Conservatives

Catholics, Punditry, Progressives & Rubes-Ross Douthat At The NY Times

Full piece here.

Douthat responds to E.J. Dionne’s ‘The Reformicons‘ and Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Reform Conservatism.’ It’s interesting to note that Dionne is a liberal Catholic progressive Democrat (concern-trolling at its finest), and Sullivan a gay, Catholic British emigre, aligning with progressives on many social and political issues (Obama is the ‘true conservative‘), and Douthat a more conservative Catholic columnist for the NY Times, who’s written a book on the subject ‘Grand New Party.’

This seems a pretty BosWash and Catholic affair.

Perhaps Dionne and Sullivan are gazing with warier eyes upon religious and social conservatives now that the progressive coalition in power may be running out of steam, and Obama’s approval numbers are running lower lately.

Douthat:

‘The reality is that, except in truly exceptional cases, our politics is better off in the long run when views held by large proportions of the public are represented in some form by one of our two parties. Right now (to run down a partial list of divisive cultural issues), a plurality of Americans want the immigration rate decreased; about half the country opposes affirmative action; more than half supports the death penalty; about half of Americans call themselves pro-life. Support for gay marriage and marijuana legalization has skyrocketed, but in both cases about 40 percent of the country is still opposed. Even independent of my own (yes, populist and socially conservative) views, I think these people, these opinions, deserve democratic representation: Representation that leads and channels and restrains, representation that recognizes trends and trajectories and political realities, but also representation that makes them feel well-served, spoken for, and (in the case of issues where they’re probably on the losing side) respected even in defeat’

The wheels are turning, and like politicians, many a pundit’s limp body has been pulled from the gears of electoral politics and predictions about the future.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Wednesday Quotation From Roger Scruton

Interesting quote at min 6:35 of video 4/4:

‘Universal values only make sense in a very specific context…the attempt to universalize them, or project or impose them…just leads to their appropriation by sinister forces.”

I wonder what this would mean when applied to American foreign policy, the Cold War, and Western influence when it comes to world order at the moment…this call for a return to tradition, local politics and religion.

Scruton sees postmodern nihilism as one of the greatest threats to Western civilization right now.

Related On This SiteFrom Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…A Debate: Would We Better Off Without Religion?…Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

From The Becker-Posner Blog: ‘Why Is Hollywood Dominated By Liberals?’

Full post here.

Interesting quote:

“What troubles conservatives about Hollywood is less the promotion in movies of left-liberal policies than the breakdown of the old taboos.”

Good art tends to have trouble with politics. political ideologies, religion, religious doctrine, and can even challenge/subvert moral thinking and moral authority.  In Hollywood, the creative imagination of one writer/artist is often molded by hundreds of people working on a project that is often aimed at millions of people.  It can be quite interesting to see how the sausage is made, and even the old studio system appears to be having a lot of trouble this summer in keeping up with the new technology.

The creative arts, from acting to dance to theater, tend to attract people who had trouble with the ‘old taboos.’  L.A. and coastal California also generally tend to have a rather liberal/Left-Of-Center culture, which can affect the people who move there.

So, how much influence does Hollywood really have on culture, and thus politics, and thus people who seek to influence culture and politics?

From Gary Becker’s response:

‘Since it is well established that political views are greatly affected by the attitudes of people one interacts with closely, it is not surprising that some of the liberality of the media rub off on actors and others in the filmmaking industry. In addition to their concern about political approaches to personal morality, their association with the media helps make filmmakers anti-business, especially big business, and strongly pro-union.’

and:

‘So all in all, I believe Hollywood is a very minor contributor to general political views, but I do not think their influence can be fully dismissed.’

I’m not sure myself if such a thing can be known, but I remain wary of those seeking such influence for its own sake.

More culture wars?

If you don’t like ‘They Live,’ like a shining beacon of freedom in the fog, you can always turn to the day the Cubans and Russians invaded a small Colorado town…:

Who really looks to Hollywood for all their questions and answers?

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Jim Demint Via Youtube Via Reason: ‘Why Republicans Have To Become More Libertarian”

Full Reason piece here.

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Well, perhaps…

Demint is a conservative who bends in the libertarian direction.  In the video, he analyzes the current political landscape through by viewing it as a contest between individual liberty and the State.  On this view, individual liberty must be defended from the Statists who generally promote collectivist ideals as the highest things around (usually equality and equality of outcomes over free markets, advocating for social justice and other rights based definitons of liberty, seeking diversity as a goal unto itself on the backs of moral relativism and multi-culturalism…all of which trickle down into advocacy groups, policies, and laws that can affect our daily lives).

What ought to be concerning for individuals is how such ideas can subject them to ever increasing involvement of the State through taxation, regulation, the growth of bureacracy, crony capitalism, sweeping legislation like Obamacare and other means.  This seems especially true given the way that actual politics works, and how people pursuing their narrow self-interest can easily overlook the consequences that flow from their ideas, as they shift costs and burdens onto others through their preferred policy or law (true for everyone, I believe).

It makes sense that this approach is popular with such a particularly liberal administration in office.

I’ve heard many libertarians argue that they are the true classical liberals nowadays, liberals having abandoned classical liberalism as they have lost sight of the autonomy of the individual, the importance of freedom and responsibility as well as open markets and an open society.

It might be worth pointing juxtaposing Demint’s views with those of Ross Douthat at the NY Times, who argues on the back of Robert Nisbet’s thinking here that the individualist/statist analysis misses a lot:

‘But the nature of the project must be understood correctly, Nisbet’s work suggests. It is not simply the defense of the individual against the power of the state, since to promote unfettered individualism is to risk destroying the very institutions that provide an effective brake on statism. (In that sense, Whittaker Chambers had it right when he scented the whiff of Hitlerism around the works of Ayn Rand.) It must be the defense of the individual and his group—his family, his church, his neighborhood, his civic organization, and his trade union. If The Quest for Community teaches any lesson, it is this: You cannot oppose the inexorable growth of state power by championing individualism alone. You can only oppose it by championing community.’

Addition:  A reader suggests it’s just the libertarian and Burkean wings of the 1950’s conservative coalition hashing it out.

Related On This Site: It’s the “machinery” part of libertarianism, or often a certain commitment to abstract structures into which “individuals” would fit that is a little troubling: Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’.

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”