In the US, there are three types of conservatives:
1. Wealth/money Libertarian rich man’s philosophy type. Most corporate types are in on this one too. Rightwing philosophy has always been the philosophy of the rich and privileged.
This is so true through time and space that “rightwing populism” doesn’t make a lot of sense, and rightwing populists are generally not for the people at all. They are always fake populists working to get the votes of working class, poor and some middle class people by selling a phony populist message. Underneath the covers of rightwing populism is the same old “everything for the rich, nothing for anyone else” economics of the rich and privileged.
In the same sense, “grass roots conservative” is probably a phony term. Conservative movements can probably never be grassroots movements. Grassroots movements are movements of the poor, working class and sometimes the middle classes. They are not made up of corporations and rich and privileged, and upper middle class movements can never be either grassroots or populist.
The conservatives in Category 1 are folks who vote their pocketbook, so to speak. They think that voting for lower taxes, fewer services (which are paid for by taxes) and smaller government is in their best interest as they are monied, feel they don’t need or use government services and resent those who do, pay proportionately more taxes than others because they are wealthier, and feel they don’t get anything back for their tax money.
Instead, their taxes go to help poorer folks, who they disparage as lazy or unworthy. In a word, they’re opposed to sharing. If they are aligned with the corporate sector, they feel that government limits their corporate profits via taxation and regulation. In the case of Obamacare, the paranoia was coming from this group who had fancy and expensive private insurance plans.
This group believed that they would be forced to give up their fancy and privileged plans and participate in a socialized service for all, which would give them a lower standard of care. Of course, Obamacare did no such thing, but this was the fear. The privileged felt that they would have to give up their privileges.
If you really are rich and privileged or at least upper middle class or if you are deep into the corporate world, it may well make sense for you to vote in Category 1.
But the problem with Group 1 is that it is full of all sorts of morons who are poor, low income, working class or even middle class who look in the mirror and see the Elect in the Preterite reflection. They see themselves as members of the ruling class or the economically privileged, but they are anything but.
These voters are not behaving rationally. Instead, you are seeing wish fulfillment. I want to be rich, so I am rich. I fantasize that I am rich, so I am rich. I have the delusion that I am rich, so I psychotically believe that I am rich. And so forth.
This is the bedrock base of conservatism – a movement of the rich and privileged to preserve their power and privilege vis a vis others. Read one of the founding fathers of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, on the French Revolution to see what I am talking about. Scholars are probably correct that all modern conservatism flows from Burke in a sense.
2. Religious conservatives and fundamentalists. This is another longstanding trend of conservatism, but it’s become a mass movement only recently. In the past, in nearly all cultures, the rich wrapped themselves in religion as a way of ruling over the rest of society and justifying their wealth and privilege.
Hindu and Christian monarchies were often said to be ruling in God’s name. Hindu monarchies were channeling the God’s themselves. The Christian churches formed long and deep relationships with the rich, as the rich supported the Church as a way of brainwashing the masses into allowing monarchical rule by the rich. This is the basis for the Marxist beef against religion – its longstanding alliance with class and power and its use as a cudgel to beat the poor and workers with.
Here in the US, you have many folks who vote rightwing solely on religious grounds. As the rich often tend to be rather irreligious and are often supremely decadent and morally debased due to their lives of wealth, privilege and leisure, this marriage between Groups 1 and 2 is problematic from the start. How it works is that Group 1 proscribes extreme morality for the poor and workers. For the rich and monied? Wink wink. Well, they get to do whatever the fuck they want to!
Sadly, this nonsense rings true for many Americans. Deep down inside, they feel that the poor and working classes have no right to have fun or to sin. Sinning and living it up is a privilege earned via wealth. If you’re not rich, wear a sackcloth as your penance. If you’re bucks up, sniff coke, go to orgies, screw both sexes, buy whores, whatever. You earned it baby!
The rich are put in a bind by these folks because most rich people don’t give a flying fuck about churchly morality, and they like to live it up and sin. Rich people’s daughters, wives and girlfriends have unwanted pregnancies that need to be terminated. No matter the legal status of abortion, rich women have always and will always have easy access to pregnancy termination. Everyone knows this and winks at it.
So the rich run on holier than thou Bible-belting platforms to get the poorer suckers to vote for them. The trick is to run on this platform to get the sucker vote and then implement as little of the religious bullshit as policy as possible, so as not to upset the decadent rich too much. This has worked pretty well for some time now, but there’s always a contradiction.
Category 2 doesn’t have much in common with Category 1, as most religious people are low income, working class or at best middle class. In the US, the poorer you are, the more religious you are. While it makes sense for Category 2 folks to want to see religious morality proscribed by law, voting for the party of the rich doesn’t make any sense economically. It would be more sensible to vote for a pro working class and lower income party that pushed religious morality.
