I first discovered Rod Dreher in his book Crunchy Cons, but I had forgotten its wonderful “manifesto”:
- We are conservatives who stand outside the contemporary conservative mainstream. We like it here; the view is better, for we can see things that matter more clearly.
- We believe that modern conservatism has become too focused on material conditions, and insufficiently concerned with the character of society. The point of life is not to become a more satisfied shopper.
- We affirm the superiority of the free market as an economic organizing principle, but believe the economy must be made to serve humanity’s best interests, not the other way around. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
- We believe that culture is more important than politics, and that neither America’s wealth nor our liberties will long survive a culture that no longer lives by what Russell Kirk identified as “The Permanent Things”—those eternal moral norms necessary to civilized life, and which are taught by all the world’s great wisdom traditions.
- A conservatism that does not recognize the need for restraint, for limits, and for humility is neither helpful to individuals and society nor, ultimately, conservative. This is particularly true with respect to the natural world.
- A good rule of thumb: Small and Local and Old and Particular are to be preferred over Big and Global and New and Abstract.
- Appreciation of aesthetic quality—that is, beauty—is not a luxury, but key to the good life.
- The cacophony of contemporary popular culture makes it hard to discern the call of truth and wisdom. There is no area in which practicing asceticism is more important.
- We share Kirk’s conviction that “the best way to rear up a new generation of friends of the Permanent Things is to beget children, and read to them o’ evenings, and teach them what is worthy of praise: the wise parent is the conservator of ancient truths. … The institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
- Politics and economics will not save us. If we are to be saved at all, it will be through living faithfully by the Permanent Things, preserving these ancient truths in the choices we make in everyday life. In this sense, to conserve it create anew.
As of today, Rod is writing for the European Conservative, which is a more comfortable fit for this manifesto than was and is much of American conservatism.
I am encouraged. Less than a week ago I was writing Rod off for going off the deep end into Chicken Littleism, on one topic in particular. But suddenly, all of his posts have turned palatable if not consistently delicious.