‘Stalking The Billion-Footed Beast’-Repost-A Few Tom Wolfe Links

Published in Harper’s in 1989: ‘Stalking The Billion-Footed Beast‘:

‘One of the specialties of the realistic novel, from Richardson on, was the demonstration of the influence of society on even the most personal aspects of the life of the individual. Lionel Trilling was right when he said, in 1948, that what produced great characters in the nineteenth-century European novel was the portrayal of “class traits modified by personality.” But he went on to argue that the old class structure by now had disintegrated, particularly in the United States, rendering the technique useless. Again, I would say that precisely the opposite is the case. If we substitute for class, in Trilling’s formulation, the broader term status, that technique has never been more essential in portraying the innermost life of the individual. This is above all true when the subject is the modern city. It strikes me as folly to believe that you can portray the individual in the city today without also portraying the city itself.’

I’m just glad he was there for so long:

Website here.

Michael Lewis at Vanity Fair: ‘How Tom Wolfe Became….Tom Wolfe

‘New York City was—and still is—the only place on earth where a writer might set himself up as a professional tour guide and attract the interest of the entire planet. That’s mainly what Wolfe was, at least in the beginning: his job was to observe the sophisticates in their nutty bubble for the pleasure of the rubes in the hinterlands, and then, from time to time, venture out into the hinterlands and explain what is really going on out there to the sophisticates inside the bubble. He moves back and forth like a bridge player, ruffing the city and the country against each other. He occupies a place in between. He dresses exotically and is talented and intellectually powerful, like the sophisticates in the bubble. But he isn’t really one of them. To an extent that shocks the people inside the bubble, when they learn of it, he shares the values of the hinterland. He believes in God, Country, and even, up to a point, Republican Presidents. He even has his doubts about the reach of evolutionary theory.’

From ‘The Pump House Gang: Introduction

‘Hefner showed me through his chambers. The place was kept completely draped and shuttered. The only light, day or night, was electric. It would be impossible to keep track of the days in there. And presently Hefner jumped onto . . . the center of his world, the bed in his bedroom. Aimed at the bed was a TV camera he was very proud of.’

As posted:

Tom Wolfe on Max Weber on one conspicuous use of art in the ‘modern’ world:

‘…aesthetics is going to replace ethics, art is going to replace religion, as the means through which educated people express their spiritual worthiness…

The satire of the liberal intelligentsia is pretty rich, as well as the Southern Gentleman’s WASP ‘rejuvenation.’ You just know Christopher Hitchens had to get-in on that action:

From the Late Show in 1989 with Howard Jacobson:

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Was Tom Wolfe seeing things clearly, as they really are?

Certainly the liberal pieties and the conflicted, activist base is still ripe for the picking…for what is preventing the mocking of the Brooklyn hipster and the echoing of ‘This Land Is Your Land’ across the fruited plain?:

Peter Berkowitz review of Tom Wolfe’s Miami novel here.

What are you looking for in a novel: Ideas and the deployment of ideas? A reflection of your life/times/society? Good prose? Characters that pop into your life? Glimpses of the author? Pleasure?

‘The deeper divisions, as Wolfe’s novel compellingly presents them, are between those who believe that happiness consists in one form of pleasure or another — including the aesthetic pleasure of sensitively glimpsing one’s own sensitivities and the sensitivities of others — and those who, like Tom Wolfe and his heroes, believe that happiness consists in the exercise of courage, self-control, and the other qualities of mind and character that constitute human excellence.’

A New Yorker review here.

See Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s for a rich account of the 60′s. I remember reading ‘A Man In Full‘ a while back.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

From A Reader-Link to America 3.0’s Website

Post on Arnold Kling’s review here.

America 3.0 book here

Website here.

From the intro at Amazon:

‘We are in a painful transition period. Our government is crushingly expensive, failing at its basic functions, and unable to keep its promises. It does not work and it cannot continue as it is. But the inevitable end of big government does not mean the end of America. It only means the end of one phase of American life. 

