30 July 2004
Aldahlia, after wrestling with Wendy Shalit's A Return to Modesty, has calculated that conservative books, like Gaul, are divided into three parts.
There are Moderate Conservative books, there are Religious Instruction books, and well, there's the Hate Fest:
[L]acking any sense of humor or trace of irony, [these books] vehemently blame half of the country for everything that's every gone wrong, on any planet, in any universe, in the history of time. Increased prison populations: it's the Deviant Liberals. Inability to finance a third summer home in the Hamptons: it's the Lazy Liberals. Small pain in ankle after long hike: it's the Taxing Liberals. Raining in Baltimore: it's Liberal Wizards with Satanic Sympathies.
Substantial pain in neck during four days in Boston: it's the Anybody But Bush Liberals.
Meanwhile, on Shalit in particular:
What cracked me up about A Return to Modesty was its blatant disregard for the realities of a free market, even though the first lines in the book state that she's a fiscal "conservative" and the daughter of an Economist. Guess what? You can't advocate for the moral superiority of an unrestrained open market, and then pretend that it won't have any effect on the cultural outlook on sex. Well… you can… but you can't expect to do so and be taken seriously. When we're told that it's a virtue to view all things as commodities, then it should come as no shock when all things become commodities.
The response from social conservatives is likely to be something along the lines of "Some things are too important to be left to the marketplace." Contemporary liberals will agree, though their list of "some things" will be substantially (I almost said "radically") different.
And this is exactly why the Republican Party has spates of fractiousness: fiscal conservatives and social conservatives have at best fairly narrow strips of common ground, and holding them together is trickier than it looks, especially with Bill Clinton, their common bête noire, on the sidelines.
I'm thinking we can expect even more subgenres under the category of "conservative books" in the future.