Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A NEW ONE. I recommend Rick Pearlstein's TNR essay on a topic very familiar to alicublog readers: the habit of conservatives, who run everything, to talk about themselves as if they were a small, beleaguered minority.

At NRO, Mark Bauerlein responds that conservatism and Republicanism are most certainly not the same thing -- a fair point in the abstract, though Bauerline would be more convincing if his own publication were not tirelessly sticking up for the Bush administration most of the time. (It's not like NRO's editors are trying to build a groundswell for Michael Peroutka.)

Bauerlein cites the usual institutions of liberal influence -- but adds one that I can't say as I've heard before:
There are other, smaller [liberal] realms to list (hip-hop, malls, etc). But Perlstein would probably claim that, for instance, malls are a free-market zone entirely in accord with conservative economic freedoms, not recognizing a difference between, on one hand, cultural values and effects, and, on the other, economic behaviors...
Malls are culturally liberal! How so? Bauerlein doesn't say. Maybe he's upset by the mannequins at Victoria's Secret. Or maybe it's those high-end stores, where floorwalkers practically insist that you try the latest fragrance for free -- talk about your creeping socialism! Or bookstores where they lead you read just any old thing...

Or maybe they're not to his taste, so naturally they can't be conservative. That's usually what they mean, even when they don't know it.

UPDATE. Kevin Drum thinks Bauerlein's mall problem reveals tension in the "conservative alliance" between capital cons, who want the free market to rule, and social-cons, who would prefer Jesus:
...After all, successful capitalism requires lots of educated workers, provides those workers with lots of money, and thrives on the notion that corporations should be allowed to produce anything they want to satisfy the needs of consumers.

In other words, give the customer what he wants. But guess what rich, educated customers turn out to want? Something different. And something different is precisely what social conservatives don't want.
I think Kevin rightly perceives the inherent conflict. But when he asks "how much longer" it can persist without turning into a coalition-busting schism, he sounds hopeful, and we can't have that.

Guys like Bauerline, Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher's Crunchy Con Brigade, etc., see the same sort of connections that Kevin sees (without drawing quite the same conclusions, of course). That makes for some lively discussions at the nerd table, no doubt.

But Joe Septuagint and his missus wouldn't know Crunchy Conservatism from Nestle's Crunch. Those God-bothered by boobs, curses, or any such like, will get an amen from their version of major media voices (e.g., the 700 Club, Michael Medved), but it won't be in the form of scholarly critiques of late capitalism -- it will be in the form of jeremiads against Hollyweird and homosexuals.

Not that they're so very propagandized -- human nature has a lot to do with it. Even if Joe and his missus aren't all that into Pat Robertson, or even Bill Bennett, whom do you suppose they picture when they think about the decline in culture or corruption of morals? Businesspeople -- that is, those good folks of their local Rotary, Kiwanis, and B.P.O.E.? Or of those odd creatures they only know from television: gays, actors, and Democrats?

So despite what they're saying at think tanks and niche websites, out there in America the accepted story is that bad liberals and their weirdo pals make smutty-smut and to defeat the smut you must defeat the liberals, through whom you can get at the otherwise insubstantial weirdos. And under this covering arrangement, the hard-working folks who commission sexy cologne ads or sweatpants with JUICY written across the ass need never face the wrath of outraged prudes. In fact, if one should cross their path, "I'm in men's fragrance" or "I'm in women's apparel" will not excite any suspicion -- admiration, perhaps; maybe even envy (hopefully not too much, though, lest one starts to obtain some taint of Otherness).

The only place I can recall where conservative Republicans have in recent years directly intervened on behalf of God against Mammon has been at the FCC. Big fines are a temporary hassle for big business, but the problem is usually resolved with the dismissal of the problematic talent, after which one can regroup and conduct business as usual.

I don't think those boys are worried that their names will replace Michael Moore's as a curse word, do you?

No comments:

Post a Comment