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Conservatism and the Politics of Grievance

I came across last week’s episode of Bill Maher’s show while flipping channels the other day and in his new rules, he talked about how obsessively we have politicized virtually everything in America. And it got me thinking about how effectively the right has used tales of grievance and persecution to sell their ideology.

For the past 50 years, American conservative have convinced themselves that nearly every institution in the country is simultaneously involved in a conspiracy to keep them down and dilute their power. You’ve heard them all.

–Public schools are just indoctrination centers that teach kids how horrible America is and destroy their belief in God and universities exist only to brainwash students to prepare them for the coming communist utopia.

–The media is a left-wing conspiracy to hide the truth from patriotic Americans and put Democrats in office.

–Science is little more than an organized attempt to destroy God and push for anti-capitalist policies that will destroy America and all that is good in it.

–The entertainment industry is intent on destroying our values and turning our kids into drug- and violence-addled automatons.

All of these beliefs act an inoculation of sorts, so that anything advocated by anyone in those institutions will be dismissed out of hand if it is in any way politically inconvenient. It’s a force field around their beliefs, making them impenetrable to reason. When you combine that carefully nursed sense of grievance and distrust with the well established psychological tendency of conservatives to seek out strong leaders and eschew new ideas and experiences, you have a perfect recipe for virulent and untouchable ignorance.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    All starting with the Elders of Zion of course. Or the Masons. Or maybe, just maybe those are actually the same!

  2. says

    I don’t know about you, Ed, but I really am after their precious bodily fluids. Mwahaha! That’s step one of my plan for incredible wealth that I will then need to give to lazy drug addled teens so they can impregnate my daughter with abortion ready bab… Wait. My plan suddenly seems crazy. Ah, screw it. Onward!

  3. baal says

    All of society is evil and out to get them and yet they keep signing up for FEDGOV provided benefits. The government is us (soylent green is people too but in a different way).

  4. flybywire says

    I don’t get it. Government is bad and is always evil, but they love their Conservative congresspeople and Senators who are part of the Government. The last time i looked, the Congress was majority conservative, so I’m not sure i understand the thought process behind it all.

  5. says

    It is strange that US conservative movement in the 21st century is so strongly against almost every established institution of the USA. Doesn’t seem like conservatism to me.

  6. slc1 says

    Re busterggi @ #2

    That’s only part of the story. Left out are the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Skull and Bones. We can’t allow any of the conspirators off the hook.

  7. says

    Conservatives today are immensely fearful of the future and the present. They see history passing them by or, as they see it, the country is heading in the wrong direction. They imagine that they can take this country back to a golden age that never really existed. That’s why they’re so resentful of many established institutions, because they see them as both the cause and the effect of the corruption of society that liberals have inflicted on the country over the past eighty years. That’s what makes them feel that they both are he only Real Americans
    And are being persecuted for it.

  8. says

    It must be tough being outsiders all the time, no matter how much money is behind them or how many of them there are. I mean, even when they’re the Establishment, they aren’t the Establishment(*1). One Soros(*2) must be the equivalent of a hundred Kochs, for the former to so thoroughly curb the latter’s agenda.
     
    *1. Worse, True Conservatives can only find out if the last True Conservative in power that True Conservatives supported absolutely was a True Conservative after all only after that True Conservative is out of power. Spoiler: They never were. Except Reagan, and that requires considerable unremembering of history.
    *2. SOROS!!!

  9. firefly says

    And let’s not forget how public schools and the media are pushing “the gay agenda”!
    .
    flybywire, #5

    so I’m not sure i understand the thought process behind it all.

    A thought process? ;)

  10. Ichthyic says

    All of these beliefs act an inoculation of sorts, so that anything advocated by anyone in those institutions will be dismissed out of hand if it is in any way politically inconvenient. It’s a force field around their beliefs, making them impenetrable to reason. When you combine that carefully nursed sense of grievance and distrust with the well established psychological tendency of conservatives to seek out strong leaders and eschew new ideas and experiences, you have a perfect recipe for virulent and untouchable ignorance.

    you do realize that these are all symptoms one would find in a textbook presentation of authoritarianism, right?

    Let’s please move past the descriptive phase, which is glaringly obvious, and into treatment phase?

  11. dingojack says

    … and the contrails, don’t forget the contrails. Eeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!
    [runs into triple tinfoil-lined bomb-shelter and locks self in for the next 25 years]

    @@
    Dingo.

  12. =8)-DX says

    Untouchable?
    *Reaches out a hand to the shoulder of a conservative.
    Now that’s what I call touching ignorance.

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