Sunday, July 30, 2006

Con fight!

I'm reading very thoughtful posts on the nature vs. nurture debate on parenting. If this doesn't convince people that all conservatives are not alike, I don't know what will.

Jonah Goldberg takes on colleagues John Derbyshire and Charles Murray, snaring the latter with his own words.

For my own part, I'm weighing the nature part much more heavily than I used to, having met the children of old friends and finding them mini-me's of their parents. For instance, my college roommate was very shy. Her shyness nearly incapacitated her--I had to arrange her hair appointments for her because she was too shy--but by the age of thirty or so, she seemed to have it conquered. Now, her oldest daughter is saddled with the same shyness. The resemblance is practically mirror-image.

Somewhere in all that reading, I linked to this article in Psychology Today that echoes Dr. Helen's children-are-hothouse-flowers fears:

The childhood we've introduced to our children is very different from that in past eras, Epstein stresses. Children no longer work at young ages. They stay in school for longer periods of time and spend more time exclusively in the company of peers. Children are far less integrated into adult society than they used to be at every step of the way. We've introduced laws that give children many rights and protectionsÂ?although we have allowed media and marketers to have free access.

In changing the nature of childhood, Stearns argues, we've introduced a tendency to assume that children can't handle difficult situations. "Middle-class parents especially assume that if kids start getting into difficulty they need to rush in and do it for them, rather than let them flounder a bit and learn from it. I don't mean we should abandon them," he says, "but give them more credit for figuring things out." And recognize that parents themselves have created many of the stresses and anxieties children are suffering from, without giving them tools to manage them.

Hmm. The childhoods around me today are little like my own, that is, they are very structured. It'splaydatee to soccer practice to swimming lessons all day long. I've held out with my own kids as much as possible because I'm skeptical a rigorously scheduled day is necessary or even healthy. Loosely scheduled is a definite must, but I've resisted the institutionalizing of play that is so pervasive in my neighborhood. In fact, I'm looking forward to the day that I hear "Bye, Mom!" and then the slam of the front door.

That's a freedom you can't buy.

9 Comments:

Anonymous luther said...

I know I’m a broken record on this, but when you start finding that people have very different ideas as to what a label means (in this case “conservative”) then the label itself is no longer very meaningful and actually causes more confusion than understanding. Not only that, it doesn’t make any sense to attempt to take a persons multifaceted views on numerous topics like religion, society, role of government, environment, science, morality, etc., and then lump them into one of two broad categories: conservative vs. liberal (although this is very handy for our two party political system).

Most people I know, but not all, that proudly and boldly call themselves conservative use that term to basically mean “my way or the hi-way – I’m right and so are you if you agree with me – and oh if you don’t agree with me then you aren’t a real conservative”. As one example a good friend of mine that I have lunch with on a regular basis uses these terms a lot – he considers himself conservative because he is pro-war, wants to nuke the middle-east, and wants low taxes. He talks very negatively and hatefully about people he considers liberal. But interestingly he is an atheist, he thinks churches should be taxed, he literally believes that everyone is actually an atheist and that no-one actually believes in God. I told him that most “conservatives” would consider these pretty “liberal” views; he actually gasped, hesitated for a moment, and then said “well yeah, maybe THEY would say that”. Hmmm …

12:39 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I agree that it's irritating to only have two labels floating around the political landscape, and that it's true that not all conservatives are the same, nor liberals.

But not everything's relative. I'm the wrong person to ask because I'm only a casual student, but my guess is there are certain principles that are adhered to among real conservatives. For instance, a conservative--I think--would believe in the right of states to enact legislation regarding abortion rights, including the right to ban it.

That same conservative should then also support the right of states to enact euthenasia legislation. Now he may not support the actual legislation, but is there anything in the constitution precluding him from supporting the legislative process as defined by the constitution?

This is where some religious conservatives step off the train. They may not necessarily hold to the state's right to endorse euthenasia, but they'd probably see supporting a state's right to ban abortion as a means to an end and support it.

Or maybe I'm confusing federalism with conservatism, if the two are not synony(how do you spell this word?)mous.

Your friend sounds very partisan. Tell him you have a blogger friend who is also a size 4 super-model. Now, I say I am, but does that make it true?

“my way or the hi-way – I’m right and so are you if you agree with me – and oh if you don’t agree with me then you aren’t a real conservative”

That's been my experience with liberals, though I don't know it to be a tenet of either liberalism or conservatism, but it's defintely a part of politics!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

PS The above example illustrates why so many people are attaching pre-fixes to the word "conservative."

Neo-, Theo-, Paleo-, Phi Beta-, Christian-, Religious-,...I'll try to think of some more.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous luther said...

You are mixing federalism with conservatism a bit.

Federalism underlies a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces), creating what is often called a federation.

Conservatism is a philosophy defined by Edmund Burke as "a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve".[1] The term derives from conserve; from Latin conserv?re, to keep, guard, observe. Classical conservatism does not readily avail itself to the ideology of objectives. It is a philosophy primarily concerned with means over ends. To a conservative, the goal of change is less important than the insistence that change be effected with a respect for the rule of law and traditions of society.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy that supports individual rights as pre-existing the state, a government that exists to protect those moral rights, ensured by a constitution that protects individual autonomy from other individuals and governmental power, private property, and a laissez-faire economic policy.

