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July 08, 2007

At Right Reason

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Max Goss has arranged for some tantalizing midsummer guest postings at Right Reason. Click on over and enjoy.

* The excellent Philip Bess has just completed an ambitious 4-part series in which he makes a very personal case for the New Urbanism: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. Philip uses a lot of well-chosen visuals to illustrate his points. He recently contributed a guest posting about G.K.Chesterton to 2Blowhards, which you can read here.

* Rod Dreher delivers the text of a speech he made a while back on the subject of Crunchy Conservatism. Part One is here; Part Two is soon to come. Whether or not you approve of the CC phenomenon, there's no denying that it's something that's in the air. Max Goss reviews Rod's book on the topic here.

Eye-opening, thought-provoking cultural thinking from the minds of conservatives ... Prior to the web, who'd have known that such a thing was even possible?



posted by Michael at July 8, 2007


Perhaps crunchy conservatives should read that Hungarian-born Philadelphia curmudgeon, John Lukacs, for whom conservatism means "to conserve" and who believes that most of the Greens are conservatives who do not know it.

He is a wonderful historian, with a sharp eye.

Posted by: Adriana on July 8, 2007 10:32 PM

Adriana -- I like Lukacs too. It's funny how hard it is for Greenie types to admit that there's anything "conservative" about their stance, isn't it? Yet it's perfectly obvious (and perfectly OK) that there is. Many of them seem to need to believe that Greenie-ism is a progressive sort of thing, I guess because of all the bad associations people have with land-rapin' Republicans (as though there's anything conservative about the US's Republicans) ... Politics (and people's egos and self-regards and such) is funny ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 9, 2007 11:46 AM

The most unconservative thing about greenies is their reliance on Big Government to preserve the envirionment. Which is ironic, since governments as a group are probably the most environmentally destructive entities in human history...

Posted by: tschafer on July 9, 2007 12:09 PM

Actually, I think left-wing thought is threaded through by a species of conservatism. Again and again left-wing thought is marked by a sense of nostolgia, of longing to return to a golden age, a previous era. This mostly amounts to a desire that institutions should "go back" to functioning like families; perhaps not our own real-world families, but like ideal families, which are, of course, socialistic institutions embodying that core left wing maxim: from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. Environmentalism is, of course, the extension of the definition of the ideal family to include the natural world.

Capitalism, by tying the profit motive to scientific and technical innovation, is actually the most revolutionary, the most profoundly un-conservative force on the planet. Capitalism changes everything, and as a result is, on a deeper psychological level, really not loved by anybody, the perception of change being connected with the perception of one's own mortality.

Again we see that the intellectual structures that we have inherited for dealing with politics are mostly out of touch with reality and serve chiefly to confuse our counsels.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 9, 2007 12:54 PM


Glad you like Lukacs too and share his jaundiced view of Republican "conservatives".

About the Greens, I am sometimes bemused by the way Libertarians attack them, since they have a lot in common - unfortunately something that they should not have. Take a look how similar are the arguments about the "balance of nature" and the "invisible hand of the economy". Their idea is that everything would be fine if we allowed those things to work by themselves without interfering, and anything bad that happens is because of man's intervention (for Nature) or goverment regulation (for the economy).

This is a view that sees Nature and the ecomony as essentially benevolent entities who wish you all the best. They do not consider as Chesterton said that "nature may be trying to make us centipides for all we know." Or at least use us as fodder for hightly patological bacteria and viruses.

If you let a wheat field to the "balance of nature" you end up with a fine crop of dandelions. Which is fine from the point of view of Nature, but lousy if you want bread.

Has anyone seen this parallel before?

Posted by: Adriana on July 9, 2007 1:04 PM

F von B hit the nail on the head. Here's what Sam Francis had to say on that subject...

"Defending capitalism is not really a traditionally conservative issue. Conservatives -- real conservatives, at least, not classical liberals or neoconservatives -- should not be surprised. Capitalism, an economic system driven only, according to its own theory, by the accumulation of profit, is at least as much the enemy of tradition as the NAACP or communism, and those on the "right" who make a fetish of capitalism generally understand this and applaud it. The hostility of capitalism toward tradition is clear enough in its reduction of all social issues to economic ones. Moreover, like communism, capitalism is based on an essential egalitarianism that refuses to distinguish between one consumer's dollar and another. The reductionism and egalitarianism inherent in capitalism explains its destructive impact on social institutions. On the issue of immigration, capitalism is notorious for demanding cheap labor to undercut the cost of native workers. But it is not only in America that it has done so."

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on July 9, 2007 5:24 PM

hmmm... My oversimple mental model: as society moves forward from the autocratic past, based on servitude and inequality, our dominant cultural tradition (wedded in Judeo-Christian tradition) is to acheive more liberty and more justice for more people as we struggle to adapt to the ever-changing revolutionary forces of our evolving capitalism. Liberals are those who want to reform the bad part of our currently evolving order, which conservatives are those who want to make sure we don't destroy what we have achieved so far, which is what would happen if we plunge into anarchy. People specialize by temperament. Unfortunately, being partisan animals, we tend to demonize our opponents: partisan conservatives talk and act sometimes like they would like to eleminate liberals, just as a generation or two ago liberals talked the same way about conservatives. The danger here is the extremism of partisan fiends, not liberalism or conservatism per se, which work hand in hand in a healthily evolving society.

Posted by: Luke Lea on July 10, 2007 1:32 PM

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