In the end the rain comes down

4 06 2019

Oh, what’s a conservative to do?

Yes, I’ve been following the Ahmari-French “whither conservatism?” dust-up with some professional interest and personal amusement. (You can find links, along with Rod Dreher’s usual voluminous commentary, to the whole schmatta here, here, here, and here)

As a political theorist, I’m interested in how ideology shakes out; as a leftist, I’m a bystander, as I have no interest in making conservatism stronger. And even if I did want to contribute, I don’t know why any conservative would want to take my thoughts under advisement: I’m sure as hell skeptical as hell of anyone from the other side telling those on my side how to do better.

That said, I will offer this one nugget of analysis: none of these arguments are going to go anywhere unless they can find a way to contend with both capitalism and climate change.

I know Dreher likes to go on and on and on and on about politics-being-downstream-from-culture, which, fine, the relationship between politics and culture is fraught, but to think that either of these realms can be dealt with apart from the material conditions under which they manifest is to fail at thinking.

Now, I’m a bad marxist and am allergic to any kind of determinism, but Jesus, Mary, and Adam Smith how can you have a version of the Good Society without some sense of the economics of that society? I’m not saying you have to go commie—I mean, 20th-century American conservatism has pretty much been defined as against that—but you gotta do more than vaguely wave toward God-and-markets and away global warming.

What ought they do? Again, that’s for them to work out—and if they don’t, well, then none of what they’re saying will matter.

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