Friday, March 19, 2004

Strategies for the Culture War

Joe Carter has a nice post wherein he talks about the best way to engage in cultural debates. Arguing the slippery slope, which seems to be the only argument with which conservatives gain any traction these days, doesn't work against those who see nothing wrong with what's at the bottom. Here are some more of his don'ts:
First, we must realize that scoffing is not an argument. If we stacked all snarky tomes by Rush and Sean and Bill and Ann they would not fortify us against even the weakest liberal argument. Think for a moment how long Limbaugh has been on the radio. Now name one battle in the culture war in which he was instrumental in attaining a victory for our side. I can’t think of a single one. These pundits may bring the issues to our attention but they rarely provide adequate solutions to the problems they point out. We can’t rely on them to think for us; we have to do the intellectual heavy lifting ourselves. We would do well not to blindly imitate their approach.

Second, we have to become cultural missionaries, translating the components of our worldview in a way that can be understood by our opponents. Take, for example, an example of what Russell Kirk calls a “common principle” of conservatism: the principle of prescription - a reliance on the “wisdom of our ancestors.” Since the Enlightenment, the inherent value of tradition and ancient learning has slowly been eroding. The liberal elite, in particular, have fallen for what C.S. Lewis termed “chronological snobbery”, the presumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.

There are some interesting thoughts, but there's not a whole lot of practical advice for how to proceed (the post contains more "do nots" than "dos"). It's definitely worth reading, however.

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