Saturday, November 15, 2008

Left-Wing Cultural Conservatism

A few days ago, I mentioned to Kirby (at Lutheran Surrealism) that I regarded myself as a "left-wing cultural conservative." A Leftist Cultural Conservative (LCC) is someone who agrees with the cultural conservatives on most points: the decline of community and tradition; the hypertrophy of the government as diminishing individual liberty and flexibility of response; the rejection of self-discipline, rigorous standards, and commitment to
ideals beyond oneself; and the increase in narcissism or infantilism
generally . . .

. . . but in the left-wing version, all this is seen as symptomatic of a society in which consumerism runs unchecked, and the dynamic which drives consumerism is the dialectical movement of capitalism in its current manifestation. So I find much to agree with cultural conservatives at the level of CULTURE, but I see the motor of these changes as ECONOMIC -- hence the 'left-wing' part. Whereas right-wing cultural conservatives, esp. the Christians but increasingly Muslims -- tend to shift the blame to "the 60s" or to Darwinism, to "materialism," etc.

I'd hasten to point out that I don't mean to put religion firmly on the "right-wing" side without qualification -- there are also devout Christians, Muslims, etc. who are "left-wing cultural conservatives" -- and I would further hasten to add that my peculiar version of Reform Judaism-cum-religious naturalism is indispensable to my version of left-wing cultural conservativism -- the rise of narcissism is concomitant with neglect of considerations of justice for both human others and non-human others.