Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Well, he’s not. I just wanted to make a dumb blond joke. And it’s not like it’s wrong for someone to calll attention to the downside of Thatcherism. But if our friend the crunchy yet conservative Mr. Dreher is right, he’s confused. He criticizes America for being hobbled by a lack of a common culture; instead we have the culture wars. And we’re stuck with the separation of powers. So we can’t act coherently as a nation. But Blond is also all for localism—or the national government not acting much at all.

I actually think that the culture war is better than the real alternative these days. The conflict is present because of the real presence of present-tense religion. European nations may have a certain cultural unity based on almost random aristocratic residues, but they’ve lost the cultural certainties that once came mainly from religion. Wouldn’t almost any current European nation be uplifted to some extent by the tension that is our culture war?

So one problem with Blondism or Red Toryism or MacIntyrism is at lack of appreciation for the culture that can be believed in present, for example, in our evangelical churches and the best country music, even with all the intellectual and asesthetic issues.

Blond is certainly right that more localism would be one way to alleviate the nastiness of our cultural conflict. But another, surely, is a kind of libertarianism for non-libertarian ends, for the ends, for example, of home schoolers.

There’s something sort of singular and good in the fact that our genuine countercultures soar above our common culture. And that’s because, in part, our relative immobilization by both our culture wars and our constitutional institutions allow such a sizeable “space” for the flourishing of the institutions that sustain those genuinely alternative lifestyles.

Pushing for a common culture these days is the project of liberals who want it grounded in Rawlsian public reason.

I realize that there’s an upside to being Tory. But being either Red or Tory is contrary to our culture. And even the egalitarian and puritanical yet populist Dr. Pat Deneen can’t be confused with a Tory.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles