Symptoms of a sick culture…Jonah Goldberg
Symptoms of a sick culture
The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously remarked that, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
I’ve always liked that quote, but I think it misleads. That two plus two equals four is not a conservative truth or a liberal truth. It’s simply the truth. (Moynihan himself recognized this when he even more famously said that people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.)
Regardless, it’s true that culture is more important than politics. You could impose Sweden’s laws on the Middle East tomorrow, but you’d be well-advised not to hold your breath waiting for the Saudis to turn into the Swedes of the Arabian Peninsula.
But it’s also true that politics — specifically, government — can change cultures. It can be loud and bloody work, as with the abolition of slavery. Or the change can be more subtle. Twenty years ago, it was simply uncool to put on your seat belt. Now, everyone seems to do it reflexively. The law changed the culture, for the better.
Still, my biggest problem with Moynihan’s insight is that he didn’t think it all the way through. The “liberal truth” that politics can change a culture and save it from itself is double-edged. For just as politics can save the culture, politics can also destroy it.
- Irish Cyber Security (imperva.com)
- The Unhealthy Politics of Health Care (bloomberg.com)
- Is It Culture or Lack of Opportunity? (economistsview.typepad.com)
- Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: An Anti-Radical Liberal Who Saw The Unfortunate Future Where We Now Live (ifaynsh.wordpress.com)
- Politics Is a Circus (lewrockwell.com)
- Politics and the Symptoms of a Sick Culture (nationalreview.com)
- Sharper Than A Two Edged Sword (relationship-economy.com)
- Off-Topic – Re: Hijab (disclose.tv)
- Jonah Goldberg’s desperation (salon.com)
- A Method to My Madness (americantitanic.wordpress.com)