Another example of how people are confused and misuse the term: My previously mentioned friend said that John McCain is “liberal” because you never know where he is going to stand on an issue – whether he will agree with the administration or not. I mentioned this comment in a conversation with Colleen’s father and he rolled his eyes and was shocked that someone would think John McCain as liberal and commented that the logic was stupid. Then about 2 hours later, and several glasses of Scotch, Colleen’s father told me he thought I leaned liberal because I usually question the motives of the Bush administration. Huh???

In a recent conversation with you I was commenting about the Michael Savage radio show (labeled a conservative) who was totally bashing George Bush for his handling of the economy and war(s). Your comment was something like “yeah conservatives hate George Bush”. So is George not a conservative? (If I insinuated that to my older brother he'd probably threaten to pull out his 50 caliber rifle) And if not who are the “true” conservatives? Ask several "conservatives" this question and you’ll get several answers. Maybe the reason I question the motives of the Bush administration is because I am a truer conservative than Colleen’s father?

So I believe these terms are largely misused and abused in today’s politics. Typically when people use these terms they are not using them in context of their true definitions, they are using their own made up definitions. I think in today's political battles this is often done intentionally to be manipulative.

Oh and anyone who disagrees with me can hit the hi-way and (to quote a co-worker) don't let the door hit ya where evolution split ya!! (just kidding of course)

So do I win the prize for the longest response ever on your blog?

5:37 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Conservatism is a philosophy defined by Edmund Burke as "a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve".[1] The term derives from conserve; from Latin conserv?re, to keep, guard, observe.
"
This part I actually knew, but didn't think it helped the conversation on a practical level, but let me try to rise to your philosophical level.

Wait, I can't! Except to ask, conserve what? The constitution? (That's where federalism would apply.) The Judeo-Christian ethic, which our ancestors carried over the Atlantic? Or the policies of the last twenty years?

Dunno. You tell me.

I think purists in conservatism and liberalism only exist in punditry and opinion writers (and freshman dorm rooms at Ivy League schools)because to become a politician is to compromise one's principles on a daily basis. No one who is elected stays elected any other way.

The article that I linked to in this post about conservatives no longer holding Bush in favor, is no longer available, but my recollection is that many conservatives, or "conservatives" if you like, are livid over this administration's non-discretionary spending, and budget deficit.

Typically when people use these terms they are not using them in context of their true definitions, they are using their own made up definitions.

I think many people confuse "conservative" for "Republican" and "liberal" for "Democrat" and each of those are confused with certain lifestyles. "Liberal" is also confused for "progressive." And "liberal" has a a different meaning today than "classical liberal" of yore.

I think in today's political battles this is often done intentionally to be manipulative.

Especially among partisans. But I don't think questioning a politician's motives is necessarily anti-conservative.

In any case, yes! Longest comment ever!

PS What labels, if any, do you propose we use instead of conservative and liberal?

8:00 PM  
Anonymous luther said...

See after all this discussion neither of us has a clear definition of conservative or liberal - at least not in a political context. I don't think that we can just replace conservative and liberal with two different terms and be any better off - or could we? Maybe we could use the terms "lutherist" and "troglodyte". The more anyone disagrees with my personal views, then the more troglodytical they are! Yes I like it! The slogan will be tweaked to read "my way or the cave-way"!!!

All kidding aside I just don't think that you can understand anyones political, social, moral (yada yada yada) leanings unless you talk with them at length on a variety of topics - like during trips to a lake and such :). So when ever someone says they are conservative or liberal I don't have any clue what that means - and what I have typically found is that everyone is a mix depending on the topic. And most of us have much more common ground than uncommon ground. So it annoys me when people try to pigeon hole everyone in one of two very vague and obviously confusing labels.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous luther said...

Speaking of taking it to the next philosophical level ... check out this long and deep thread: this long and deep thread.

PS. In my prior reply I hope my wording didn't imply that you annoy me ... I was referring to the politicians and talk show people who pigeon hole everyone into our two vague and confusing labels.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

In my prior reply I hope my wording didn't imply that you annoy me

Then I'm not trying hard enough!

(Ba dum bum.) I'll be here all week.

No, I hear you and a long time ago I wrote a post about how I wasn't going to use political labels, but I haven't found a way of not using them.

See after all this discussion neither of us has a clear definition of conservative or liberal - at least not in a political context.

It's not like there are NO measuring sticks -- a view on not raising taxes is one, for example.

Also, I think, by most peoples' standards, writers at NRO are conservative, even though they squabble and fight among themselves over what it means to be conservative.

So, I'm not backing away from using that label for Charles Murray, Jonah Goldberg and John Derbyshire.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous luther said...

I asked a friend at lunch yesterday what he means when he uses the term conservative ... he has made comments in the past like "isn't that person kinda liberal?" He said when he uses these terms he is referring to social and morality things like whether one agrees or disagrees with homosexual marriage and/or abortion. He is a good ol' southern baptist boy.

When we use conservative/liberal with other terms like social, economic, political, then they have clearer meaning - IF one understands general policy issues in each of these areas. For example a term like economic conservative might imply someone who wants low taxes - but just conservative does not. When the terms are used by themselves their meaning is very unclear. These terms are by their definitions relative - not absolute.

So in my friends eyes, since you and I believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry, we would be classified as "liberals". Doesn't that just hurt!?!?

So anyway just use your 2-dimensional labels away but be warned you have sliden a knotch towards troglodyte on the lutherist spectromoter - just a little though. :)

9:25 AM  

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