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Rugged Individualism: Liberal or Conservative

Is rugged individualism really conservative?


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lizzie

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I've been thinking about this more and more, and the more I do, the more it seems to be a liberal rather than conservative idea.

It originally was a liberal idea and tendency, but as the American style of liberalism has become dominant, and true liberalism has fallen by the wayside, conservatives are more likely to support the idea of rugged individualism these days.
 

Surtr

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?

Rugged individualism was built on the frontier, yet Teddy Roosevelt trustbusted the frontier.

What's your point?

I clearly stated my point: It's not a political issue. Plus I was remarking on Theodore Roosevelt's character and persona. Quit over-analyzing every little thing. It's annoying as ****.
 

Hatuey

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conservatives are more likely to support the idea of rugged individualism these days.

Sure, until they need to appease their fairy tale gods and want to impose their moral beliefs on the individual.
 

Daktoria

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it existed before the frontier....we would still be peasants in Europe otherwise.
Wall Street will have to be dealt with by someone else, and I hope it happens soon.

To be clear, frontier is always the next place people are exploring.

For example, Wall Street used to be New Amsterdam, and the pilgrims were at one time frontiersmen...

...pilgrims who were persecuted all the same by central authorities back home.
 

Daktoria

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I clearly stated my point: It's not a political issue. Plus I was remarking on Theodore Roosevelt's character and persona. Quit over-analyzing every little thing. It's annoying as ****.

Land versus capital isn't a political issue?
 

SouthernDemocrat

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The few true live off the land, off the grid, completely self sufficient types I have known have all been left wing hippie / crunchy types.
 

UtahBill

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To be clear, frontier is always the next place people are exploring.

For example, Wall Street used to be New Amsterdam, and the pilgrims were at one time frontiersmen...

...pilgrims who were persecuted all the same by central authorities back home.

today's frontiers are done with massive group effort...think outer space, deep ocean....
the one I can think of that has benefitted from strong individuals relatel to mankind's treatment of his own kind....
Nelson Manela, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, etc.
The USA is too full of selfish individualists to be a source of rugged individualists...
 

code1211

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It originally was a liberal idea and tendency, but as the American style of liberalism has become dominant, and true liberalism has fallen by the wayside, conservatives are more likely to support the idea of rugged individualism these days.


Please define each of the Styles of Liberalism that you are thinking about.
 

Daktoria

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Lizzie's talking about classic liberalism based on labor theory of value. Jacksonian Democracy encouraged manifest destiny too.

You could even go back to the Protestant Reformation where total depravity pressured people to perform good works.

(Liberals usually appreciate the PR for its spread of universal literacy and meritocracy.)
 

code1211

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Sure, until they need to appease their fairy tale gods and want to impose their moral beliefs on the individual.



By definition, Conservatives favor the "make no law" approach to governing.

That the religious right is a part of the Republican Coalition does nothing to make central governmental control of a person's gentalia any less Liberal than does the assertion that Central Governmental control of anything is any less Liberal.

If you seek the limit of personal freedom in favor of the control of peoples' lives by a central authority, you are espousing liberalism.
 

Hatuey

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By definition, Conservatives favor the "make no law" approach to governing.

That the religious right is a part of the Republican Coalition does nothing to make central governmental control of a person's gentalia any less Liberal than does the assertion that Central Governmental control of anything is any less Liberal.

If you seek the limit of personal freedom in favor of the control of peoples' lives by a central authority, you are espousing liberalism.

Oh I get it - social conservatives are really liberals. Good luck with that belief in the forum champ. :crazy3:
 

Daktoria

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Yea, I'm not sure code1211 has heard of "compassionate conservatism".

He's a perfect example of how the Rockefeller Republican GOP establishment has turned things inside out.
 

notquiteright

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I see terms like compassionate conservative, rugged individual, clean coal, good wars as self stroking nonsense.

Teamwork carries the day, not individuals. Groups, not lone wolves tamed the west, defeated Nazi totalitarianism, held back the Red Tide and now looks into space. Individuals can do finite forays into the 'unknown' but only a team, read civilization, can keep him there and take him back in when health or climate becomes an issue.

