Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Cultural Liberalism and Conservatism

Glenn Greenwald's discussion with Shant Misrobian gets it right, and very much in the spirit of my many discussions of the Arts & Humanities Tribe (and Government & Unions Tribe) years ago.  I don't like Rogan much because of his liberal views, and am neutral about his emphatic regular guy shtick. A&H Liberals are very concerned with cultural feel and social acceptability, overwhelming even their actual political views, and I am not just being cute in calling them a tribe. These have largely been my people for all of my life, though I acknowledge having a foot in both worlds for much of it. They seldom see how predictable they are and how driven by popular opinion, because they choose to be dedicated nonfollowers of the most popular fashions of the masses (ugh), thereby proving they are discerning and above all that. I have provided many examples of that culture's heroes over the years, from Pete Seeger to late-night hosts, but Tom Lehrer's characterisation remains one of the best:

It's likely unfair to include Dylan so much, who displayed a fair bit of independence of thought after he stopped sleeping with Joan Baez.

It is fair to note that many strands of conservatism fall prey to the same overvaluing of the symbolic over the content-driven.  On that side there tends to be a sentimentalism rather than a social popularity that interferes with the strictly rational.

9 comments:

Roy Lofquist said...

"On that side there tends to be a sentimentalism rather than a social popularity that interferes with the strictly rational."

"Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise."


Russell Kirk

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I'm reading Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald and getting an appreciation as to how much Dylan ran counter to the 1960's folkie-tribal grain. It was far more than just playing an electric guitar at Newport '65.

Zachriel said...

Oh a mighty winds a blowin’, it’s kickin’ up the sand
It’s blowin’ out a message to every woman, child and man
Yes a mighty winds a blowin’, cross the land and across the sea
It’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ equality
Yes it’s blowin’ peace and freedom,

it’s blowin’ you and me!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well-noted, Zachriel. That was the great sendup of the era, likely so deft because the writers still mostly believe it.

David Foster said...

"A&H Liberals are very concerned with cultural feel and social acceptability, overwhelming even their actual political views"

In general, people in a profession where their work is *non-measurable* are much more concerned about *what people think about them* than are people whose work is more measurable.

In a company, a b-to-b sales rep (or sales manager) who is at 130% of quota doesn't really need to worry a lot about how well-liked he is within the company...it's different for an HR manager.

Zachriel said...

Assistant Village Idiot: That was the great sendup of the era, likely so deft because the writers still mostly believe it.

Believe what? That a song can change the world? Heh. Perhaps not, but there is a strong cultural interaction between art and social change.

james said...

"Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." Andrew Fletcher

I'm not persuaded that the Folk Song Army anthems have had altogether benign effects. Or rappers, either.

Zachriel said...

Z: That a song can change the world?

"But poets, or those who imagine and express this indestructible order, are not only the authors of language and of music, of the dance, and architecture, and statuary, and painting: they are the institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society, and the inventors of the arts of life, and the teachers, who draw into a certain propinquity with the beautiful and the true that partial apprehension of the agencies of the invisible world which is called religion."

See Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, written 1821, published 1840.

PenGun said...

Never liked Dylan much, until I saw his paintings. They are good!