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Sunday, October 18, 2009

The "Crunchy Con" Manifesto

From time to time and in place to place, I've mentioned that I can probably be categorized in most respects as a Paleocon, but that I also have fairly significant "Crunchy Con" streaks. You can find my review of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons here, if you like, but I thought that today I'd whip out the "Crunchy Con" Manifesto from the book and add a little of my own commentary.

1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
I hate to say it, but the reality is that the conservative mainstream has become mostly the home of laundry-list conservatives. Laundry-list conservatives are not bad. It is better than having knee-jerk liberalism by far. But it seems to me that too many modern conservatives lack a certain amount of perspective and are unaware of conservatism's rich intellectual history.

2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
I said once of the Republican Party that too many within it would be thrilled to pieces if we could get low taxes and a strong national defense--so thrilled that they might not notice all that much if the country was still headed straight to the nether regions morally and socially.

3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
Only because big business too often gets or maintains its bigness by corrupting politicians. Or because the sheer size of the organizations makes them too remote from their customers to make them flexible, reliable, and accountable.

4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
Ultimately, your culture determines your politics and economics, not the other way 'round. If you want small government, you must first evangelize and proselytize so that the population is amenable to those things.

5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship--especially of the natural world--is not fundamentally conservative.
This kind of thing is hard to legislate. But to my mind, a proper appreciation of real property rights goes a long way toward achieving such ends.

6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
Almost always. It's not that I don't like new things; I do. But more often than not, I'm drawn to the old. And dealing with local folks is usually easier and more rewarding.

7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
This one is hard for me, in that to the best of my recollection, I have not ever been forced to make a choice between pure beauty and pure efficiency. Rather, it seems to me that these things exist along a continuum, and that what we are really talking about is, "What is the best trade-off?" Just to give a short example, we have multitudinous books in the MOTW household. You just would not believe, I'm telling you. At any rate, all those books require housing, so to speak. We must have shelves, or some other means of keeping the li'l boogers off the floor. A home littered--even littered with books--is hardly attractive or beautiful. Yet, it is also true that we face very real financial pressures, and a certain amount of time pressure, so some of our shelves are little more than pine 1 x 8s screwed and glued together, one was scrounged from someone else's trash, etc.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing would be to hand-make shelves out of walnut, with some carving, or perhaps some decoupage. But we cannot afford to do that, at least not at this time, and so we must choose between books scattered about on the floors and furniture, or up on the cheap shelves. The cheap shelves are not as beautiful as would be the hand-made walnut shelves, but they allow for greater overall beauty of our home than would the complete absence of shelves. The choice is not beauty or efficiency, it is what blend of the two is most appropriate to a given situation, and it seems to me that most things are like that.

8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
Duh. It's like what happens to a smoker's senses of smell and taste.

9. We share Russell Kirk's conviction that "the institution most essential to conserve is the family."
Amen. When the family breaks down, society begins to break down. And look what's happening all around us...

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