I believe the discussion about Teddy is off topic and the complaint about him off target. Typical rant against someone doing something to stop run away capitalism, in this case from ruining the frontier as Teddy saw it... if the reformer doesn't have equal success in all areas that needed reform he is attacked as showing favoritism in the areas he didn't win solid reforms in. He made a priority list and went at it. Much of his reforms came outside of 'trust-busting'. He created signed the Pure Drug and Food Act, federal meat inspections and proper labeling, reformed NYC police dept, helped unions establish better wages and conditions.

Overall Teddy wasn't a traditional let big business run big business, they know best republican...

Does that make him a compassionate conservative, or a RiNO?
 

Daktoria

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Progressive regulations only further divide people into individuals by letting them succumb to workaholic industrialism.

For example, in light of Teddy's foodstuffs regulations, today's society has an obesity epidemic, does "busy work" for crazy hours, commutes forever, and gets weak vacation time.

When you regulate industry, you make it unnecessary for people to actually talk in relating supply with demand. What we need to do is social regulation by graduating children as adults rather than graduating adult children who are socially awkward.
 

notquiteright

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Interesting take on what regulating the purity of food, medicine and the like somehow reduces the discussion on the subject- I think the discussion got the rules so business knew what the rules were going to be, not just what was decided this one time. (Job Creators, hallowed be thy name, insist certainty counts for so much in our economy)

Thinking the rules and regulations brought people together in peaceful ways instead of to the barricades.

Establish the rules
Enforce the rules
Don't allow a few who used their positions of wealth and influence to crush their competition and hold the consumer at their mercy... the middle class was now more able to rise and help lead the nation into superpower status.
 

Daktoria

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Oh, don't get me wrong. The regulations definitely held business accountable.

That's my point. Urbanized industrialization created a social environment with unprecedented population density, and that made it difficult for people to talk with each other. Therefore, they needed regulations because people were hypercompeting in the labor market so much that they needed to collectively bargain safety standards.

However, that population density is the problem. The regulations excused people to live in crammed spaces, and instead of spreading out to a comfortable degree, they remained stubborn, and simply complained about their problems rather than solving them in an organic manner.

You're right. Teddy Roosevelt did help this country get launched into superpower status, and that's another problem. Wars like the Spanish-American War and WW1 shouldn't have been fought by this country. They were none of our business, and made us the tool of British and French foreign policy...

...British and French foreign policy which lead to Zionism. If it wasn't for American intervention in WW1, the Balfour Declaration wouldn't have been fulfilled, and the seeds of modern Israel wouldn't have been planted.

As an added bonus, you should start seeing why the Democrats and Republicans in this country are one and the same now. Democrats enjoy progressive reform, Republicans enjoy neoconservative interventionism.

By the way, you might want to familiarize yourself with first wave Jewish feminism a bit too. That's the movement which catalyzed multiculturalism in this country by stirring the "melting pot" progressives are so proud of, the melting pot which created the manpower necessary to fight World War One.

To bring things full circle on rugged individualism, you might want to look up "social gospel". That's the policy which inspired the "melting pot" ideal.
 
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LibertyBurns

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Please define each of the Styles of Liberalism that you are thinking about.

Classical liberalism, liberalism before the 20th century. Libertarians are pretty much neo-classical liberals, though few libertarians I know realise this heh. Then again, I don't know to many ;) Anyway, a few you may know are John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Frederic Bastiat, Lysander Spooner, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, etc...

Edit: Ralph Raico blames the latter of those names for our current neo-liberals/socialist.
 
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Your Star

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Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that one wants to ascribe the attribute of individualism to a group? :lol:
 

notquiteright

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Dak-

I see your full circle as the circling of a flushing toilet. Not sure how the Balfour Declaration fits this discussion.

Urbanization brought people together. Sitting on the front stoop, talking to passersby, your neighbors a hallmark moment of our past.

Suburbanization started the process of isolation but it also marked an era of widespread social clubs. We smile now at bowling leagues and male dominated clubs with a high exalted Grand Poo-bah, but for many Americans group activities were as American as Bingo nights.

Now if you want to point to compartmentalizing our society it wasn't the move from agrarian to industrial with it's attendant population clusters but as we moved into the technological age. These days we turn on our A/C, TV and now computers that noise cancel out the outside world. We no longer sit on the front stoop and talk, we sit in our homes, often alone and type at each other. We no longer bowl or go to weekly meetings at the Lodge but stay home and type.

It has created a new social order where we know far more about folks halfway across the nation than we do the next door neighbor... "quiet man, very polite, never had any trouble with him, he kept odd hours I suppose..."
 