In the US, Categories 1 and 2 are allied, but it isn’t this way in most of the world.
Most Islamist parties are progressive on economics as a rule. It’s certainly the case with Hamas in Palestine, the religious party in Turkey and the rulers of Iran. Islamist parties tend to actually be populist and grassroots. Most people in these countries are religiously conservative, so the Islamists are just implementing popular will. Being populists, they often push pro-people and even socialist economics. Even pro-Khalifate Islamists attack capitalism as anti-Islamic.
Obviously, most in Group 2 get screwed economically for voting for Group 1, but they can’t seem to figure this out.
3. Redneck/rural types. Here in the US, we have a lot of folks who vote rightwing simply because they are redneck rural types who live in the country, listen to country music, hunt, fish, trap, live in small towns, etc. The men tend to be hypermasculine, and the women are traditional.
This is strictly a lifestyle voting choice. There is some overlap between this group and Group 2, since many rednecks are also Christian conservatives.
It’s safe to say that voting rightwing does absolutely zero for these folks and their redneck lifestyle, although they may obtain some benefits. Political parties can’t do anything about traditional lives and masculinity.
Voting rightwing doesn’t give you more animals to hunt and fish to catch. In fact, it’s the opposite, as Group 1 is predicated on an anti-environmental ethic that decimates animal populations, pollutes rivers, lakes and seas, overfishes the ocean, and pushes rampant development that destroys wild lands where fish and game live.
This group is also strongly opposed to government land ownership, and most the most and best preserved land is owned by the state, which keeps it fairly pristine and keeps development off of it.
Voting rightwing probably doesn’t help small rural towns, and Group 1 types are rich corporate folks who push a Manhattan financial sector urban based economics that devastates rural areas by neglect, disinvestment, offshoring, mass immigration and other methods.
It’s true that environmentalists do harm some rural communities by cracking down on mass overharvesting of timber, trying to limit horrific abuse of public lands by ranchers who overgraze them, putting restraints on destructive and dangerous oil and gas drilling and limitations on mining in certain areas.
Most of this has to do with public lands. White rural America wants to earn its living via mass abuse of our public lands, and the rest of us don’t want to go along with this charade anymore. You’re still pretty much free to graze and chop down trees as you see fit on your own private land.
Rednecks as a rule are poor, low income or working class folks. Voting for the economic project of Group 1, which is all about class war on their economic class, doesn’t make a lick of sense.
But voters in Category 3, more than those in the other two categories, are voting more for an idea or a notion than anything else. At least the Patriotards love war and sociopathic foreign policy, and that’s what they get for their vote. It’s dumb, but it’s a policy vote. Category 3 people hardly get the slightest thing for their vote.
Being a redneck “feels” conservative, so they vote conservative. They’re voting for a feeling. I’m a macho guy, and conservatism “feels” masculine to me, so I’m voting conservative. It only makes sense on a sensual level. It doesn’t make a lot of sense on a policy level, but these folks are not voting policy anyway. They’re voting with their feelings, with their hearts. The gears in their brains haven’t even engaged. They are in neutral.
4. Mom, the flag and apple pie: the Patriotards.
There is also the patriotic or “Patriotard” crowd. This crowd is all about nationalism, love of flag, country, traditionalism and the military. They often support military adventurism abroad all the way to raw imperialism. US military adventurism and imperial wars are undertaken by administrations, often conservative ones, to drum up support for these types. Many wars have been started and attacks on other countries have been initiated in order to gain support for the flag wavers.
Your average Patriotard is often poor, low income, working class or at best middle class. Imperialist wars for loot and glory don’t benefit his bottom line one bit. If anything, they hurt it as the state goes bankrupt and cuts back on pro-people policy to run around overseas on drop bombs on people’s heads.
The wars themselves don’t benefit the Patriotards physically, as young Patriotards and the children of the older ones are massacred or chewed up and sent back in tatters as fodder for the latest imperial warfare adventure of the rich.
Unless you work for a defense contractor or some corporation that is directly benefiting from imperial war, there’s really no policy sense in being a Patriotard. There’s no reason why Patriotards should vote for the economic project of the rich, as it just hurts most of them.
But Category 1 folks, the rich and privileged, use the Patriotards and imperial war as a sort of Romanesque spectacle to gin up support among poorer folks for the economics of the rich. Whether or to what degree the rich benefit from war itself is still up in the air. Many upper income folks and corporate types may see no direct benefit from war at all.
Many Patriotards are also very religious, so there is a lot of overlap with Category 2.
The Patriotard votes on a pure feelings basis almost as much as the rednecks. He’s not voting policy. He sees the flag, gets teary eyed, his heart starts pounding, and he votes rightwing. It’s a purely emotional response without a lot of logic behind it.
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