I'm speaking about conservatism, and those who call themselves conservatives. This morning and over the last few days I've discussed at length Brad Thompon's analysis of the practical consequences of conservative ideology, the hallmarks of which can be characterised as being compromise, "me-tooism" and an embrace of one's opponents aims with the only change being the claim that conservatives will deliver them better. This, to conservatives, is called "heading off the opposition." To a conservative, you see, it's not so important what is done so much as who is doing it. That's why since the war there have been more socialist advances under conservative governments than there have under those of a liberal persuasion -- conservatives call this "heading off the opposition" -- those with principles call it "selling out."
Even as I wrote that, National Party's Nick Smith was sleazing into print in order to prove that very point, suggesting that with National's weekend Blue-Green conference the Nats should look to head off the opposition by "softening its environmental message." As Vernon Small summarises the Smith slop:
Softening the environmental message, [Smith] hopes, will peel away some of that soft Labour vote while happily making a deal with the Green party that much more credible. More to the point, if National cannot hug the trees and the Greens, or edge them into a neutral position, then it may be trying in the long term to hug them to death.
This, to a conservative, is called strategy. No wonder Smith, to Lindsay Perigo, is a man with a tongue so forked you could hug a tree with.
What, in real concrete terms, does "softening the environmental message" mean besides giving the authoritarian environmentalists everything they're after? None at all. The "softening" Smith proposes are a sell-out on Kyoto, "a significant funding package to promote tree planting, cleaner air and water, and help for community conservation." Oh please. Not just selling out, but selling out so wetly. As I quoted Thompson this morning:
Never mind "the vision thing" -- about which George Bush Sr. agonised -- give yourself over instead to absolute rule, and let the other side seek out new visions. That's the neocon ticket. The three most important rules for absolute rule: Compromise, compromise and compromise. The fourth rule: if visions arise that are going to happen anyway, then just roll over and make sure you take the credit.As Thompson points out, and as Ayn Rand pointed out before him, moral appeasement of this sort serves only to embolden the conservative's opponents, "a lesson that conservatives seem constitutionally unable to learn. They fail to grasp that compromising one principle inevitably leads to hundreds of compromises in practice. In this relationship, liberalism will always have the upper hand and will always dictate the future..."
If liberals launch a national campaign for socialized medicine, Republicans should steal the issue from the Democrats and advocate a system of universal health care but one that allows people to choose their own doctor or HMO. If liberals commence a public campaign against the profits of “big business” or the salaries of their executives, Republicans should neutralize liberal pretensions by encouraging “greedy” and “profiteering” corporate executives to voluntarily donate their profits to charities. If radical environmentalists launch a public relations campaign against global warming, Republicans should encourage American companies to hire environmentalists as advisors...
Should Smith and the Nats seek to spike the authoritarian guns not with compromise but with a ringing declaration this weekend of freedom and liberty and property rights -- and with it a clear and forceful demonstration of how the exercise and protection of property rights leads to both superior environmental values and maximum freedom -- then I would be right behind him.
But that's about as likely as Smith ever growing a spine.
LINKS: True blues go green - Vernon Small, Stuff
RELATED: Politics-NZ, Environment, Property Rights, Politics-National