Thursday, March 31, 2005

Radical Conservatives

I've come to the conclusion that there are two uses of the term "conservative" with very different meanings. One is in the "liberal/conservative" spectrum, where "liberal" is "pro-liberty" and "conservative" is "pro-security". The other is in the "radical/conservative" spectrum, where "radical" is "pro rapid, major change" and "conservative" is "pro status quo".

Historically, most people amd groups who were "conservative" in the first sense were also "conservative" in the second sense, so it made some sense to equate "liberal" with "radical" - since in the 60's, 70's and 80's the people who wanted to enact sweeping changes were the ones pro-liberty.

We've seen a change, however, recently. The people who are attempting to enact the rapid major changes are the ones in favor of security over liberty, and are willing to sacrifice many rights to do it. This mind set is difficult for many to encapsulate, as it might be termed "radical conservative" which sounds like a contradiction in terms unless you realize the two distinct ways in which "conservative" is used.

It is very difficult to concretely identify a problem when the language does not lend itself easily to describing it. This is one of the advantages that these people have. Since they are difficult to classify, it is hard to identify them as a threat. Their rhetoric defies description, literally. As a result, they have rapidly gained power.

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