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by Christopher Chantrill
October 08, 2009 at 4:58 pm
I ADMIT it. I was wrong. When I wrote about the importance of woman-centered conservatism back in 2007 here, in 2008 here, and this year here, I was thinking about a continuing of the old conservatism, but centered on the issues that matter most to women: health, education, and welfare.
It was an easy mistake to make. But it was wrong. Now we know what is really going to happen. Indeed it is happening before our very eyes. The new conservatism is going to be a woman-led conservatism.
No doubt when our liberal friends get to hear of this they will come up with a suitable pejorative. But it will probably be more insulting than chick-con.
The scales fell of my eyes as I was reading Steven F. Haywards article in the Washingon Post enticingly titled (for liberals) Is Conservatism Brain-Dead? Where are all the serious conservative titles that used to crowd the best-seller list, Hayward mourned? Your Glenn Becks, your Ann Coulters, your Michelle Malkins dont quite make the grade, at least not for Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan.
But wait a minute. What about all the serious titles by conservative women that have been coming out in recent years? I am thinking of titles like Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit, The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers, What Our Mothers Didnt Tell Us by Danielle Crittenden. Those are just the more popular ones. There is also Smart Sex by Jennifer Roeback Morse and Domestic Tranquility by F. Carolyn Graglia.
Its true that these titles havent been best-sellers on the scale of George Gilders Wealth and Poverty and Charles Murrays Losing Ground that scored big in the 1980s. Anyway, Michelle Malkins Culture of Corruption is a best-seller, a solid investigative work, and should be a bible for any young conservative activist that cant wait to go underground into Chicago politics armed with a Flip MinoHD.
The woman-led conservative future is not just about conservative books written by women. It is about political activism led by women.
Lets stop worrying about losing the battle of Web 2.0. The experience of the last few months shows that conservative activists know how to use the on-line social networking tools as well as liberals. We now know how the Tea Parties got started. It wasnt astroturf manufacturers in Washington DC or racists in Racine, WI. It was women organizing with social network sites like Smart Girl Politics.
A couple of weeks ago the Smart Girl Nation held their first Smart Girl Politics summit in Nashville, TN. Then theres NeW, the Network of enlightened Women, celebrating its fifth birthday. The NeW women are conservative college women organizing on campuses all over the US to read conservative titles from Danielle Crittenden and Christina Hoff Sommers and to challenge liberal monstrosities like The Vagina Monologues. No doubt there are hundreds of similar efforts that are operating below the radar.
For all the celebration of womens liberation, the modern world has been difficult for women. The characteristic organizationsthe corporation and the family firmhave performed miracles in taming the natural male urge for war, booty, and rapine. Now instead of battling for lebensraum, men fight for market share and trophy wives. For those less courageous theres the hierarchical bureaucracy, preferred by absolute monarchies, religious orthodoxies, armies, and welfare states.
Women specialize in social relations. Every women lives at the center of a web of social relations; she spends a good part of her life maintaining those social relations by conversation and the exchange of small gifts. Over the last century liberals have forcibly wrecked the gossamer threads of these webs. To paraphrase Marx, liberals have drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of [loving] fervour, of [emotional] enthusiasm, of [feminine] sentimentalism, in the icy water of political power. That is why society, social, societal, socialism, sociology and all the soc- words have come to mean not convivial and communal relations but the reduction of all social relations into cruel politics and power.
Another word for social relations is social networking. And in social networking is power of a different kind. It is not the male power of physical force, of bureaucratic offices, armed forces, and market valuations. It is the kind of power that women exert and have always exerted through their social relations. In Spirit and Flesh, James M. Ault related how this worked in a fundamentalist Christian church in Worcester, MA. All the church offices were held by men, he explained, but that didnt mean that the men held all the power. The women controlled the church and they controlled it through their gossip networks. In their daily conversations the women defined social reality, who had done what to whom, and what the church community should do about it.
To imagine what liberal women could do with the social networking tools on the internet is frightening. Fortunately they are all at work, trying to prove that gender is a social construct. To realize what conservative women could do as they ride the crest of the social networking wave in the months and years ahead is awe-inspiring.
You will notice that I have said nothing about a certain woman conservative leader whose unpublished book is, at the moment of writing, #1 on the Amazon bestseller list.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel