15 May 2009

Posner on the Collapse of American Conservatism

"My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation."

Posner is a conservative/libertarian leaning pragmatist whom I admire even as I disagree with him about a lot of things. He posted this on the blog he keeps jointly with Gary Becker. Posner is no liberal and not a big fan of the current administration. What he bemoans is the craven anti-intellectualism of many American conservatives. On this I could hardly agree more. I suspect his broadside will meet with apoplexy and charges of apostasy from the very folks who most fully embody the brand of conservatism he sketches. Point made.
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Update: In The New York Times today we find this report - detailing the 'strategy' conservatives are formulating to oppose anyone Obama nominates to fill the upcoming vacancy on the supreme court - that confirms the mindlessness Posner identifies. What they apparently are planning is more slogans of precisely the same sort that brought them to disaster. (16 May 2009).

Update 2: And here you can find an exchange of sorts between Posner & former Federal Reserve Head Alan Greenspan (Added 25 May 09).

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