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9/1/2009
THE FORMERLY CONSERVATIVE BLOG KNOWN AS REDSTATE

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, ““There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” Indeed, many have the wrong idea about conservatism in that they assume we don’t believe in “change” as it is generally understood.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as those of us who have read and understand Russell Kirk know:

The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate.

Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression.

Careful, prudent change, solidly based on tradition and “permanence”, is a positive good, says Kirk.

I might add that Edmund Burke had a lot to say about “change” as well. His critique of the French Revolution (and his support for the institution of the British Monarchy) made it easy for his critics to denounce him as a reactionary. But one of Burke’s most famous quotations - “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation” - makes the valid point that change is necessary when the institutions and traditions of the state are at risk. Preserving them at the cost of change is necessary and good.

Why all this blathering about “change?” First, it gives me a chance to quote Kirk and Burke and aren’t you mightily impressed at that, dear reader?

Secondly, it serves as prologue to my sad experience from yesterday after I posted my piece “Angry Ideologues vs. The Statists” on my diary page at RedState. The reaction to the piece from Moe Lane, who is a regular poster and one of the site’s moderators, as well as other commenters flummoxed me.

A brief background: I used to cross-post my RWNH pieces quite regularly at RedState, having joined the community there almost as soon as I began blogging nearly 5 years ago. It was a good way to promote me and my blog and it was good exposure for my writing.

A about a year ago, I virtually stopped cross posting basically because I got lazy about the promotion thing and rarely visited after that unless directed by a link on Memeorandum or some other blog.

Recently, it occurred to me that my laziness about promoting myself and my writing was costing me potential readers (as well as potential revenue) so I decided to make an effort to learn the Twitter thing, and rededicate myself to get out of the rut I’ve been in since the election.

Hence, my triumphant re-appearance at RedState - or not. Many of my diary posts had been heavily criticized in the past so I was not unused to the notion that I was not a popular poster there. And the diary in question was heavily critical of some conservatives - “angry ideologues” - so I expected the usual mindless name calling from, who else, angry ideologues.

Enter Mr. Lane into our little drama. Here is a comment exchange between the two of us that made me realize that RedState was not a very conservative site anymore - at least not so far as I understand the meaning of conservatism:

Lane:
That’s nice, Rick. What did your local GOP chair say…
Moe Lane Monday, August 31st at 3:22PM EDT (link)

…when you explained this to him or her?

Me:
“Conservative” not “Republican”
Rick Moran Monday, August 31st at 4:28PM EDT (link)

If I mention the party at all in the piece - and I don’t reference it specifically - it is as a vessel to carry conservative principles.

I am not a party man. I am concerned with conservatism. As far as Republicans are concerned, I feel if I can help reform conservatism, that helps the party.

Lane: In other words, you didn’t.
Moe Lane Monday, August 31st at 4:50PM EDT (link)

Now, did you have anything useful to contribute, or are you just going to waste my site’s bandwidth some more with complaints that do nothing but annoy actual activists and drive down their diaries?

If Mr. Lane’s intent was to give me a pep talk about getting with the program and cheerleading for our side, I’m afraid it fell rather flat.

But I don’t think that was his intent, do you? Trotting out the old “chickenhawk” argument used by the left against Iraq War supporters was surprising enough (if I haven’t told my local GOP chair that he’s a raving, right wing ideologue, then my critique is worthless). But then, to actually set a standard for acceptable speech about whether something is “useful” or not was the real kicker. And I told him so:

Me: I believe my views are indeed useful
Rick Moran Monday, August 31st at 5:18PM EDT (link)

And I’m afraid annoying people is the price paid for revealing unpleasant truths that many conservative ideologues resist believing.

And if the price of admission for presenting one’s views on this site is to be an “activist” in a political party, or to adhere to some nebulous, ill defined criteria that what one has to say is “useful,” that might be something I’d expect to see on a liberal site, not a conservative one.

So I’m sure you welcome all viewpoints that are reasonably argued, and can be responded to in a reasonable way. Thank you for that.

Mr. Lane chose not to answer - as he also failed to address any single point made in my diary that he considered “useless” or that “annoy[ed] actual activists” - and proceeded to remind me of blog policy about cross posting:

Lane: That would be another “No,” then.
Monday, August 31st at 5:24PM EDT (link)

So noted.

Moe Lane

PS: I note that this is a reprint of something that was originally from your site. While RedState permits full reproductions of posts and articles by the author, we expect the post to link back to the original source. Please do so in the future.