Einzige

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Here's an essay I wrote on this very subject some years back:

It's always been a curiosity to me that conservatives ought to place a high value on the 'purity' of Western civilization (which in itself has always been far more eclectic than that of the Orient), but even stranger seems to be the end they desire to seek.

Certain conservatives, of course, recognize the basic nature of human society - that is, that societies change - and simply seek to make sure that change, when it comes, comes slowly and carefully, so as to not radically upset the established paradigm. This form of conservatism can be genuinely respected, even if its Burkean appeals to collective wisdom are asinine and irrational.

Other conservatives (most of them, I'd say), take a radically different view: for them, society must not only remain static, but it must begin going backwards: they by no means wish to conserve the social changes that have happened since the counterculture of the 1960s, and actively seek to roll back the progress made in individual liberty since then. In this they are not conservatives but reactionary-revolutionaries, motivationally similar to the 'revolutionary conservatism' of such 'luminaries' as Edgar Jung - chiefly, they are motivated out of hatred for the man himself and fear of his individual powers. They are, once more, socialists-of-the-spirit. Their ideal collective may be grounded on traditional idealism rather than dialectical materialism, but the essential focus of the philosophy lies in the community, of blud und boden. These are the enemies of free men everywhere. To phrase it differently: there is a cleft here, between these two essentially different praxi, that a skillful political theorist ought to be able to hue, in order to emasculate the reactionary-revolutionary movement, but it would require the co-option of the language of the Right on the part of the Left (for the reactionary-revolutionaries are neither of the Right nor the Left). That is the task set before the Left today - to divorce liberty-minded men from the socialists they have hopped into bed with for the sake of political expediency. Likewise, it is not enough to mindlessly quote the fusionist mantra that "libertarianism is the heart of conservatism" as justification enough to cloud one's eyes to the basic fact that the old Reaganist alliance is finished, and has been for quite some time.

Similarly, a disturbing tendency to automatically dismiss the accomplishments of the Left in American history on the part of libertarians has long confounded me. We need not hearken back to the immediate post-colonial era to prove this point - Jefferson's opposition to the establishment of an oceanic navy, or Jackson's enfranchisement of a multitude of landless whites, though these are proof enough - to demonstrate the close bond between the lovers of freedom and the men of the Left. In almost direct parallel with the popular opposition against the Vietnam quagmire of the 1960s, our intellectual forebears were men who saw themselves in opposition to established interests, not conservators of the same. As Rothbard declaims in the opening paragraphs of his excellent Betrayal of the American Right:



Individualism, and its economic corollary laissez-faire liberalism, have not always taken on a conservative hue, has not always functioned, as it often does today, as an apologist for the status quo. On the contrary, the Revolution of modern times was originally, and continued for a long time to be, laissez-faire individualists. Its purpose was to free the individual person from the restrictions and the shackles, the encrusted caste privileges and exploitative wars, of the feudalist and mercantilist orders, of the Tory ancien régime.



Accordingly, Rothbard says, we see an interesting turn of events that would seem almosy unimaginable in today's political clime: free-marketeers and other individualist radicals actively opposing America's entry into the Great War, going so far to denounce it, in some cases, as a war of imperialism:



By the advent of World War I, however, the death of the older laissez-faire generation threw the leadership of the opposition to America's imperial wars into the hands of the Socialist Party. But other, more individualist-minded men joined in the opposition, many of whom would later form the core of the isolationist Old Right of the late 1930s. Thus, the hardcore anti-war leaders included the individualist Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin and such laissez-faire liberals as Senators William E. Borah (Republican) of Idaho and James A. Reed (Democrat) of Missouri. It also included Charles A. Lindburgh, Sr., father of the Lone Eagle, who was a congressman from Minnesota.



These great individualists, and their intellectual progeny, were not limited in their radicalism to anti-interventionism. Henry Louis Mencken, one of Rothbard's idols and perhaps the most forceful of any American individualists to live, was himself fundamentally a modern, temperamentally related more to men such as Karl Hess than to Ronald Reagan.

Writing in response to the great religious backlash of his day, embodied in the then-novel Fundamentalist movement, wrote in November 1925 that



(u)nder Prohibition, Fundamentalism, and other complex ideals of the Klan there runs a common stream of bilge: it issues from the ghostly glands of the evangelical pastors of the land. The influence of these consecrated men upon the so-called thinking of the American people has been greatly underestimated by fanciers; in fact, most of the principal professors of such forms of metabolism overlook it altogether. Yet it must be obvious that their power is immense, and that they exert it with great gusto... The pastor got into public affairs by the route of Prohibition. The shrewd shysters who developed the Anti-Saloon League made a politician of him, and once he had got a taste of power he was eager for more. It came very quickly. As industry penetrated the rural regions the new-blown Babbits began to sense his capacity for safeguarding the established order, and so he was given the job; he became a local Billy Sunday.



Such honesty concerning our erstwhile 'allies' on the Right is sorely missing from present classical liberal/individualist dialogue, and much to our discredit: for these very men who we have regarded for so long merely as a means to power now desire to usurp that power for themselves. By inviting them into a grand coalition, we have in fact weakened our position, defiled our own purity, and suffer the more for it.

What, then, is to be done? I myself do not dare to profess to have all the answers, but one consideration ought to be to establish some form of rapprochement with those surviving veterans of the New Left, who alone share with us our antipathy towards the Establishment, that is, towards Big Government, Big God, and Big Generals. Only united with them - only by dialectically absorbing their idées fixes and, ultimately, themselves into our fold, can we ever hope to establish anything remotely resembling a genuinely libertarian consensus.

Towards that end, it is necessary for us who believe in freedom and esteem it above all else to put our money where our mouths are, to uphold 'social issues', much scorned, as the exact equal of economic liberty. For free men and free minds are equally important as free money and free markets; without all of these things, the people perish.
 

tacomancer

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Here's an essay I wrote on this very subject some years back:

Einzige, I feel the same way. Really, we need to wait for the old people to die to get a large part of this country moving again. I respect the younger conservatives, who tend to have a more libertarian oriented social view and I think many of their stances could be good for the country, but it's not going to happen until enough of the old people die off that the party is able to shift away from them.

I think, in the long run, this country will be fine, we may just have to wait 20 years for the last gasp of the old style conservatism to die down.
 
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Einzige

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Einzige, I feel the same way. Really, we need to wait for the old people to die to get a large part of this country moving again. I respect the younger conservatives, who tend to have a more libertarian oriented social view and I think many of their stances could be good for the country, but it's not going to happen until enough of the old people die off that the party is able to shift away from them.

I think, in the long run, this country will be fine, we may just have to wait 20 years for the last gasp of the old style conservatism to die down.

I'd argue that, just as there was a profound shift in Party structure and ideology in the 1950s that accelerated through the next two decades until the election of Ronald Reagan, so too must basic political alliances change again. There is no reason why libertarians need to remain anchored to pure laissez-faire capitalism - I favor the establishment of competitive workers' co-operatives, arranged along free market lines in the style of Mondragon. Likewise, there's no reason for leftists to remain hooked into New Dealism, especially considering the unsavory history of the New Deal philosophy when it came to domestic radicalism and corporatism (Franklin Roosevelt was the man who staffed the NLRB with representatives from General Motors, after all).

Accordingly, conservatives too would have to do some deep soul-searching. If a man is a 'conservative' in a rational sense, does he not wish to conserve what has gone before? And what has gone on 'before' in the United States? Why, the New Deal and the Fair Deal and the Square Deal before those.

Daktoria gets that, which is why I've come to respect him in my short time here. Though we're usually on opposite ends of the political spectrum, we both define that spectrum against the mainstream alignments in currency today.
 
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Einzige

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Of course, what could broadly be termed as a left-libertarian/right-populist political spectrum would have its share of contradictions as well, such as the fact that the left-libertarians would be conservative insofar as they looked to the past - to the old classical liberal and anarchist movements - for guidance. But contradictions in a society are inescapable, and simply resolve themselves into further contradictions.
 

choiceone

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when my son was about 12, he was being hassled by a couple of kids in sunday school, among other places. One of them was the instigator, a new kid in town, while the other had been my son's freind, but now he was a follower of the instigator.
Instigator kid went too far and my son gave him 2 punches to the face, in Sunday School, in front of a classroom full of other kids of the same age.. Instigator never messed with him again, the other kid decided he would rather go back to being my son's friend.
Heard it all from the sunday school teacher, not my son.....

Good for him :) hes going to grow up a liberal conservative slayer...lolol...

Actually, social psychological studies of children long ago showed that the immediate tit-for-tat strategy is the most effective way to stop bullying.
 
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