“Can I still call myself conservative?”

Simplistic labels can be problematic when applied with the complexities of both human nature and politics are involved.

What sort of person calls themselves a conservative?

How conflicted are they? Ask those who supported Colin Craig and his Conservative Party in New Zealand, or Roy Moore in the recent election in Alabama in the USA.

In a column at NY Times Bret Stephens asks: Can I still call myself conservative?

The answer depends on your definition.
Here’s one I’ve always liked: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” said the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. To which he added: “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
Conservatives used to believe in their truth. Want to “solve” poverty? All the welfare dollars in the world won’t help if two-parent families aren’t intact. Want to foster democracy abroad? It’s going to be rough going if too many voters reject the foundational concept of minority rights.

And want to preserve your own republican institutions? Then pay attention to the character of your leaders, the culture of governance and the political health of the public. It matters a lot more than lowering the top marginal income tax rate by a couple of percentage points.

What is ‘a conservative’? It depends on how it is applied – in general or as a political leaning, or as a member of a political party.
Oxford defines it:

1 Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.

‘they were very conservative in their outlook’

So theoretically someone who held on the traditional socialists  values and was averse to change could be described as conservative.

1.1 (of dress or taste) sober and conventional.

‘a conservative suit’

Again that could apply to anyone across the political spectrum. James Shaw dresses quite conservatively (as do just about all male MPs and most female MPs in the New Zealand Parliament).

2 (in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.

That combines two distinctly different attributes. Someone who favours free enterprise and private ownership may not have socially conservative ideas. Roger Douglas and David Lange’s government from the 1980s were quite radical in the way they introduced free enterprise and private ownership policies, and were supposedly a left wing government.

‘Conservative’ can be applied as a description of someone’s specific opposition to change, but as a political label I think it’s far too fuzzy to be very useful.

And at times it is quite contradictory – Craig’s and Moore’s behaviour was at odds with their conservative label. Leader of the Conservative Party British Theresa May acted unconservatively in calling for an ill-fated snap election, and the UK exit from the European Union is not conservative, it will mean a large amount of change for the UK.

Specific behaviour can be described as conservative. Views on a specific policy can be conservative – I have more conservative views on law and order (in particular sentencing) and the use of binding referenda than Craig’s Conservative Party.

But anyone who labels themselves a ‘Conservative’ will soon find their ideals compromised. Much like a ‘Socialist’ would, especially in a country like New Zealand where most political views tend to be quite moderate – a pragmatic blend of conservatism, socialism and a few other isms.

I see myself as conservative in some ways, for example I willingly and happily got married – but as it was my second marriage after the first became practically untenable some conservative people may frown.

Maybe I could agree with one label – antilabelism.

 

Teknonym “a label to aggregate the work”

The most used ‘author’ name at Whale Oil has changed from ‘Cameron Slater’ to ‘Teknonym’. It appears to be largely same old under a new label.

When Pete Belt posted FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT: CAM SLATER IS NO LONGER WITH WHALEOIL  he said:

It will be exactly the same and completely new. And yes, I realise that both can’t be true.

Whaleoil will continue to deliver stories with information that comes from the same network of people who have been the ‘invisible hand’ behind the blog for some time.

What seems to have changed is that stories that used to be posted under “Cameron Slater” are now being posted under “Teknonym”. The posts seem similar and whoever is writing is trying to emulate Slater’s style.

So who is Teknonym? Same old Whale Oil under a different name?

WeaselKiss

I must have missed it but do we know or was it said anywhere who Teknonym is?
He/she berry good!

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    I duuno but I’m guessing it’s a name Pete gives to posts provided by readers etc.

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      Very perceptive. Yes, it’s not one individual. It is simply a label to aggregate the work while Cam is away. Careful observers will note that the “Whaleoil machine” without Cam simply continues to exist.

  • So various sources that used to supply and post under ‘Cameron Slater’ now supply and post under ‘Teknonym’?

    It was a questionable way to do things under ‘Cameron Slater’ but it’s quite an odd way to do things under ‘Teknonym’.

    Posts could have been written by any number of anonymous people. Or they could all be written by Pete Belt. Or whatever.

    An ironic post under Teknonym on Monday: WHICH POLLSTERS CAN YOU TRUST, AND WHICH ARE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR?

    Obvious questions will be which bloggers can you trust and which are bought and paid for? In Dirty Politics Nicky Hager exposed pay per posts at Whale Oil, under ‘Cameron Slater’.I don’t think that was ever really  denied by Slater.

    Suspicions remained, especially when posts related to apparent product endorsements and hit jobs (including political products).

    We know that Colmar Brunton are one of the most variable and have a clear bias towards Labour, for example.

    Who might ‘we’ be? “The same network of people who have been the ‘invisible hand’ behind the blog for some time”?

    They are either poorly informed or are deliberately discrediting Colmar Brunton. There is little movement in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll and trends don’t look out of the ordinary – see One News Poll – June 2016.

    Whenever the Fraser House spy tells me that Labour are polling in the low to mid-thirties, and then paid-for polls come out, you can reliably subtract 4-6 points, every time.

    From anyone that would sound like vague unsubstantiated nonsense.

    From…

    • an anonymous person or persons,
    • who apparently share a pseudonym with a number of others (unless “it’s not one individual” means it’s a group of people working together, as in “we”),
    • citing an anonymous,claimed source,
    • citing private polls that are only leaked and never supported by anything authentic or with any substance,
    • on a blog with a reputation for posting false and misleading information,
    • a blog with a reputation for dirty politics,
    • a blog that still promotes itself on Twitter and Facebook with “THEY SAY DIRTY POLITICS LIKE IT IS A BAD THING”,

    …one could be forgiven for taking any posts by ‘Teknonym’ with a grain of political salt.

    So far it appears that Whale Oil is exactly the same with a completely new “label to aggregate the work”.

    It appears that Whale Oil  is continuing  “to deliver stories with information that comes from the same network of people who have been the ‘invisible hand’ behind the blog for some time”.

    UPDATE: a rather bizarre ramble by Pete belt this morning: FROM THE DRIVERS SEAT: WHALEOIL, KEY AND SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

    Hello chaps and chapesses. This is your Captain speaking. With the recent changes at WO I expected to have some trouble. On day one, someone signed up and started to troll. On day two, we have a reader-led revolt because for some reason this blog may not criticise people readers feel don’t deserve it. Pack mentality set in and people who weren’t even in the conversation piled in and made things worse.

    Surprise surprise, trouble under the new regime.

    I’ve said this for years: Whaleoil is a sizeable community. Cam Slater may be our public face to it, he provides an edge or the cream on top, but the essential bits that make up this blog will continue even when Cam Slater isn’t there.

    It continued when he was an editor at Truth. It’s continued even when he was spending most of his time on court related matters. And it will continue even though Cam is off “having a break away”. A change is as good as a holiday, after all

    Has Slater actually been sidelined?

    And it sounds like more commenters who have differing opinions to Belt are also being sidelined.

    Whaleoil should have enough to appeal to our readers most days, even when there is something that’s not your kind of thing. Make a choice – stay or go. But if you’re going to go, please don’t embarrass yourself by chucking your toys. It makes work for the moderators, and an hour later, nobody even remembers you were even there.

    He is pissing on the remaining faithful. Slater may have restrained him before, bit now it seems to be open slather, plus lectures.