Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pillar To Ideological Post

Just watched author Chris Buckley on C-Span and was amused by his assertion that he, in response to a viewer question, considers himself in the oh so au courant and rarified ranks of the "post-ideological" and the "post-partisan". This presumably means that having had a patrician gut full of intractable conservative "ideology" he has moved on to a more "nuanced" position vis-a-vis his political zeitgeist. Christopher was on Book TV was to promote his latest tome 'Mum and Pup and Me', a love letter to pere and mere Buckley whom he greatly respects and admires despite their "flaws". The main flaw that fil Buckley seems to have inherited that he is entirely too eruditely full of himself (and I say this as a great lover of his pitch-perfect comic novels).

It has recently become the tactic of a few extremophobe conservative erudites to consider themselves as having epiphanically ascended from the grubby ranks of the God-fearin' country-lovin' illiberal foot-soldiery to the Olympian realms of the post-ideological pragmatist. Not for them the stubborn intransigence of sticking to long-held principles in the stark face of sweeping electoral rejection especially when the current Big Chair occupant is one that you'd be far more at ease having over for cocktails at the Bar Harbor Yacht Club than the alleged knuckle-dragger previously occupying said chair. Which is an irony of nuclear megatonage considering that the current chair sitter is a black Chicago ward-heeler and the previous sitter the holder of impeccable New England family credentials--but I digress.


This is a choice to which I have not the slightest objection but what I wonder is how this can any any fashion whatever not be an "idea". That is to say how is this non-ideological and how for that matter can having any strong opinion on any facet of politics, economics, or culture not be considered "ideological"? If you have an idea of how things should work then you have an ideology--period. You may dislike other ideologies but to claim that you have none is puerile sophistry at best and intellectual preening at worst.

I am not aware of any injunction that the inhabitants of any particular segment of the poli-sphere be best buddies. Ol' Bill B. his own self loathed such as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace but even he would never have characterized either as liberal or heaven forfend, progressive. Which only proves that the conservative "big tent" is a lot roomier than is haughtily averred by liberals/progressives. If Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Lieberman, Jesse Jackson, and even, urk, Janeane Garafolo can be considered to noisily occupy one tent then why may not another shelter William Buckley, Mark Steyn, Fred Thompson, Alan Keyes, Ron Paul and, urkier, Pat Buchanan?

Obviously it can and does and there may even be a few uncomfortable points of overlap. It's a perilous no-man's land in between the tents however and to attempt to occupy this political Alsace-Lorraine is trying, as I should know, at the best of times. It is true that my philosophical cotangency with progressives is far far slimmer than conservatives but as I've stated before I like to think that I've stood relatively still while the progressive tent has pseudopoded off in directions little to my liking while contrary to the wailings of many the conservative tent population distribution stands about where it has for many decades. The primary difference between now and say the 1950s is that due to our overwhelming information culture we hear a whole lot more about everything and that of course includes the fever swamps of the political landscape. So they tend to loom larger psychologically even if these swamps command the allegiance of no greater a percentage of the population than they ever did.

To this observer there seems to be more introspection and self-criticism inside the conservative tent as time goes on and less in the progressive/liberal tent. The C-tent may even be more "inclusive". One can consider himself a conservative and yet be off-put by conspiratical Paulists and completely revolted by hard-core Creationists. It is far more difficult to abide in the Prog/lib tent if one is for school choice, or anti-abortion, or queasy about same-sex marriage, or indeed to exhibit a similarly contrarian range of opinion that would not result in apostasy from conservative ranks. All that centrist grumping aside there is nothing whatever about any political position that is not manifestly ideological.

So declaiming oneself to have matured past ideology, and its meritricious handmaiden partisanship, is nothing more than using the terms as pure pejoratives divorced from any real meaning. Thus we see/hear that ideological=bad, partisan=bad, fascist=bad, reactionary=bad etc. This is what might be characterized as the Stewart/Olbermann/Maddow school of political analysis which is gaining currency at the same rate it is sinking out of sight of epistemological coherency.

Every one of every stripe, Commie, southern conservative, country-club Republican, fascist, socialist, Creationist, tree-hugger, Reparationist, Know-Nothing, feminist, deconstructionist, liberal, progressive, etc. etc. etc. is a flippin' ideologue. If you don't have ideas you're, well, dead, and have nothing further about which to trouble yourself. Even if you are a squish and have a metaphorical foot in several camps that constitutes an idea does it not? Which leads to the ultimate pejorative use of the word which is that if you are disinclined to change your position to sway reed-like in the political flow then you are an "Ideologue", i.e a bad person.

My bad.

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