The Tea Party as a Conservator Group

The Tea Party movement in the US is well known for its lack of formal leadership and its insistence on absolute purity of ideas.

The Tea Party is an excellent example of a Conservator group in the updated terminology of Plural Rationalities.

The Conservators have the view that the world is an extremely risky place.  That deviation from the norm will cause disaster.  In fact, this Conservator group believes that the deviation has already taken place and that it is extremely important to put things back in place.

To Conservator groups it is extremely important to maintain agreement by everyone in the group to the group ideas.  They are much more likely to expel a member of the group than to allow for diversity of thought. In addition, these groups tend to an egalitarian group structure.  There is very low hierarchy in these groups.  Individual groups tend to be small.  Slight diversity of ideas tend to result in the creation of splinter groups.

The Conservator type group is actually called Egalitarians by the Anthropologists.  Their group ideas are inspired by the perception that the world is experiencing very adverse times.  In this perception they are linked to reality when such times actually exist.  Their group will gain adherents in such times as others notice the adversity and some to believe as well.

The Conservator group strategy is to seek to pull back and control risk taking so that they can keep (or in this case return to) safety.

Ironically, the Environmental movement is another contemporary example of a Conservator group.  Their approach to the world is very similar to the Tea Party in their belief that things are out of kilter and that a major pulling back is needed to get things to be safe.  They also have the same leanings toward purity of thinking and splinter groups.

The Theory of Plural Rationalities suggests that people and groups of people will always exist who have the Conservator point of view.  But when the environment aligns better with their dire view, they will attract more adherents and possibly even dominance.

When they dominate a society, there will be relatively little growth and investment.  They tend to want to keep things the same.  New ideas are not favored.  During the reign of the Conservators, excess capacity will doubtless build up which will eventually be put to use and create relative prosperity undermining the message of the Conservators.
Eventually, people will notice that some other group that is not as fixed in its approach will be doing better.  People will drift away from the Conservators to the other groups and it will lose influence.  Those other groups will be taking one of three approaches:

  • Some will be making smaller investments like the Conservators, but will be widely diversified in their approach, unlike the tightly focused Conservators.  Eventually one of their many investments will take off.  These are the Pragmatists and they are best suited for the Uncertain environment.
  • Some will be the entrepreneurs who will charge ahead with new ideas and new ventures anyway.  They are most likely to put the excess capacity to use and create the prosperity.  They are the Maximizers.  Their approach is best suited for Boom times.
  • Some will be looking for the large organizations, the governments and the large corporations to save the economy.  They favor a guided approach to innovation and growth and investments.  They are the Managers.  Their approach is best suited to Moderate times.  They hope to extend those moderate times forever through careful management of the economy.

The Tea Party is not a purely Conservator group.  Some of their main ideas are Maximizer ideas.  They are directly opposed to both the Conservator and Manager strands of the Democratic party.  The Conservator strands of the Democrats are the people who are very much in favor of helping the needy and the labor movement.  The Manager strands of the party are the big government folks who believe that the world can be made a better place by government actions.  The Republican party also has had Manager strands with its historical support of big business and the military who are both strongly Manager groups.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Cultural Theory of Risk

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