I'll probably regret posting this. I always do when I venture into social politics. Which is a good sign that I should stay the fuck away.
I am left of center myself. Although that's debatable, I suppose. Al pointed out once that 'not giving a shit' is not really political stance. I figure you could make the argument that this basically libertarian attitude in a nutshell, but... Truthfully I think she has a point.
By an large my default approach to matters cultural/social is - if it feels good, do it, as long as it ain't hurting anyone else. If that's the case - go for it and don't bother me with the details. Things outside of economics and foreign policy tend to bore me fairly quickly.
This tends to stretch from drugs to prostitution to more tricky things like gay rights or hate speech.
(By the way - damn I have unleashed the verbal diarrhea again, it looks like. Hand to God, I originally planned this post to be about a sentence-long, commenting that that the defense of the President re the DOMA kerfuffle seems to have been boiled down to the combination of "Above my paygrade" and "Not now, I'm busy." I am not entirely certain that's going to win back the disaffected supporters....)
Anyway. As I said - the starting position for me in these kinds of debates - go for it. WHich is kinda kooky, considering that over the last decade or so I have really come to appreciate the basic tenet of conservatism. I wrote about this before but to summarize it boils down to "If there's a rule that existed for centuries - maybe there's a good reason for it. Be damn sure it's broke before you start fixing it)
But then, of course, a lot of the Culture War battles are being fought over the issues that tend to defy easy solutions. I mean it's pretty easy to point to the 20th century and say that socialism doesn't work. And even there you are bound to get flamed.
But once you start talking about abortion....
That's the one that always gives me, personally, the most trouble. The core argument is, as has been belabored by everyone and anybody at this point, is of course between individual freedom and the responsibility of the State.
That's the fundamental dividing line. But what does that mean? On the simplistic extremes everyone would agree - the state doesn't have the power over your body, you do. But you don't have the right to kill people, only the state does.
Basically as soon as it (fetus) becomes a s/he (person) it becomes a citizen and thus entitled to life, property and pursuit of happiness.
So the only question that matters is when does that happen.
I am obviously reinventing the wheel here, this is nothing new to anyone. Like I said - verbal prolapse.
And I am not going to tell you what I think about it, either. But I have no problem seeing how such simple decision becomes absolutely, horrifically deadlocked. I mean dude, literally that issue forces people to figure out the meaning of Life!
What a brainfuck.
And the rest of the Culture War battlefields are equally tricky in their own way.
Vice Crimes, for example (and I include hate speech/crimes in that). Personally I am of the mind that the (anti) laws are largely unenforcible. People are going to drink, gamble, buy sex, talk dirty, talk badly about people they don't like. It's human nature.
Which is ironically another good Conservative concept. The idea is that the essentials of Humanity's makeup are unchangeable. We can relate as much to Homer's Achilles as we can to Homer Simpson. Individuals might change. People don't.
Liberalism has always been a lot more optimistic in that respect, believing in perfectibility of Man by a variety of means.
I was thinking about that recently, because I was rewatching Serenity. And it stuck me, not for the first time - there's a reason that Whedon tends to attract sociology/poli sci majors to his stuff like flies to a cowflop. Firefly alone can provide enough fuel for years of seminars on its political message and how it relates to contemporary Western Civilization.
It'd be an interesting post to write in its own right and I was actually thinking of doing that but got distracted. Joss clearly considers himself to be an anarchist, I think. He pretty much came out and declared as much (through Riley of all people) in Buffy. And that has been one of the more enduring messages through all of his work: Distrust Institutions!
Doesn't matter what guise they take - law firm, government, Church, Secret Society Out to Do Good. It doesn't matter. All Institutions turn on the individuals in the end. Trust nothing outside the Clan, the only thing that matters in the end is Family - and not necessarily the one built on blood and genes.
Believe in the tribe, believe in the individual - and in the end they will come through for you, accomplish amazing things. Sometimes despite themselves, because humans are Fucked Up, but their inner chaos, their sheer unpredictibility and lack of self-control is often enough their final salvation. And even the bloodiest of villains can suddenly fight for his soul and reach for salvation, taking the world with him.
It's pretty trippy stuff.
Anyhow - whoops. Another unplanned detour. What I was going to say about the vice crimes is that - they can't be legislated out of men's souls. And trying to do so simply inculcates the disrespect for the Law. Once you disobey one, it's that much easier to disobey another. In that respect pot really IS a gateway drug. There's an old military adage - officer should never give an order he knows won't be followed.
Social and political constructs are pretty fragile agreements, when you come right down to it. (See Iran for example A.) It's surprisingly easy to delegitimize the system in small, incremental steps. To condition people that they are not really expected to follow laws because the laws are clearly unenforceable, illogical, unjust, etc.
And speech crimes are a part of that. But I wasted plenty of pixels on that during the whole Mohammed Cartoons fisaco. And anyway, my fingers are cramping.
- Culture Wars.