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« Social History of Advertising | Main | Short stuff »

September 24, 2002

Crunchy Cons rereredux

Friedrich --

Before letting go of the subject, can I point out a few things that I value in Rod Dreher's "Crunchy Conservatives" piece?

* I celebrate it as a journalistic gesture. Dreher's a primarily political person (a PPP) daring to remind other PPPs that many if not most people aren't PPPs. Bravo to that. An unpolitical person myself, I favor (partly as a consequence of being unpolitical) smaller government, strong national defense, and freer markets, and I object to affirmative action and most social-justice meddling. These positions strike me as sensible and humane public-policy positions. But in my private life, I enjoy erotic French art novellas, edgy off-off-Broadway theater, Bertrand Blier films, well-preserved old neighborhoods and buildings, Kanda Bongo Man, Glenn Gould, Poussin, fusion cuisine, Son House, some crazy-lefty artist friends, and a few kinky web sites.

A PPP might well have a hard time with this; I don't, and I don't see why I should -- my political views and personal pleasures are all, as far as I'm concerned, about leading the good life. Thanks to Dreher's piece, maybe a few PPPs will recall that politics is best when it serves the good life, not when it dictates it.

M. Friedman, K. Bongo Man: Inconsistency? What inconsistency?

* I wonder if you and I differ on one point. Your view seems to be that lefties are always useless and wrong. I take lefty criticisms of life-under-capitalism somewhat differently; I sometimes find them useful, and often agree with them. Pop culture generally is vulgar, the opening of everything to freemarket principles often does generate a lot of ugliness and resentment, people do pursue getting-and-spending as though it were a religion, we do seem to be living in something more and more resembling "the society of the spectacle," etc. (Hey, these lefty critiques sound like the criticisms of market liberalism that traditionalist-conservatives make! But I suspect I'm not the first to notice this.)

What I find awful about leftyism isn't the perceptions and critiques, it's the remedies and solutions, as well as the dream that every problem has a solution, preferably a government one.

In my view, lefties are like children: overexcitable and full of naive fantasies, potential little tyrants who ought to grow up and sometimes need to be spoken sharply to. We need to defend ourselves against their delusions and enthusiasms. But, like children, they're also sometimes able to see things in fresh and charming new ways. And their energy can be intoxicating as well as infuriating.

So, like Dreher, I tend to react sympathetically to at least some lefty critiques. Like him, I also say, good lord, a little perspective here, please: even if some people are stuffing too much junk food into their fat faces, at least they aren't going hungry. And let's remember that on any sensible scale of evil, a dumb sitcom ranks mighty low.

All that said, I'll be damned before I develop the habit of eating that shitty food or watching those shitty TV shows.

Both Hayek and "Romance": Got a Problem With That?

* And, finally, I admire Dreher for implicitly raising the marketing/p-r problem. People driving along the California coast don't look out over the gorgeous vistas and say, Thank god for the right wing. They say, Thank god for the Sierra Club.

Wrong though they may be, many, many people don't associate the right wing with pleasure, beauty, art, or nature. Any ad or marketing person (Albert Lasker, say), looking at rightwingishness as a product that, like all products, needs selling, would look at this situation and say, "You got a terrible perception problem here."

I don't think this is a minor dilemma. Saying "fuck you" to normal people's concerns about nature and art isn't going to win the right many new fans, no matter how "right" or "correct" righties basically are. Why? Because it's saying "fuck you" to a set of very personal, almost religious feelings; people just don't take well to that. And if the right fails to associate what it's selling with any sensations or experiences of pleasure -- well, then, the right ain't gonna be moving as much product as it might.

Righties: What's the point of winning the argument if no one wants anything to do with you afterwards?

And now, back to my regularly scheduled inane art rants....



posted by Michael at September 24, 2002


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