Mar. 8, 2011 (YES! Magazine) -- Like many Americans, I grew up believing that conservative values were about local control and personal responsibility for family, community, and nature. It seemed curious to me that the political alliance that drove a rollback of the Roosevelt-era policies that created the American middle class called itself conservative and dismissed its liberal opponents as un-American.
Eventually, however, I discovered that the term conservative harkens back to a day when conservatives were monarchists who considered democracy a threat to social order and the seas were ruled by buccaneers and privateers. That was a clarifying moment.
Buccaneer is a colorful name for the pirates of old who pursued personal fortune with rules of their own making. They were, in their time, an iconic expression of “free market” capitalism.
Privateers were buccaneers to whom a king granted legal immunity and safe harbor in return for a share of the booty. Their charge was to extract physical wealth from foreign lands and peoples by whatever means -- including the execution of rulers and the slaughter and enslavement of native inhabitants.