Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Cap’n Crunchy

I’d sworn that I wouldn’t say another word about Crunchy Cons until I’d finished the book, but Jonah Goldberg seems to say almost everything that would seem to need to be said. I will still finish the book, and I probably won’t be able to resist saying a few things, but you’ll have to wait.

Discussions - 12 Comments


Goldberg took a great deal of time and space to say his piece.

While it is easy to criticize Dreher, his larger point is more important than Jonah’s criticisms.

Dreher may overstate the case, but again, that’s secondary. He’s right to point out what is rarely pointed out in major conservative media (Modern Age is not really major). There are indeed huge currents of philistinism, money-centeredness, business-worship, indifference to the environment, contempt for aesthetics and the unbought graces of life, disdain for self-sacrifice, among many conservatives.

The fact that these currents may be more prevalent or obvious among the conservative masses than the conservative elites isn’t an excuse. There is still a problem.

Until these currents are more effectively countered, political conservatism will stop short of decisive power -- even defensively speaking -- in this country. It badly needs the help of cultural conservatism, of which there isn’t enough.


Goldberg mentions Whittaker Chambers for some reason, but, reasonably enough, does not say that he would reject Dreher’s comments.

As anyone who really knows Chambers’ life and thought would be likely to agree: He would have sympathized about 90 percent with Dreher’s book.

Maybe someone else can do a better job that isn’t subject to easy attack.

I have to agree with David F. that Jonah has gone overboard. There is something to the Crunchy objection to the libertarian and neocon indifference to personal virtue. Liberty, in fact, is for virtue, and not the other way around. As HCMansfield says in MANLINESS, the liberal individual is an unrealistic abstraction, and sophisticates today often mistake that autonomous ghost for the real point of life. Even we Straussians sometimes talk about liberal education in terms of "liberation," instead of living well with the limitations and responsibilities we really have been given by God and nature. So I was mocking the Crunchies yesterday, but rather than pile on I now rise to their defense.

To show how fair and balanced I am on this: There is now a blog devoted to mocking the NRO Crunchy Con blog. And it really, really is very hard to tell the difference. It may be time for someone to launch such a blog for No Left Turns.

While I can’t speak for the other Peter, I would regard such a parody as evidence that NLT had, so to speak, arrived.

Peter L. is also correct in observing that Dreher has something, though it’s often expressed in such a way as to provoke me into flight in the opposite direction. To speak sententiously and pretentiously, not to mention in an oversimplified manner, "America" is an unstable mixture of pious regard for human finitude and optimistic Prometheanism. The coin of the realm in our politics is the latter, with at most a small admixture of the former. I have an easier time seeing it in some Republicans than in any Democrats. To the extent, for example, that both parties use the language of "empowerment" and come close to apotheosizing choice (albeit in different arenas), they are Promethean or, to borrow language from a different tradition, unself-consciously fallen.

Dreher may get that, but in a kind of Buddhist way.

You pseudo-intellectuals are a hoot!


Why don’t you contribute something instead of calling names? This is an adult site.

So sorry. Carry on ladies.


We’re not interested in your apologies.
We just want you to go away.

I like the title of optimistic Promethian, or conversely pessimistic Icarusian. Which means that I believe the birds will stop eating my guts when I stop trying to fly so close to the sun.

In other words screw pious regard for finitude, but come to grips with it. Then go forth and prosper.

I also take Mr. Bastiat vs. the Crunchy Cons. I call it: Petition of the candle and wood loving Crunchy Cons vs. the Sun.

I think I suffer from a marxist false consciousness, because I say that accumulating wealth and power is the point of life...but I live like more of a crunchy con....

But let me rationalize, sometimes achieving more wealth and power is just pointless, and sometimes the nature of that wealth and power is in question...So essentially I believe in Opportunity Costs. Wealth and power are just the positive side of freedom. Because if you do want certain things that cost money and power...well they cost money and power...so to achieve those things you need money and power.... but if gaining money and power involves a sacrifice of virtue or something of greater value than the product that is to be had...then so be it...I guess you don’t want the ends for the means.

And if you are so big of an idiot as to imply that people don’t have choices to make at both sides of the equation...well then you are saying that at all times and and places the ends justifies the means... Therefore you must always endeavor to achieve money and power. But this is just as foolish as saying that at no time do the ends justify the means...in other words...quit your job and become a bum....

People who deny that life is about the persuit of money and power...also wish to pigeon hole, codify, or strawman a definition of wealth and power. What is true wealth and true power? (good question, it is up to you to answer this.)

Certainly I could agree that a crunchy might feel more wealth with less $...(but isn’t this a really easy argument to make comming from an american perspective?).

Some other possibilities: Money and Power=Property and Free Will (Locke).
Money and Power equals potentiality and self-direction. In other words money and power equals the ability to do something great. (but I am not saying that you need a lot of money or that your power (idea or motive force has to be original) because essentially you determine how much greatness to achieve and in who’s eyes (yours, your fellow man, God, a philosophical standard) for what cost in labor (mind and property)that you wish to mix, refine and exchange.

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