Saturday, February 5, 2011

That "Conservatives" Are Authoritarians



Amanda Marcotte somehow manages to answer the witheringly cogent arguments presented in this video, and along the way, adds a few significant insights:

I sometimes still find that people on the liberal, or at least thoughtful, side of the fence still think that global warming denialism and creationism are discrete things borne out of an emotional need not to believe either in global warming or evolution, and while that's true, I think it's deeper than that. I think that science itself is under attack, and that the reason that conservatives are so eager to lash out against it has to do with an anti-modernist bent. This is especially true when you understand that science really is a threat to religion. A lot of people say it's not, because science doesn’t address "spiritual" needs, but said folks are really overrating the importance of spirituality for most people---or assuming that this urge isn't better scratched by loving others and enjoying life. Religion really draws its power from explanation. It gives order to the world. And science is poaching that territory rapidly, which pisses off authoritarians, because they rightfully understand that if they lose the power to create facile goddidit explanations for everything from gravity to the problem of evil, they will lose their power over people. Thus, the attack not just on specific scientific theories, but on science in general, and most of academia, as well. [emphases mine]
Had Marcotte stayed with "conservatives" instead of switching to "authoritarians," and had she said "deeply-felt sense of who they are" rather than "power over people," she still might have salvaged some agreement with the "framing" crowd. But she also would have departed from the clear truth of the matter, and that would be deplorable, because the truth she's highlighting here is an important one.

As always, I hate to quote myself, but I don't hate it very much:
I gather it is disquieting to be told that your pro-freedom rhetoric is belied by your anti-freedom commitments; I'd blanch a little too. Still, the authoritarian label fits. Once again, the truth has a distinctly anti-conservative bias.
Even as far back as the mists of August 2009, it was clear that "conservative" -- certainly in the contemporary US context -- is a favored euphemism for "authoritarian."

The conservative disdain for science, selective though it is, plausibly owes to authoritarian leanings -- leanings deeply felt and bound up with the self-perception of millions, perhaps, but no less dangerous or worth contesting for that. It is no justification, after all, merely to point to what is.

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