America is poised to enter a new era of freedom and prosperity. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least fifteen centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving. The Founding generation of the United States lived in a world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0. This world faded away and was replaced by an industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0. Now America 2.0 is outdated and crumbling, while America 3.0 is struggling to be born. This new world will bring immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government’

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

It’s pretty safe to say that technology is certainly changing how we live, work, think and arrange our lives.  Whether or not you think the rate of technological change is increasing, these changes are naturally affecting our institutions, politics, economy & political economy.

Does it necessarily follow that these changes will be aligned with a libertarian/conservative political philosophy?

I’m partial to the idea of protecting the core unit of the family with a kind of Jeffersonian liberalism & limited government.  This is catnip for libertarian conservatives.  After all, collectivism, progressivism, and perhaps even the rights-based individualism derived from top-down (R)eason which can lead to anarchy, pose challenges to such a vision.

From the website:

Mr. Kling’s review provides a very good summary of the book. He concludes by noting:

The vision that Bennett and Lotus put forth is not the technocratically-run national system that most contemporary politicians and pundits presume is ideal. Nor is it the philosophically-driven rights-based society that libertarians might prefer. However, if the authors are correct in their cultural anthropology, then their idea of America 3.0 is what fits best with our culture.

Our antipathy toward a “technocratically-run national system” is common to most American Conservatives and Libertarians, whether capitalized or not. Mr. Kling is astute to note our vision is not one of a “philosophically-driven rights-based society” which many libertarians hope for. We do believe in a rights-based society, but we believe such a society will work, and that certain rights will be understood and respected, not due to any universally derivable philosophy, but due to a historically grounded set of cultural attitudes, orientations and practices. Our assessment of America, its history and its future, is indeed based on cultural anthropology, with economics, law and politics as superstructure on that foundation.

Thanks for the link.

Interesting times.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome, especially if you’ve read the book, as I’ve got little time but to link these days.

Kevin Williamson, at the National Review, and his new book:  ’The End Is Near, And It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave American Richer, Happier, and More Secure.’

Walter Russell Mead’s theory, in part, posits that liberalism 4.0 needs to become 5.0 and start to creatively solve the problems we’re faced with, including globalization, the decline of manufacturing and industry, and the rise of technology.  The ‘blue’ model is behind the times:

Related On This Site:  Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Arnold Kling From The Library Of Economics And Liberty: ‘My Perspective On The Budget Fight’

Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Technocratic Dilemma’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom?:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…libertarians share a definition of liberty

Repost-From Thirty Two Via Althouse: ‘The Fall Of The Creative Class’

Full piece here.

Thirty Two is a Minneapolis based publication, where our author ended up after looking for “the creative class,” which has to do with Richard Florida’s economic theory:

‘When I asked if he could show me a city that had had mea­sur­able eco­nomic growth as a result of an influx of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als, Florida said there was “wide con­sen­sus” that migra­tion of cre­ative indi­vid­u­als had taken place, and named some places like Wash­ing­ton DC, greater Boston, greater NY, and greater San Francisco.’

Putting the cart before the horse?  Here’s a previous quote from Florida:

“I grew up in that culture. My father worked his entire life in a factory. I spent my high-school summers doing factory work. Sexism and racism ran rampant. Fights were almost every day occurrences: Working class disagreements almost always end in them.”

A creative, non-sexist, non-racist, non-classist future awaits.  Be liberated!  There will be lots of community gardens and bike paths, I imagine.  Williamsburg doesn’t need Wall Street!

Many artist-types, the bookish, the literary, the ‘creative class’ post-moderns and hipsters, along with the increasingly tech/science-inspired cultural influencers, naturally want certain cultural amenities and opportunities.  Naturally, they’re going  to pay for these amenities, and they’re going to find their ideas have limitations when it comes to economic scarcity, human nature, politics, and life in the city.  It’s about trade-offs.

The blurred line where the arts, humanities, and the ‘creative class’ are meeting conservative/libertarian traditions and political philosophy in contemporary American life has become a strongly recurring theme on this blog. 

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

It’s the 60’s, don’t you know.  The Arts can also be united with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption…after going mainstream.  On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Well, art doesn’t need to be in service of a socialist vision, but it can:  Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

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What if you’re economy’s already depressed?  Don’t make a maze of laws and build stadiums and museums on the public dime…get new industry: From Reason: ‘Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey’…Reason also suggests that if such creative/entrepenurial spirit gets off the ground, it will have to get around the public sector in Detroit.  From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?’

