It will be a good day when it becomes possible to criticize the excesses of American consumerism without being pilloried from the Right for being some kind of America-hating lib symp.
A good day, and also a distant one. Not to dwell too much on old controversies, but I am reminded by this little argument against WALL-E of the endless occasions when critics of Crunchy Cons and Rod would simultaneously mock him and his confreres as socialists and meddlesome, brie-eating snobs and also deny that anything like materialist and consumerist conservatives existed. There was always this same mix of complete denial and outraged defensiveness, which we see again in these responses to the Disney film. In the old arguments, his critics kept repeating that Rod had concocted conservative consumerism out of thin air, but how dare he impugn their consumerist way of life! When he was right, he was intruding on their private lives and telling them what to do, but he was also wrong because supposedly no one on the right was materialistic. According to the critics, they were more pious and self-disciplined than the Amish, but don’t even think about questioning their consumption habits.
Now maybe WALL-E is not a good film, or maybe conservative audiences will find something overbearing and obnoxious about its presentation of “the dangers of over consumption, big corporations, and the destruction of the environment,” and it is reasonable to mock the pretensions of a multinational corporation to having a social conscience. Even so, that conservatives should be concerned about “the dangers of over consumption, big corporations, and the destruction of the environment” and should integrate such concern into their arguments if it is not already there ought to be obvious. Since when is advocacy of moderation, restraint, conservation and the distribution of wealth and power anything other than a conservative argument? (I hear someone there laughing in the back.) That’s the problem–conservatives who advocate such things tend to come off as some mixture of antique and eccentric, while the “mainstream” continues its embarrassing glorification of an unsustainable, undesirable, unhealthy and foolish way of life. The last laugh will be on them.