"I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it."
~ John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington (May 31, 1866). Hansard, vol 183, col 1592.
"Conservative" meant very different things in 1866. Do you think it's true with a modern interpretation of conservatism? If so, do you think it's social conservatism, limited-government conservatism or fiscal conservatism that's favored by stupid people?
Living in a town with a lot of lefty-alternative silliness, I wonder about this idea. But the silly leftists do tend to be attracted to this place, so I get a biased picture :)
Actually, geographical selection also might cause places like the rural Bible Belt to have a lot of stupid conservatives. The smart people and the liberal people leave.
Fair observation. My quarrel with the radical right has mainly to do with my desire to separate church and state, to keep creationism out of science classrooms even as we include it in a study of world religions, or history, or social studies.
If social conservatism is the restoration of old values, I do not support that notion. After all, women were perceived as property, fathers had the right to beat children, even unto death, blacks were considered inferior to whites and many were enslaved with the support of their precious bible.
If by limited-government conservatism, you mean more control in the states or in the individual, I see little benefit for such a scheme. Some of the states in the USA believe that education should be under the control of locals, even to the point of not providing equal education opportunities for poor or blacks. I believe every child has a right to access to education and opportunity without regard for income or race or gender. There are many programs that cannot be supported by local governments because of lack of income or other resources. Water quality, sewer management, access to electrical power, highways are all aspects of life that should be regulated by testing and providing the infrastructure to make them safe.
As for taxation, every able bodied person with earned or unearned income should pay into the federal system to pay for all the safety infrastructures. Only a progressive tax will spread the burden over a wider pool and loopholes for wealthy or corporations must be closed.
How do you define "lefty-alternative silliness"? I have difficulty with the woo-woo factor of the left wing, and I define them as silly.
If social conservatism is the restoration of old values, I do not support that notion.
Agreed, social conservatism harms oppressed groups. The limited-government, avoid-debt, free-market kind of conservatism has good points.
As for what stupid people believe, I don't know that they tend to believe a particular ideology - but they do tend to take cognitive shortcuts - take on opinions not because they've thought them through, but because they like the sound of something. As in, "natural" includes gardens and trees, so "natural" is good. Snap judgements. I've gotten myself disliked by such people for taking issue with their assumptions. There are lots of people who have a leftist belief system that they consider virtuous. Things are labelled Good and Bad in their minds, with no more thinking than comes out of a pamphlet. Nuclear power is Bad, and if you disagree, you're a Pawn, or even Bad yourself.
I have difficulty with the woo-woo factor of the left wing
The "woo-woo factor" is a lot of it, the paranoia about the government/FDA/scientists/vaccination, the cult of "naturalness" and "organic" and acupuncture. People who know exactly what to think, before they think.
I don't live in an environment of conservative-type bumper sticker thinking, but I can see how that could be scary, even. "you'll pry my gun out of my cold dead fingers" people.
Free-market conservatism is a misnomer in that there is no such thing as a free-market. There are tariffs, subsidies, taxes and monopolies on all kinds of commodities that distort costs and prices. To claim free, when in fact it produces distortion in both supply and demand, creating a growing gap in income distribution, making it harder for wage-workers to earn enough for goods and services and distorts the wealth accumulation.
Free Market conservative economics is incoherent in theory and disastrous in practice according to Robert Heilbroner and Edward Nell analyse. How better to illustrate this phenomenon than RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism
ps There was a street person who I used to stop and talk to, before he disappeared, leaving me wondering what became of him... He said he was a conservative so he didn't get along with many people in this town. I asked him what he meant by conservative, he said the lefty people were always blaming something other than themselves, they weren't taking responsibility for themselves. I said I agreed but blaming something outside oneself is a universal failing, not limited to leftists.
But there is a lot of paranoia about health hazards for example - blaming them on some external agent, not one's own bad habits. Although people's bad habits (smoking, eating too much, eating junk, driving too much and walking/biking too little) are themselves partly the result of externals like advertising.
I agree with your street person about people blaming others rather than taking responsibility for themselves. That is the way they have been trained at home and in school. That is the way the production of goods and services have occurred, and the ways taxes can be kept track of. The intraneural spirit died with many family during my generation. Luckily, my parents and my children have carried on the tradition of owning businesses, but the tax burden has fallen heavier on small business and off of corporations and wealth. My grandchildren recognize how much hard work it takes to run a business, meet payroll and taxes and having to work 24/7/365. They are not willing to do that. And I don't blame them.