 
Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?
 
 
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Repost-From Slate: ‘MFA vs. NYC’

Full post here.

Of the MFA (Master Of Fine Arts):

‘Staffed by writer-professors preoccupied with their own work or their failure to produce any; freed from pedagogical urgency by the tenuousness of the link between fiction writing and employment; and populated by ever younger, often immediately postcollegiate students, MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the ’70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market.’

There are of course still storytellers, geniuses honing their craft that will hold up a mirror and lens for humanity within their creative imaginations.  Maybe they can be found at MFA programs, but I’m guessing they’re more likely doing other things:  getting crippled on a naval campaign, spending their days in an attic, learning to navigate the Mississippi by steamboat, or acting and writing for a theater troupe.

Addition:  And as a reader points out:  learning how to communicate during the current technological revolution.

How much good are all these museums, foundations, and institutions actually doing for the arts and humanities?

Related On This SiteFrom Poemshape Via Andrew Sullivan: ‘Let Poetry Die’…Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…English departments can’t just copy “(S)cience”…From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsRepost-How To Study Literature: M.H. Abrams In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed

Wednesday Poem: Wallace Stevens-Anecdote of The JarWednesday Poem: A Postcard From The Volcano..-Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

From The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

Arts and Foundations and Institutions-MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:

Tilda Swinton At MOMA-From Arma Virumque: ‘Nightmare In A Box’

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza

Vine here.

Performance artist Marina Ambramovic and Jay-Z are together at last during a 6-hour lip sync performance-art piece to promote Mr Z’s new album.  Feel the love.

Still, it’s probably more engaging than Tilda Swinton in a box.

Maybe Jeff Koons got there first, where marketing, money, and branding met pop art:  A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

‘I think that Warhol, as radical as he seems, still very much prized the idea of originality at the core of his working process, and it’s hard not to see him as being a very original artist in that sense.  The idea of Koons rejecting all originality, I think, is central to understanding what his work was about.’

and:

‘The way Andy predicted celebrity, Jeff predicted branding.’

Here’s Robert Hughes tearing into a modern art collector, as we need the voice of some art traditionalists around here to make sense of this madness:

——————–

***The day that Damien Hirst put up his works, selling them for $111 million dollars, the market crashed.

Related On This Site:   A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsStanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’,,

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct

The end of the ‘greatness’ model?: From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Full article here. (updated)

Thought this would be timely with Eliot Spitzer now back in the news running for NYC comptroller (after that, the world). I’m not much of a feminist nor a Main Line (Philadelphia) liberal:

Martha Nussbaum writes:

“Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible nations.”

Well, Spitzer did use the laws to zealously prosecute sex rings as attorney general (an elected position) and was then caught using a sex ring and breaking those laws.  Spitzer could have chosen not to violate the laws, or sought to amend them, but he did not.  I agree that his family is suffering the most, but I’m not so sure that this didn’t constitute an offense to the public.

“What should really trouble us about sex work? That it is sex that these women do, with many customers, should not in and of itself trouble us, from the point of view of legality, even if we personally don’t share the woman’s values”

From the point of view of legality, I agree.  Morally, that’s a different matter.

Generally, I think a libertarian defense of prostitution is a good one, which tries to open up our moral thinking into a net that would include sex as “work.”  Nussbaum is urging a consideration of laws and ideas that focus valuable energy away from addressing other problems she defines quite well.

Personally, I’d like to think it’s possible to consider prostitution without the moral absolutism of Christian doctrine, but perhaps also without some of the limits of Nussbaum’s feminism and “value” speak she employs here.

Many prostitutes, for example, seem to have free will enough to choose to manipulate the lust and stupidity of their johns for their own gain.  The instinct of disgust may be deeper than Christian moral doctrine, but also deeper than some of Nussbaum’s thinking as well.

Addition:  One of the moral arguments for legalizing abortion was that it already was occurring anyways, in back alleys, and in some ways shares similarities with the idea of legalizing prostitution.  Once legalized, there is some moral concern attached to the act of prostitution itself.

See Also: For a paler copy of Nussbaum’s arguments, see Natalie Angier’s Spitzer piece, which somehow uses science to justify its claims.

