In a way, I’m glad to have been pre-occupied with the book stuff today, because I don’t know that I have the constitutional wherewithal to have entered the fierce fray Joe Carter opened up at First Things with criticism of certain aspects of the Front Porch Republic ethos. Carter:
Since 2008, FPR has been a fascinating project. But the fusionism of self-sufficient and freedom-loving localists with monarchists and socialists can’t last forever. Either the various groups will go their separate ways or Porcherism will eventually be dismissed as a bizarre philosophy that has no connection to American life in the twenty-first century. It would be a shame if Porcherism failed. We need an attractive presentation of traditionalism that can inspire the masses, not another fantasy ideology that appeals only to quirky academics.
Carter’s attack makes clear why I find it increasingly difficult to sympathize with conservative defenders of liberalism, who praise mass culture yet fret over socialism, who worry about relativism for a living yet dismiss concerns about uglification as reflecting the mere opinions of elitist aesthetes. A conservative liberal is somebody who encourages the prevailing progressive view that the past was benighted and is best forgotten, but then demands respect for the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — and to boot casually drops ten-dollar words like “polis” with unintended irony.
Of course we can and must continue to leave man’s metamorphosis up to thef ree market. For certainly we wouldn’t want anybody to accuse us of having a hidden coercive impulse; it’s not like corporations would ever push anything perverse and unnatural. If you don’t want a designer baby, or photosynthetic skin, or an AI iPad jammed up your caboose, fine — nobody will force you. Just don’t try to tell your neighbors that they can’t have it. Who is the bioconservative to judge an appetite for an extra stomach “frivolous”? Indeed, were I a transhumanist I’d argue that the attachment to old-fashioned homo sapiens is merely … an aesthetic, a sensibility, a nostalgia for a bygone era that conveniently ignores pervasive wretchedness.
But there’s no need to worry about the world of tomorrow, for it will be in good hands, thanks to the Invisible Hand. With each passing day “ordinary folk” are liberated even further from what little remains of obsolete organic folk wisdom; their psyches are now shaped and enlightened by mass-culture, by marketing jingles, limitless mobility, Hollywood blockbusters, video games, credit card living, Yahoo! News, teen vampire erotica, instant messaging and instant gratification. Hence we may all rest easy knowing that the Faustian consumer will make prudent choices with the powers offered him.
Read FPR for more.