Due to the vagaries of composing blog posts at 4am, I do not believe the total irony of my previous post, The Conscience of a (Real) Conservative, was able to shine through.
The title, of course, was a play on Paul Krugman’s book The Conscience of a Liberal which was, in turn, a play on the title of Barry Goldwater’s book The Conscience of a Conservative. Taken together, these two men represent polar opposites in American political discourse.
I am not a conservative in the way that term is understood today. To make it easier to label me in the bizarro world of American politics, I am an avowed leftist. My support for Bernie Sanders and Marxist analysis of class struggle should have been dead giveaways.
But leftists today are conservatives. A conservative is someone who wants to see the return of old values and old modes of doing things. We live in an age of radical newness. It is a newness defined by the commodification of everything (including children as test scores), the explosion of financial services and unprecedented control over our lives by corporations. It is the newness of the Reagan Revolution, which is still running its course as we speak.
And Reagan might have been a self-styled conservative, but he was actually a radical revolutionary. Him and his acolytes in government today aimed at nothing less than the total restructuring of our society along corporate lines.
A conservative is someone who wants to turn back this revolution. A conservative is someone who wants to go back to the New Deal and Great Society and finish the work started back then.
I am what might be called a traditional teacher. It does not escape my notice that all of the new curricula and teaching fads that have infested our schools have had corporate logos. It is not lost on me that the obsession with testing, teacher evaluations, charter schooling and online learning are merely parts of the forward march of the Reagan Revolution, this time with the aim of corporatizing education. As a traditional teacher, I am arrogant enough to assume that I know better than the reformers about what ails poor children and their schools.
As Chris Hedges explains towards the end of this interview, the true conservatives are the people who want roll back what he calls the “Corporate Coup” of the past 35 years: