XXXVIII. on changing conservatism

This post was conceived to be mainly about British politics, but really applies to conservatism everywhere. In short: America has saved the world.

At a medium length: the explosion of positive, fact-based conservatism that has arisen from America’s classic liberalism has created in the world a widespread revolution in conservative thinking. Conservatism in most places, Britain being my firsthand example, until very recently in history, meant royalism, elitism, and a return to class systems—the latter arising from the others; social mobility was very difficult if not impossible for most.

Then came liberalism, and the American way, and the Great Experiment, and individualism, and self-rule, and the world’s first modern republic arose. There were inalienable rights that were universal for all men (eventually). For a long time, rights were understood to be given to you by the king, or by the law, or by your keepers, but rarely by a creator (take from that what you will, of course). And then over the next two centuries, America, through agriculture and industry, became the greatest nation to have ever existed (in terms of economy, welfare, culture and militaristic benevolence).

Then Marxism gripped the world, or tried to, three or four times (1890s, 1930s, 60s, and now), and anti-historicity became the way of the world; what was old was unjust, and tried, and there must be something better. There was no individual, only community; no individual rights, only the welfare of the society. And this new idea was not conservative. In fact, somehow, it became liberal.

Over the years, then, classic liberalism became known in America as conservatism, and socialism became known as liberalism. American conservatism, in its best incarnations, is still as radical and moral as it was almost two hundred and fifty years ago; perhaps more properly seen as constitutionalism. And this conservatism, perhaps because of its historical context and economic validity, or perhaps because of its compatibility with other historical, economically valid principles: free market capitalism and freedom of the press, has gradually seeped into worldwide culture.

The royalism of old conservatism has receded into arguments about tourism, the elitism has become solidarity, and the class warfare has become class-blindness. At least in the modern strains of conservatism, those newer parties or those smarter leaders, those following the American brand, politics is being saved. My point becomes clear when we compare that to modern liberalism, where there are a number of truths that are not true: all royals are inbred and ancient: evil and corrupt, all elites are right-wing: they control the media, all the upper class are pigs: eat the rich. By these mantras and a few others, socialism is once again rearing its ugly head, but it seems that American values have safeguarded us to some extent, and may still yet save us.

XXXV. on tipping

I think the practice of tipping is generally good. When I have a sit down meal I always tip. There are times when I eat a meal and feel that my server has increased the value of my experience past what my money (to keep the restaurant and their job going) provides. In England in most restaurants a tip of probably 10% is most common. Some places declare that they charge a 12.5% service charge, mostly in London and big cities.

When it comes to America, though, I hear constantly that servers live off their tips, that their employer doesn’t pay them and so their tips are their only source if income. Now, as an outsider reading your law, it seems tips can only be used to offset the minimum wage, which employers still have to meet. It’s illegal for the restauranteur to only pay someone in tips unless the tips they make amount to more than minimum wage.

At least, that’s how it reads. Is it widespread practice for restauranteurs to break this law, age it goes unreported? Or is that not what people mean when they say that their employer doesn’t pay them?

Unskilled service is a hard job, but there are many hard unskilled jobs that earn minimum wage. And from personal experience in England, it is very easy to find a place to learn silver service, which pays upwards of £10 on ten hour shifts. (Once again, it is a very small percentage of people who earn minimum wage for a significant amount of time.)

Finally, about 40% of U.S.A. tips go undeclared as far as tax is concerned. I go back and forth on this, but at the moment I don’t think avoiding to pay taxes is an acceptable thing in the long run, either for personal gain or intentional sabotage of the state.

XXXIV. on Schopenhauer and pessimism

Certain it is that work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long. But if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives? What would they do with their time? If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself then it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.

I think about these lines — or this concept — often. Pessimism has, in the mainstream, & even amongst many philosophers, come to be synonymous with unhappiness, with glumness, & with nihilism; that to be a pessimist is to be a weak person, to give up your hands to Fate. I think it has in it this implication: because there are many things that should make a man unhappy, I will be unhappy.

Schopenhauer’s passage is the traditional starting point of Pessimism (capital “P” for emphasis); it is only stating truths, and drawing no conclusions other than those which are clear from Nature and experience (we know of the mouse utopia). But from there he can make all the assumptions and jumps he needs, & there is little argument for how well he makes them. Appealing to the brute’s way of life, having children only as a thoughtless act…. Pessimism is (and should be) a great way to embrace the struggles in life, and once the strife is accepted, & you understand that you have to work, worry, labour and trouble, you can find allconsuming happiness (however fleeting) in meaningful ways. Good as a positive, but also not as the absence of evil; we need not turn to God.