Sunday, July 20, 2008

The new conservapedia - where I rank. And what does it all mean?

Neil had a fascinating post on the Conservapedia, apparently a US conservative response to Wikipedia. This included an article, Liberal - Conservapedia, on what constitutes a liberal. I decided to rank myself! The links come from Neil's original post.

The article suggests that a liberal supports many of the following political positions and practices:

A government with large spending on social programs, and high taxes to support such programs.

I certainly support government spending on social problems. The question of what constitutes high taxation is a matter of judgement. However, in general I am not a supporter of high taxation.

Taxpayer-funded and/or legalized abortion

I have very mixed views in this area. As a statement of general principle, I am not opposed to medicare payments for abortions in appropriate circumstances, I am opposed to the universal criminalisation of abortion that used to apply.

Income redistribution, usually through progressive taxation

I support a mildly progressive tax structure as well as income redistribution to ensure that all Australians share in the benefits of growth.

Government-rationed and taxpayer-funded medical care, such as Universal Health Care


Taxpayer-funded public education


The denial of inherent gender differences

Depends on what is meant. Men and women are different. However, I oppose stereotypes and mandated roles.

Wanting men and women to have the same access to jobs in the military

Support. The only issue here should be capacity to perform.

Legalized same-sex marriage

Do not oppose.

Implimentation of affirmative action

I do have reservations about affirmative action programs. However, this depends on what is meant by the term.

Political correctness


Censorship of teacher-lead prayer in classrooms and school sponsored events

Generally oppose.

Support of labor unions

I am in favour of trade unions.

Teaching “comprehensive” sex-ed programs instead of abstinence-only programs.[1]

I support more comprehensive sex-ed programs.

A “living Constitution” that is reinterpreted in a modern context, instead of how it was originally intended

I have mixed feelings in this area. Things change. A constitution should be a living document. However, I have some problems with some Australian High Court decisions on Federal powers because they go to far outside what I perceive to be the intent of the constitution.

Support for gun control

Support, although I thought that Mr Howard went to far after Port Arthur.

Government programs to rehabilitate criminals


Abolition of death penalty



My position here totally depends upon the definition used.

Disarmament treaties



Generally support.

Opposition to an interventionalist American foreign policy [3]

I am cautious about interventionist foreign policies by any country. However, I think it important that the US continue to play an active role in global affairs.

Support of obscenity and pornography as a First Amendment right[4]

Very odd! Oppose.

Opposition to full private property rights[5]

As a general principle, I support property rights and oppose moves that take such rights away without full and fair compensation. However, I suspect that this is not the same as supporting "full property" rights.

Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine

Cannot really comment on this without investigation.

In 2005, it was reported by CBS News that liberals were the most likely supporters of the theory of evolution. Support for the theory of evolution which is a key component of atheistic ideologies in the Western World.

Dear me! I support the theory of evolution because it best seems to fit the evidence.

Opposition to domestic wire-tapping as authorized in the Patriot Act


Calling anyone they agree with a “professor” regardless of whether he earned that distinction based on a real peer review of his work (see, e.g., Richard Dawkins and Barack Obama).

How very odd. Not guilty.

Looking back over the list, I can see where they are coming from on some points. However, what Conservapedia does illustrate to my mind is the way that our thinking on social and political issues is conditioned, determined, by the society in which we live.

Australia is a different society to the US with very different traditions. US mental constructs cannot automatically be applied in Australia, nor can we apply Australian ones to the US.

I make this point in part because we all have a tendency to assume that our own views are right. We also interpret developments in other places through the frame set by those views. In doing so, we say things like "I agree with that" when we should be asking "what does it mean." This leads to nasty shocks when the reality of views and actions proves to be different from our expectations.

Take Senator Obama as a case in point. I have a degree of caution here because I feel that I do not properly understand what some of his words might mean in practice for Australia.

If I interpret the interface between his rhetoric and the dynamics of US politics correctly, then one possible outcome from his election might be a more inward looking and protectionist US. This is not in our interests because Australia as a small economy in global terms depends upon an open global trading system.

I am not arguing for or against Senator Obama here, simply using him as an example to illustrate my point.


Stephen said...

So, you're in favour of teacher-led prayer in schools? I'm not quite sure what position you have - there's a double negative in there (what you've said is that you oppose the censorship of techer-led prayer).

Censorship of teacher-lead prayer in classrooms and school sponsored events

Generally oppose.

Jim Belshaw said...

I am away, Stephen. I will try to come back on this tomorrow.