McWhorter and Lowry

McWhorterMcWhorter and Lowry slug it out

I have yet to write and post the final installment of my Elitism, Progressives and Conservatives series of articles (mostly on ‘Evolution’) but in the meantime I was fascinated by the ongoing discussion between Glenn Lowry and John McWhorter. Here you have a condensation of the discussion between progressives and conservatives, at its most intelligent. McWhorter is a conservative (normally-Republican, I guess) enthusiast of Obama and Lowry a progressive Democrat skeptic Clintonite.

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The Neanderthals

[This article is the third in a series on Elitism, Conservatives and Progressives.]

Baroness Murphy said recently in an article on Lords of the Blog.

Sitting here blogging while waiting on tenterhooks for the vote in the Commons on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Mustn’t watch more TV…I just heard a TV BBC 1 newsreader describe the debate on the creation of hybrid embryos for stem cell research as ‘a clash between science and ethics’. I was so angry I wanted to punch the screen. Huge numbers of ordinary people (and peers by a massive vote when the bill came through the Lords a couple of months ago) regard it as immoral and unethical to stop research that could benefit thousands of people. Far from being a clash between science and ethics it is more a straight clash between medieval church ignorance and 21st century secular realities and medical advances.

This dismissal of the concerns of so many people as ‘medieval church ignorance’ is a typical highly-educated liberal dismissal of those that question, on religious grounds, the brave new world being delivered by science, as was Arianna Huffington’s article, GOP Debate: A Competition to See Who Could Be the Biggest Neanderthal, decrying conservative positions on issues like abortion, stem-cell research and evolution in a Republican presidential debate.

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Who is being Racist?

[This article is the third in a series on Elitism, Conservatives and Progressives.]

In this discussion of elitism, and how it plays out in progressive and conservative politics, identity politics is central with the identities dividing into cultural (e.g., religion) and biological factors (e.g., sex). In the real world they don’t separate out so neatly as cultural characteristics often follow biological characteristics but here I look at a topical biological division, race, and how it has been playing out in the Democratic primaries. It seems to be leading to some confusion among progressives and conservatives alike.

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Conservatives and Progressives

[This article is the second in a series on Elitism, Conservatives and Progressives.]

Andrew Sullivan has been chewing over what it means to be a conservative and I would like to clarify my own ideas here. I agree with Sullivan in seeing Edmund Burke as the founder of modern conservatism. (Of course, that I am a Bristolian and the Anglo-Irish Burke represented the city in parliament doesn’t bias me in the least.) Modern conservatism arose as a reaction to the French Revolution, which is not to say that it was a reactionary movement, there being much to be said for the point of view that the French Revolution was a glorious mistake (the same could been achieved much less violently) and that conservatism offers a valuable critique, with Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France setting the terms of the debate.

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Elitism: The Democrats Self-Inflicted Wound?

[This article is the first in a series on Elitism, Conservatives and Progressives.]

I have been meaning to get my ideas straight on elitism for some weeks now, but little did I realise how central it was to so many philosophical issues that I am talking about on this blog. The catalyst for this series of articles was my previous article on Obama’s Appalachian problem, which I thought was explained brilliantly by Senator Jim Webb. Webb is an Appalachian of Scottish-Irish descent, the very demographic that has been causing so many problems for Obama. I will return to the attitudes of progressive elites to the ‘racism’ of the Appalachians later.

One of the clearest explanations of Elitism in US politics was written by Jonathan Chait in a short article, Popular Will, where he says:

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On Zionism (Contents)

In this article I explain why those that really want to help the Palestinians should become Zionists and those that really want to help Israel should support Barack Obama’s policy of engaging Iran.

  1. Zionism: The Great Divide
  2. How I Became a Zionist
  3. The Great Hypocrisy
  4. Barack Obama, Israel, Iran and Hamas

Barack Obama, Israel, Iran and Hamas

(This is the fourth and final article of the On Zionism series.)

In a recent article, Obama. What’s Complicated Here?, Gershom Gorenberg at South Jerusalem explains why he thinks Barack Obama should get the support of all right-thinking Israelis (left-thinking Israelis in Gorenberg’s case):

The one candidate who speaks in clear terms of taking a new approach to the Mideast is Obama. This is what scares the small coterie of American Jewish rightists who would eagerly fight to the last Israeli. If you care about Israel, you should hit “delete” when you get their emails.

Obama is the one candidate who had the sense to oppose the war in Iraq. He’s the one candidate whose statement on Israel expresses support for a two-state solution, which is the country’s path to peaceful future and is today the consensus position in Israel. He’s the one proposing a clear break from the disastrous Bush policies, and a turn to trying diplomacy.

Matt Yglesias at The Atlantic does find a complication though.

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