The Consumptionists | WisCommunity

The Consumptionists

It's been noted elsewhere that "conservative" really isn't an applicable description any longer of those political interests who portray themselves in that regard. After all, Wisconsin's new mining bill is anything but conservative, yet was enacted with wholly "conservative" political votes. The bill doesn't conserve anything, least of all our pristine forests or waters, which are by our state constitution a commonwealth of properties and resources that cannot be legally reassigned to some narrow, least of all private, interest.

If you doubt this, go back to the admission of State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and his breathtaking, unexpectedly frank, probably Freudian slip as he and his fellow Republicans pushed those monstrosity past widespread -- not just tribal -- protests:

The bill reflects the reality of mining. There are going to be some impacts to the environment above the iron ore body. If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature's intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can't find fault if the environment is impact. [sic]

Get that? He admitted that a conscious intent of the new law is to allow more pollution. But that's not a "reality of mining," it's the outcome of a bad, arguably illegal public policy decision and the responsibility its authors try to evade.

So: Not conservative but reckless! Teddy Roosvelt-style, conservationist Republicans are now all but non-existent, having been purged from the Republican Party in Wisconsin and elsewhere by "anything goes," bizmo-freak special interests and their elected lackeys, Scott Walker among them.

We need to react to this not just situationally but in a way that begins to help more of our fellow citizens refocus on the underlying issues. We should move the so-called Overton window -- the idea that a narrow view ignoring most of the political spectrum defines the range of ideas that the public will find acceptable. Too many citizens seem to find the idea of conservatism -- or rather its terribly mutated modern namesake -- within the window of acceptance. It's our job to move that concept back out of the range of acceptability. 

Hence, it is time to relabel conservatism in this country. It is anything but conservative. It is profligate, and all in the wrong ways. It takes resources from wise purposes, and gives them to unwise purposes. And it seldom pays its own bills in doing this, instead sticking out its palm and insisting that you do, instead -- a double whammy for most Americans already burdened by the sick implementation of what has become an anti-life equation.

Republicans (who represent most of conservatism) worked hard for decades to redefine and slander the Democratic Party, liberalism and progressivism as radical, even communistic, socialist, facist or all three improbably merged. Now, it should be our turn to do some redefining.

What modern conservatism as advanced by the Republican Party amounts to is consumption -- wild, inordinate, unwise consumption. Thus, I propose we begin referring to today's self-annointed conservativism as CONSUMPTIVISM. And the self-identified political animals who exhibit that runaway consumptive behavior should be called CONSUMPTIONISTS.

E.g., "the consumptivism wing of the Republican Party" or "blue dog consumptionists in the Democratic Party."

[The latter because, while this relabeling is mostly about Republicans, it can apply to turncoats within our own ranks. If President Obama -- a politician I mostly endorse -- wrongheadedly allows the Keystone XL pipeline and its horribly pollutant tars to travel across hundreds of miles of valuable American farmlands, then he is, at least on that issue, practicing consumptivist politics.]

This isn't about ordinary consumption -- we all have to eat and breathe, although there needn't be so many of us to burden the planetary ecosphere unnecessarily. Nor are there as many among us with the means to insist on wasteful, harmful, resource-intensive ways to do stuff. Rather, it's about unnecessary, rampant, unfair, inequitable and ultimately nonsustainable consumption.

So these replacement terms will, I think, resonate. After all, an archaic name for pulmonary tuberculosis was consumption. Illness consumes us, while pollution and poverty foment illness. Even though our society has evolved into far more a consumerist environment, many people still regard overbearing consumption as at best a guilty pleasure or necessary evil, and in the worst case, as a disease. Which pretty much defines Republican Party-brand conservatism -- whoops, that's CONSUMPTIVISM. So go get 'em, gang.

Published

March 11, 2013 - 1:16pm

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