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Nihilism in High Places February 27, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Political Philosophy.
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I argue in my forthcoming book, Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America,  that conservatism is a form of nihilism because it undermines the conditions under which we can discover and act on moral values.

New York Times opinion writer, David Brooks, one of the main apologists for conservatism seems to agree with me.

In commenting on Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to Obama’s quasi-State of the Union Speech on Tuesday, Brooks had this to say:

You know, I think Bobby Jindal is a very promising politician, and I opposed the stimulus package – I thought it was poorly drafted – but to come up at this moment in history with a stale, “government is the problem…we can’t trust the government”…it’s just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic, now. They may not like the way the Congress passed the stimulus bill. The idea that government is going to have no role in this…in a moment where only the Federal government is big enough to do stuff…to just ignore all that and say government’s the problem…corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending – it’s just a form of nihilism. It’s just not where the country is, it’s not where the future of the country is. 

Brooks is a bit late with his new-found respect for government. Anti-government animus has been the foundation of Republican ideology at least since Saint Ronnie uttered his “government is the problem, not the solution” nonsense 25 years ago. If people like Brooks had been speaking out rather than cheerleading all this time, we would not be in the mess we are in now.

Jindal in particular has a lot of gall. He is the Governor of a state that has received 130 Billion dollars in Federal Aid since Hurricane Katrina, aid without which New Orleans would now resemble Dhaka. In his rejoinder to Obama, Jindal used the disastrous initial Federal response to Katrina as an example of incompetent government. Bad example. It was Republican incompetence—the product of years of disinvesting in government—that made the Katrina debacle possible.

I would say that Jindal ought to be ashamed; but I don’t think nihilists feel shame do they?

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