Saturday, January 07, 2006

Should Postmodernists Be Conservative?

Postmodernists (Post-Modernists, if you prefer) glory in their ethos of anti-ethos. Anything goes. Truth is relative. Your perspective and my perspective, though different, aren’t contradictory as much as just different sides of the same issue. This can wreak havoc for those in the truth business, especially the Church. (This may single-handedly be the reason I so adore the Catholic Church as a protestant: it does not hesitate to point out the evil of relativism.) But there may be advantages to such skepticism in the political world.

It Postmodernism has an inherent distrust of authority, of systems and leaders as being the arbiters of truth and order, why would any of them be liberal? (Liberal in the modern sense of the word, not the etymological.) Every day as I hear about scandals in DC, corruption in politics, and power-hungry men and women seeking more power at whatever cost, I think, “This is why government should be small.” This is the easiest solution to the problem of sin in politics. Keep government small enough so as to minimize the amount of damage that can be done. And thank God for the Bill of Rights, which kept big government at bay as long as possible.

The Conservative Movement is still willing to talk about small government, even if NO ONE in Washington seems willing to listen. (Please note, I am not saying Postmodernists should be Republicans, but conservatives. In terms of government spending philosophy, there seems to be an enormous bridge between the two at times.) Isn’t this ideal for Postmodernists, who favor local choice, freedom and autonomy from overarching policies applicable to all people?

Yet, it seems these Postmodernists to the core favor liberalism, the DNC, the party of “choice” and “tolerance.” I wonder if they don’t see the contradictions to their own ideology, the way they end up supporting a growth of government at all levels to somehow ensure more “rights” and “freedom” for all citizens. So instead of favoring Social Security reform, tax cuts and a reversal of Roe v. Wade (which would make it a state issue), they want just the opposite: high taxes, high social security and a federal judicial monopoly on abortion. On the one hand, you will hear these Gen Xers and Yers demand autonomy, and on the other hand demand big government. Maybe they’re just not bright enough to recognize their own contradictions. Is this what Ayn Rand meant when she said there can be no contradictions [if the ideology is sound]?

One reason may be the two words I heard recently define conservatism more than anything else: original sin. Conservative ideology is fueled by a sense of the fallen nature of man, hence comes rule of law, property rights, limited government, even a strong military. It strikes me that some Postmodernists would have a hard time accepting fully the notion of The Fall; it would be one more antiquated Truth unnecessary for our more “modern “understanding of human nature. Hence, a denial of the sinfulness of man, and a need for the protection from other men.

I suppose now we’re to the point where we must point out the inevitability of morality IN politics, that political decisions are all based on someone’s morality. And I suppose now a Postmodernist (something I don’t deny most people under 40 are to some degree) would say, “Well, which morality is the right one? There is no ‘right’ morality!” Maybe the Conservative Movement is closely tied to a rise in the Postmodern “ethos.” Maybe in time, libertarian-minded politicians will start to be elected as voters learn to vocalize their inherent distrust of authority.

Update: Huan at Neomodernism offers his own take on the issue.

Update 2: I recall an excellent book that addresses Relievedebtor's questions that you can still purchase here.-corbusier

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