1. Catfish
    March 24, 2013

    As a word nerd myself, I agree wholeheartedly that the naming of things is all-important. George Orwell captured so brilliantly what happens when we reduce vocabulary and use 180 degree euphemisms (such as the ‘Ministry of Love’). The challenge to us all, then, is to come up with a name or term to describe the current political nasties who have coopted the word ‘conservative’ even as they wield their meat cleavers, blowtorches and sledgehammers. Nev started with ‘arse-pimples’, which is commendable but possibly not for everyday conversation.

    • March 24, 2013

      Actually, “arse-pimples” was mine, but I agree with you.

  2. March 24, 2013

    name names
    you mention social services, unions, etc. ok great. name the conservatives who have E V E R supported social services, unions, public infrastructure, the needs of the public over corporations, etc. let’s look at why unions and labour are so vilified today. maybe it has to do with reagan who afaik was a conservative. or thatcher who oh my god also a conservative. jfc sol i love you but get your head out of your ass and take up model trains or something ok

    • March 24, 2013

      Bill Davis. Stopped the Spadina Expressway, thus preserving established neighbourhoods from the wrecking ball. Ontario Place: a commitment to public space and public infrastructure.
      David Crombie. 45-foot height bylaw, thus preserving a sense of proportion, neighbourhood preservation, and limiting strain on infrastructure in the face of private pressures to build higher and higher.
      Those are just off the top of my head.
      I agree with you, absolutely, about the current attacks on unions and the public sphere, and about the historical context for those attacks. I just don’t think those people should get to call themselves conservatives. Genuine, principled conservatives believe, as I do, in building, protecting, and preserving, not in tearing things apart for the sake of tearing things apart. And when I talk about the things that I’m committed to protecting, I’m including a social-safety net, labour-friendly legislation, and other playing-field-levelling measures that took decades to establish. You can argue about the extent to which those things actually level the playing field, or the extent to which the people I name were friends of organized labour or the disadvantaged, and I probably wouldn’t disagree with you on that either, but I simply wouldn’t put them in the same room as the people currently calling themselves Conservatives.
      Either you believe in an inclusive vision of society, community, and citizenship, or you don’t. Again, this is my naivete speaking, but I believe that for all their faults, Red Tories do. This bunch does not. And it’s for that reason that I don’t think they should get a free pass in appropriating the mantle of conservatism.

      • March 25, 2013

        ziskayt. if reagan, thatcher, harper, your typical CPAC attendee, etc., don’t count as conservatives, your model is broken. enough of this “no true scotsman” nonsense. like, i can say, “if you’re racist you’re not really a feminist,” but that would rule out so many prominent feminists, from “founding mothers” of the first wave to a really shocking number still doing their thing today, that it’s essentially meaningless. i have to accept and DEAL WITH the fact that racism, along with many other things, is a part of feminism. the same with, say, militant right-wing zionism and judaism. and i will argue that white supremacy, free-market capitalism, etc., are as deeply ingrained in conservatism as zionism is in judaism.
        if you’ve got to add this long disclaimer explaining what you REALLY mean by conservative every time you use that political label, and you don’t want to sit at the conservative lunch table, maybe conservatism isn’t really worth identifying with. that’s the point i reached with feminism, anyway.

    • May 12, 2013

      Thatcher and Reagan were not conservatives. They may have been Conservatives but their policies and world views were anything but conservative. They were free-market, monetarist evangelical fundamentalists and had all the zeal that accompanied that position. It was with the advent of Maggie and Ronnie that the Conservatives ceased any pretense at being conservative and basically became the political wing of the globalised economy and the corporations. Heck they even stopped actually caring about their electorate and actively sought to disenfranchise anyone who opposed them and as such were/are barely democratic in nature.
      The issue is the conflation of Conservative and conservative and a lazy willingness to accept stuff people say uncritically. The Conservatives have for years been trying to conflate fascism with socialism, because there was socialism in the name in the same lazy brain dead manner. Actions are what determines position and the Conservatives are a radical bunch of simplistic puppets who would sell out their country at the drop of a hat all the while wrapping themselves in the flag. The real defining statement for me is that conservatives will go and fight to preserve (conserve) our freedoms and way of life; Conservatives will happily send everyone else off to fight while doing the enemy’s work for them, by reducing our freedoms and destroying our way of life. Conservatives are unprincipled cowards while conservatives are principled people who walk the walk.

  3. March 25, 2013

    But ketseleh. If racism is part of feminism, as you argue, wouldn’t you, as a feminist, want to rescue feminism from racism? Just because it’s got racism ingrained in it, does that mean it can’t evolve and, one hopes, transcend its racist elements? Through dialogue, action, and patient conversation, can we not eventually filter out the bad stuff and keep the good?
    I’m not saying it’s a quick or easy process. It’s a long, wrenching, and arduous thing, but that’s what we do when we’re committed to things we believe to be worthwhile. And one of the reasons I love you is because you’ve got the energy and intelligence to do that.

    • March 27, 2013

      We all make our own decisions about whether it’s worth staying and fighting, I guess. But at this point I think, well, calling myself “feminist” would simply give people the wrong impression because I’ve diverged so far from the mainstream feminist movement (primarily helmed/represented by white straight cis middle class women at non-profits/think tanks). And I primarily want to work and make community with the people whose backs those women walked over to get to where they are, and for whom “feminist” is an immediate red flag.
      So I suppose the question is, who do you want to appeal to by calling yourself a conservative? Conservatives, or the people conservatives have very materially oppressed—with everything from legislation to lynch mobs—for decades?

    • March 27, 2013

      Edit—pursuant to my last comment—I don’t want to “rescue feminism from racism”. I do not think that there is a feminism independent of the people who practice it, we must judge a tree by its fruits, etc.—and we are grown-ups here and it is up to each of us to examine how we are complicit in white supremacy. I am not interested in helping anyone be less racist. I would rather work with people who are already not racist.

      • May 12, 2013

        Above you take Sol to task for his supposed naivete over his view on the word “conservative,” Your naivete is displayed in your last two sentences here.
        “I am not interested in helping anyone be less racist. I would rather work with people who are already not racist.”
        How can you in all reality to believe that is even remotely possible if you want things to change?
        Unless you are happy with the status quo, surely dialogue with those who are racist is the only way of changing the situation one person at a time if necessary? Otherwise all you have is an self-righteous, echo chamber smugly satisfied that they are enlightened, but willing to let the oppressed continue to be oppressed because confronting the oppressors is beneath them.

        • May 12, 2013

          I know Nevi’s perfectly capable of speaking for herself, but naive, smug, and satisfied are some of the last terms I’d use to characterize her.

      • May 12, 2013

        I’ll cop to the naive but not to the others, they described a situation that could evolve and were not directed at anyone other than to describe a kind of unhelpful and unproductive end result.

  4. len
    May 8, 2014

    Apparently, I’ve hit upon your writings all in one fell swoop, so I apologize for responding so often. I have no background in philosophy or debate, so bear with me trying to work through your writing and your points.
    I note your concern about the meanings of words, but I keep running up against what I see in dictionary references, and your interpretation of various words in your posts.
    In this case, conservatism: You said that it means…preserve those parts of our history and tradition (agreed)…
    But I’m not sure where I’ve been able to find that it means that those ‘parts are worthwhile and decent and honourable…elements of generosity, civic engagement, commitment to our communities and our neighbours…obligations to our fellow citizens.’…at least in the present dictionaries I’ve been able to access.

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