15 December 2006

Homework

First, Philip Agre's essay What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?
Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves “conservatives” have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

Second, on the subject of our nation's news media, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's essay Why I Blog, an essay in five parts which argues that the news media are not “liberal.” They are conservative, by Mr Agre's definition.
  1. In which Jonathan Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution explains that the news media have sided with the privileged elite, a class to which you almost certainly don’t belong
  2. In which, in an unguarded moment, the Editorial Director of CBSNews.com explains what was really going on over the last twelve years.
  3. In which CNN demonstrates its loyalty to the dark side of the force
  4. In which we discover yet again that deceiving us has become an industrial process
  5. In which I bid farewell to some of the related issues I left out of this post, and explain why I write about politics and current events
In that last part, she provides the answer to the implicit question of her post's title.
I can’t fill in for the deficiencies of the New York Times or the Washington Post or CBS and CNN. I can’t singlehandedly beat back the tide of corporate astroturf and all the constantly proliferating varieties of spam. Fortunately, I’m not alone. If the vast field of political weblogging has sprung up seemingly out of nowhere during the last few years, it’s because the underperforming professional journalists are leaving us with so much material to work with.
I'm deliberately posting this on a Friday so that you'll be more likely, during the weekend, to take the time to click through and read these two things. Yes, they're long, but they're important. I just cannot recommend highly enough that you go to each one and read the whole thing.

4 comments:

Sea's Blog said...

Homework! You're not kidding.

... And I'm on it.

Anonymous said...

JK, have you read "Conflict of Visions"? This piece is exhibit A in supporting Sowell's analysis about very different world views clouding interpretations of behavior.

Ray

Jonathan Korman said...

No, I hadn't stumbled across Conflict of Visions. A little web searching makes it sound interesting, sort of a more philosophically-grouned version of Lakoff's Moral Politics, which is a favourite of mine.

On the other hand, given the things of Sowell's that I've seen before, I'm far from being a fan of his. With Agre on the brain, I'd say that in his terms Sowell is obviously shilling for the artistocrats.

Anonymous said...

Any day I get discussed in the same post as Philip Agre is a good one. He's not a twentieth as famous as he deserves to be.

TNH