Obviously, a man of few words - and little else. Of course, he needn’t worry about the future since after this post hits the tubes, my name will be mud at RedState and even if I were allowed to, the prospect of posting on a site with such anti-conservative moderators and commenters (read the rest of what passes for criticism) has lost its allure.

What drives a person to close off their mind so completely, so determinedly, to where challenging orthodoxy is a transgression worthy of such contempt? No, I possess no thunderbolts of truth and wisdom to hurl at my detractors and open their eyes to new vistas, new ways of thinking. All I have are opinions that differ from theirs.

I suppose I should be used to it by now, but it never fails to amaze me how truly remarkable is our capacity as humans to subsume our natural ability to think, and slavishly, doltishly, mindlessly allow our critical thinking skills to fall into slothful disuse. I am not immune from committing this sin as my regular readers know. It takes real effort to break through the clutter of your own lazy thought processes, and thankfully, the few readers I have left at this site never let me go for long without letting me know of my backsliding.

Not challenging your own beliefs by constantly re-energizing and reinvigorating the underlying assumptions that form the bedrock of your thinking by exposing yourself to alternative viewpoints leads to the kind of knee-jerk nonsense espoused by Mr. Lane and most of his fellow RedState commenters who never engaged me on the substance of what I wrote, choosing instead to simply try and outdo each other with their invective.

It is a decidedly unconservative attitude to hold and proves to me that, although there are many fine conservative writers still at the site - Eric Erickson, Warner Todd Huston, and Pejman Yousefzadeh to name just a few - the community that is RedState has degenerated into a barbarous brew of angry yawpers.

A pity, that. What was once a vibrant, stimulating place has become a gray ghost of its former self - a place where orthodoxy trumps almost all and where new ideas go to to die.

By: Rick Moran at 11:46 am
23 Responses to “THE FORMERLY CONSERVATIVE BLOG KNOWN AS REDSTATE”
  1. 1
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    12:18 pm 

    Rick, you underestimate your own ability to be a voice for the change you (and I) hope to effect. Redstate may have to be written off, but there are more venues than it and you seem to get plenty of hits here. Keep on truckin’.

  2. 2
    obamathered Said:
    12:48 pm 

    Blog dust ups: the Other Peeling Paint.

  3. 3
    tccesq Said:
    12:54 pm 

    Rick,

    Redstate has shifted their focus to more of an “activist” website, and have made no bones about it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. Conservative activism is vitally important in these times. Further, it has become apparent that more than a few elected officials pay attention to the message put out by Redstate, and that message has had positive effects. However, even activists should be open-minded enough to not shut out ideas and imput from others who would otherwise be considered fellow travelers in the right-of-center universe but somehow differ from the official narrative on one issue or another.

    Having said that, I think you may have been a little over-the-top with your assessment of the Redstate community (”a barbarous brew of angry yawpers.”), at least as far as the bloggers/diarists are concerned. Some of the commenters? Well…

    Finally, Warner Todd Houston and Pejman Yousefzadeh (sadly) no longer appear on Redstate. Pejman, along with several other former Redstate writers, have gone over to The New Ledger.

    I guess that some of the activists would do well to remenber that their activism should be informed by political thought that goes deeper that the latest talking points memo.

    Yes, “angry yawpers” is over the top. Can’t help myself sometimes.

    I suppose it was shock more than anything. Where I received a good share of sharp criticism for what I’ve written in the past, many would take the time to respond to specific points I was trying to make. But what happened yesterday was a real bucket of cold water.

    Obviously, I had not visited recently or would have been aware that Pejman and WTH don’t post there anymore. I’m sure there are still other fine conservative contributors there and my beef is not with them.

    ed.

  4. 4
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    1:43 pm 

    1960s conservatism at least gave intellectual reasoning for their positions. Rick is a student of this school of conservatism I think.

    21st century conservatism relies on cheap populism, religious pandering, and a “with us or against us” mentality to attempt to justify their positions.

  5. 5
    Standardcandle Said:
    3:13 pm 

    What drives a person to close off their mind so completely, so determinedly, to where challenging orthodoxy is a transgression worthy of such contempt? No, I possess no thunderbolts of truth and wisdom to hurl at my detractors and open their eyes to new vistas, new ways of thinking. All I have are opinions that differ from theirs.

    Don’t you think you’re being just a little bit sensitive?

    I mean it seems as though your defense for what Moe laid down was “he’s rude”…

    He asked you a poignant question… for those who do, do and well those can’t… blog.

