The conventional public opposition of “liberal” and “conservatives” is, here as elsewhere, perfectly useless. The “conservatives” promote the family as a sort of public icon, but they will not promote the economic integrity of the household or the community, which are the mainstays of family life. Under the sponsorship of “conservative” presidencies, the economy of the modern household, which once required the father to work away from home – a development that was bad enough – now requires the mother to work away from home, as well. And this development has the wholehearted endorsement of “liberals,” who see the mother thus forced to spend her days away from her home and children as “liberated” – though nobody has yet sent he fathers thus forced away as “liberated.” Some feminists are thus in the curious position of opposing the mistreatment of women and yet advocating their participation in an economy in which everything is mistreated.
The “conservatives” more or less attack homosexuality, abortion and pornography, and the “liberals” more or less defend them. Neither party will oppose sexual promiscuity. The “liberals” will not oppose promiscuity because they do not wish to appear intolerant of “individual liberty.” The “conservatives” will not oppose promiscuity because sexual discipline would reduce the profits of corporations, which in their advertisements and entertainments encourage sexual self-indulgence as a way of selling merchandise.
The public discussion of sexual issues has thus degenerated into a poor attempt to equivocate between private lusts and public emergencies. Nowhere in public life (that is, in the public life that counts: the discussions of political and corporate leaders) is there an attempt to respond to community needs in the language of community interest.
-Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays
Friday, February 24, 2006
Lust, Greed, Politics
The "Crunchy Conservative" weblog is a worthy endeavor briefly returning National Review to its old habits of philosophical discussions. Rod Dreher references a Wendell Berry quotation nicely capturing our political game of Perpetual Whack-a-Mole: