Skip to comments.Rejecting Modern Materialism: The Rise of the Crunchy-Conservatives
Posted on 03/31/2006 7:39:09 AM PST by NYer
Over this past weekend, I had the opportunity to read Rod Drehers Crunchy Cons. This is a book that has been stirring up conservative circles since its release this past winter. Dreher is a popular Generation-X conservative writer and a convert to Eastern Catholicism. He has worked for a number of publications, including the National Review, the New York Post, and the Washington Times. He is now a full-time writer and editor with the Dallas Morning News.
A Manifesto for the Family Putting Families Back Together The Little Things Count
In Crunchy Cons, Dreher sets out to chronicle how Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party). What Dreher has tapped is a lively coalition of conservatives who believe that family and community ought to come before unrestrained free-market capitalism.
In fact, Drehers nine-point Crunchy Con Manifesto includes the following long recognized by social and paleo-conservatives: 3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government; 4. Culture is more important than politics and economics; and 9. We share Russell Kirks conviction that the institution most essential to conserve is the family. In defending these points, Dreher takes aim at the culture of lust and greed undermining American society in our day.
Sex and commerce are fine things, but man cannot live by Viagra and the Dow Jones alone, Dreher writes. A life led collecting things and experiences in pursuit of happiness is not necessarily a bad life, but its not necessarily a good life either. Too often, the Democrats act like the Party of Lust, and the Republicans the Party of Greed. Both are deadly sins that eat at the soul, and crunchy cons believe that both must be resisted in our personal and communal lives.
Throughout the book, Dreher provides several examples of how lust and greed undermine American society and what crunchy conservative families are doing to counter this perverse influence. Strong, healthy individuals and strong, healthy societies cannot be made without strong, health families, Dreher states in defense of homeschooling families. Kids today marinate in a sexually aggressive popular culture that teaches them that life is supposed to be an erotic free-for-all.
In a chapter explaining how modern architecture dehumanizes its occupants, Dreher notes the reason why children are often left to marinate in public schools, daycare facilities, and the popular sewage that passes for culture. The answer, to the shame of conservatives and progressives alike, is greed. Parents confuse their wants with their needs. The pursuit of the McMansion, the annual family cruise and a third luxury vehicle means more time at the office for each parent, more time in a daycare facility for the child, and less actual family interaction.
Even home time is not necessarily family time in modern North America. Each kid has a television and a computer in [his] room, observes David Holme, one of Drehers crunchy correspondents. Theres a six-foot TV in the living room. People just tend to sit in front of them and go to mush. The houses are so large that people go off in their own little area, and they dont interact. You never run into anybody, so you never have to play a game with anybody. People get to be like strangers living at the same address.
Thus Dreher draws a conclusion that many other conservatives find uncomfortable: The undeniable fact is that free-market, technology-driven capitalism, for all its benefits, tends to pull families and communities apart by empowering individuals and encouraging even mandating individualism.... Civil society has been routed over the past thirty years.
Drehers solution to this problem is simple: we must return our focus to family, our community and church. We must renounce the selfishness of lust, avarice and covetousness, and we must one again seek to be good stewards of creation over which God has given us dominion. Finally, we must pay attention to the needs of the soul and not just those of the flesh. Politics and economics will not save us, Dreher concludes. If we are to be saved at all, it will be through living faithfully by the Permanent Things, preserving these ancient truths in the choices we make in everyday life.
Dreher chronicles how many families are living out their crunchy con convictions. From homeschooling to organic and family farming, from turning off the television to turning on the oven and enjoying a good home-cooked meal, crunchy cons are doing little things to restore a more natural pace within the family. For at its essence the crunchy con philosophy is about living in harmony with the natural world as wise stewards entrusted by God with the care of His creation.
This last point has escaped Drehers critics in my opinion. Their most common complaint is that Dreher never gets around to presenting a plan for moving the crunchy con ideology forward. He does not have to present some grand plan; rather it is the little things that move crunchy conservatism forward. As Dreher repeatedly points out in his book, big things happen when enough people look after the little things.
Maybe Im too optimistic, Dreher writes, but I think theres a growing army of crunchy-con homeschooled kids, not only learning academics at a higher level than most of their conventionally schooled generational peers, but also learning how to think and, moreover, learning how to think independently and counter-culturally. This is especially true if their primary teachers their mothers and fathers make certain that the core convictions of their faith are the sun around which all the academic learning orbits. When these kids enter mainstream society in large numbers, we could see the beginning of a quiet cultural revolution. And since many of these children come from Republican families, as Dreher painstakingly chronicles throughout his book, the GOP is more likely to be the political vehicle used by these young crunchy cons to bring about this quiet counter-cultural revolution. But if so, it wont be the Republican party of today, it will be the one they rebuild.
Putting Families Back Together
The Little Things Count
I am a "Crunchy Con" and didn't know it! I am glad to see Gen-X'ers embracing this idea. I agree completely with his thesis!
See these two related threads for more about how Freepers feel about the values of this mushrooming group of conservatives. Great find NYer!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm seeing this alot with home schooled kids.
Kids actually getting their hands dirty; learning self sufficiency; carpentry, raising animals for food etc...
I agree completely.
Down with Greed Capitalism. Up with Entrepreneurial Capitalism. Historically, there is an interesting comparison between the English cities of Manchester and Birmingham. Manchester become the monster textile, single industry "capitol" of England, and then went into decline. Birmingham was a center of "garage" entrepreneurial capitalism (think Silicon Valley), and thrived greatly and
For several years I served on a Mayoral task force on street vending. One spouse of a major corporate executive said at a meeting, "we don't want to see any vendors near
Crunchy conservative ping!
Mr. Dreher is absolutely correct in his enthusiasm for "crunchy" conservatism. He is incorrect, however, in giving it a new name. "Crunchy" consveratism is nothing more than real, traditional conservatism of the altar-family-throne type. Since the Revolution of 1789, true conservatism has been overwhelmed by liberalism, whether of the statist sort (the Left) or the market variety (the Libertarians). The political landscape today is a battleground between two liberalisms: The liberals, out-and-out hedonists who turn to the State Almighty to keep society functioning despite the damage done to it by the uncontrolled pursuit of pleasure by the Mob; and "conservatives" -- libertarians, substituting social Darwinism for State power with megacorporations keep the Mob distracted from the wreck of society by sating them with floods of cheap food and consumer products. Big Government liberalism or Big Business liberalism -- that's the choice for people today.
Although I have had some problems with Mr. Dreher's actions in the past, his recognition of the resurgence of true ("crunchy") conservatism is to be commended. A return to the altar, family, and throne politics of the past is our only hope.
Exactly. And although I wasn't quite sure of the meaning of "crunch conservatism" until now, it's what I have been all along. To me, what he is describing here are the things worth conserving. And by conserving and building up these things, other things will be transformed and become worth conserving too.
What a bunch of generalizations. Sorry, but it's the Democrats I see driving around in Hummers, living in the 12-room houses in the high-end neigborhoods, dressed in designers duds and working in middle and upper management. Conservative kids more often than not are just that. One television, if any, in the living room, home schooling, and modest behavior and consumption. Am I the only one who sees this guy as disastrously misled and misinformed?
Our familiy is there too. Though I'm not sure that I like having a label now. ;^)
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
Good article. I'm 25 and fit into this category. I have a bunch of these people in my circle of friends. Some of them are early to mid 30s and have little kids.
We never really needed a name for it like "Crunchy Conservatism", we just call ourselves "good, old school traditional Americans".
I think these views are pretty much identical with the so-called "distributists", like G.K. Chesterton & Hillaire Belloc.
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