Thursday, February 23, 2012


DougJ writes about David Brooks and Charles Murray:

If you've been following all the Charles Murray/Bobo bullshit recently, this is exactly their fixation: it's not enough to help the great unwashed find good jobs, the unwashed need their social superiors beside them to guide them (cause when they’re bad, they're so so bad). It's not that Murray/Bobo's methods to make this happen are unsound, it's that I don't see any method at all, sir. Writing books and columns about how tote-baggers should live nearer to strip malls simply does not qualify as a method. Also too, believing that tote-baggers should live closer to strip malls is also a very strange reason to oppose health care ad economic initiatives.

Conservatives may even be right (for all I know) that the moral/philosophical beliefs of the middle-class are the most important thing in our country. But they have no realistic plans to "improve" these beliefs.

So it is in general with conservatism. Everything is about some ineffable pseudo-spirituality that may or may not have anything to do with the material world. Why does anyone take conservatives seriously?

I'm not sure why anyone takes right-wingers' spiritual/moral claptrap seriously, but I have a couple of thoughts about why so many of them talk this way.

First of all, ask yourself why fifteen-year-olds say "Fuck you" at the dinner table to their parents. That's easy: they do it because they know they're stuck living with these people; the only way to make that bearable is to needle their parents by saying whatever pisses them off the most. Well, that's how right-wing pseudo-intellectuals feel about us liberals and moderates -- they have to live in the same country with us, and they hate it, so they become God-botherers and moralists because they think nothing could possibly annoy us more. I really believe that's one of the primary reasons they do this -- do you believe Brooks and Murray and Ross Douthat and William Bennett really have a deep, abiding love for God and a profound level of spirituality? I certainly don't. Jimmy Carter really loves God -- not these self-satisfied clowns. It's all just a bird-flip disguised as a moral philosophy.

One other reason right-wingers talk spirituality and morals is: what chance is there that their theories will ever have to undergo a reality test? You advocate, say, deregulating Wall Street, or overthrowing Saddam, and eventually you're confronted with the consequences of what you proposed. But Murray and Brooks and the other advocates of a Great, Selfless Spiritual/Moral Awakening in America know that it will never, ever happen -- nobody actually wants anything like that to happen, and that includes most religious Americans (and right-wingers). So it's always going to be the thing we've never tried, and thus, as a pundit, you can prescribe it forever.


Ten Bears said...

They don't want to win, they just want to fight.

That ought to be reason enough to put an end to it.

BH said...

A mild dissent, Steve. I think it quite possible that Brooks, Murray et al. - as well as Carter - may indeed have a "love for God and a profound level of spirituality", which is merely another way of saying that they're willing to abandon rationality & to believe in something without a shred of credible supporting evidence. The difference between them and Carter is simply how each defines - i.e., confabulates - "God". My 2 cents, anyhow.

Barry DeCicco said...

A quibble: "it's not enough to help the great unwashed find good jobs, "

They don't believe this; they're firmly in the camp that a peasant who's not on the edge of survival means that the overseer hasn't been making him sweat blood enough.

Steve M. said...

Well, Murray actually seems to think that no one should help the great unwashed find jobs, but only because scolding them for their morals will help them find work more readily than actually helping them find work will.