The Conservative Critique of Postmodern Culture
The political and cultural turbulence of the 1960s ushered in postmodern culture, which was marked by far less respect for authority, a breakdown of conventional morality, and an enormous emphasis upon personal autonomy. For the postmoderns, the central value is that there are no universally applicable values.. Postmodern society does not appear to value reason or careful argumentation. Fashion and slogans rather than argumentation seem to prevail. John W. Kluge Prize winner Leszek Kolakowski noted that the West’s greatest cultural legacy to the world was its capacity to manage without certainty. This may be true, but it likely that most of those in the United States who have had the most difficulty coping with postmodern uncertainty have sought to remedy this situation by enlisting in the ranks of the New Right , or identifying with Republican Neo Conservatives. The triumph of postmodernity in the United States was seen in the fact that by 2003 a rather simplistic insistence upon reproductive choice under any circumstances prevented most liberals from even considering any arguments for limitations upon abortion. Even last-minute abortions were seen by many as acceptable.
In Europe, there were restrictions, and even liberal Sweden had strict regulations for abortions after the eighteenth week. In 2004 Christian Right leader Gary Bauer explained, “Joe Six-Pack doesn’t understand why the world and his culture are changing and why he doesn’t have a say in it.” George Will, the most astute of conservative Republican pundits sometimes stops short of blaming the “coarsening of the culture” on liberals. But he notes that this is the most important question and adds that the liberals see it is not very important and something they cannot fix. He adds that the “post- materialist cadre” on the far left approve of the decay in morals and coarsening of culture, seeing them “a triumph over unconscionable obstacles to the liberation and self-realization of much of the human race.”
Conservatives convinced many that liberals, allied with Hollywood and a media elite, had somehow brought about undesirable changes in the culture and were wildly out of touch with what most Americans wanted. In fact, Democratic leaders since 1980 have been rushing toward the center. A scientific study found that “Democratic activists in 2002 were actually slightly more moderate than run-of-the-mill voters who identify with the Democratic Party.” Nevertheless, the general impression of Middle Americans is the exact opposite. Those who have sold the public on the idea of cultural wars are usually reasonable in tone, and they have been adept at conveying the impression of reasonableness. An exception was Randall Terry, head of Operation Rescue. In 1993, he announced that his goal was to end pluralism and create a Christian Nation; “We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time.... We want theocracy.” Whether the tone was strident or seemed reasonable, the message has been repeated so often that it has become received truth for a vast number of Americans. The new culture horrified religious and cultural conservatives and fueled their anger against liberals, whom they considered responsible for these aberrations.
With little proof, they believed that liberals were deeply committed to a permissive society and somehow were not alarmed by rising crime rates, deterioration of traditional norms for sexual morality, and increasing signs that traditional family structures were breaking down. Conservatives saw the counterculture of the 1960s as ushering in sexual permissiveness, nihilism, moral weakness, and self-indulgence; and they were certain liberals were behind these developments. Conservative writer James Nuechterlein has noted “The counterculture of the sixties has become the common culture today and Americans are united only by an insistence on even fewer restraints on the sovereign self’” and the desire for more pleasures and material comforts. Above all, there has been a rejection of” the theatrical individualism and unfettered sexual freedom” of that period.
Religious conservatives view the breakdown of families and the large number of single mothers are seen as signs of a moral deterioration and a rejection of their traditional family values. Increased divorce rates, greater violence, and the prevalence of single parent households were seen as hallmarks of a threatening Anew morality.”
Secular humanism has been blamed for many of the problems of the late Twentieth Century, and it has been portrayed as being synonymous with liberalism. One definition of a secularist is “someone who rejects scriptural authority, has no religious affiliation, never attends a religious service or prays, and says religion provides no guidance in his daily life.” Yet, so-called secular humanists were often more concerned for the poor, promoting racial justice, and bringing about economic justice for the workingman than quite a few backers of organized religion. The humanism that many liberals espoused included self- esteemed self-sacrifice and esteemed community over the individual. Nevertheless, they were accused of wanting to dissolve social bonds, glorify the self, and idealize material indulgence--all characteristics of the maladies so many thoughtful liberals sought to combat. Yet liberals seem blind to the sensibilities of ordinary people, and too often equate opposition to their views with racism, superstition, and working class authoritarianism. Even worse, by quickly dismissing many community folkways and traditions, they appear to lack common sense.
The most conservative members of the New Right imagine that there is a vast secular humanist conspiracy to destroy religion and American capitalism. The networks, the major newspapers, intellectuals, and academicians are thought to be involved. Also included in this vast conspiracy were businessmen who favored trade with Communist countries, all “moderate” elected officials, and public school administrators. They were all in league to thwart the people’s will. Religious conservatives’ image of the dreaded secular humanist inspires great fear and intense hatred. They feel great urgency in trying to preserve the influence of what they consider “true religion” and their way of life, which translates to “Family Values.” They see the crusade for gay and lesbian rights as the symbol of everything wrong with secular humanism; it is viewed as a quest for a Godless immorality
Sherman has written African American Baseball: A brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.
Friday, February 22, 2008
- Sherman De Brosse
- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!