A few impressions on the state of play.

1.  Agree with JMW that this exchange has not been very helpful, and reiterate first thought that “comments” maximize tedium and minimize conviviality.

2.  Then again, I’m sure the exchange is encouraging a healthy hit count, which is all blawgers really care about.

3.  There is a lot of sterotyping going on, probably of and by both sides, with very little specific support being offered.

4.  Despite being honored with command by Cheeks (whose commentary is the most salutory thing to emerge from the contretemps), I am uncomfortable with the “FPR” label being used as a label, as anyone who has frequented this sight can certainly attest that multiple and serious fault lines exist among and between the contributers here.

5.  Peter recently wrote: “I did teach a course last spring on the plausibility of Stoic ethics in America today, though. How many of you FPRs did that?”  This followed after some other comments by various learned professors of courses and sylabi taught and emailed back and forth, etc.  Of course higher learning is good, and all that, and lord knows we don’t have enough professors or colleges in this country, but this does rather bring out the humor of this discussion ocurring on obscure blogs carried on mostly by academics.  All I have to say is at the going tuition rate, you profs are getting royally screwed out of some serious jack by someone, and the latent knowledge of this fact probably provides the pathological urge to blog.  We lawyers, on the other hand, have no such excuse.

6.  On a related note, it is interesting being in my shoes and being lectured by professors about a proper politics.  I feel a bit like poor Col. Jessup being tormented by that panty-waist Tom Cruise.  Not to be too bathetic like drunken sailors showing off scars, but I have actually had the experience of staring down (and defeating more often than not) our real enemies from the abortion industry to trumped-up bureaucrats to meddling school districts to vendetta-wielding functionaries to dim-witted city hall.  I’ve run campaigns on the ground and Machiavellian strategems in the halls of power and know what it means to work with what we have, and know also that what we have ain’t good enough and must be changed.

7.  Someone called FPR “moderate” which I find bizzare, as I tend to agree with Mailer in that my views tend to run further to the right and further to the left of anyone’s.  At heart I am an anarcho-capitalist, a localist-agrarian, a communitarian-libertarian, a prairie-populist, above all a lover of liberty and the freedom of self-sufficient locales, and a scots-presbyterian to boot, all of which means I have a deeply embedded antipathy to the state and to hucksters and razzle-dazzle men and a fierce loyalty and love for my own highways and byways and fields and streams and towns and farms and the people who inhabit them.  I don’t know if that makes me conservative or not, and don’t care really, though I tell people it does, because that is the language they speak and understand, and when I say I’m conservative they understand that means that I love the same things they love and will fight for them and stand for them.  If anything, as Berry wrote of Ed Abbey, I wish to conserve myself as a human being, and all that that means.

8.  If I have one critique of the Lawlerian view it is simply that he and others at FT are far too accomodating of, and sanguine about, the advance of things that threaten the possibility of conserving myself as a human being.  All the theory is nice window dressing, I suppose, but until I hear Peter resolve what I shall refer to as the Question of the Whopper, I am turning a deaf ear.

9.  Finally, Peter said something very significant, which I can’t find, so will paraphrase.  He claimed the mantle of the 60s bohemian, and said, in effect, that he was mad at the crunchies for taking all the fun out of it.  Two responses.  First, Peter, since you don’t use words like egophanic, I can let you know that your statement is the vernacular version of the word.  In other words, what is going on here is the desire to transgress limits, regardless of what or where those limits are or are perceived to be.  Secondly, Peter makes a very valid point about eco-guilt and some camps of lifestyle-snobs … their terminal earnestness is suffocating.  FPR has seemed to me to avoid this deathly symptom, and anyone who thinks we’re not having fun hasn’t been paying close attention.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Caleb, this is an excellent overview of the events in language that I understand, congratulations and thank you.

    I do wish you were Columbiana County, Ohio Prosecutor, perhaps, I wouldn’t have served three days in the county facilities for ‘protesting’ a haz waste facility in my hometown, although I do look striking in orange. Perhaps,if you’d have been country prosecutor the damn thing wouldn’t have been allowed to be built!
    Although I am comforted by the fact that, somewhere in America, there’s a CP that’s actually serving the public.

    Bringing a ‘human’ face to the issue and in setting aside the philosophical, though I did detect any number of Voegelinianisms, you ably expressed your position, particularly in point #8, which leads to this question, what is The Question of the Whopper?

