1. That’s basically the charge against our friends THE PORCHERS leveled by Mr. Cheeks below. It’s surely a bad sign that our friend Caleb from Kansas (who was one of my two favorite Porchers) has left the Porch. The charge, as I see it, amount to this: They’re not really talking about AMERICAN Porches these days.

2. My criticism has always been they’ve always had the tendency not to be talking American porches as they really are these days—full as they often are of evangelicals [or even Mormons!} resting up with the kids after a tough trip to WalMart. I do think it’s true enough that a socialist or distributist or redistributist monarchist could be a conservative, but not an American conservative.

3. In addition to Caleb’s love of Kansas, for the record, I love or loved Jeremy Beer’s outing of all the downsides of pure meritocracy—especially, of course, TECHNO-MERITOCRACY. I can’t stand the libertarian praise of the menu of choice gobbled up by merely preferentialist, seventh-day recreationalist, emotionally mobile, and otherwise displaced bourgeois bohemians. And I certainly agree with Tom Wolfe that our officially egalitarian world is actually marked by an unregulated or state-of-nature struggle for status that rewards the clever and shameless far more than the decent and virtuous. (See Wolfe’s I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS with the brilliant film THE SOCIAL NETWORK). The lives of ordinary people are pretty darn tough these days—marked as they are by deep and somewhat unprecedented economic AND moral anxiety.

4. So one slogan of POSTMODERN CONSERVATIVES is: Neither Porcher nor libertarian . . .

5. That doesn’t mean, of course, that either Porchers or libertarians are wrong about everything. It might even mean that a good dose of one is one way of curbing the excesses of the other.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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