Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Crunchy Con Anthem

There's a big debate on Rod Dreher's new book Crunchy Cons. Jeremy's reading it and I hope we'll get some choice excerpts. I used to consider myself pretty crunchy in my personal life, but reading some of these accounts I realize I'm a sold-out, gone commercial, corporate zombie (I mean, my kids go to public school and had their full set of vaccinations, for crying out loud!) Some of the comments in the debate I've found very interesting:

A short footnote (and guys, we need to start keeping these short, as Our Dear KLo instructed us), on the apparent problem of needing $$ to lead a Crunchy life: My suggestion is to search out and buy whatever you can secondhand. It really solves two problems at once — maybe three. First, since there's such a cultural premium on newness rather than quality, you get a steep discount merely for buying something that's not wrapped in plastic. Second, you get a corresponding rise in value; goods are cheaper than at Walmart, yet often nicer in quality. And third, in many cases, your purchase helps a charity (eg, buying furniture at a thrift shop).

That resonated, since pretty much all my pants and shirts come from Opportunity House or the Salvation Army. Then there's this, about the general decline in cooking:

For example, it was hard for me to figure out why my mom never was much for cooking, and why she tended to think that food out of a can or from a restaurant was somehow cleaner and better than food made at home (even though we had our own garden, and for a short while raised chickens). I thought it was just her, but then I came to discover as an adult that many of my friends had the same experience with their moms. Julie, my wife, somehow came across a trove of women’s magazine articles from the 1950s, when our moms grew up, and the propaganda the food industry hit postwar homemakers with was simply incredible. Stories and advertisements taught a whole generation of women to distrust cooking at home, and to have faith in giant food processing companies. Suddenly, things started to make a lot more sense to me. The perfectly good food, and food traditions, of my rural hometown were diminished and devalued.

The promotion of bottle feeding is another example of this I can think of.

But some things draw my suspicion. When people start talking about fourteenth century nominalism as being where we went wrong or new monasticism, I've got the sinking feeling that this is just one more attempt to argue the absurd proposition that Catholicism is essential to a really robust conservatism (more on nominalism here). And as a political movement, I'm kind of ambivalent about whether a new set of hyphenated cons is a good thing.

But in any case, I've always been surprised that this country hit never became a cross-over favorite with the anti-Walmart forces:

Little Man

I remember walk'in round the court square sidewalk
Lookin' in windows at things I couldn't want
There's johnson's hardware and morgans jewelry
And the ol' Lee king's apothecary
They ware the little man
The little man

I go back now and the stores are all empty
Except for an old coke sign from 1950
Boarded up like they never existed
Or renovated and called historic districts
There goes the little man
There goes the little man

Now the court square's just a set of streets
That the people go round but they seldom think
Bout the little man that built this town
Before the big money shut em down
And killed the little man
Oh the little man

He pumped your gas and he cleaned your glass
And one cold rainy night he fixed your flat
The new stores came where you do it yourself
You buy a lotto ticket and food off the shelf
Forget about the little man
Forget about that little man

He hung on there for a few more years
But he couldn't sell slurpees
And he wouldn't sell beer
Now the bank rents the station
To a down the road
And sell velvet Elvis and
Second-hand clothes
There goes little man
There goes another little man

Now the are lined up in a concrete strip
You can buy the world with just one trip
And save a penny cause it's jumbo size
They don't even realize
They'er killin' the little man
Oh the little man

It wasn't long when I was a child
An old black man came with his plow
He broke the ground where we grew our garden
Back before we'd all forgot about the little man
The little man
Long live the little man
God bless the little man

(Scroll down to "Little Man" to listen and watch the video here).