Recently I was interviewed by the organizers of the website “The Conservatory.” The answers and my responses are posted here.
Here’s an excerpt in which I mention FPR:
What, in your view, underlies the recent political alliance between “social conservatives” and “economic conservatives” in the U.S. Republican Party? To what extent is there an inherent logic to that alliance, and to what extent is it an historical contingency? Has it served social conservatives well? Insofar as it has not, what realistic political alternatives exist, or, if none exist, how might some be created? If none exist or can be created, can social conservatives preserve and strengthen their own subculture without isolating themselves from the ambient culture? Or is the best that they can hope for to persist as a self-isolated “remnant,” a bit like the Amish?
I attended a recent conference that gathered together many conservatives seeking to repair our culture and reclaim our legacy. Interspersed with laments about the decline of our culture was an ongoing insistence that we also needed to support policies that advanced economic growth and prosperity. There was little evidence of any reflection on the ways that economic growth and prosperity – certainly as pursued in our globalized market economy – might be a major, maybe THE major, agent in undermining the health of culture that was being lamented from the other side of their mouths. This remains a legacy of the Cold War, but more: I suspect that there is a willful resistance on the part of many conservatives to resist raising this sort of discomfiting question, because it is easy and self-flattering for us to claim that there is no tension or even contradiction between economic prosperity (and the kind of ethic required for its attainment) – and a healthy culture. Thus, there is the effort to blame sources other than the very success of our economic system for the decline of our culture. One culprit frequently fingered for leading to our cultural demise is “government.” But, in the same breath, government is accused of doing nothing well. How can it be the case that government does nothing well, but has been exceedingly good at corrupting modern culture? I do wonder.
I don’t know whether the twenty years that now separates us from the end of the Cold War are sufficient to allow us space to begin to ask these questions. There are many powerful interests marshaled to keep interests the way they are currently aligned. Dissenting voices are disorganized and don’t fall easily into either reigning political camp (nor are they powerfully financed with corporate money and supported with think tanks). Part of the reason I joined the efforts at “Front Porch Republic” is with a view to try to forge a different kind of political (and intellectual) alliance.
For newer readers, I have also been interviewed by Ken Myers at “Mars Hill Audio.” A brief summary and excerpt is available here.