Monday, July 20, 2009

Rambling On About Loyalty

Koz writes:
"Elaborating on the particular loyalties of dissident conservatives, it's worth contrasting them to the mainstream Right. For the mainstream Right, there is a nexus of political loyalties that's fairly well understood at the gut level. The mainstream Right is connected on one end with the Republican political establishment, and on the other to Greater Red State America. This is in addition to the general patriotic loyalty to America in general."

In the fickle world of politics, I'm not willing to stop with understanding 'at the gut level'. In fact, this is precisely the critique that we curmudgeonly types level at liberals who parrot whatever Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow or Barack Obama says, just because it feels right. We pride ourselves at welcoming ex-liberals 'mugged by reality', that is, having had to think through their inherited liberal opinions, even when they led in places more gut-wrenching than intuitive.

I used the examples of Boston and LA precisely because I don't feel that I have much in common with people in those places, other than the not inconsiderable fact that we belong to the same country (though I do wonder if you don't harbor some similar feelings as I do when you repeatedly say to the most populous state in the Union "Drop Dead."). To me, it is significant that Bin Laden probably is not planning terrorist attacks on Duluth or Mobile or Des Moines. His beef is not with 'red state America' or even 'blue state America', but very particularly with Washington and New York. And speaking of Bin Laden, I didn't use the words 'fear' or 'victim' in my original post. I agree that many of the Al Qaeda folks would like to impose Islamic culture, with the religion that comes with it. But part of their rhetoric involves pointing out the compromised nature of Islam in places like Saudi Arabia, where U.S. interests have corrupted the ruling elites (in [Osama] Bin Laden's eyes). But again, I doubt that it is fully 'U.S. interests' being served there, rather than the interests of the financial elite whose bases of operation are, unsurprisingly, New York and Washington.

At what point does loyalty demand that we issue honest criticism of our government? I would think that this would be a primary way for conservatives to express loyalty ("Government is The Problem!"), but I found this very difficult to do while Bush was Prez. Why is the critic's patriotism routinely questioned by the likes of O'Reilly? This guy rules criticism out before he even allows anybody to say anything. Why are people like that dominating conservative discussions? Frankly, I think that's totally un-American. We are supposed to be responsible citizens who debate our way through policy decisions and therefore safeguard the freedom of speech zealously. Or do we really?

It struck me today that we've made words like 'clan' and 'tribe' into bad words in the U.S. 'Family' is only barely hanging on. But these are where real loyalties begin, with real relationships. Part of the difficulty with the sort of patriotism that is demanded of us today is that it deliberately undermines any mediating structures between the individual and the massive State. Thus, not only is criticism difficult, but real action, which I stress is in the American tradition, is difficult. All associations have to be voluntary, and we all know how little promises to stick together mean today.

Last question: At what point are our government's depredations at a level where they surpass George III's? IMHO, we've probably passed that point.

I hope to post soon on Spiritualism and the pope's encyclical soon. I think that there is a lot of fruitful dialogue to come in those areas!

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