Where Are You Going To Live?-Joel Kotkin: ‘The Triumph Of Suburbia’

Full piece here.

Perhaps, as Charles Murray noted in Coming Apart, we can’t go back to 1963, nor should we invest too heavily in the nostalgia that compels us to do so.

Kotkin:

‘Today’s suburban families, it should be stressed, are hardly replicas of 1950s normality; as Stephanie Coontz has noted, that period was itself an anomaly.’

Perhaps, at least economically we can’t return to 1950’s or 60’s America.  However, there has been a rise of the Crunchy Cons, and a return-to-roots conservatism lately.  The glue of tradition and custom that can hold small-town life together is enjoying a bit of a revival.  This might include churches, civic clubs and a concept of home and place as a response to other forces at work in our society.

Good money is still on the suburbs.

Kotkin again:

‘So, rather than the “back to the cities” movement that’s been heralded for decades but never arrived, we’ve gone “back to the future,” as people age and arrive in America and opt for updated versions of the same lifestyle that have drawn previous generations to the much detested yet still-thriving peripheries of the metropolis.’

Why do people move to the suburbs?

In my experience, it’s because they want the best for their children, and the most bang for their buck in quality of schools, life, property taxes, safety and community.  Cities generally have higher crime rates, higher costs of living, corrupt politics and aren’t usually the best places to raise children. Many parents also seek the kinds of ‘community’ (the non-collectivist models) to be found outside of urban cores.   They want a safe street for their kids to play on.

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Urbanists love to hate Joel Kotkin as he has offered them much in the way of criticism.  At the New Urbanist website, I found the following quote:

“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”

Notice the kind of ‘community’ here is of the collectivist variety, vaguely in harmony with a conception of nature.  It also contains troubled relations betweeen the individual and the collective.

Bob Zubrin pointed out the problems of environmentalism, and the authoritarian impulses behind many environmentalist goals and methods, which I’ve applied to the urbanists in parentheses below:

1.  There isn’t enough to go around (suburbs waste resources like gas, electricity, and materials in addition to lost productivity and time)

2Human nature needs to be constrained as a result (Trains, buses and bikes are the preferred method of transportation instead of cars…while apartments, co-ops and living units instead of houses in the suburbs are the places to live)

3Someone needs to be in charge (Someone like Bloomberg, or a similarly paternalistic leaders are ok as long as they line up with the message and enforce the right laws from the top down)

4We volunteer ourselves for the job (Someone’s got to build a vision of the future, and the vision of the artist or architect, or city planners for example, may be enough for the rest of us to live in much like occurs in modernist architecture).

If you’ve been following current cultural trends, there’s been some native New Yorker pushback against the hipsters in Williamsburg.  These urban dwellers often arrive from the suburbs, moving to urban centers in search of identity, group meaning, and membership with a kind of collectivist, artistic, modernist to postmodernist impulse that lines up with urbanism.   They are changing our culture in many ways.

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I know I keep posting Roger Scruton here, the conservative, fox-hunting Briton.  In this case, he’s thought a lot about environmentalism in Great Britain.  Regardless of where you fall on climate change, (I maintain a garden of doubt and skepticism), he’s at least tried to get the motives and methods of the environmentalists back to being responsive to actual people making their own decisions about the problems the climate may pose.  In other words, he’s addressing the collectivist and authoritiarian impulses which seek top-down solutions on the way to utopia or some unreachable ideal.

In the interview below with Steve Hayward, he’s discussing the difference between European and American cities, and our conception of nature and space, along with his new book.

Food for thought.

Addition:  Of course we need economic growth, and jobs.

Related On This Site:  Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

Jordan Bloom At The American Conservative: ‘When You Have No Hometown To Go Back To’

Full piece here.

There’s no place like home

Language is the only homeland (for poets, especially).

It’s a challenge to try and keep up with the demographic changes going on in America right now.

Do you want to be around family?  Do you need to be around family for economic reasons?  Where is meaning and group membership coming from in your life?

‘As Linker points out in his review, it’s the idea of returning home that separates the Drehers and Kauffmans from simply advocating ruralism. He writes, “If you live in a coastal city or suburb, the supremely unconservative message appears to be: Pull up your shallow roots and relocate to a region of the country where you can start over with a simpler, more humane, and happier life.”’

I suspect this may be part of a larger conservative trend, seeking to regroup around family, church, civic clubs and perhaps, a concept of home.  It should be pointed out that a large open market and economic liberalism don’t necessarily lead to social conservatism, at least as some of the current thinking on Margaret Thatcher’s England suggests in her wake.  You can wrest the economy from the unions and from the maw of nationalization, but so much economic freedom may be at odds with the good, moral, upstanding, civic-minded citizens desired on that vision.

In a word:  rooted.

The Reagan and Thatcher eras had in common a fight against socialism, or creeping statism and secular communitarianism and collectivism.  If your ‘community’ tends to be a city, then diversity and multiculturalism will likely have more relevance in your life as practical glue to bring various people together, even if you live in a religious enclave.  If you live in a city, your politics is more likely to be machine politics, and corrupt in many cases, and a path for immigrants to attain a better life and more control.  Such is human nature.

This may also be a bend in the road at which we can observe conservatives and libertarians more likely to part company.  Libertarians tend to draw a ring around the individual and proceed from there.

Here’s a quote from this short essay I wrote, trying to contrast Brooklyn hipsters (many of whom, I maintain, come from the suburbs), and Charles Murray’s vision together (perhaps not successfully):

‘I can understand why many conservatives and traditional thinkers are upset about the decline, as they see it, of our culture.  They arguably control much less of it than before, and have much less influence in the public square than they used to, as does organized religion.  Many people with conservative views feel targeted by Hollywood and the media generally, as though it’s turned against them, espousing ideas which undermine the virtues and duties which maintain civil society.  Even the technology sector tends to vote non-Republican.

Enough! goes the refrain.

Perhaps we could take a look at hipster culture for some clarification (about much I will invariably be wrong):

Instead of how many conservatives might want individuals to live;  looking for meaning and group membership through church and civic organizations, intimacy and love directly through marriage, and vocation through traditional means of work, many hipsters (those who can afford it) withdraw into a bubble of irony, seeming to lack outward enthusiasm for anything.

They tend to seek meaning and group membership (while remaining totally individualistic) through the arts, fashion, music and popular music.  There is some real drug-use there, and a few real artists.  There are definite counter-cultural undercurrents as well.  Intimacy and love are explored further away from marriage, but maybe not terribly far (gay marriage is now the hot topic).  Vocation for hipsters often incorporates ideas of the local, communal, environmentally sustainable, and more often anti-corporate. Sometimes it can veer into the collectivist.

Haven’t we seen these folks before?  I’ve heard the argument that they are less radical, and milder copies of the beats and original hipsters.’

How are the economy and technology, meaning and family, the rural/urban, red state/blue state divides, affecting your life?

Are we inevitably drifting towards a secular, more European-style society?


First National Bank of Houlton, Maine

Related On This Site:   Richard Epstein, libertarian law/economics thinker at Chicago, says family, churches, and clubs aren’t enough, and open markets and a growing pie should fill in the gaps in a pluralist society of over 300 million people: Link From A Reader: ‘Richard Epstein Introduces Chicago’s Best Ideas To Students’

Is technology making isolated individuals out of us, eroding civil society? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest-’Hey, You’re Truly Unlimited: Didn’t You Know?’

What might the 3 wings of conservatism be?:  Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences, and admits we can’t turn back time:The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Good luck doing having a conservative revival in The People’s Republic Of California:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

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’

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

More Culture Wars-From The WSJ Via Instapundit: ‘The New Unmarried Moms’

Full piece here.

Our authors may be following Charles Murray’s lead, which he outlined in ‘Coming Apart:’

They write:

‘In fact, a key part of the explanation for the struggles of today’s working and lower middle classes in the U.S. is delayed marriage. When the trend toward later marriage first took off in the 1970s, most of these young men and women delayed having children, much as they had in the past. But by 2000, there was a cultural shift. They still put off their weddings, but their childbearing—not so much. Fifty-eight percent of first births among this group are now to unmarried women.’

What kind of a society should we have?  What kind of society are we creating?

