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May 11, 2007

Unconventional Conservatism Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Jim Kalb offers a thoughtful response to my recent posting about Chesterton. Jim is a reliably eye-opening and helpful thinker whose brain more people should get to know. I interviewed him a couple of years ago about traditionalist conservatism: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

* Daniel McCarthy reminds us that there are many different conservatisms -- not all of which love foreign adventures, corporate gigantism, and open borders. Not long ago, I interviewed one such out-of-the-mainstream dissident, Bill Kauffman: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. I think of Bill as a ripsnorting, poetical, anarcho-Green isolationist. And cheers to that combo.



posted by Michael at May 11, 2007


What made you conservative Michael? It's very odd for arty types to be conservative, especially conservative in relation to immigration. I trawled through your archives and certainly grasped an idiosyncratic, anti-elitist cowboyish temperament, but was there ever a 'eureka' moment? You know, a moment, usually in the bath tub, after sex, or after a large number of drinks, when you thought, a la Einstein and relativity, 'this just makes SENSE!'?

It just strikes me because Neoconservatism is a form of leftism, leftists can easily become neocons (Hitchens), but they are largely flagless, and you are clearly not a flagless neocon. And yet you are not a 'Lets make everywhere Walmart' conservative either, and appear to care about things like the environment and blue collar America.

Yet through all this you exude such sheer, cultural happiness! You certainly appear to be in the Scruton 'Joy of Conservatism' school (ever notice Scruton is always talking about how 'boring' or 'unhumourous', 'unironic' his foes are, whether it be radical Islamists or Sartre). A kind of 'laugh at life' mentality seems to drive you as well.

Scruton himself, as I understand it, became conservative after witnessing the chaos of France in 68... when was your MOMENT?

Posted by: adrian on May 11, 2007 7:44 PM

Sorry, away from the computer for a couple of days ... Hey, I'm really thrilled you dipped into the archives, many thanks for going to the trouble. And it's funny about arts people and politics, isn't it? I've often wondered if the picture would change if you talked to them privately. Maybe they all adhere to the same beliefs in public because that's what's expected in the field, but maybe at least some of them feel differently in private. That kind of thing often seems to happen in a field. The bookbiz, for instance, promotes an image of a certain number of celeb lit writers as their finest product. But if you talk to people in the biz one on one you often discover that they don't actually like reading these writers. These group (or occupation) consensuses just kind of arise, don't they?

As for my own politics, I don't know that I'm a conservative (let alone a, blech, Republican) so much as someone who simply mistrusts politics. Never liked it, never liked anyone I knew who went into politics, always thought of politics as a necessary evil. About ten years ago I was getting annoyed by friends carrying on about this or that in politics and decided I really had to crack down and make some sense of the field. I'd always breezily considered myself far more radical than most of my NPR-style friends. But to my surprise, when I dared --with some trepidation -- to look into conservative thought, there were some of my own thoughts and reactions staring back at me, better phrased than I could manage. Fun! Bewildering! But as for a label, such politics as I actually have come out of all kinds of places, but mostly out of being wary of putting faith in politics, or viewing politics as a fun way to carry on a lot of social experiments. My real problem in politics is that I usually agree with rightie critiques of lefties, but also of leftie critiques of righties. As for a more positive program ... Well, first do no harm, sez I.

I like your line about neocons! How and when did you hit your own political stride?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 14, 2007 11:05 AM

You actually strike me as a populist(socially conservative, economically liberal--the opposite of a libertarian), but with liberal attitudes toward sex.

you also have a lot of the conservative bogeymen--the professional-managerial class, the academic elite, etc. You don't seem afraid of traditional liberal bogeymen such as the rural southern Christian Right.

Posted by: SFG on May 14, 2007 8:05 PM

Neoconservatism is a form of leftism, leftists can easily become neocons (Hitchens)

But are there neocons that turned leftists?
Other than Andrew Sullivan, and recognizing this example as imperfect, I don't know any.

Does it tell you something?

Posted by: Tat on May 16, 2007 7:08 AM

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