Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Conservativism -- defense against change?

I am not a conservative, nor a neo-conservative, nor a reactionary conservative. I've been in the 'progressive' camp since about 1969, and philosophically probably well before that.

I think that the terms I used above need a bit of definition -- at least defining the way I'm thinking about them now.

* A conservative is a person who thinks things are OK now, and will continue to be OK as long as we follow rules laid down long ago -- ethically, morally, spiritually and politically. Conservatives of this ilk are probably pretty well off anyway, and it makes good sense for them to think this way. Why change anything if everything's sweet?

* A neo-conservative is somebody who, according to the Encarta on-line dictionary, during the mid-1980s, began to support conservatism in society, and in politics in particular, as a reaction to the social freedoms sought throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. These folks were those who appeared to follow the great Gordon Gecko aphorism: "Greed is good". (From the movie "Wall Street"). They are the managerialists and economic rationalists.

* The reactionaries are people who oppose anything they deem socially progressive. These are the folks to listen to that awful movie voice that says "Be afraid, be very afraid". They are often badly educated and not well off financially.

These camps -- allied in voting patterns at least -- seem to be in the ascendant in all major spheres of life and society, across international and cultural boundaries. Here are a few examples.

Governments: Goes from the far-right (reactionaries in the ascendant), to the centre-right (economic rationalists in the ascendant) to the humble right (conservatives in the ascendent). Who has these? The USA (far-right); UK, the EU and Oz (centre-right); Japan (conservatives).

Religions: Roman Catholic, militant Islam, conservative Judaism (far right).

I could go on, and I probably will in the near future.

But I must state that none of these speak for me. Where do I, and people who cannot, or do not wish to ascribe to these beliefs, find redress in their lives?
I'm finding it very difficult to find any progressive thinking in the ascendant any more. Maybe the upswing of these forms of conservatism are based on the incredible rapidity of changes in our societies? We are bombarded daily with new gadgets, new theories, new proven scientific facts that often completely belie former beliefs. Those who persecuted Galileo are still with us.

But, dear Progressives, wherever you are, please stop imitating the right wing and give us an alternative to more of the bland sameness of overarching conservatism, in our governments, in our religions, in our daily lives. We need to assimilate these changes, not hide from them. We need to ensure that we can use the scientific and the technological to develop ourselves as individuals, and as a species. It may well be that if we do not adapt, we will die. The creationists will hate that...

More when the neurone fires again.

PB White

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


We humans have a bit of a quandary. On the one hand we would like strong leaders who will inspire us, and will move us to greater things. On the other, we want to do our own thing without being moved along by someone else's grand ideas. Progressive vs. conservative? No, that's not right. We've had strong conservative leaders like... And we have had strong progressive leaders like...

The most recent world leader who has shuffled of is Pope John Paul II. He was a strong leader of the conservative mold in some senses, and a progressive in others. It remains to be seen who will be the next Pope, but most likely the college of very conservative cardinals will elect one of their own. Ho hum, more of the same...

Other world leaders appear less and less to be strong, either in the conservative or the progressive mold, with none as far as I can see with anything like a vision for the future. The biblical saying that "where is no vision the people perish" is rather apt; where is our vision, at least in the so-called West? The bland leading the blind; economy above all, Mammon served well. And the antithesie? Terrorists?

There are over 6 billion of us humans. Given the state of the planet and the state of our leaders, this number may well be reduced considerably in the near future. Oh well, I just thought I would put a few ruminations down which may tickle some neurones out there someplace.

Peace to all
PB White