Larison says here that "...[Jonah] Goldberg demonstrates once again that he still has no idea what "crunchy" conservatism is." And he is right because no one really knows what crunchy conservatism is. As Kathleen famously observed here:
"[C]runchy cons" is a cipher, therefore it's anything you want it to be. Great taste and less filling!
Of course, Bubba the Energizer Bunny has pointed out many times that Rod doesn't really know what crunchy conservatism is either. For example.
Jonah's post is sensible and worth reading, as usual. It's also read-able which distinguishes it from writing that blogger Mark Shea might nickname the "IreallyreallyreallyloatheJonahGoldbergandhislittledogtoo" blog.
Daniel Larison also comes to Crunchy Conservatism's defense, typically protesting that I don't know what I'm talking about. Uh huh. I read the book. I participated in endless debates with Rod about it when his original article came out. It seems to me that Larison wants it to mean something other than what Rod has said time again. Maybe this is because Larison thinks that Crunchy Conservatism amounts to a useful marketing tool for his brand of "paleo" conservatism. I don't know, and I'm not going to try to read the mind of someone who's shown such unremitting hostility towards me. But he does simply assert that Crunchy Conservatism is what he says it is — i.e. a reformulated anti-statist paleoconservatism which "abhors" federal interventionism — and I find his assertions otherworldly. I know Rod says some nice things about Russell Kirk and the Agrarians (though his use and abuse of Kirk left a lot of people cold). But that's hardly a compelling presentation of evidence.
Hey, go back and check out that Claremont review, "Soft in the Middle". It's a slam-dunk and it contains great lines such as
One supposes it would surprise Dreher to know that achieving a workable balance between "we" and "I" is one of the defining achievements of Western civilization, an achievement that goes a long way to explain why the East, and not the West, has been historically mired in despotism (see Herodotus, et al.).
Also, while we're on the subject of smack-downs, Kathleen just reminded me of the insightful Mises.org article which came out exactly a year ago entitled "Crunchy Conned". Excerpt:
It never occurs to the author that his crunchy way of living is a consumable good — nay, a luxury good — made possible by the enormous prosperity that permit intellectuals like him to purport to live a high-minded and old-fashioned lifestyle without the problems that once came with pre-capitalist living.
He has fallen for some romantic notion of the past — happy, faithful communities raising their own food and working their own land — without considering the downside: infant mortality, plagues, lack of sanitation, short lives, surgery without anesthesia, and all the rest. The market — that global matrix of exchange that forms its own order out of billions of individual decisions — is his benefactor, and he seems completely unaware of it. A writer like this can make an economist wish that the invisible hand were slightly more visible so that at least its merits could be appreciated.
There are times when his romanticism is overt: as when he favorably cites John Ruskin's claim that the Industrial Revolution "came at the cost of [England's] soul" and ended up "debasing the soul of man by treating people as mere consumers." This line of thinking makes good poetry but has nothing to do with reality. How does a switch from wood fuel to fossil fuel debase the soul?
All good stuff by these "smart guys".But indulge this average American and let me, for the record, explain to everyone what crunchy conservatism means to me. I just thought of this while playing Rockem Sockem Robots the other night. Remember the old commercial saying that "4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum"? Crunchy Conservatism is embodied by that fifth dentist who flatly refused to be controlled by the corporate interests and all that. We don't really know what this wise prophet standing alone on the mountain peak recommended chewing, if anything, but I believe that whatever it was it is most certainly the key for our very survival, the regaining of our......"lost community soul". (Oooh! That was a good one! Yeah!) What do you think? What does Crunchy Conservatism mean to you?