Friday, February 09, 2007

Seasons in the Sun

This blog was born for one purpose--to thoughtfully and humorously confront Rod Dreher's crunchy-con hypothesis--and it has long since outlived that purpose. Having written blogs since 1998 (no, really, I wrote my own blogging software), I was so tickled to finally have one that a decent number of people read that I stopped caring why. The time to close the door passed some moons ago, so this is the end, my friends.

Though I have done my best to mock some of his most cherished ideals, I don't think Rod is a bad person or The Enemy. I consider him, like Andrew Sullivan, to be part of the conservative communion in all its mystery. It is easy, relatively, to be an ideological traitor like Michael Lind: sure, you have to get a whole new set of friends and whatnot, but then it's done and you settle into your new life, though the stain of apostasy persists in funny ways. Dissidents head straight into the whirlwind until the storm ends, and for this they are detested with greater ferocity. While some people draw excess satisfaction from persecution, I have always believed in the honesty of Rod's intentions, and have always sought to apply the appropriate respect, particularly to him as a person.

I think the anonymous 24/7 echo chamber of teh intarwebs makes it too easy for people to shriek wildly at each other. All dissidents require a certain constitutional sense of defiance for the established order to survive doing what they do, along with the reverence that keeps them from packing their bags and leaving altogether. Solzhenitsyn did not want to repudiate the Russia of Peter, Tchaikovsky, and Dostoevsky, he wanted to see it live the promise of those great men. But the endless puerile rage wears away the best in us, and the best of us. Take the faith and love and reverence from the dissident, and all you're left with is the dissidence. Heat, yes, but little light. The gulag corrupts not only the dissident but his jailers too.

Were Rod's ideas not challenging and novel we would not still be talking about them. My feelings about them have been modulated somewhat over the past year, but on the whole I still feel in them a force pulling in the wrong direction, an instinct for statist (and stasist) action which contradicts my most fundamental humanistic impulses. And yet it is more important now than one, two, or five years ago that we confront these ideas honestly, for I feel a sense of leftism resurgent nearly everywhere I look, and we will win not by ruses but by superiority. The global warming charade threatens to plunge us quite literally into a new Dark Age, with dangerous economic and foreign policy implications the environmentalist naifs are content to sneer at as beneath their loftier consideration. In a mere hundred years or so we have leapt forward so far, and here, on the very doorstep of a new golden age, leftist armies are massing to put us back in our cages.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Rod personally but if it should ever happen, I will gladly buy him a beer and greet him as a friend. And with that, the Contra Crunchy is hereby retired.


Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

This has been a great blog. However, when Mr. Dreher makes some more stupid comments;we should still hold him accountable. That is why I think we should post them on the blog. I also think we should use it and other blogs to point out how he and others in the Liberal MSM refuse to hold themselves to any accountability. The example I use is the silence regarding the comments of William Arkin of the Washington Post. He as I am sure most you know, called our soldiers "Mercenaries" and said "They should be thankful we are not spitting at them." Of course there is my all time favorite of him defending his paper's decision to support the Pulitzer for the New York Time's Walter Duranty. Mr. Duranty was a Stalinist sympathizer; whose puff pieces on the Soviet Union made it seem like a near Nirvana. Do any of you think if he had been in Berlin extolling the virtues of Adolf Hitler, the MSM would touch Duranty? Of course not! Enough of that, great blog.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Thanks for giving me a platform from which to vent about my sincere -- often substantive, occasionally trivial -- criticisms of both Rod Dreher's positions and the manner in which he writes about them.

I'm not quite as optimistic as you about his continued membership in the conservative fold: like I said earlier, I believe he accepts far too many assumptions of the Left. I hope you're right and I'm wrong, but we'll see.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Paul Zummo said...

Sorry to see you go, but it was fun.

As for Dreher being a liberal - let's not excommunicate him just yet. Yes, at some point it's absurd to keep calling a person a conservative after a point coughAndrewSullivancough, but we have a big enough tent to incorporate a large diversity of viewpoints.

As Padame and Luke would say, there's good in him yet.

2:00 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

thanks for the forum. we had joy, we had fun.

3:03 PM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

I won't say never for this blog--but I want to give the furies some time to dissipate and perhaps it will come back in some day and place, for an appropriate purpose.

Regarding Rod and Andrew's liberalism... I am to some extent willing to accept people at their face value. Unlike American Indian tribes, the Right is not exactly beset with poseurs wanting to be part of some mystic circle. Even Reagan, Thatcher, and Karol Wojtyla were at times disappointing to conservatives; if they are not qualified to judge 'true conservatism,' then surely we are not.

Rod to me feels less like an American leftist than a European conservative like Chirac, especially in terms of things like agriculture and development. I have always found it interesting that while the American left is largely a less radical version of its European brothers, the American right is largely unique in its sometimes-tempestuous marriage of dynamist and stasist (as V. Postrel termed them) personalities.

