The Conservative Mind

Daniel Louis Duncan
5 min readJun 5, 2018

The frustration of life discussions with conservative minds has always been a struggle for me. One that I have categorized as being rooted in my very conservative parental upbringing. I always felt alien in my own home for more reasons than I have time to delve into here, but I’ll stick to my recent discovery.

Never have I been able to consciously put into words my clash with the philosophies of conservatism. That is until now. While generalizing is used often to condemn or suppress, this is not my intent, yet I find it hard for it not to be such. Isn’t it time for it to go and be replaced with a new philosophy of thought, one more mature and desperately needed for us to survive? I will explain as best I can.

We are living in a volatile world right now. I believe this is because of a faction of thought that is trying desperately to remain relevant, and having such a profound effect on the world has more to do with the past than the future. We are at a crossroad of thought that must change. It is frightening for the conservative mind to have to change this aspect of thought because it has been in the forefront of how our country was developed. “The perfect human” has been feed to us throughout history and yet has been most practiced in the United States of America’s belief’s, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. It is an admirable ambition, naïve, and not practical, but has stuck to a historical world past that is rife with sugarcoating of truth to fit the narrative.

“…. there can be no love of life without despair of life and thus largely re-asserts the essentially tragic, ancient Greek view that the very beauty of human existence is largely contingent upon its brevity and fragility. “1

My view of what a “perfect human” example would be clashes with the conservative view. Yet, for me, I cannot understand why. In the Encyclopedia of Philosophy bio of Albert Camus, you find my definition of “the perfect human”.

“Obviously, Camus’s writings remain the primary reason for his continuing importance and the chief source of his cultural legacy, but his fame is also due to his exemplary life. He truly lived his philosophy; thus, it is in his personal political stands and public statements as well as in his books that his views are clearly articulated. In short, he bequeathed not just his words but also his actions. Taken together, those words and actions embody a core set of liberal democratic values — including tolerance, justice, liberty, open-mindedness, respect for personhood, condemnation of violence, and resistance to tyranny — that can be fully approved and acted upon by the modern intellectual engagé.”2

This is not to say the man was perfect, but he strove for a less than perfect human experience that can be authentic, relevant, and most importantly in service, as best as humanly possible, to the collective, not the “me”.

We are at a crossroads because the conservative thought process is over, in my opinion. The conservative mind cannot and will not accept that idea of “Absurdity”. There are no perfect humans. I know, because I have spent my entire life trying to be perfect. It’s not practical, it’s not feasible, and it’s not as admirable as we think, because it requires lies.

“What then is meant by the notion of the Absurd? Contrary to the view conveyed by popular culture, the Absurd, (at least in Camus’s terms) does not simply refer to some vague perception that modern life is fraught with paradoxes, incongruities, and intellectual confusion. (Although that perception is certainly consistent with his formula.) Instead, as he emphasizes and tries to make clear, the Absurd expresses a fundamental disharmony, a tragic incompatibility, in our existence. In effect, he argues that the Absurd is the product of a collision or confrontation between our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe”: “The absurd is not in man nor in the world,” Camus explains, “but in their presence together…it is the only bond uniting them.”

So here we are: poor creatures desperately seeking hope and meaning in a hopeless, meaningless world. Sartre, in his essay-review of The Stranger provides an additional gloss on the idea: “The absurd, to be sure, resides neither in man nor in the world, if you consider each separately. But since man’s dominant characteristic is ‘being in the world,’ the absurd is, in the end, an inseparable part of the human condition.” The Absurd, then, presents itself in the form of an existential opposition. It arises from the human demand for clarity and transcendence on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other. Such is our fate: we inhabit a world that is indifferent to our sufferings and deaf to our protests.”3

I get it now! A conservative mind cannot understand anyone getting an abortion because “the perfect human” would do the right thing regardless, right? A conservative mind cannot understand why we would regulate a company’s decisions in any way. It’s up to them to do the right thing, i.e. “the perfect human”. No matter how many instances before them that companies don’t do the right thing, it doesn’t compute with the mindset of “the perfect human”. It doesn’t matter that a person in leadership who has time and time again done “the wrong thing” over and over, yet swears allegiance to the believe in “the perfect human” will not be questioned. That’s why you hear the talking points that make no sense to most of us from our current President. He is not stupid and understands and has perfected the art of manipulation of this conservative thought “the perfect human”. He can pledge allegiance to this thought, yet in action do the opposite because the conservative mind is so instanched in this belief it cannot let go of the dogma at any cost. After all, he “speaks, looks and acts” the part, so he must be.

“The rightest task is not to turn away from trying to solve difficult questions. Whatever our personal weaknesses, the nobility of this career will always be rooted in two undertakings, which are difficult to carry out. The refusal to lie about what one knows, and resistance to oppression.” Albert Camus’s own words in the documentary “The Madness of Sincerity” BBC.

I will leave you with one of the many admirable quotes of which there are countless:

“Be suspicious of those who speak the loudest in defense of democratic ideas and absolutes whose goal is to instill fear in opponents and to silence dissent.” Albert Camus

We need to grapple with all of this as I stated in my last post on the subject: Integrity, Honor, and Morality. We do have the minds and the means to make the world a better place, not perfect, flawed but evolving forward with hope and dignity. The other option is despair and destruction.

1Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Biography of Albert Camus, David Simpson, DePaul University, http://www.iep.utm.edu/camus/#H3.

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

Originally published at thatsjhiroll.blogspot.com on June 5, 2018.

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Daniel Louis Duncan

Writer, researcher, lover of history, philosophy, politics and critical thought