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Why Conservatives Lose

Reader comment on item: Why Do You American Conservatives Keep Losing?
in response to reader comment: The real fruit of the "Age of Enlightenment"

Submitted by Jim Austin (United States), Dec 1, 2018 at 00:18

Conservatives have always had problems with the values stemming from the Western Age of Enlightenment. The core value of Enlightenment is reason. When applied to the material world, it results in science and technology. When applied to human world, it results in more or less benign governments that uphold freedom and rights. Together, it results in capitalism and abundance.

The rub comes when reason is applied to religion, it ultimately leads to rejection of religion, or at least, greater attention to this secular world and considerably less to the next world. In their yearning for their old-time religion, conservatives have always been uncomfortable with the Enlightenment.

Conservatives are, however, loath to relinquish the benefits of the Enlightenment, the benefits of science, technology, capitalism, prosperity. Few, if any, express any longing to return to the Medieval period, that period characterized by rather short and miserable life spans under repressive and tyrannical regimes.

Thus conservatives try to tell us that all that freedom, rights and abundance we enjoy are products of the Christian religion while the consistent application of Enlightenment values lead to communism.

The entire left was not, of course, any sort of natural consequence of any hyper-rational science. Rather, the left resulted from a reaction to the Enlightenment with the likes of Jean Jacques Rousseau declaring that science is bad, that civilization is corrupt and that innocence is to be found among primitives.

Not being able to tap into any popular yearning to go back to the dark ages, leftists like Karl Marx declared that their ideology was in fact the very embodiment of science itself. Unfortunately, conservatives were only too happy to ratify that claim to demonstrate that a purely scientific approach inherently leads to totalitarianism, and that freedom requires some sort of irrationality. The late William F. Buckley said as much during his 1970 Playboy interview.

Enlightenment itself is under attack with postmodernism linking culture to class, race and gender, and further linking Western Enlightenment values to class exploitation, racism and misogyny. With conservatives joining in to belittle the Enlightenment, the entire Enlightenment is going down without much of a fight, and along with it all the results of science, technology, freedom, capitalism.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (18) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Why Conservatives Lose [169 words]Jim AustinNov 26, 2018 03:37246251
The real fruit of the "Age of Enlightenment" [218 words]Michael SNov 30, 2018 14:09246251
Imperialism, Slavery and "Enlightenment" [494 words]Michael SNov 30, 2018 22:18246251
Why Conservatives Lose [365 words]Jim AustinDec 1, 2018 00:18246251
The hidden trap of "reason" [341 words]Michael SDec 3, 2018 17:27246251
At least four genders [104 words]SteinNov 15, 2018 12:50246007
"Queers", "Eunuchs", etc. [322 words]Michael SDec 5, 2018 10:14246007
Standardization versus Innovation [216 words]SteinNov 2, 2018 12:35245770
Republicans not Conservatives Control [96 words]Tom DundeeOct 25, 2018 14:11245696
So why deliver our children 'over to liberals to be inculcated' [26 words]ebOct 21, 2018 09:06245609
Conservatism of today was the liberalism of the past [100 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Amir SaniOct 18, 2018 10:13245539
Our dear Amir needs to read with care! [238 words]dhimmi no moreOct 19, 2018 06:11245539
Response to Dhimmi no more [192 words]Amir SaniOct 21, 2018 22:56245539
Our dear Amir needs to read with care! Part 2 [374 words]dhimmi no moreOct 22, 2018 14:56245539
Our dear Amir needs to read with care! Part 3 [117 words]dhimmi no moreOct 22, 2018 15:13245539
So depressing. [11 words]Mark AlexanderOct 18, 2018 02:07245529
Conservatism vs. Liberalism [30 words]Shafi RefaiOct 18, 2018 01:11245527
Our dear Shafi Refai needs to watch Jordan Peterson! [111 words]dhimmi no moreOct 19, 2018 06:27245527

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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