Conservatism is just a sickness

Your old road is
Rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend a hand
For the times they are a-changin'

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin'

Throughout history, conservatives have constantly fought tooth and nail against equality and justice, but the question remains, why? Could it be a sickness?

What's up with conservatives anyway? Time after time, they have been shown to have been on the wrong side of history, standing strong, tall and proud against justice, equality and progress.

Yet in the present they always seem to stubbornly cling to their bankrupt way of thinking, as they insist on opposing all progressive change, whatever it may be. Of course, today's typical conservative wouldn't defend slavery or deny women the vote, but the conservative mind remains the same, it's just the topics under discussion that change.

Take the environment. As all evidence points to the rapid destruction of our planet due to global warming, conservatives, such as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President George W. Bush, do everything they can to stall any and all progress in the fight to save the planet for future generations. All that matters to them is the economy, the economy, the economy; the future of the Earth be damned.

Or take the Anglican Church. The conservatives there are threatening to break away from the main church due to their revulsion at women being made bishops. You wouldn't want a woman as your spiritual superior now would you?

And then there are the conservatives in the Catholic Church, which, sadly, includes those in control at the Vatican. These conservatives seem to oppose just about any change or modernization: the role of women in the church, doing away with the bizarre tradition of celibate priests, allowing the use of birth control”¦you name it.

Likewise, when it comes to treating all citizens equally, regardless of their sexual orientation, conservatives of all stripes are adamant in their desire to deny gay people equal rights to marriage, adoption, et cetera. But why would anyone oppose the marriage of two people who love one another and want to spend their lives together?

Ironically, religion, which normally insists on institutionalized marriage, would seem to be the main culprit. Especially in America, which, unlike Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, has a lunatic fringe of born-again fundamentalist Christian freaks who, particularly down south in the Bible Belt, are not really all that fringe at all. In fact, they have somehow actually become part of the mainstream down there.

However, the strong opposition to gay marriage can't simply be explained away by the fact that America is so radically religious compared to the rest of the Western World. Instead, it has much more to do with the conservative mindset. Religious conservatives can certainly be the most entrenched in their positions, supposing God to be on their side and all, but conservatives don't, by any means, need to be religious to be stubbornly opposed to a more just world.

And it’s not just Catholic, Anglican and North American conservatives. No, let me be perfectly clear, I'm most definitely also talking about African, Asian and European conservatives, Islamic conservatives, Hindu conservatives, Communist conservatives, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, the Taliban, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, you name it.

The fact of the matter is that throughout history conservatives have supported horrible injustice and have almost always backed it up with a few quotes from the Bible (or the Koran or one set of holy scriptures or another) that have supposedly shown just how right they were and just how much God has always indisputably supported things such as slavery, women as the property of their husbands, or the separation of the races.

No matter how unjust, unfair, cruel or despicable the situation, conservatives have always been there to defend the status quo.

Here's a shortlist of the changes conservatives have opposed (and often fought tooth and nail against) over the years, sticking for the moment to the West and, specifically, America.


Ӣ The end of slavery
Ӣ Women being granted the legal status of equal human beings and no longer being considered the property of their husbands or fathers
Ӣ Women being given the vote
Ӣ The end of racial segregation
Ӣ The introduction of universal health-care and other social programs
Ӣ The introduction of the Pill
Ӣ The repeal of laws that legally allowed men to beat, and rape, their wives
Ӣ The decriminalization of homosexuality; that is, the end of criminalizing 10% of the population for simply being who they are

And, not too many years ago now, the legalization of inter-racial marriage. Yes, let's not forget that inter-racial marriage was illegal in most states in the good ol' U.S. of A. until quite recently.

So, with conservatives coming out on the wrong side of justice and equality time and time again, the only real question is: what exactly is wrong with them? Why can't they see what is so glaringly obvious to the rest of us, that they're always on the side of pathetic small-mindedness, fighting passionately against the creation of a more fair, just and equal society?

It must be a sickness, and these poor conservatives simply can't help themselves when it comes to passionately fighting against any and all measures that would make for a more just world. This condition, let's call it "conservativitus", clearly involves a serious deficiency in both compassion and empathy, a coldness of the heart, if you will... perhaps brought on, at least in America, by an overexposure to Christian rock and/or FOX News.

Whatever the cause, these conservatives, as if inflicted with a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome, seem to be unable to control their impulse to scream out "No fucking way!!" whenever any change is proposed to make the world a better place.

So, whenever you see or hear a conservative, I urge you to try to remember that they are sick and, instead of condemning them, please wish them well. It's the least you can do. They may sneer back at you, but don't take it personally, it's all just part of the disease.

Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.




Jul 14, 2008 at 5:30pm

Amen (that's the non religous amen) brother...amen.
I've often mused about this obvious affliction as well.
I believe it's one part low intellect, one part pure meanness of spirit and the balance would probably be the propensity for these losers to hold the bully's coat.


