First to be clear, I am not suggesting that all conservatives are psychopaths or even mentally ill. I AM saying conservatism is built upon top-down values that can lead to psychological disorders and pathologies. This article started out on a different path-- trying to understand why conservatives oppose trains. But that took me to this bigger picture thinking.
Conservatism is built around some core values. An article by Morton C. Blackwell of the Leadership institute suggests the primary "principles" conservatives are devoted to are: limited government, free enterprise, strong national defense, and traditional values. He also says that liberals or progressives-- and he denigrates both terms-- represent "someone committed to, among other priorities, greater concentration of power in government, more government spending, and active opposition to traditional values."
What are "traditional values?" The conservative Rational Wiki offers this list of commonly spoken of traditional values:
To be fair, Rational Wiki also offers "skeletons in the closet." Here's a partial list:
- Slavery, Entrenched racism, Anti-Semitism
- Women as chattel property, Endemic child abuse
- Lynch mob for heretics and minority groups
- Capital punishment for, well, everything. "It's hanging for a sheep, or murder in the first degree."
- 80 hour work week, No
paidholidays Lack of safety regulation at workSafety at work regulated by natural selection Primitive or non-existent health careHealth care provided by free marketnatural selection
- Prohibition of divorce
- Censorship of science
The Traditional Values Coalition characterizes traditional values as "... based upon biblical foundations and upon the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, the writings of the Founding Fathers, and upon the writings of great political and religious thinkers throughout the ages." Their list includes:
I don't have a problem with their traditional values as long as they keep them to themselves. I have a huge problem when they decide that they have the right to subject others to them. That is malignant top-down, authoritarian thinking-- that they have the right and the righteousness to force other people to live by their values. This is a form of narcissism-- believing that what is good for you and what you need is all that matters and what others should be concerned about.
I wanted to cover conservatism from conservatives' point of view, but I also want to get into conservatism through a top-down lens. Here's my take.
Authoritarianism: Value and respect hierarchy and authority. It also means reject government. For most conservatives that means being passive, accepting authoritarian figures and the dogmas and rules they set out. It means participating in hierarchical, patriarchal religions, like ones that decree that the man shall dominate and the "flock" of (sheep?) shall be obedient. This sets up most of the population-- the 99%-- to be submissive, to accept and embrace oppression. In terms of
This also sets people up to be abused. In fact, it is estimated that over 30 percent of the population is exposed to abuse as children. Abused children often become abusers or enter into relationships with abusers. Children of narcissists (all sociopaths and psychopaths are also narcissists) very often either become narcissists or they put themselves into abusive relationships with narcissists (though some can escape from the vicious cycle.)
Maybe it's no coincidence that there is a reliable 26-28% of the population who poll very conservative. They're accustomed to abusing and being abused.
George Lakoff has described how authoritarian people tend to have family values that demand independence.That means they object to liberal ideas like the community supporting the needy, or building big projects that support many many people. That's part of the psychology that leads to conservatives opposing big government and big projects like funding railroads-- which primarily serve city dwellers.
How does this tie into rejecting government? Government takes (or, it should, if it's run justly and with true democracy, which, unfortunately, is often not the case) power away from the old guard-- away from the wealthy, away from the landed gentry. Government gives power to the 99%. An administrator of an agency has tremendous power and that power has not been awarded to him by the free market.
Hypocritically, conservatives love big government, as long as it involves police, controlling others who have lifestyles they disapprove of, or if it involves military power-- power to force others to do things, one of the most violent manifestations of authoritarianism.