Conservatism and the Culture Wars
Mike PohlmanMike Pohlman's Blog
- 2008 Dec 12
R.R. Reno at the First Things blog takes up the issue of the culture wars and asks: "Are we careening toward an ever-deeper split, one that threatens the underlying unity of our nation?" Reno's short answer is "Yes." The reason, according to Reno, is because "progressives are socially divisive."
Borrowing from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, Reno argues that progressives--these "men of theory"--have allowed "abstract principles to become objects of devotion" such that an "imperialism of theory" develops. And, like Burke, Reno believes this is wicked: "The wickedness comes from a crucial fact about progressive politics: Our social world needs to be destroyed in order for moral and political ideals to be realized, unsullied by the past."
How does this relate to contemporary culture wars? "This means aggressively intervening into education and the family in order to destroy the sources of traditional sentiments about sex, gender, and religion."
Reno concludes the post by summing up the radical difference between conservatism and progressivism as worldviews:
"Nonetheless, conservatism and progressivism have fundamentally different tendencies as ruling principles. Conservatism wants to protect, nurture, and perfect aspects of the social norms we already have. Drawing its strength from what exists, it has room for dissent. Progressivism pours Agent Orange on the cultural landscape to make space for something new, something it imagines to be better. Seeking what is ideal, it often excludes dissent as a matter of moral principle."
No wonder at times it doesn't seem like a fair fight.