For conservatives, civilization is always on the verge of collapse. It's easy to justify any abuse of constitutional niceties when barbarians are at the gate. And it's easy to cut ethical corners when you can dehumanize your ideological opponents as monsters.
Related Conservative Failures
For neoconservatives the remaking the Middle East—with Iraq as the tip of the spear was—aimed to drill home an abstract ideological point: America must dominate the world and make tyrants tremble in our wake. The execution of this goal brought nothing but ruin in its wake—worth it, by their lights. Vice President Cheney still insists that "in the end," Iraq has been a success. read more »
Sickeningly enough, the conservative Heritage Foundation saw Hurricane Katrina as an ideological opportunity. Edwin Meese pulled together a blue-ribbon panel to exploit the storm and advance a slew of conservative panaceas—slashing taxes, incinerating regulations, and weakening the public schools. The ends—conservative ideology—more important than the pain conservatives knew they would inflict on the powerless.read more »
Self-serving lying becomes a matter of course when you convince yourself you’re serving an abstract higher truth. The conservative defense of perceived moral norms thus institutionalizes immoral means—and leads to the conservative subversion of law and order. This is why every conservative government ends in a hail of indictments and investigations.
Symptoms of Ends Justify the Means
Conservatives are willing to pursue abstract ideological ends whatever the practical consequences. Children sickened by E. coli? The American crushed by unscrupulous, unregulated mortgage brokers? It's worth the price, so long as the abstract ideal— delegitimizing government; the triumph of privatization—wins out in the end. read more »
One of the cherished ideological goals of the Reagan Administration was defunding the left—which often meant, in practice, checking the influence of disinterested, expert civil servants in favor of cronies and ideological allies. They were indifferent to the damage to public institutions—as long as the abstract ideological end was served. read more »