An Old-School Democrat Defending The Old-School American Ethos-What About California?

From a reader:

John O’Sullivan At The American Conservative revisited Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We’?:


‘The first effect of these attacks—and the controversy they generated—was to make people want to read the book. (At the National Airport bookshop where I bought it, I got their last copy a day after publication.) But the book they bought was very different from the article that had prompted them to buy it. It is about much more than immigration. It is a comprehensive analysis of the threats that are undermining America’s common culture and sense of itself. As such, it analyses virtually every major skirmish in the cultural wars of the last 40 years. And it analyzes them from a distinctly conservative standpoint.

Huntington is, of course, very far from being a “movement conservative,” or even a neoconservative, let alone a paleoconservative. He is a Democrat for starters, and he gave the New York Times interviewer a bad fit of cognitive dissonance by telling her that he opposed the war in Iraq and intended to vote for John Kerry. Yet almost 50 years ago, in an article in the American Political Science Review, he advanced what still remains the single best definition of conservatism: namely, that it is the set of ideas that men adopt in defense of their social and political institutions when they come under fundamental attack. Huntington believes that America’s national identity and the social and political institutions and traditions that sustain it are under fundamental attack. His book is a conservative defense of them.’

Marxists tend to see ‘ideologues’ everywhere…

O’Sullivan again (addition: bringing up Louis Menand…who’s pretty obviously not a Marxist):

‘Or here is Louis Menand in The New Yorker:

    ‘… it is absurd to say that [multiculturalism] is anti-Western. Its roots, as Charles Taylor and many other writers have shown, are in the classic texts of Western literature and philosophy.’

Has Menand never heard of Marx? The German social philosopher is undoubtedly a major figure in the Western tradition of literature and philosophy—few more so. Yet there is no doubt either that his major works are anti-Western. They seek to undermine Western society and to replace it with something fundamentally different—and from all the evidence of experiments in Marxism, something a great deal worse. If it finally succeeds in replacing America’s traditional national identity, multiculturalism seems likely to be a great deal worse too.’

Well, I suspect many on the Left prefer to draw their own lines between themselves and more center ward liberals (often loathing neo-liberalism but often resigning themselves to it nonetheless come election time).

Did Huntington use the data accurately and correctly reason his way to witness a diminishing national American character?

Goodbye, fiscally sound, Anglo-Protestant melting-pot?

Hello, more indebted, multicultural wonderland?

On that note, there’s been a lot of talk about the Golden State.

What those well-educated, intellectual types are thinking about can really matter…

As previously posted:

Louis Menand’s piece at the New Yorker: ‘Out Of Bethlehem:‘ (he’s still dealing with the idea of multiculturalism).

The radicalization of Joan Didion:

‘After the Old Sacramento moment, Didion came to see the whole pioneer mystique as bogus from the start. The cultivation of California was not the act of rugged pioneers, she decided. It was the act of the federal government, which built the dams and the weirs and the railroads that made the state economically exploitable, public money spent on behalf of private business. Didion called it “the subsidized monopolization” of the state.’

Perhaps too many people have been watching ‘Chinatown‘ and ‘There Will Be Blood,‘ but Menand’s piece highlights one potential writer’s turn from certain Western ideas to other Western ideas:  Multiculturalism, cultural relativism, a nod to ‘cultural hegemony,’ and the buy-in to European colonial oppression.

California, if you’ll pardon the crudeness, was always full of dreamers, nuts, fruits and more than a few flakes, but this has also allowed it to dream big.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m reminded of a fundamental change I think happened during the Boomer generation, here represented by Tom Wolfe, referring to Californians in this piece by Michael Anton:

‘Noyce was like a great many bright young men and women from Dissenting Protestant families in the Middle West after the Second World War. They had been raised as Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, United Brethren, whatever. They had been led through the Church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for them. Sundays made their skulls feel like dried-out husks. So they slowly walked away from the church and silently, without so much as a growl of rebellion, congratulated themselves on their independence of mind and headed into another way of life. Only decades later, in most cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. It was as if . . . through some extraordinary mistake . . . they had been sewn into the linings of their coats!

I suppose we’ll see.

(addition: another conservative Democrat)

Victor Davis Hanson 

‘Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and the terrible elementary schools affect them as well.

The four-part solution for California is clear:  don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation:  make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago.  Many of us intend to stay and see that it does’

(another addition): Predictions are hard, especially about the future

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey


-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

Related On This Site:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

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