Sunday, June 28, 2009
Aesthetics for Me, Taxes for Thee
Boethius inquires into the tension between the aethetics of conservatism and the capitalist, neoliberal economies we live in. He naturally touches on high art, because he's very interested in it. And because it is high art that is most directly a function of aesthetic judgment, that is where the rubber ought to meet the road.
But for the various dissident conservatives it's not, and that actually threw me for a loop for a while. Instead, the neo-Amish dissident conservatives are more interested in evaluating and (to the extent they can) guiding political-cultural affairs according to their aesthetic criteria. In short, they are usually motivated by the desire to repudiate the George W Bush Administration and the what they see as that part of America which supported him. This also has (for them) the benefit of asserting social superiority toward those they disdain. Ie, those Republican-voting yokels buy their food at Winn-Dixie (or God forbid McDonald's), but I buy my produce from a farmer's market every Sunday. Therefore I'm cooler than they are, hooray for me.
One problem with this is that they are inclined to overthrow capitalism in favor of some kind of communitarianism or distributism, ie, something they have hidden behind door #3 that has never existed before in a major industrial economy. Mainstream conservatives remember very well how hard it was to defeat Communism and socialism and are willing to live with the very real imperfections of capitalism for the sake of not having to win those battles again.
The other complaint that I have wrt dissident conservatism is that so much of it amounts to welfare for the intelligentsia. This is magnified of course by the fiscal priorities of the Obama Administration. We are at a time where the base of our economy is changing, toward things we don't understand and can't predict. Right now there is a profound call, IMO, for the right tail of the Bell Curve to assert leadership toward creating economically renumerative opportunities for the rest of the world to spend their time harvesting. Instead we have professors of this and environmental directors of that working to preserve their prerogatives.