Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Are the Culture Wars Necessary?

Dear Anne,

Over at The Worst Horse, Rod Meade Sperry has written an article on Buddhism and Britney Spears that seems to conclude on the commonplace note we should all treat Britney as a fellow human. Halfway through the article, though, he drops this gem about the alleged Culture War going on in this country:

There's a lot of talk in America that we're living in the main arena of a Culture War: conservatives vs. liberals, traditionalists vs. progressives, the heartland vs. the coasts, the old fuddyduddies vs. the Youth Gone Wild. The way things should be vs. the way they are. On some level that's one bullshit notion, isn't it? Liberty means diversity, harmony. If we're all in this together, then let's all be in this together.

It's refreshing to find someone who thinks the Culture Wars are nonsense. He seems to think so for the right reason too: Liberty implies inevitable diversity, and thus the task of any citizen who wants to live with the benefits of liberty certainly cannot be to condemn others who do them no harm, but rather must be to find ways to live in harmony with others. Kudos to Mr. Sperry for saying it!

What he does not say, but merely implies, is that folks who feel one side or the other must win the Culture Wars surely place themselves at fundamental odds with liberty. You cannot have one side beat the other to a pulp and liberty for all at the same time.

Yet, that raises an interesting question, Anne. Do you think it is at all possible for the sides in the Culture Wars to live in harmony with each other?



Brendan said...

Everything has to be a "war" to keep people from realizing just how much in common our interests really are and banding together like we should to look out for one another.

The goal of such a "war" is to keep as many people as possible believing there is a war so that there is no sense of unity. Thus, the real conflict is over whether there even is a "war," or if that's just something constructed to keep us divided and distracted.

Paul said...

I quite agree, my friend! The politicians play their games, and the rest of us pay the price. And it's a very heavy price we pay when it amounts to dividing the country against itself.

I suppose that raises the question of whether the leaders of the Religious Right are ultimately too selfish and self centered for the good of the country -- for it's the Religious Right that I understand to have been the first to "declare war" here.

Thank you so much for your comment!