I have too many half-read books on my bookshelf (or in some cases stacked in piles in my office). One of them is Crunchy Cons, by Rod Dreher, with the subtitle “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, … America (or at least the Republican Party).”
I don’t wear Birkenstocks, I’m not all that hip (and certainly not a mama), but I am an evangelical, right-wing nature lover who buys eggs from free-range chickens even though they cost more.
Dreher sums up what it is to be a “crunchy con” (crunchy for granola-eating, and con for conservative) in A Crunchy-Con Manifesto:
1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
10. Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives.
Things that are important: faith, family, community, beauty, nature, truth, wisdom.
Grace and Peace
5 thoughts on “A Crunchy-Con Manifesto”
Much of the manifesto could easily be adopted by a moderate or even a liberal. It seems to focus more on the “crunchy” aspect. :) What’s the conservative part? What “strictly” conservative ideals does a crunchy con have? Small government? Pro-life? Anti-gay marriage? Trickle-down economics? Aggressive military?
I consider myself a liberal and could agree with most of that list. Except, I’m much more scared of a Big Company than I am of a democratically elected big government.
It is the focus on the local and on character that makes it conservative. Liberals focus on the global and on education. To most liberals, education is the solution to moral problems in society. To a conservative, character and discipline are the primary solutions.
I must say, Dreher’s book is 100x better than his blog, which I find ill-thought-out much of the time.
I like that, but I would say that both liberals and conservatives agree that education and character are important. And in many ways, one without the other can be troubling. And I would say character development requires education and learning. So, do you think it’s more about where the primary focus is?
I certainly don’t see education as a panacea, but I do believe it’s highly valuable and important. And I believe we’ve seen a lot of good come from expanding education.
I agree that there is overlap between the Crunchy Con position and much of American liberalism, at least in areas of emphasis. Both, for example, emphasize the environment. Exploitation or neglect of nature should not be a conservative value, but it seems to be in some segments of the Republican Party. The difference between liberalism and Crunchy Con conservatism is often in how environmental issues are addressed. Conservatives will tend to see the same problems and look for market solutions (without neglecting government’s role), while liberal solutions are often much more heavy on the government side while stifling the economy.
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