Sunday, May 09, 2010

Conservatism: A culture of pathetic whining.

Oh, for fuck's sake:

Are Our Libraries Too Liberal?

Since we are in the midst of a discussion about a 'culture war' I thought I'd share a personal experience I had that has some relation to the issue. I was on my library's online catalogue searching for a copy of "The Conscience of a Conservative" by former Republican senator Barry Goldwater, hoping to bone up on my conservatism from a very respectable patriarch of said movement. I found no copies of the book I was looking for, in fact Barry Goldwater's name did not even come up when I searched under "Author". You know what I did find? Five copies of books by Paul Krugman, the renowed liberal American economist. Two copies of "The Conscience of a Liberal" and a few other copies primarily discussing economic theory.

Now I'm not saying that Prof. Krugman's literary works should not be displayed in our public libraries, and I might even be interested in reading some of his books. But it seems to me that if you're going to have a book describing the conscience of a liberally minded individual, you should have a book in the library that offers a prevailing counterpoint to those ideals, and I would say Goldwater's most famous manifesto on the conservative movement is a very good example. Goldwater's ideas and presidential candidacy paved the way for Ronald Reagan to become President. I would think our libraries would not be duly influenced by political ideology, or maybe this is just some honest omission on the part of the Library Board.

In the end, I had to go online and order the Goldwater book from a company down in Atlanta. It is unfortunate that I had to go to the Americans again for quality reading materials (I was at a Christian conference in Louisville where they handed out free books by prominent theologians like John Piper and John MacArthur), but it's hard to fight against liberal bias in this country (not to say that many of us are not trying).

I'm now sure what amuses me more -- that Blogging Tory Alan Kan is nonplussed that his library might, given Conservative-inflicted finite resources to purchase books, assign more importance to a recent tome by a recent Nobel Prize-winning economist, or that he thinks there's something to be gleaned from the writings of an American politician whose 1964 stint as the Republican Presidential nominee it can be fairly said:

He lost the 1964 presidential election to incumbent Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson by one of the largest landslides in history, bringing down many Republican candidates as well.

Mostly, what I glean is that Canadian conservatism has turned into the most eye-rolling example of mewling, squalling whiners imaginable, for which every slight or inconvenience is simply more evidence of an evil liberal conspiracy to keep them from getting educated.

This is, of course, utter bunk. Their appalling lack of education has nothing to do with us.

AFTERSNARK: One is tempted to suggest to Mr. Kan that, if he is unhappy with all those evil liberal-dominated sources of information, he is free to collect some like-minded right whingers and see if he can do better. Sadly, we've seen the results of that sort of thinking. And it's not pretty.


Jymn Parrett said...

They really are children.

Chris said...

My sister is a professional librarian, and a professional is she! We have conversed about the vicissitudes of the ordering for and maintenance of a library of useful books several times. The lesson: if a book is "crap" it will not survive on the shelf. There is such a high demand for quality literature of all types, and there is limited shelf space. As a result, only the best stay there.

I will put this in my most delicate framework: some two-bit Yankee conservative asshole is not going to be read from the shelves for long. I hope I have not been too obtuse with my comments.

Boris said...

Mr. Kan seems to be suggesting we live in a rigidly binary world where for every 'liberal' idea there is an equal and opposite 'conservative' point that is just as sound and popular. Perhaps the state should pass a law mandating all books declare on their covers one of the only two political stripes Mr. Kan appears able to recongnise, and then borrowed only in oppositional pairs. Perhaps they can be fitted with a biometric tracking device that monitors whether the borrow read both of them, with penalties for not doing so.

Violette said...

I'm a librarian, and I'll admit that in general, librarians tend to be on the left side of things politically, since we support such things as free and equal access to information and equal opportunities for education. But we also try and offer as many points of view as possible, including ones that disagree with our own beliefs. However, going back to what Chris said, public libraries have limited shelf space, and if something isn't circulating, it's gone. But, had Mr. Kan inquired further at his library, I'm quite sure they would've been able to get him the book through interlibrary loan at little or no cost to himself.

CC said...


In your proposed spirit of fairness, imagine that we have a blogging aggregator whose members support the fundamental principles of logic, reason, critical thinking, equality and social justice.

According to Mr. Kan's logic, we would therefore require an equivalent collection of screeching, uneducated, racist dingbats to balance that out.

Oh, wait ...

craig said...

I'm shocked! The library has copies of a recently published (2007) and much discussed book by a scholar, Nobel laureate and prominent columnist, one of whose other books, International Economics: Theory and Policy, is required reading in most university-level economics programs. But no copies of a ghostwritten book published in 1960 by a red-baiting politician widely considered a crackpot at the time and subsequently disowned by much of the present-day conservative movement (for supporting women's right to choose, backing incumbent Ford over challenger Reagan, arguing against religion in public life and saying things like "you don't have to be straight to shoot straight," "the Republican party has been taken over by a bunch of kooks" and "Every good Christian ought to kick [Jerry] Falwell right in the nuts.").

As Violette points out, it probably is available through interlibrary loan. And if not, it can be downloaded

Augray said...

Mr. Kan apparently lives in Toronto, and if one looks in the Toronto Public Library system's catalogue, one finds at least six different books by Barry Goldwater (a seventh appears as well, but was actually co-authored by Goldwater's son). Unfortunately for Mr. Kan, "The Conscience of a Conservative" is not one of them, but six other hits would seem to contradict to his statement that "Barry Goldwater's name did not even come up when I searched under 'Author'." I'd suggest that his lack of results might be attributable to end-user incompetence.

And if one bothers to search the University of Toronto Libraries, one will find that this liberal bastion does have a copy of "The Conscience of a Conservative", as does York University. He could always spend a Saturday reading the book in the comfort of a library.

In short, he has nothing to complain about... or at least nothing he can blame on others.

CC said...

Do not cloud the issue with facts. These people will always find something to complain about. This is the modern culture of whiny victimhood. Complaining is all they do.

Augray said...

It would seem that Mr. Kan lives in Mississauga, and it's true, there are no books by Goldwater in that library system. But with one and a half borrowable items versus eleven million in the Toronto Public Library collection, Goldwater's absence is hardly surprising when one compares the numbers. And "The Conscience of a Conservative" is almost 50 years old, so it's absence doesn't surprise me. In short, whining that the local library doesn't have books you're interested in is an easy game to play. Heck, I do it all the time, I just don't blog about it.

Augray said...

And another thing...

The Mississauga library system has 27 copies of Caribou Barbie's book (12 audio and 15 bound) so the absence of anything by Goldwater may say more about the reading preferences of Mississauga conservatives than it does about library bias. I suspect that Goldwater's book the more intellectually challenging (hey, how could it not be?), so Kan's issue boils down to complaining that the library doesn't have stuff that he's interested in, and that other libraries aren't convenient for him to get to (as mentioned previously, the U of T has a copy, and that's probably within walking distance of his place of work). And when push comes to shove, if he thinks that Mississauga is deficient because of Goldwater's absence, he might contemplate donating a copy to the library system. It could have a nice "Donated by..." label inside the front cover and everything!

Oh, and I messed up earlier. Goldwater's book isn't "almost 50 years old", it is 50 years old.

Anonymous said...

Given that Conservatives are free market advocates at every turn and for privatization, should he not just fucking buy the book?

Holly Stick said...

It's available on Kindle, as a hardcover, a paperback, an audiobook, and bound in rattlesnake skin (or something).

And look! there's a sequel:

"...Tea Party Revival: The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn by Dr. B. Leland Baker is an excellent glimpse into the underlying ideology of the Tea Party movement..."

"...While it reads at times like a manifesto (its opening pages include a list of demands), it essentially picks up where Barry Goldwater's book, The Conscience of a Conservative left off in 1960..."