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February 18, 2006

Kelly Jane Likes Rod

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Kelly Jane Torrance praises Rod Dreher's new book "Crunchy Cons." Nice line: "A free-market system may be the surest route to wealth creation. But the social ethos needed to shore up that system is another thing entirely." That sums up a lot, doesn't it? I'm enjoying the book myself: it strikes me as perceptive and first-rate pop sociology. And what's automatically wrong with pop sociology? Go tell it to Tom Wolfe.

Here's Dreher's original National Review article on the topic. Here's a recent Dreher piece for the London Times. Kelly Jane's blog is here. What a hot and sexy "About me" photo.



posted by Michael at February 18, 2006


" 'A free-market system may be the surest route to wealth creation. But the social ethos needed to shore up that system is another thing entirely.' That sums up a lot, doesn't it?"

Sure does. Unfortunately, each of us is in danger of feeling that we know just what that ethos is. My litmus test for "conservatives" who gravitate to such statements is that they understand: (1) That healthy social ethos is really a healthy population, even an ecosystem, of ethoi. Different strokes for different folks keep the world from totalitarianism or just sterility. (2) The maximally stable is not necessarily the maximally healthy. Not too long ago, Elvis was supposedly a huge threat to the social structure. Before that, it was the waltz. Forgive me for not taking seriously worries about Eminem bringing down the city walls. (3) Authentically caring about the long-term well-being of society is an easy horse to mount, but a damn hard one to stay on. The typical human personality is beset by emotional inclinations that go against solid consequentialist thinking. What starts as protecting us from the most dangerous career criminals can end up in frothy-mouthed judgmentalism. What starts as reasonable expectations for assimilation into a liberal society can end up in immensely counterproductive bigotry. And so on.

Posted by: J. Goard on February 18, 2006 4:45 PM

I think you're 'way ahead of most people, at least Primarily Political People. I can't tell you how many Lefties I run into who have zero respect for the market, and how many Righties I run into who think anything Big Business does is automatically good for society. Bright people too. They seem to want to join one team, give up thinking and responding entirely, and then have the fun of blasting away at their enemies. Shading, nuance, subtlety, acknoweldgment that A and B might both be true? Hard to find, sometimes. I'd love to get them all to sign onto Kelly Jane's statement. That'd be a great first step. Then into the more-subtle stuff!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2006 11:07 AM

Having read Dreher's National Review article I couldn't agree more with him about the importance of beauty in our surroundings to our sense of well being. The conservative disdain for beauty, when it comes into conflict with free market forces, is conservatism's greatest weakness.

Posted by: ricpic on February 20, 2006 1:29 PM

J. Goard: If enough citizens don't feel that they know what a healthy social ethos is, and act on their convictions, the social ethos will continue to decline to the lowest common denominator. The social capital we're living off today is the result of the judgmentalism of our ancestors, and their willingness to at least try to set moral standards, and yes, impose them, to a degree, on their fellow citizens.

If you don't worry about Eminem bringing down the city walls, that's probably because you live in a nice gated community, or have not personally witnessed the way rap music can poison the minds of your own children and their friends.

I've noticed that those who are trying to raise children tend to become less libertarian, and more judgmental, sometimes even to the point of getting frothy mouthed, than those who can afford to observe the decline of our popular culture with a sort of bemused detachment.

Posted by: Bill on February 20, 2006 6:35 PM

J. Goard -- So how about the 60s counterculture and the tripling of violent crime in that decade? I'm eager to hear your thoughts on that subject.

Posted by: jult52 on February 21, 2006 9:21 AM

Bill, I'm one example of someone getting more libertarian not less while raising a teenager.

He's 19 now, and we lived thru rap, hip-hop, System of a down, Coldplay, Nirvana, etc etc etc(not in that order necessarily) as well as progression of comedians from Howard Stern to Dave Chapelle (whom I personally can't stand)- my info is very sketchy and outdated since I don't monitor his every sneeze.

He's away at college, doing fine, and I got a call from my mom and sister whom he visited last weekend singing praises to him as exceptionally polite, calm, kind, attentive person and erudite and polite conversationist. Which I take as direct result of my "liberty for all!" home policy.

Posted by: Tatyana on February 21, 2006 11:35 AM

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