty violence of the terror stricken.”

      That’s from Drucker’s 1937 book ‘The End of Economic Man,’ which is a study of the factors behind the rise of totalitarianism. There’s a worthwhile review of the book here:

    9. PenGun Says:

      “Conservatives see hope in a more open system with more options and more competition” At least explain the competition part of education … please.

    10. Christopher B Says:

      @Anonymous November 16th, 2020 at 1:39 am – very well done.

      I really like your concept of reversing what’s static and what’s dynamic. I think the US Constitution’s checks and balances are a wonderful of example of ‘classic liberals’ (i.e. conservatives) creating a dynamic competition of interests that takes into account that human nature is not going to bend with the arc of the moral universe.

    11. MCS Says:

      Conservative has gone from being a description to an epithet on its way to becoming an unanswerable indictment. I imagine we are a few months, at best, from the MSM and the half of the country that still pays attention to them equating it with all the pejorative attributes of fascism, homophobia, white supremacy, etc. Another dog whistle.

    12. PenGun Says:

      “This may not be good enoughconvince PenGun, but, well, it helps me convince myself.” Wonderful. Does anyone know what competition has to do with education?

    13. malclave Says:

      “Does anyone know what competition has to do with education?”

      Teachers that have to actually teach instead of just babysit and indoctrinate.

    14. Anonymous Says:

      As I keep saying, the term “progressive” always (ALWAYS) reminds me of CANCER.

    15. MCS Says:

      I suspect that the education establishment is about to find out what competition has to do with education good and hard. There will be much wailing and rending of garments by the various shysters as a lot of the rubes have been educated in just what they have been spending many thousands of dollars per student-year on.

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