Thursday, August 05, 2010

My Experience Is Similar

From a comment at Dr. Helen's.

Dr.D said...

The only schools that offer some hope of being conservative, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, are engineering colleges. Those where the faculty are regularly in contact with industry, particularly if they come and go between industry and academia, tend to be quite conservative. This is not true for schools where the faculty have little or no exposure to actual industry.

The contact with industry, with the constant demands for schedules, the need to produce an acceptable product at an acceptable price, the concerns for safety, etc. all of these things make engineers, and engineering faculty very conservative people. The focus is on what is possible, what will work, what can actually be accomplished as opposed to imaginary theory of what would be nice. The continuing effects of economic reality are extremely important in all of this, something of which people in liberal arts and humanities often seem to be unaware.
I can't say much about engineering school (I never went to one or finished college), but my experience in industry (aerospace engineering) is that most engineers tend to be libertarian/conservative with the libertarian faction predominating. That would be the socially liberal, economically conservative faction. Colloquially referred to as the pot smoking faction of the conservative movement. Also with a tendency to be gay friendly. Engineers don't care. Can you do the job faster than schedule and below budget is the only concern. Even meeting schedule and budget is considered a very good thing. Compare and contrast that with government.

And then my friend Eric had this to say in the same thread.
Eric said...

I am considered a conservative by liberals. But there is a problem in my saying "I am a conservative" because at that point my argument will not be with liberals, but with conservatives.
I have noticed the same thing. Conservatives and I agree that government should be a good steward of the economy. The goal should be to reduce the friction without giving up minimal required controls (like enforcement of contracts). Now where I disagree with Conservatives and Progressives is that government can be an improver of men. Government can keep criminals off the streets (I should add has been traditionally empowered to) and create an environment conducive to honest dealings (contract/business law). But government can not bring into being the New Socialist Man, The New Libertarian Man, The New Conservative Man, The New Christian Man, etc. Why? Because the ideal can't exist. Why you ask? Well it is a principle supposedly enshrined in Conservative thought. Self interest. And you know this may come as a surprise - my estimation of my self interest may not coincide with your estimation of my self interest. This may be for various reasons. One could be you are right and I am wrong. OTOH I could be right and you wrong. The principle of maximum liberty dictates that if you are not scaring the horses in the street or stealing then the very maximum deference should be given to the person closet to the "problem". The self whose self interest is in question.

Evidently this used to be called the night watchman theory of government. I think that was in the era of Peace Officers. Before the era of Enforcers.

The founder of a certain religion was against using law for moral uplift. You have to wonder how so many who claim to be followers can square that circle? About all you can say is that humans is very interesting creatures. I aspire to be one some day. Well maybe not. I try to treat people in a way they prefer (individually) to be treated. An idea that seems to be rather unfashionable these days. Every body (well almost) has an agenda for the other guy. I don't see how they can do it. I can barely manage my own agenda. I can do without busy bodies and the "it is all so unfair" folks adding to my load. I am certainly not interested in moral uplift at the point of a gun.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


steve poling said...

I'm a card-carrying member of the Religious Right. And I think the framers of the Constitution were fluently conversant with Christian dogma. The Puritans were all Calvinists and John Calvin's system of thought starts with "Total Depravity" which claims that even the best of us has some flaw in our nature.

Thus, I believe that the Constitution was drafted with a distrustful view of human nature. I think the framers would heartily agree that government won't change human nature to create a New Soviet Man or any other sort of New Man. Governments have been failing to install virtue into the polis since ancient Sparta, and i believe the framers were smart enough not to even try.

Instead, I think the framers tried to accommodate the Constitution to the unhappy state of human nature as it exists. If I cannot trust X to serve the public good, then I must set up adversary Y to look over his shoulder and keep him honest. And Z to look over Y's shoulder. And X to look over Z's shoulder. Through checks and balances plus redundancy, we can build a more-reliable system from less-reliable parts.

Starting with the Progressives, we've seen generations of politicians and jurists incrementally subvert these safeguards against tyranny. It's been a bipartisan enterprise. If you read between the lines of Liberal Fascism, you get the impression that Jonah Goldberg sees that George W Bush as a liberal fascist, too.

When King Barry says, "we can't go back to the failed policies of Bush," he's right only because his policies are just King George's cranked up to 11. Within the Beltway the Reagan alternative of reigning in statism is excluded from consideration. We understand that Government is not the solution, it is the problem. And it cannot be trusted not to seek tyranny or secure our rights.

M. Simon said...


The Conservatives we have these days are not at all what I would call conservative.

Suppose I was to say that the War On Drugs was a Progressive policy now adopted by "Conservatives" and the idea from many at the time it was first passed (1914) was that it was a radical departure from traditional Americanism. So much so that when it came to alcohol a Constitutional Amendment was required to square that circle.

What would be the response of most "Conservatives" these days? Derision.

So here is a test:


Yes or no?