Crunchy Conservatives or The Rise of the Bohemian Burkeans

by Limbic on March 6, 2006

From The Rise of Bohemian Burkeans:

After September 11, 2001, Rod Dreher, then a writer for National Review and now an editor at the Dallas Morning News, wrote a series of articles exploring how some conservatives were rejecting the free market and individual liberty espoused by Republicanism and were returning to an older tradition of human-scale living and traditional ways of production and consumption. Based on his colleagues’ comments that his enthusiasm for an organic market in Brooklyn was “too lefty,” Mr. Dreher began to identify himself as a “crunchy con,” that is, a conservative who lived outside the mainstream of the Republican Party.

At first, the term sounds like a meaningless hook. Defining and redefining the various right-wing groups has long been a conservative pastime, and so it would be tempting to ignore this book as a publishing exaggeration. That would be a mistake. “Crunchy Cons” (Crown Forum, 259 pages, $24), even with its weaknesses, may be a clarion call for conservatives who have come to realize that the most important things in life cannot be found either in politics or the marketplace, and that what passes for political discourse is largely empty of meaning.

This is no academic treatise but rather a look at what America has become since the revolutions of the 1960s and the Reagan era. The ethos of “do your own thing,” promoted by 1960s radicals and latter-day libertines, has been combined with a capitalist system all too happy to separate people from traditional commitments and to remake them instead into atomistic consumers tossed amid the “creative destruction” of the marketplace. The results have been broken families, destroyed neighborhoods, environmental degradation, and neglect of the duties one generation owes to another.

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