Ultimately I think this all reaches back to the Founding, which I think represented not just a legal but an intellectual break with the rest of the world, and especially Europe. Of course everyone likes to claim the Founders for their team. But I think it's interesting that while right-leaning people are generally likely to not give a horse's ass what France or Italy thinks of what we do, left-leaning people will often place equally large emphasis on those opinions. Certainly a large and perhaps majority portion turn their noses up when they hear the "American excptionalism."

3:22 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Just to reiterate what I wrote earlier, Rod may be "more accurately described as some variant of the paleoconservative than as a liberal." He may not be a liberal, but he might as well be on a great number of issues. He's bought the Left's line not only on Iraq and the environment but also about his fellow conservatives. And, those issues in which he distinguishes himself most noticeably from the left -- namely, abortion and marriage -- have now been written off as unwinnable battles in the culture war.

That second link is worth a look: as late as May, Rod wrote in an entry titled "Why I Can't Help Voting GOP" that the Dems' position on gay marriage is dangerous because of the threat it poses to religious liberty.

"I don't have a lot of faith that the Republicans will do much to defend religious liberty in this coming war. But I have complete faith that the Democrats will do their best to destroy it."

Now? Indifference.

I don't think that Rod necessarily is a liberal, but he will more and more act like one. For all practical purposes, Jonah has already been proven right because Rod's rhetoric and positions have become all but indistinguishable from the Left.

And, Contra, it's true that people aren't scrambling to claim they're conservative, but it's obvious that Rod's NPR commentary was more rhetorically powerful with his claim to be a steadfast Reaganite. I believe the claim was strained (at best), but it was not for nothing that he stretched the truth to make that claim.

There's a reason that the media generally fawns over John McCain; they're attracted to Republicans and conservatives who consistently criticize their own.

(The Left's "McCains" of Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller? Not so much love from the press.)

I'll reiterate that Rod probably is a paleoconservative and not a liberal outright, but let us not pretend that there's no good reason a conservative-turned-leftist working in journalism would pretend to still call the right home while regularly criticizing it.

And, honestly, even if we long ago strayed from the original purpose of this blog, our most substantive criticisms were quite valid. At the absolute least, the public statements we criticized raise serious questions about Rod's political philosophy and perhaps even his judgment.

3:51 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

hmmm. well, even a big tent has to have boundaries. it can only be so big. which is why it is helpful to ask why someone believes he is still in the tent, or even values being in the tent, when it sounds like he isn't, and doesn't want to be.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I really appreciated the blog, but what I'll miss are the people. I hope we can still hang out at Pauli's blog(s). :)

4:30 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

Goodbye, Bubba. It's been interesting. It's sometimes best to move on to other things.

Although it sometimes seems a bit incohesive, I still enjoy Mr. Dreher's writing, but I still cannot figure out what exactly "Crunchy Conservatism" is supposed to be.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

It's obvious: it's a sensibility with a manifesto.

Truthfully, I think it's a projection of whatever Rod thinks it ought to be. Whatever he thinks is conservative he also thinks is crunchy, and vice versa, making true categorization impossible; by writing that he would have probably included foreign policy in his book if his own ideas were more stable at the time reveals the vanity and likely narcissism behind the idea.

But, yeah, it's been interesting, and it's probably long since been time to move along.

Rest assured, I'll be around.

Somewhere. :)

9:59 AM  
Blogger The Contra Crunchy said...

The problem here is the desire to taxonomize the desire to eat heirloom tomatoes into a separate (let alone superior) wing of conservatism. The ideological uniformity of the Left is one of its great weaknesses, and it's due in large part to liberals' fondness for burning witches (compare the treatment of sens. Chaffee and Lieberman, for example).

This is the sort of thing you can afford to do when it's 1994 or 2002 and you've won big, big, big. Since 2004, the Right has been sharply on the defensive, and it is time we start acting like it.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

Bubba: "It's obvious: it's a sensibility with a manifesto."

Hmmh. That's the best definition as I've seen so far.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...


9:28 AM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

Thanks to all for letting me hang here, too. I've got the RSS reader dragging in Pauli's blog, so maybe I'll drop in over there. If you see me at WalMart or Our Lady of Pizza Hut, say Howdy.

I will always fondly and proudly remember being part of "Assh*les for Christ", along with the rest of you AFC'ers. (reference to comment on "Orthodoxy and me" back in October).

2:52 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Pikku--did Rod really call us that? I'd forgottten all about that.

What utter, utter unprofessionalism. Beliefnet should have its corporate head examined.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Diane, I believe someone named dpmacmanus coined the phrase, in a comment here.