Many women in college and in the professions are delaying marriage and child-bearing.  They can generally afford to put off marriage in pursuit of education and career (though they can’t wait too long and we’ve got tremendous student-loan debt).  The women without such opportunities and who aren’t in college or the professions generally aren’t putting off having children for too long on the analysis above, but they are putting off marriage.  This can have consequences for all of us.

Are we creating a two-tiered society, one of low-skilled, lower educated folks whom we ought to encourage into marriage, and the other full of higher skilled, better educated folks who will probably get married anyways, after putting career first?

Of course, implicit in the above quotation is the idea that conservatives are already losing the debate:  The coveted sweet spot in the middle and upper-middle class mind in America, which tends to guide our social institutions, laws, and politics is not currently well occupied by particularly religious, nor traditional, nor conservative ideas.

The newer social model hasn’t addressed many problems that the old social model may have addressed. On Murray’s view, perhaps we’re in danger of losing much in the way of economic dynamism as a result (to which I’ve found very few women in my time who wish to go back to 1963, which Murray doesn’t suggest we do, and relatively fewer women willing to call themselves feminists or address the radicalism inherent in feminism head-on).

Our authors continue:

‘But to truly move forward, educators, employers, policy makers, parents, entertainment leaders and young adults themselves need to join together in launching a national conversation about bringing down the childbearing rate of unmarried women and men in their 20s. Such campaigns aren’t just talk. They worked for dealing with teen pregnancy, and they can work again.’

The ending comes off a little weak.

Here’s Murray discussing Coming Apart:

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***Having been asked to watch a few clips of the popular HBO series ‘Girls, I suspect the show can be seen partially as a product of the post 60’s, literary, post-post-modern beat/hippie/hipster culture that comes with a pedigree.  There is a deeper current of Western individualism (romanticism, modernism, post-modernism) running through Western culture.  On the show, perhaps there is a deeper quest for the Self going on.  Freedom is next.

Admittedly, this helps keep many chatterers chattering away who see their own selves and causes (feminism especially) reflected therein.  I can’t say I care that much for the subject matter, though I will generally support artists who stay true to their art, as religion, polite society, politics and ideologues of all sorts should be transcended if that art is going to last.

Addition:  And, to be fair, it’s entertainment, and it’s designed to give pleasure.  It’s pretty well-done.  Dunham should watch out for the maw of celebrity culture.

Glenn Reynolds has a piece at USA Today.

According to the Atlantic:  Why are 58% of first-births to unmarried women in lower middle class households.  Of course, it might have a lot to do with taking marriage apart, and replacing it with…whatever’s here now.  Naturally, being politically liberal, they focus on making more income equality.

Related On This Site:   Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of DarwinismKay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

Mead discusses his then new book entitled God and Gold:  Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World.

Maybe there are other options besides Fukuyama’s Hegelian end point of history, and Huntington’s Clash Of Civilizations with regard to our current dealings with the Islamic resurgence and its anti-modern, ant-Western, theocratic impulses (liberal internationalism and Obama’s foreign policy have certainly created problems, but there are underlying issues the West will face):

Mead argues that religion, government, free-trade, capitalism, sport, and especially naval power have shaped our two cultures which have thus shaped the world (a [economic] model he suggests originally came from the Dutch).   He is an Obama voting Democrat, a broad thinker, and teaches at Bard College.

This blog welcomes large, grand visions that posit the possibility of finding truth in philosophy, political philosophy, the social sciences and foreign policy not merely based upon reason alone, and a post-Enlightenment pursuit of reason alone which includes scientism, secular humanism, materialism, postmodernism, relativism etc. trickling down into the political realm.  Hopefully, Natural Law and Natural Right get a fair shake here in the pursuit of truth, though they needn’t necessarily be guides to constitutional interpretation.

Some of this has been in the water (the Atlantic?) lately, but it’s quite interesting.

So, it’s easy to feel vaguely good about our relationship, as happens quite practically here, but let’s not forget moments like these:

washingtonburns.jpg

This is a depiction (thanks to impiousdigest.com) of British troops burning the White House, as they indeed did.

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Related On This Site:  Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  We’ll have to make things better ourselves, and our politics is way behind.

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin? Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’……From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

On Americanization: China is growing a middle class, Brazil, too.  People want more freedom, more options after they industrialize: Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

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