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Failed Conservative Values: Norman Solomon on Dog Eat Dog Greed

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There is sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.  Mahatma Gandhi

I interviewed Norman Solomon at the 2008 Democratic Party Convention in San Jose, California.  Norman  is a columnist and his book "War Made Easy"  was  recently made into a movie.  He talked about how he sees 'dog eat dog greed' as a Failed Conservative Value.

Failed Conservative Values: Norman Solomon on Dog Eat Dog Greed

Norman Solomon:  Well, what goes by the term conservative is too often a sort of a euphemism for dog eat dog, whoever comes out on top, we believe in the survival of the fittest – a sort of perversion of Darwinism taken into a social realm, where generally, the predatory nature in the animal kingdom of one category of animal inflicted on another is sort of mimicked and replicated. So that within humanity itself there is a notion that we all have to be in competition with each other to such an extreme degree in the survival of the fittest.

Well, I think that is really a sort of dog-eat-dog notion of the way in which we are going to survive.  I’ll tell you, it goes against so much, I believe, about even what has brought us this far as human beings.  I mean, if parents looked at their kids that way, they would say, “well this is a competition for food, so just let them go.” 

I’m afraid that – rhetoric aside – so-called conservatives talk about the national entity of the United States.  Too often in practice it means “I’ll try to get mine, and if you can get yours, fine, but I’m not going to help you very much.”

So, I’m afraid it’s often a predatory model, whereas the progressive values at their best are really about “We’re all in this together, we’re going to find a way to help each other have more a human existence for ourselves, and then in tandem with other people”.

I think there’s been success and failure of the so called conservative movements.  They have certainly had successes in shredding the social safety net, in gaining and retaining power in the White House, in chopping up and discarding important parts of the New Deal, in terms of accountability, in terms of basic programs like, say, Medicaid, that have been under attack, and funding has been cut back egregiously.

So there’s been a success at that level.  But I think there’s increasing evidence – in 2008 anyway – that the so-called conservative movement has failed to capture the imagination and the passion of particularly the youngest couple generations, particularly people now in their 30’s and 20’s and teens. 

And that is a profound failure of the right-wing.  And if progressives can work appropriately to build on our values in political and social realms, that could mean a rollback of so many of the right-wing advances of the last decades.

Edwin  Is there one conservative value that’s failed, what would you say it is?

NormanWe’re all in it for ourselves.  Greed by any other name.  In practice being, “I’ll try to get as much as I can, and you try to get as much as you can, and let’s let government help me as much as possible.  Let’s manipulate government as much as possible.  Otherwise, government has no responsibility to others”.

It’s the three “p’s”:  prison, police, Pentagon.  That is the conservative so-called belief system about what government should do.  And I think we’ve seen the failure of that approach in human terms.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good!
Greed is right! Greed works!
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms.

Michael Douglas in Wall Street

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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, (more...)
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