    Moe’s implication is that If you were a “true” conservative… you would be getting in touch with your local GOP, and drive conservative principles and the things you’re talking about at the local level in your own precinct/district/county and state.

    far be it from me for you to be humbled by people with obviously inferior intellect such as yourself.

    Come down off the bloviating bubble brother… and just simply explain yourself to us simpletons…

    In the mean time… I recommend that you re-organize your thoughts on the state of the statits, not the unionists in Washington.

  6. 6
    busboy33 Said:
    3:27 pm 

    “Me: ‘Conservative’ not ‘Republican’”

    Well, there’s yer problem right there, mister. Seems you got your philosophy switched with your club. Clubs don’t run too good if all the pieces keep acting indepentently. That’s just gonna keep jamming up the works.

    I’ll call my supervisor . . . a complete thinking drainage is gonna take all afternoon. You got homeowners insurance? Check yer policy — I gots ta get some special tools from the shop, so it’ll be a minute.

    Ya may want to get that cat out of here too . . . some caustic chemicals are really gonna ruffle her fur.

    . . . one of us, one of us, one of us . . .

  7. 7
    Anonymous Said:
    3:41 pm 

    You and Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs seem to share a similar mindset. You both are strangely critical of conservative activism. I think you and he missed the significance of the tea party movement. Not to worry you have a lot in common with the MSM.

  8. 8
    c3 Said:
    4:14 pm 

    RedState is a primarily a cheerleading site. Higher “anger” level of commenters than RWNH but the “max heat” level is about the same. I haven’t seen consistent left of center commentary on RedState as I’ve seen here. Frankly, both sites rely too much on ridicule. (Having said that I’d prefer to read RWNH than RedState.)

  9. 9
    To Rick Moron err…[Moran] and any other “true conservative” that has words for Redstate… - StandardCandle’s blog - RedState Pinged With:
    4:27 pm 

    [...] Moran ran home and trashed Redstate rather than defending his rather wordy but weak thoughts in the forum he opened.  {Even his trash [...]

  10. 10
    c3 Said:
    4:32 pm 

    went over and read the comments. Yup, you got “roasted”. Is it really surprising given all of the “shouting” on the blogs that that happened. IMHO, regular readers of too many blogs just look for an opportunity to vent their spleen either in vehement disagreement of the post or in vehement agreement with “piling on” the other side.

    There IS something compelling about reading the blogs but they clearly bring out the worst in folks. Its the internet version of road rage. Are we surprised of all of the shouting at the town halls? It was just blogging in person. (and provided more fuel for the blogs.) We’re losing the ability (on both sides) to quietly but clearly disagree.

    Oh an finally, Rick, mentioning Conor Freidersdorf at RedState is not a good thing.

  11. 11
    Standardcandle Said:
    4:48 pm 

    I invite you to read…

    http://www.redstate.com/standardcandle/2009/09/01/to-rick-moron-errmoran-and-any-other-true-conservative-that-has-words-for-redstate/

  12. 12
    yoyo Said:
    5:16 pm 

    Redstate is leaving themselves open to ridicule by the majority of the population just at the moment with things like their KKK cartoon. (gleefully seixed upon by wonkette). I really dont think they’ll recover from their very untimely love afair with sanford either.

    Just keep doing what you want to do.

  13. 13
    Rich Said:
    7:45 pm 

    I found your page because I’ve now been banned twice at Redstate for trying to argue about conservatism, statism, and even how Reagan built a coalition with moderates. I helped with the 2004 election for Bush in Pennsylvania and my wife served as a lawyer for Election Day, plus the 2006 Congressional elections, and yet I’m accused of being a lefty troll. Banned for defending a poster against blatant homophobia, trashed for suggesting Ron Paul’s fiscal conservatism helped inspire the Tea Parties, and banned for thanking the moderators in stopping the nasty ganging up by community members to a brand new Republican who dared to say that we shouldn’t question the character of John McCain’s war stories.

    Sadly, RedState reminds me of the Chinese Cultural Revolution where those who think are a danger to the orthodoxy. I think they do well in some activism as evidenced by their recent event in Atlanta, but without Eric they don’t have much. I’m starting my own community shortly instead. I just never thought the Republican Party would leave me this way, the way Reagan felt with the Democrats.

    Suffice to say, I know how you feel.

