There a new political website, called Culture11, one many are calling a ‘right-of-center Salon’ that looks promising. It’s more youth-oriented (by which I do not mean Young-Republican) and it seems to cater more toward thoughtful and intellectual analysis than mere campaigning and propaganda.
Assuming the Republicans lose this next election – and the more I consider McCain’s VP pick, the more this seems likely – they should find themselves at a low enough point in which to rebuild themselves. They should tap into the growing sentiments toward libertarianism and traditional conservatism that seem to be present in the youth of today. The Ron Paul movement was largely fueled by the youth and was hardly a cult of personality. There are a lot of people on the fringes of the left and right, extremely dissatisfied with their parties’ platforms but mindful of the crackpottedness of the “Big L” Libertarians, who are eager to see ideas of individuality and freedom enter the mainstream.
The mainstream voices of the left and right have degenerated into mere advocacy of whatever is the platform of their particular party. Even in the NY Times, the “opinion” columns of Bill Kristol and Frank Rich are nearly indistinguishable from press releases from the parties. Intellectual vitality is lost to activism, and the readers suffer.
I’m a weird case, as anyone who has debated with me knows. I doubt the legitimacy of any government – I certainly deny the right of a government to detain, imprison, and even murder its own citizens – and I simply do not believe that any human being or organization has any dominion over another. Some would say this makes me an anarchist. However, I also try to be a realist. So, I recognize that as long as we do have a government, and are likely to for a long freaking time, they might as well keep us safe from harm – by which I mean in terms of health care more so than security. Considering my own medical, um, hijinx this might not come as a surprise, but many would say that this disqualifies me from the political right-wing. Add to it the fact that I am pro-choice, anti-war, soft on immigration, etc and you might think that you’ve got a bona fide Lefty on your hands. But, add to it that I am generally pro-business, pro-small government, pro-states rights, anti-hate crimes legislation, etc. and my readers (mostly Lefties likely) might be surprised. I have my reasons for all of these stances, reasons with which I could inundate you, given the opportunity, but mainly I value independence of thought. I like reading thoughtful articles and blog posts I disagree with, just as much as I do the ones I agree with.
When I first got into politics I only read stuff on the left. I was a fan of Common Dreams and Tom Tomorrow; now I can’t stand them. Stuff like that and The Huffington Post are utterly predictable. I might agree with a great portion of it, but if you only encounter agreeable material you will become intellectually stagnant. So, as usual via the loooong way, this brings me back to Culture11. I disagree with much of the opinions on the site, but I respect the thoughtfulness behind it.
For example this is from an article called They Doth Protest Too Much, about the DNC protests:
Perhaps it is true, as Susan Sontag posited in On Photography, that there is “an aggression implicit in every use of the camera,” but it is clearly not an aggression on par with the menacing gait, symbolic defiance and petulant attitude protesters attempt to co-opt into their faux insurgent chic. Admittedly, adopting a believable revolutionary stance must be difficult in a city where the Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations publishes a helpful pamphlet on how to avoid arrest. Yet something larger is at work here. “As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure,” Sontag wrote. “Thus, photography develops in tandem with one of the most characteristic of modern activities: tourism.”
The essence of the infamous 1968 Democratic convention to the Recreate68ers tourists, it seems, was not philosophical, but cultural. The protesters aren’t really here to shake up the system or tear down the edifice of a decaying society. None, not even those designated to speak to the press and police liaisons, exhibit the kind of charisma or ambition necessary for something as grand as all that. The Zapatistas in Chiapas would surely accept their aid if these twentysomethings and younger wanted to trade their hovel in the ‘rents basement and an X-Box for a jungle bunker and war against the man. No, it’s more akin to the conceit of Total Recall: they paid the price to come travel to a city where, for a week, they can live an artificial — but lurid — version of a dangerous — but celebrated — time in history. They came to rub elbows with a story, to gain that “imaginary possession of a past that is unreal”; to be able to say, like the vets of SDS and the Weathermen Underground, “Hey, we were there when the s*** went down.”
See, most analyses of the DNC protests either hail them as cultural heroes or unamerican criminals. This article definitely paints them in a less-than-glowing light, but at least it is thought-provoking. You may disagree with it, but you can’t simply dismiss it with a snarky comment like most partisan commentary. Personally, I think that protest-culture is essential to the health of any society, yet damn, most of those motherfuckers are annoying and just as close-minded as the people they condescendingly condemn. And I’ve been one of them.
In short, we need more conservative voices at this level. Culture11 is coming at a good time, the market is dying for smart right-of-center voices. We’ll see how it develops, but I’m optimistic. Give it a read, it will probably piss you off a little, but whoever said that’s a bad thing?