    Your kind words re: my efforts at humor are gratefully recv’d. However, I should note that I’m somewhat reluctant to continue because my ‘battle reports’ have become lengthy and break up the continuity of the comment threads provided by your learned commentors.
    Quite honestly I do enjoy the endeavor, it’s been a decade or so since I last spent the evening hours pounding out battle accounts for the beloved “America’s Civil War” and the return to the lyrical albiet archaic language of those heroic soldiers has been a something of a mystical respite for me. Because I have no desire to ‘hog’ the thread, I’ll leave the matter up to you: I can continue, quite, or, if you want you can move the ‘battle reports’ to another area. I’d appreciate if you’d let me know; I have no desire to be the red-haired step-son here.

  2. Well, let’s talk about the Whopper then. As one of those accomodating, sanguine types (I am going to have “Don’t Worry, Be Unhappy” tattooed across my back), I’d like very much to know how the Whopper threatens the possibility of conserving yourself as human being.

  3. Zzzzz…

    Both sides sure do like to hear themselves talk, but I am not seeing much listening going on.

    Wake me up when the little internecine battle is over…

  4. Ed Abbey summed it all up best with his trenchant “if the situation is hopeless (desperate?) , theres nuthin to worry about”. Then again, a man who was not a tad worried by the great deep fried edifice of the External Cost would have never dreamed up the character Hayduke nor the fetching if a tad zaftig Ms. Abzug.

    As to accusations of “schizophrenia”, it is the home libertarians greatest boon companion because one can be self-entertaining and the cast changes.

  5. I will not lie. Silently trying to pronounce “Pomocomotion” in my head put a big smile on my face.

  6. Caleb, I love the self-description (‘an anarcho-capitalist, a localist-agrarian, a communitarian-libertarian, a prairie-populist, above all a lover of liberty and the freedom of self-sufficient locales, and a scots-presbyterian to boot’). When asked to do the same, I usually find myself spouting off all of the things that I don’t like (anti-centralization, anti-corporation, anti-technocratic, anti-bureaucratic). Groucho Marx sang my political anthem, ‘whatever it is, I’m against it.’

    I also find myself in the odd position of the libertarian who can’t abide libertarianism, the defender of markets who can’t stand capitalists, and the Catholic who, like Twain, prefers heaven for the climate and hell for the company. One thing that I enjoy about the FPR crowd is that it’s not a creedal community (and that it doesn’t accept the nonsense that the US is such a incoherent entity either).

  7. McIntyre,
    Add this fine little quote to your Groucholexicon:

    It comes from a woman visitor to Palazzo Groucho and it goes something like this :

    “When the lights go out in Groucho’s house, it’s every woman for herself”.

    Seems Mr. Marx was rumored to be an anarcho-lothario. I too am in the psychotic netherworld of the permanent opposition, finding a certain pleasant harbor amongst the anarcho-capitalist libertarians but dismayed at their refusal to admit the uneconomic wages of the Cult of External Costs and their steadfast support of things Walmart. Not that the formidable and estimable Sam Walton with his chaste metal desk and spartan office set out to do bad and vandalize small towns with a flood of chinese manufactured goods, it simply happened that way. Ignoring the fact don’t make it go away. Financing this six months load of goods with sales of the same goods six months down the line creates a six month time horizon that makes the future about as charming as the Quarterly Shipping Manifest Schedule for the Port of Los Angeles

    At some point, we might be able to listen on our portable devices to Bach in an Alvar Aalto informed Morphosis designed modern concert hall , played by Chinese synthesizers while drinking Raw Milk and smoking an even rawer hand rolled Cuban cigar and then the definitions will fail to merit any note at all because the emphasis will be on the real instead of the dreamed. This, of course, could also be pleasant while pruning apple trees. Authenticity would seem to be the operative term. That, and a certain widespread custodial-curatorial spirit where moderation is not a punishment but a proper celebration of the uniquely pleasant.

  8. Authentic notes on a porch.

    I think that’s where they filmed Texas Chainsaw Massacre, isn’t it? Be careful, Mizze.

    I love the splenetic expansiveness of Caleb’s self-description; like Kenneth, I usually have to define myself through caveats and exceptions (a Red Tory, but a populist and democratic one; a social democrat, but a conservative Christian one; a communitarian, but a liberal one; etc.). Far better, rhetorically at least, to be able to forthrightly affirm something you are, rather than conditionally explain what you are not! None of us have managed the pithiness of Henry Adam’s Conservative Christian Anarchist yet, but we keep trying.

  9. Not that any of you will find this interesting, but I used to define myself as a Christian, conservative, right-wing Republican, straight, white American male. Though, as far as I can tell, I am still Christian, conservative, straight, white, American and male, I have dropped “right-wing Republican” in favor of the more illuminating (and by illuminating I mean precisely the opposite) “quasi-distributist-pseudo-localist-semi-monarchist-old-fashioned-traditionalist independent with populist tendencies and elitist bearings.”

    Yours, &c,

  10. quasi-distributist-pseudo-localist-semi-monarchist-old-fashioned-traditionalist independent with populist tendencies and elitist bearings

    I don’t get the “semi-monarchist” bit, V., but the rest I can definitely swing with.

  11. VMG, Unlike Arben I do understand your predilection toward, “semi-monarchist”, a good king his hard to beat and as Flannery once said, “…hard to find.” Though not as hard to find as a good president.

  12. I have great fondness for limited monarchy. Also, when it comes to Russian matters, I am a Tsarist. But, like Aquinas, I believe that in the abstract the best form of government combines democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy in similar measures (which our Republic did for some time but does no longer). There is really a strong monarchist intellectual tradition that ought to be considered in the works of De Maistre, Guizot, Bonald, Jaubert, Johnson, von Gentz, Metternich, and others. These theorists are ignored as coming from a “dark place” in European history, the conservatism of “throne and alter.” But I confess a great amount of respect for them.

    Yours, &c,

  13. VMG, I haven’t progressed beyond the limited gov’t of the wacked out John Randolph whose plantation was aptly named Bizzare or something, and whose pals were Tertium Quids and who brilliantly remarked that once you give the people power ‘to vote themselves largesse’ well, all was lost….and how prescient that was.
    The problem in gov’t reflects the problem of the individual,the old libido dominandi via St. Augustine, the inheritance, the humility…so we should spend out time trying to recapture/restore the lost Nous/Logos…but maybe I’m wrong?

  14. “Though not as hard as a good president.” Very funny and very true.

    Bob,

    You might be interested in knowing that some readers (though I doubt they got beyond the title) of Flannery O’Connor sent her letters offering to fix up Ms. O’Connor with a “good man,” apparently thinking that she was complaining about her lack of relationship success. It must require a great sense of humour to be a writer in America.

  15. Josh, FC is yet to be fully appreciated, I think! I just picked up Faulker’s “As I Lay Dying.”

    VMG, Yes, JR had his personal problems, being a little light in the loafers may have been one of them, according to Brother Kauffman’s account…”not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But, my, my he understood human nature, the proclivities of the libido dominandi and the inherent dangers of the centralized regime…he was a purest, a true American, when others faltered, he soldiered on! I read Kirk’s biography of JR years ago, it’s excellent.

  16. Caleb, I’m the one throwin’ around the word moderate. But since I understand there are different flavors of “moderate,” and that the usual one is tends to be wimpy, Gergen-like, incoherent, and of suspect motives, I half-celebrate your saying that your “views tend to run further to the right and further to the left of anyone’s.”
    Half-celebrate, b/c I worry you might teeter a bit towards the side of celebrating your own independent-mindedness at the expense of strong-mindedness. What I mean especially is that in this particular post, your politics seem almost entirely parochial to you, your community, and your admirable spirited defense of the latter (that is so central, do note, to who YOU are). But you deal with folks, some constituents, some politicians, who whatever their fondness for your unique stand, do define themselves as conservatives in a more conventional way, and do have provisional but strong allegiance to the present Republican platform. Ditto for those of your constituents and fellow politicians you work with who are Democrats. So, WHAT THE PARTIES ARE matters to you, HAS to matter to you.
    I simply want both parties to develop in ways that are more friendly to FPR concerns, and want FPRers to consider their role in pursuing that hope. THAT is what I mean by FPR being a potential moderater and bridge-builder. Not to pursue this at all in the name of purity is a political act as much as any other. You could convince me that a localist representative has to limit himself so that those concerns do not take up limited mental and emotional attention, but again, people as they are have these national identifications…that is an important part of what your community is. The parties matter, big-time.

    And P.S., while I firmly believe Lawler is a thinker of major import, and am not ashamed to count myself a Lawlerian, I do agree with you that at times the heavily theoretical manner of arguing that he and others at Pomocon do, has real limitations in a discussion like this one. I’ve tried to focus on the more practical and readily-understandable side of things.

    VMG, you’re so right on Randolph’s portrait! …fascinating guy…as or more interesting/important/lamentable than Calhoun. I too love Guizot, especially his critique of state-of-nature theory, but don’t be too quick to assign him the royalist tag. He has a rightful claim to the liberal title; i.e., in his constitutional monarchism, the accent was always on the adjective, much like the English example. Like some FPRers, he had a way of being too first-principles-focused and insufficiently prudential in his thinking about the political landscape, esp. vis-a-vis democratic populism, and hence, the disaster of 1848. And since you enjoy flirting with Tsarism…I hope you’ve read Solzhenitsyn’s Novemeber 1916–chapter 25 has the greatest set of pro-Tsarism arguments ever, given however not by Solzhenitsyn himself, but by a character of his.

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