Sunday, February 26, 2006

Crunchy Cons

The hot new thing on the Right is Crunchy Cons, by Rod Dreher. National Review has started a blog dedicated to that subject, which has been very lively for the few days it has been in existence. The crux of Dreher’s thesis is that the Right and the Left, are equally ensnared in the vapidity of consumerism. And this has created a substantial but obscure demograhpic of cultural dissenters, people who are politically and religiously conservative, but "look" and "act" like neo-hippies.

I haven’t read the book, though of course that’s not going to stop me from having an opinion on it. Rod’s Crunchy Con thesis is in equal parts frustrating and disappointing. Rod has, almost exclusively, brought to the fore a very important subject, which is why his work has generated the interest that it has. Unfortunately his analysis of the subject is flawed almost to the point of being useless.

Rod is absolutely correct to reject the cult of modern consumerism, which is a very strong siren to resist. Unfortunately, he seems locate this resistance in another, "alternative," set of consumer choices. These choices are often defensible, in some cases even praiseworthy, on their own terms. But, they are not the resistance to consumerism. In fact, it is much more likely that they are another version of the same problem.

The real resistance to consumerism is spiritual, and cultural, and is very difficult to put ino practice, or even to describe directly. It consists in things like the ability to delight in another person for their sake, the priority of culture and family over careerism. If, after diligent application, you have the ability enjoy the presence of another person, it won’t make that much difference if you share that good cheer over McDonald’s hamburgers.

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