  14. 14
    Russell Miller Said:
    8:03 pm 

    I lump blogs like redstate and hotair in the same stack as dailykos and firedoglake. Completely devoid of anything of import, subsisting on the impotent anger and rampant demagoguery that plagues both sides. I know you are a contributor to hot air, yet I do not retract that.

    I visited the Daily Kos at one time and tried to contribute, ended up pretty much getting voted off the island because I did not toe the party line. Similar to what happened to you. The extreme sites of either side are utterly worthless and not worth the time spent to type their URL.

    Then there are the sites that attempt to be even handed, such as The Moderate Voice, which I visit every now and then. They have left and right viewpoints, but there is no demagoguery and they really do try to be even-handed and see all sides of the issue.

    Then there are sides such as yours and patterico, and maybe Crooks and Liars, who, while listing a little more partisan than is comfortable, at least avoid the hysterical screaming overreaction that is endemic to the more “fringe” blogs on both sides. I do not agree with everything you say. In fact, I really don’t agree with at least half of what you say. But congratulations on rejecting one of the most vile blogs on your side, and I do hope that your journey continues to bear fruit.

  15. 15
    Bill Said:
    10:08 pm 

    Rick-
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and I keep thinking that you’re not really conservative. I read your posts and I feel that whiner tone over and over.

  16. 16
    speciallist Said:
    1:47 am 

    “barbarous brew of angry yawpers”…How could that be?, I didn’t even comment on your holier than thou tripe…

    The RS commenters took you to task and all you can do is Whine…pathetic

    You are firmly to the left of moderates…gimme us a break

  17. 17
    Dan D Said:
    9:47 am 

    Sorry, but Redstate and Hot Air are total turnoffs, featuring a high noise-to-signal ratio, if signal equals clear thinking. They are just puerile ranters carrying on to a diminishing band of like-thinkers.

    Don’t waste your time there. Their whole approach is predicated on the other side losing, not their side winning.

  18. 18
    Shaun Said:
    10:21 am 

    Rick, you need Red State like a case of the shingles. Because it is a case of the shingles.

  19. 19
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    6:49 pm 

    Sadly, RedState reminds me of the Chinese Cultural Revolution where those who think are a danger to the orthodoxy.

    Well said, Rich.

    As an aside, I noticed that most of RedState’s articles descended into nonsensical hysteria and mindless rhetoric just before the 2006 midterm election blowout, and have remained stuck there ever since. (It would seem that electoral success is crucial to the sanity of RedState staffers.) They just can’t seem to handle having their party lose.

  20. 20
    Flagstaff Said:
    12:25 am 

    Rick, I think you were unfairly treated at RedState. Far too much was written about your entry.

    After trudging all the way through your entry, and the comments and retorts, I came to the conclusion that you’re your own worst enemy. You’re not a particularly good writer. Wordy, but not good. Just who are those “Angry Ideologues”? And was that piece a critical review of Levin’s book, or a criticism of those who agree that Obama is accurately described as a “statist”?

    That statement alone would have sufficed as a proper criticism. All the rest was overkill.

  21. 21
    Portlandreader Said:
    9:58 am 

    Rick,

    I’m not surprised by the treatment you received at Redstate.

    I stopped reading it shortly before the 2008 election.

    Long time posters getting ‘blammed’ for daring to post honest ideas & opinions. Anything that remotely crossed the moderator’s views were being ridiculed or banned.

    I realize Moe, etal can do what ever - they do own the site. But if they continue like they have since the elections they cannot do anything but go further down hill.

  22. 22
    Aaron Gardner Said:
    1:24 pm 

    Rick, maybe next time you shouldn’t start off by calling people angry ideologues. You know there is a whole Majority Party and Marxist President you could have sunk you teeth into. Instead you chose to go after those on you side. You came down to lay judgement on those you felt to be beneath you, and you got served in the process.

    Also I think you fundamentally misunderstand what Kirk meant. You totally forget to take into account the principle of custom continuity and convention. This principle along with prudence, variety and prescription must be weighed to decide between permanence and change.

    You can’t just pick and choose which of Kirk’s principles you want to follow. It’s more in or out.

  23. 23
    DoorHold Said:
    9:55 am 

    I am SO tired of discussions about important issues being derailed by all those tired, Internet-old arguments over whether or not the discussion meets certain criteria.

    What’s that meme about the first person to refer to Hitler or the Nazis ending the discussion? The same should apply to the first person to demand “LINK!” or “PROOF!” or any of a hundred other arguments, including those you highlight here, whose sole and true purpose is to destablize the discussion.

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