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Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 1:41 PM > Given that nearly all people who see themselves as conservatives > believe that individuals and the family, and not the state, should be > the primary sites for social organization ..." Is this a meaningful statement? Or is it equivalent to the statement "nearly all black dogs have four legs?" Belief in the _efficacy_ of government action to alter "social organization" is not obviously a liberal or conservative belief. It is the object of the alteration that is usually in dispute when the state is employed. And it is also not obvious that knowing the label of the actor (liberal or conservative) allows reliable prediction of ends, despite the rhetoric. Politicians reliably support their supporters with the result that the beneficiaries of state action differ. But it is not obvious that much additional insight can be gleaned by knowing whether the politician is liberal or conservative. For instance, how do Democrats or Republicans approach "education?" When in power the Democrats have increased funds to the existing establishment (unionized and reliably Democratic), while the Republicans have increased funds to alternative educators (non-unionized and reliably Republican). Which approach leads to more and better "education?" Because the traditional establishment has been quasi-Civil-Service in many states, is the Democratic funding of such evidence for the state-as-locus assertion? Or since alternative funding now comes from government under the Republicans is that a counter-example? Also, it may be true that many conservatives (given some definition) have the belief cited, but arguably, so do many independents and liberals. And even if they do differ, so what? The Grange and the American Party (the Know-Nothings) were grassroots movement. Would a state-as-locus-of-social organization analytical framework provide meaningful insight into the rise and fall of these movements? In what ways is "grassroots conservatism" different? What evidence is there that throughout history the majority in a society believed that the "state," however conceived at the time, was preferred over family and clan as a "site for social organization?" For those societies that did elevate the state over clan, family, and individual (eg, Sparta, various communist states, Nazi Germany) the unifying element is authoritarianism, not "liberalism" vs "conservatism" as those terms are understood in America today. Arendt, Habermas, and to a lesser degree, Rawls, (not usually considered conservatives, though the neo-cons do like Arendt, some) are eloquent on the subject. We need a more meaningful analytic framework than: liberals-state, conservatives-family. The dichotomy obscures rather than reveals. William Dunn