Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Crunchy-Cons: the new face of conservatism

This snip by George H. Nash in today's Wall Street Journal describes the "crunchy-cons," a new aspect to the conservative movement:

Rod Dreher, a columnist and editor at the Dallas Morning News, is a self-confessed member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. As a lapsed Protestant who converted to Roman Catholicism several years ago, he is an unabashed religious and social conservative. He has little use for the morally relativist and libertine tendencies of modern liberalism. Too often, he says, "the Democrats act like the Party of Lust."

But Mr. Dreher is also a passionate environmentalist, a devotee of organic farming and a proponent of the New Urbanism, an anti-sprawl movement aimed at making residential neighborhoods more like pre-suburban small towns. He dislikes industrial agriculture, shopping malls, television, McMansions and mass consumerism. Efficiency--the guiding principle of free markets--is an "idol," he says, that must be "smashed." Too often, he claims, Republicans act like "the Party of Greed."
Ready to punch in the wall? It gets better:

In Mr. Dreher's view, consumer-crazed capitalism makes a fetish of individual choice and, if left unchecked, "tends to pull families and communities apart." Thus consumerism and conservatism are, for him, incompatible, a fact that mainstream conservatives, he says, simply do not grasp. He warns that capitalism must be reined in by "the moral and spiritual energies of the people." It is not politics and economics that will save us, he declares. It is adherence to the "eternal moral norms" known as the Permanent Things.

And the most permanent thing of all is God. At the heart of Mr. Dreher's family-centered crunchy conservatism is an unwavering commitment to religious faith. And not just any religious faith but rigorous, old-fashioned orthodoxy. Only a firm grounding in religious commitment, he believes, can sustain crunchy conservatives in their struggle against the radical individualism and materialism he decries. Nearly all the crunchy cons he interviews are devoutly Christian or orthodox Jewish believers who are deliberately ordering their lives toward the ultimate end of "serving God, not the self"--often at considerable financial sacrifice.
What a hero, sacrificing himself to old-fashioned transcendent ideals and how brave the stand to "smash" the free market. I guess I should be all happy, because underneath these monstrous and wicked ideas stands the vibrant American sense of life.

Yet as the chestnut goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Will this new subset of the conservatives once and for all kill the notion that conservatives have anything to do with capitalism? I sure as hell hope so, because I for one get sick and tired of being even remotely lumped in with the likes of Mr. Rod Dreher.

No comments: