What binds the conservatives?
    Steve Teles knows.

Steve Teles says that it isn’t opposition to reducing income inequality that binds Christian conservatives, libertarians, traditionalists, nativists, and neocons together as “conservatives”: it’s hatred of liberals.

My friend Steve Teles, who teaches political science at Brandeis, thinks I erred in identifying opposition to decreased inequality of income as the commonality among the various brands of conservatism. (Steve is somewhat above the fray, describing himself as a Whig.)

We’ll all know more about the subject when his book The Evolution of the Conservative Legal Movement, 1970-2004 is published, but in the meantime he writes:

What holds all those folks on the conservative side together, fundamentally (along with a few substantive issue) is hatred of liberals. Disgust, on a very deep, gut level, and a sense that conservatives are marginalized in the institutions liberals control and a sense that they manipulate language and procedure to control those institutions and to keep conservatives out.

Whether they are libertarians or Christian conservatives, they usually have some combination of anecdotes that reinforce this perception, and they’re not always wrong. The sense that liberals control “everything” is obviously stupid–but it’s a sense of local injustice and mariginalization that

usually motivates people, and in the mainstream media and universities, there’s probably something to it.

So I think looking for the glue on the positive side of overlapping ideology is probably the wrong way to look at it–the negative side of shared resentment is the better way to go about it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “What binds the conservatives?
    Steve Teles knows.”

  1. The Ties the Bind

    Mark Kleiman writes about the idea of Steve Teles, which is basically that modern conservatism is united by the hatred of liberals above anything else. Bush is the perfect president for those with irrational liberal hatred.

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