My problem with Rod Dreher only begins with "the desire to taxonomize the desire to eat heirloom tomatoes into a separate (let alone superior) wing of conservatism." Even limiting the discussion to All Things Crunchy, there's the rabid rhetoric that's hardly (if ever) repudiated by Rod, rhetoric that is finds its most fanatic expression in who the Contra correctly identified as "the Id to Rod Dreher's ego:" Caleb Stegall. Limit yourself to his professional, public writings for venues outside the New Pantagruel, and you'll still find that Stegal apparently believes that being a Christian is all but impossible if you live in the suburbs, and that shopping at Wal-Mart makes you almost a slave. That this sort of rhetoric is probably embraced by Rod as exhilerating rather than repudiated as the ramblings of a madman is another part of the problem.

And then there's the personal hypocrisy. Rod made it a point to criticize mainstream conservatives because he thinks how they "really live" doesn't match their values: for that reason, he opens his own life to scrutiny that it doesn't bear and thus makes his criticism seem positively Pharasaic. On homeschooling, on refusing to approach religion as a consumer and "church shop," on eschewing commercialism, on patronizing local producers whenever possible, and on avoiding big business, his life is transparently far short of his stated beliefs, but that rarely tempers the criticism of others for the same offense. One could sum this up with three examples: he has a maid, he's nearly orgasmic over an over-commercialized French wine that's shipped express around the world, and his book was published by an imprint of "the world's largest English-language general trade book publisher".

Again, that's sticking with the subject of crunchy conservatism.

Move beyond that, and we encounter a determined refusal to engage substantive criticism and even to acknowledge news stories and op-ed's that undermine his positions; an embrace of not only many of the Left's assumptions about Iraq and the environment, but even some of the worst stereotypes about mainstream conservatives; an anti-Catholic streak that embarasses even this Baptist with no horse in the race, a streak that Rod doesn't seem to notice, and that manifests itself in stories that are implausibly construed as negative; and a tendency to smear his opponents, sometimes quite viciously -- that is, when he's not ignoring them.

(And this is to say nothing of a writing style that seems far too affected and is often quite grating.)

Very early on in all this, I honestly tried to give Rod the benefit of the doubt and to discover what it was that the NR editors saw in him that justified the crunchy con cover story and blog. I never found what I was looking for: instead I find myself still wondering, what is it that Rod actually believes and values? What is it that rises above the emotions of the moment and grounds his writing? Who is he?

Of the most likely answers I could draw from what he's written, none of them are good: none of them commend his intellect, his character, his maturity, or even his professionalism.

I'd love to be able to say that I could call Rod my friend in real life and buy him a cold drink, but there have been people in my encounters with whom such comity is simply impossible. In some cases, it's probably little more than a clash of personalities that cannot yet be overcome with Christian charity; in some cases, it's probably mostly my fault, my being gregarious, opinionated, and the lifelong sufferer of a sort of Tourette's Syndrome where I cannot help but raise important issues like theology, economics, and politics.

But in this case, I don't think the bulk of the problem lies on my side of the keyboard.

10:06 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

preach it bubba

10:59 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Amen, sister!

1:59 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Thank ya, ladies.

There's another good, recent illustration of the fundamental fraudulence of the Crunchy Con: today he asked readers about a diet in which one limits oneself to eating from producers in a 100-mile radius; Friday he mentioned buying for his birthday celebration a bottle of champagne, possibly Veuve Clicquot -- which I understand comes from Rheims, France.

I believe that Dallas and Rheims are 5,000 miles apart.

Rod doesn't explicitly say that he will himself commit to the 100-mile diet, but I think what's implied in his bringing it up for discussion is the idea that he would take such a thing seriously. After all, he's written a book and has hosted a couple blogs as a "crunchy con" who upholds as virtuous local economies.

Will he really seriously consider such a diet? Of course not: he's too enamored with wines from France and New Zealand to limit his consumption to Texas grapes.

That he has no problem living a life in many ways so radically different is by now not a surprise. What is somewhat amazing is that those who still read his blog haven't apparently noticed.

I think I might raise the issue ever so briefly and call it a night.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

That he has no problem living a life in many ways so radically different is by now not a surprise. What is somewhat amazing is that those who still read his blog haven't apparently noticed.

I think this can be explained by the fact that his blog has become a haven for moonbats and nutcases.

Which, of course, makes it a source of mild entertainment for the rest of us. :) When we're in the mood, that is, which I seldom am these days.

5:33 AM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

I didn't mean to intimate that Rod called us AsFC, but rather that a commenter had called us that. (Good catch on the comment, bubba -- I thought it was in the "Orthodoxy and me" combox, but nope).

See ya 'round.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I guess the news is out.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As certain observers of this blog publicly indicated, it was a bizarre enterprise from the get-go. It was a blog that apparently catered only to about a half dozen Dreher-haters, most of whom are apparently incapable of distinguishing traditionalist conservatism from liberalism. Said observers wondered aloud about all the animus; about why a blog should be devoted to criticism of a paleocon writer, and not a major paleocon writer at that. It was really all too weird, and it's too bad you didn't have the sense to to kill the thing long ago.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look this is the "diet" i told you about you should really enter the site :) bye enter the site

8:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home