conservative art


Even before the elections last November, particularly astute conservatives had lamented that many of the supposed victories for their cause were in truth nothing to celebrate. Most of these persons were paleo- or traditional conservatives, who saw in the Bush administration little that was genuinely conservative and much that testified to the further usurpation of the word “conservative,” and of the Republican Party by a neoconservative agenda. That agenda was largely repugnant to those who believed in local and limited government founded on enduring cultural traditions, stable and self-sustaining communities, and, above all, the Christian intellectual legacy which informs all things by means of faith and reason. They, naturally, saw even less to admire in the candidacy of John McCain. But the traditional and neo-conservative animus was not then and is not now reducible to competing definitions of “conservative” or even to competing public policy platforms. When, at the 1992 Republican National Convention, Patrick Buchanan, that arch paleo-conservative, railed that America was locked in a culture war, his observation was perspicuous but generally understood in unhelpful ways. The media and even most admirers of Buchanan drew the lines in that war between an abstract conservative theory of culture on the one hand and those who “manufacture” culture in our society, the culture industry mostly located in Hollywood and New York. As such, the culture war appeared to be little more than disgruntlement of the heartland against the coasts, of consumers against retailers, of passive recipients against makers, or, at best, armchair theorists against commercially successful practitioners, the categories of whose success went undisputed.

more from James Matthew Wilson at First Principles here.