It is time to admit it; modern conservatism is almost a complete and utter failure. The long march towards ever expanding and unrestrained government and the corresponding reductions in individual liberty show no sign of slowing.
In fact the best that might be said in defense of the modern conservative movement is think how bad it would be if they hadn’t been there. This is little solace.
The universities have been almost completely lost and the intellectual rot is beginning to seep into even the hard sciences. Public K-12 serves as indoctrination for the 50 million young minds that are forced to trudge along that assembly line of mediocracy.
And the most painful aspect of this hundred year butt-whuppin is on most issues the conservative position is the correct one; i.e. the facts overwhelmingly support the conservative thinking.
Nobel Prize winner in economics, Friedrich Hayek’s main lament at the end of his life was how little his ideas had been adopted and implemented in public policy. Milton Friedman, another Nobel winner in economics and a genius by most accounts, has had how much influence in actual public policy and the design and implementation of the laws they create?
Did they influence thought? Without a doubt. Were they generally right? Again without a doubt. But it sure seems little has actually been turned into reality. The national Libertarian political party has existed for 46 years and its influence on actual policy/legislation has been next to zero.
Today’s conservative movement seems to employ a lot of folks in pretty cushy jobs, prints some magazines, hosts some websites, publishes various books, and puts on conferences until the cows come home – for those who don’t know, conferences and seminars can be big time money makers. Sadly, its primary purpose seems to have become a self-propagating jobs program for those lucky, skilled, or connected enough to rise to the top.
I guess someone needs to say these things but what about actual accomplishments? What about spreading the cry of Liberty? What about adherence to the Constitution? What about learning the truth from The Road to Serfdom, Capitalism and Freedom, or for that matter The Fountain Head, and plotting our collective course with this in mind? As even the Koch brothers have admitted, they have got a very poor return on their investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in trying to actually implement conservative/libertarian ideas into actual public policy.
Yet even many evolutionary psychologists will agree, much to their chagrin, “conservative” ideas and actions produce far more success than any alternative. The real world operates on very conservative principles. Look around you, the facts are overwhelming.
This is not to say broad swaths of the country don’t accept the truth of conservative thought. They do but have found it difficult to find a remotely reliable political vehicle to put these beliefs into concrete action.
What is truly frightening is that the facts all support a conservative/libertarian system yet in spite of all evidence we continue expanding upon political and governmental systems which have never worked long-term in the history of humans.
Think about it; the side that has logic, reason and facts on their side has been getting their butts kicked for over a century. There must be a reason for this and it would seem the sooner we discover it, the better. Not for anything as base as politics, but for the very real reason of helping us survive as a species and in the process protecting this wonderful home we call earth.
There are a number of contributing factors to this process. First, organizations behave almost like a living entity once they are formed and thus will always fight to survive and grow. Think of the school of a school of fish or the swarm of a hive of bees. The school isn’t really a physical “thing”, it is just the composite of all the individual fish, yet it “lives” regardless of what may happen to any individual fish.
Organizations are the same and this thing we call government is simply a very powerful non-profit organization and thus it behaves as such. Note that it behaves this way almost independent of the individuals which make up the organization at any point in time.
As this organization lives it will of course attempt to capture at least one political party. It would be almost unimaginable for this not to occur; this is the organization of governments and what do political parties fight to control? Government. In fact it will attempt to spread its influence across all political parties. As certain as gravity.
Thus these incredibly powerful organizations we call government have a very real bias towards growth and expansion. They also use their collective will to ensure at least one major political party is owned by them. This is the reality we all face.
But is this process sustainable for the long-term or does it grow and grow and grow until there is a catastrophic failure? Self-correction doesn’t seem to be possible and as the last 100 years have shown, it is quite impervious to the reality on the ground.
Which brings us to the core, fundamental problem and that is one of paradigm. Politics, in fact most of government and what used to be called the soft sciences operate on a paradigm of belief; a paradigm where one’s opinions actually matter in some real, physical sense.
As the last 100 years have shown, one can’t win an argument based within a paradigm of belief. Everyone can have an opinion and thus what’s accepted as “true” is more based on the direction and intensity of the folks holding these views than any fundamental reality.
Hundreds of years ago, the Scientific Revolution ended this type of childish thinking for what are now called the hard sciences. The only way conservative thinking can end this hundred year butt-whuppin (and save the USA, our species, and the planet) is to quit fighting within this obviously false paradigm.
A paradigm shift in its truest sense is what is required. The same thinking and insights which drove the Scientific Revolution need to be now spread to all areas of our lives.
When this occurs, the quest immediately switches to one of searching for the truth, regardless of where it leads, not pushing this or that conservative or liberal view-point. We are not little gods and thus we don’t get to define the truth, but rather hopefully discover it. Rather than attempting to force every event through your mental template (be it right, left or in-between), this rids oneself of the template.
The conservative and libertarian folks out there can either embrace and help spread this new paradigm and watch things they know to be true flourish and spread across the land or they can continue their present, proven, losing strategy. I hope my fellow Americans will step to the plate, since I doubt we have another 100 years to get it right.
John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He also holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA and is the founder and President of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.eicenterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education.