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Crunchy Cons

I don’t fit neatly into any of the established definitions of conservative or liberal as they are currently discussed in the U.S. My husband says I’m a raging liberal. Most true liberals would think I’m painfully conservative. I’d describe myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. So I was intrigued by the book
Crunchy Cons:
How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party) by Rod Dreher.

I don’t agree with everything in this book. For example the author is a conservative Catholic and uses the term “pagan” disparagingly to refer to anything non-Christian. He also feels that it is necessary to breed a new generation that shares your beliefs. Obviously I’m not big on anything that says that the best thing you can do is add to the population of the world.

But, he made some really good points. He is very against comsumerism.

“What do I mean by consumerism? It’s an uncodified materialist philosophy that considers the acquisition of goods and services at the least expensive price to be a fundamental social value. Consumerism fetishizes individual choice, and sees its expansion as unambiguous progress. A culture guided by consumerist values is one that welcomes technology without question, and prizes efficiency. A consumerist culture also tends to cede authority to the secular priesthood of scientists and other professional experts. Its idea of liberty involves the steady increase of the individual’s sovereignty (the choice thing again). A consumerist society encourages its members both to find and express their personal identity through the consumption of products. Its ultimate goal is the spread of happiness and well-being through the improvement of material condition, and the creation and general increase of wealth.

And if moral and spiritual values get in the way of that, well, hey babe, you can’t stop progress.”

The husband and I debate this all the time. He is a buyer. He wants to have stuff to impress people. I can’t stand that attitude. He is very concerned about what people think of us based on our possessions. For the longest time he didn’t want me to let people in the house if he thought that their houses where nicer than ours. I just don’t get it. We have a perfectly nice house. He goes on business trips and hangs out with really rich people at their houses.

He is starting to get better about this. It think it is a combination of my values rubbing off on him and him spending enough time with the super-rich for the initial rosy impressions to wear off. He actually has said to me that I would absolutely hate the houses he visits and he has even said that he thinks they are excessive. Major concessions from him!

I think that my attitude towards cosumerism is the base of my continuing fight with my mother over presents. I don’t want my future kid to grow up materialistic, especially if we ever have lots of money. My mother believes that everyone should be given huge amounts of presents at any gift-giving opportunity. It is definate conflict. So how do you raise a child to have less materialistic standards than the world around them?

2 Comments

  • Jessica

    One idea would be to say if they must give presents, to specify the kind of gift you’d prefer. Examples: things needed, something sentimental, homemade, educational, family oriented, or something that inspires creativity/art. My mom always asks her mother for antiques and old pictures that have been in the family instead of anything store-bought. She gives us clothes and other necessities for holidays. I get into the homemade gifts when gift-giving for holidays. My one brother growing up loved getting food of all things for Christmas. As a kid, one year I gave my grandmother a painting I did. I also would get board games as a kid which I would then play with the family. There’s lots of non-materialistic present opportunities.

  • Nio

    I saw that book while I was at the airport but I didn’t have any money to buy it, so I didn’t.

    I agree with you on the gift thing. It’s something I struggle with Wolf’s mother about. I’ve tried to tell her over and over not to get us anything, especially now that she’s retired and on a fixed income, but it’s like I’m talking to a wall. I have no idea how I would navigate these waters if I was a parent so I can’t offer any advice except this: send back the gifts, unopened. If you do it enough times, your mother will get the point. ‘Course, I’m sure it’ll lead to some pretty nasty fights between you and her so I don’t think it’s a viable solution.

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