Jul 15, 2008 at 1:23am

Labelling the political opinions of others as a mental illness is closed minded and dangerous. Liberalism and conservatism both have their positives and negatives - there just needs to be a balance. Conservatives, for example, are beneficial to society for their emphasis on a strong judicial system and strong family unit. In the past, conservatives have been crusaders for human rights, such as Wilberforce who lead the abolition of the slave trade. It is not surprising that in the US and likely Canada, the top donaters to charities and needy causes are conservatives and Christians. And mind you -- it is the faithful missionaries, who go out into the most dangerous areas of the world to help the most impoverished. Slamming conservatives and Christians as you have done is indeed an insensitive insult to the world's most needy.


Jul 15, 2008 at 8:24am

If a conservative is defined simply as someone who opposes change--changes, mind you, that the writer approves of, not those, I suspect, that he disapproves of--then we are all conservatives at one time or another. That would evidently include those who stand in opposition to the destructive effects of what Naomi Klein calls "disaster capitalism." It would include Percy Schmeiser for his campaign against Monsanto and GMOs. It would certainly include Edmund Burke, a liberal conservative who supported the aims of the American Revolution while condemning the bloody excesses of the French Revolution.

In the Canadian context, let's not forget the contributions of Canadian conservatives: Confederation, public hydro utilties, the CBC, and, oh yes, the very possibility of Canada. After all, if it hadn't been for the United Empire Loyalists and their no doubt misguided allegiance to the Crown (surely a preposterous institution!), we'd have been absorbed by the American Empire long ago.


Jul 15, 2008 at 10:10am

It's a shame that what started out as a thought provoking critique, devolved into an emotional rant, full of anecdotal conjecture. Oft-quoted, and time-worn canards do not the truth make. As usual with the homosexual community, the irony of your diatribes against conservatism is lost on you. From people who continually preach a message of tolerance, you show a surprising lack of tolerance for those of beliefs other than your own. You assert your populist views, without really considering that it's not only conservatives who have opposed homosexual marriage. Look, there is not the space here for me to debate you on the substance of your inaccuracy, but I certainly would, if there were. Let me just say this one thing: Yes, I believe that not just conservatives, but society as a whole, may have been slow to accept the homosexual community, but it's undeniable that some of the backlash against gays has been due to their own actions. C'mon people, my kids had to sit through gay lifestyle and normalization curriculum in the 4th grade. At that age, most kids don't even know about heterosexual sex, and I resent that they were forced to have to listen to it. And just because gay pride is something you consider to be progressive and positive, I don't want to hear about it all the time. I've enjoyed a very active sexual lifestyle in my time, yet I don't go on talk radio, 24-hour news channels, and everywhere else talking about it, much less participate in parades. Get a clue people, the constant barrage on society about your lifestyle gets old after forty years. I believe you probably would have had gay marriage by now if your weren't continually provoking the rest of society about your private lives. I think that today, most people believe in "live and let live," but by making such a conspicuous issue of yourselves, people are becoming resentful of it. Perhaps take a some time to try and understand what conservatives actually believe, and why they believe it, just like you'd like to have us do for you. Lest you feel the need to trash me, my disclaimer is this, that I have several gay family members, and I absolutely love them unconditionally, and their lifestyle plays no part in our relationship. Although at times we have had conversations about it, within the context of love and acceptance, they don't continually rub my face in it, which is a right I extend to them, as well. And, although I am a conservative, I do not believe in mandating or politicizing my Christian beliefs.


Jul 15, 2008 at 2:54pm

Conservatism??? Please!! It is not conservative to condemn large numbers of your population to prison terms for minor drug "offences". Nor is it conservative to condemn people who believe in a different set of myths than yourself; never recognising that they have as much right to their fantasy as you do. Waging imperialist wars is not conservative, nor is waging war in your society between one racial, social, or sexual group and another.
These are the activities of purists, dogmatists, RADICALS.
Why do "conservatives" feel they need to tell every one else how they should run their own lives while continueing to destroy the environment we share? It is not "conservative" to climb on the backs of others to reach rediculous levels of consumption. It is not "conservative" to piss in your own bathwater.
We are surrounded by zealots on all sides that continue to abuse our intelligence by claiming that they have the answer to the problems of society, then promptly impose corporatist measures claiming "common sense" and "market reform"
Next time someone claims to be conservative; check them out....scratch the surface, chances are there is a little facist in there, just waiting for the opportunity to fix all of us.

Matthew Burrows

Jul 15, 2008 at 3:51pm

Readers who've been to Tibet (post 1959) owe it to themselves to read Mike's very vivid and sardonic account of his wrestling bout at the Tibet/China border in 2002 on his Web site at the attached link after his main story (above.)

Charles Arnspiger

Jul 15, 2008 at 6:15pm

Amazing, how short-sighted and self-righteous the self proclaimed "progressives" (read liberals) always are. What are we left to conclude on the progressive record for just the last century alone. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, & Mao Tse Tung. Together these progressive, liberal leaders are only responsible for somewhere around 76.5-109 million murders in their lifetimes alone. The represiveness of their "progress at any cost" is always what comes out of the selfish desire for "the license to be what I want". This is just the simplest response to the mindless, utopian drivel posted in the hateful article by Mr. Cowie.

He will try to turn these examples into "Conservatism". If you will check the definitions of communism and nazism, you will see that they are socialist (again progressive) in their foundation.

Once again, utopia only leads to a leader that becomes abusive when moved from glowing theory to ugly application.

Thanks, Mr. Cowie