Former Associate Professor of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, Phil Agre, defined conservatism thus:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.
It’s worth reading Agre’s essay, to which I’ve linked above.
The core assumption of conservatives is that they are an aristocracy, that is, they are “the best type” of human being, and being the best type of human being are therefore entitled to govern. Here Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s phrase “women of calibre” springs to mind. Women and men of calibre, as determined by the conservative measure of calibre, are entitled to thrive and are entitled to rule.
This is what is at the heart of Joe Hockey’s protection of the wealthy: because they are wealthy they are by definition the best of human beings, of the highest calibre, and the most worthy of support and tax exemption.
With this assumption at the heart of political and social convictions, a sense of entitlement will inevitably be the driving force. In Australia this sense of entitlement does not generally originate in bloodlines: we are egalitarian to the degree that those of humble origins can and do form the conservative political aristocracy that considers itself the “natural” ruler, the “best” group to govern. The essential requirement is not breeding or wealth, but that one subscribe to the ideology of entitlement, fuelled by the fervent belief that nobody else can do it as well.The conservative assumes, for no apparent reason other than the assumption itself, that he or she is born to rule.
Conservatives have become even more delusional than they were when they largely sprang from the ranks of the wealthy and the “well-bred.” At least in those instances wealth and breeding provided some perceived external justification for the born to rule ideology. Currently, the ideology requires no external justification: it has come to be justified simply because it exists.
If this is your starting point you will be unable to regard anyone outside of your privileged ruling class as anything other than a lesser being. This thinking is not conducive to democratic government.
As Agre observes, conservatism is founded on deception, largely self-deception. It requires only a belief in one’s superiority but no external proof of any particular accomplishment other than the ability to convince others of that inherent superiority and its naturally ensuing entitlement.
On the whole, the current crop of conservative front benchers are quite unfathomably stupid, blinded and halted and lamed by the conviction of entitlement that is their raison d’être.
Where do babbies of calibre come from? They just are.