alien & sedition.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
  Conservatism 2.0?

This is a few days old, but I wanted to bring it up anyway: Patrick Ruffini has some very interesting thoughts on Yearly Kos and its relation to the conservative movement -- past and present. Ruffini points out that, while conservatives wonder "where's our Yearly Kos?", YK itself arose out of the question among progressives: "where's our CPAC?" Any progressive will admit -- will explain at length -- that our movement was largely modeled on the one built by conservatives beginning with the Goldwater campaign (though of course we've come up with innovations of our own).

The point is pretty basic: when you're locked out of the market, you're forced to innovate. That's what conservatives did beginning in the 1950s, and it's what progressives have been doing over the last few years. However, political technologies are like any other kind, in that early adopters risk finding themselves over-invested in models that can quickly become obsolete. Ruffini is concerned about precisely such a dilemma:
The conservative analog to YearlyKos is 30 years old. The 800lb. gorillas of the conservative Web initially went online in the 1995-97 timeframe. And many have failed to innovate. They are still Web 1.0, where the Left jumped directly into Web 2.0 in the Bush years.
Ruffini goes on to describe how poorly the conservative web -- Drudge, Free Republic, the right blogosphere, et al -- is aging (it's worth reading the post for the digs at Freepers alone). Are conservatives locked into outdated technologies?
It would be one thing if we didn’t have any of these institutions, and could start from scratch just as the netroots did. My fear is that we have a bunch of institutions that still function somewhat well, but are long past their prime. With that, there is the danger we will slowly die without knowing it, as our techniques gradually lose effectiveness year after year. Just like newspaper circulation numbers. And there are a number of people on the right who are still complacent about this.
Ruffini and Soren Dayton follow on this post with a pretty good exchange, about which more later. But I think there's absolutely something to this -- after all, social institutions rely on accumulated legitimacy, which can hold them back when it's time for those institutions to reinvent themselves. This is a lesson for the left as much as for the right.

The more immediate question for A&S purposes is this: When (it's when, not if) the conservatives do manage to reinvent themselves as a "2.0" movement, what will that mean? How would such a movement look? How different might its policy preoccupations, rhetoric, and internal cohesion requirements be? Is Conservatism 2.0 in the works already?

You might say those questions are what Alien & Sedition, ultimately, is all about.

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Given the "conservative" (?) ideology of Bushism, one of the requirements of their future success would be:

"Improve on autism! We have to close all our minds completely to all distracting and confusing information or appeals to bipartisanship or moderation!"

There is already a good deal of that working successfully; FOX news, right wingnut blogging, "evangelical" communication, f.e., seem to catch near to ALL attention of about a quarter of the US voters. They have to extend their appeal, a quarter is not enough, at least as long as there is kind of real voting.

That is my German pessimism which may not be acceptable for Americans:

This extension from a quarter to a half or more of the voters may come AUTOMATICALLY:
The decline of the USA will make it impossible for center & left to prevent the surge of hysteria, paranoia, panic, fury, fanatism.
The right extreme answer will always sound stronger than the pragmatic answer of Democratic politics.

I do not think that they need "Conservatism 2.0" at all.

Deterioration of the USA, domestically and internationally, will do it all.

It's only a short bad period they have to go through in the moment. Two years of Liberal Presidency, and the right will be back, with full force and determination and support.

From such a melancholic view can we derive any strategic advices?

As a start, I resort to Buddhist ressources in me and say to myself: "First let me accept things the way they are, and as they may come."

Is the instinct wrong that demands my sober admittal of complete helplessness before I can start any creative brainstorming?

We should also take into account that in air-assaulting Iran next year they might win Presidency for one of them once more ... it will cut the Democrats in two hostile camps, half pro, half contra. That looks like a joker in Bush's sleeve to me. We will see whether he plays this card, and in case, how Americans will react.
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"An obscure but fantastic blog." - Markus Kolic


Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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