Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Larison defends Dreher

Daniel Larison defends Rod Dreher's latest column, in which Dreher (rightly) states:
Today, the greatest threats to conservative interests come not from the Soviet Union or high taxes, but from too much individual freedom. Look around you: Americans have been poor stewards of our economic liberty, owing to cultural values that celebrate unfettered materialism. Our families and communities have fragmented, in part because we have embraced an ethic of extreme individualism. Climate change and a peak in oil production threaten our future because we have been irresponsible caretakers of the natural world and its resources. At best, the religious right stood ineffectively against these trends. At worst, we preached them, mistaking consumerism for conservatism.
Larison agrees, and chastises several of Dreher's critics.
We have been living in a culture that encourages the deferral of responsibility, and to one degree or another most of us have participated in it, and this is inconsistent with sustaining ordered liberty. Those who have not participated in this culture, or have done so only a little, should be the least offended by what Rod is saying, because his words are not directed at them. To the extent that we are all paying the price for an era of profligacy, what he says is relevant for all of us.
I have most certainly taken part in this culture of excess. We are so constantly battered by materialism, consumerism, the conservatism of "greed is good" rather than "save your damn money" that it is almost impossible not to succumb, occasionally, to this irresponsible way of life.

We are promised the moon--it's as easy as swiping your Master Card. And where have the conservatives been in all of this? Keep spending! Don't let those mean old terrorists get you down, just go to Target and buy whatever you want.

That's the American Dream, isn't it? You get whatever you want, no matter what. Right?


Roland Dodds said...

While I don’t define myself as a conservative, it is this criticism of the modern world (the materialism and decadence) that I have some sympathy for. It baffles me that with all the talk of recession and huge job lose; retailers had record profits this black Friday.

Even when potential catastrophes are just around the corner, people spend like its going out of style. There is truly a ‘spiritual’ emptiness in the materialistic society America has produced.

E.D. Kain said...


I completely agree. I identify as an independent more and more, because there are truly things that liberals and conservatives and libertarians etc. etc. offer that make sense. For instance, I'm against the whole "school-choice" thing that conservatives are pushing all the time, but not because I identify as liberal, but because I am a traditionalist, and I believe that there is a great tradition in America of good public schools and that they're worth fighting for. More on this today, actually...

Thanks for stopping by!