Word Count: 715One problem with :To put it simply, and its not a problems that only conservatives very often confuse(or conflate ethics and aesthetics. When Gertrude Himmererfarf lambastes out (as sheperceives it) ‘amoral, ‘sexually deviant’ and ‘polymorpously perverse’ culture she isprimarily responding to something that she finds culturally foreign and aestheticallythreatening. I agree with her that values are oftentimes a good thing, but only when they areborn of an ethical and pragmatic perspective, not an aesthetic one.
The conservatives want a seemingly neat and compartment society wherein stableappearances are maintained and archaic cultural archetypes are adhered to religiously. Igrew up in a world of cultural archetypes. I grew up with white businessmen going tooffice buildings while their wives stayed at home and their kids went to school. or , moreaccurately, I grew up with alcoholic, adulterous business men who lives culturally insularlives while their wives took sedatives and smoked cigarettes and vented their frustrationson there kids, and these same kids took reams of drugs, got abortions, drove drunk, andvictimized the weaklings. I grew up in what most conservatives would consider a utopia;lots of money, prestige, cultural cohesion, and good conservative values.
But their values were in fact aesthetics, and maintaining these aesthetics ruled andruined their lives. Almost everyone in this suburban bourgeoisie system hated their lives,but because they had been brought up to worship aesthetic myths they felt that toquestion them was an admission of personal failure. What are these myths? they’re old and platitudinal but I’ll trot on them again:that’s money makes you happy, that society is right and that poverty is bad, thatmaintaining convention in every aspect of your life is the ultimate good, that aberrancefrom these ideas is sin. ect. I’m not going to say that the polar opposites of the clich;s is true, that would beone of the failings of the radical left. I believe that for the most part these criteria areirrelevant.
Money can make life easier, but it also can make life miserable. Poverty canbe bad but it can also be fine. Convention has some good points and some bad points. What it all comes down to is flexibility that should allow for the well being of theindividual without compromising the rights of other individuals.
When conservatives trot out their litany of evils-homosexuality, single parentfamilies, multiculturalism, ect. I’m always asking ‘why?’. If people are happy being gaythen whets wrong with that? it may be a lifestyle that’s aesthetically different from whatwe’ve been brought up with, but so what? and single parent families? better a lovingsingle parent family than a ‘conventional family’ wherein the parents hate each other andthe father is a demagogue. One reason that we have such a wide variety of alternative lifestyles is that theconventional lifestyles that the conservatives champion are often quite flawed andrestrictive. Restrictive mores can be terrific when applied to peoples violent impulses, butrestrictiveness is terribly unhealthy when its used to get people to conform to arbitratesocial archetypes.
This restrictiveness can make people feel inadequate and inferior andit needs to be done away with. If someone’s gay, let them be gay. If your son wants to marry a black woman (orwhite or yellow or Muslim) then let the,. We need to love each other and support eachother even if we choose to live in alternatives but harmless ways. Obviously if your son is a rapist or a wifebeater or a child molester then you need to question your support ofhis actions and values. I’m not championing a retreat for responsibility.
I believe that personal andsocial well being is built upon and foundation of hard work, loyalty, honesty, diligence,respect, tolerance, and other good ‘values. ‘ But it doesn’t matter what the culturalmanifestation of the values looks like. It can be straight or gay or male or female orblack or white or anything as long as its respectful and makes the practitioner feel well. So my advise to cultural conservatives (and others) would be to cultivate anapproach to values based on principles rather than aesthetics.
I would also like to saythat any pronouncements on the values of others, especially pronouncements veering intothe pre-scriptive realm, need to be cautious, pragmatic, logical and not just the typicallyhateful and reactionary vacuities that we’ve grown so accustomed to. .