Kali Tal was the first intellect online who grasped my attention and reached out to me personally when I was looking at the intersection of race, identity and cyber presence. I have since discussed any number of subject tangential to identity and the metaphysics of online discourse with her. I have always found her to be a good sounding board and sometimes bullseye for that path which I estimate I might have taken were I convinced that our future is best defined by the Progressive politics. In that, we share a classic liberal optimism for objective investigation of what's wrong and scientific discipline in determining how best to solve problems in society. More importantly we share a skepticism of wishful thinking and deceptive populism that informs most of the talking points of America political debate. I welcome her here to Cobb to discuss at some length the issues that face America with regard to its ideas about women, sexuality, the family, marriage how that coalesces into something beyond common sense in our culture and politics.
I started this debate, which I now hope to rescue from the format and control of Facebook, with a pique about the apparent defection of Rebecca Walker from the anti-family provocations of her famous and feminist mother Alice Walker. The younger Walker, a (former?) lesbian mother living with the father of her young son, rejoices in the joys of motherhood much to the dismay and consternation of the elder who refuses to speak to her daughter or even see her now five year old grandchild. Rebecca now stands in rebuke to that which has passed as good advice to women to which I say bravo.
My fundamental issue is with a raft of ideas which could roughly be called feminist that have arisen to redefine what a family unit is or should be. This arises out of my long standing rejection of the counter-cultural aspects of 'The Sixties' which have been, irrevocably it seems, linked to the liberation of 'people of color', the Civil Rights Movement and the general idea of liberty and progress. I stand with a varied body of critics on the Right who take issues and potshots from the deep trenches of the Culture Wars initiated in the mid 80s around the same time as the term 'African-American' was born and the inception of multiculturalism.
I find an irascible fetishistic regard for 'difference' as yet another symptom of shallow identity politics and an ever-broadening definition of 'rights' which have no right being called rights, but are ultimately anti-social privileges being demanded by a movement that seeks to dominate moral discourse and quell dissent. I see this as part an parcel of an insatiable demand for all the 'progress' social scientists can promise at a pace which is unsustainable and destabilizing to American society. There is no better example of this than the unequivocal demand for the redefinition of marriage consequent with the rejection of civil union and the utter contempt with which religious traditions are held who seek to protect their own ways. But while that matter boils on the front burner, what has been baking for years are deeper questions about the American family and what our nation (of laws) and society (of men) can and should do to protect and sustain it.
My critical stance which I am perfectly comfortable as calling 'conservative' or 'Right' is only informed by not defined by those schools of thought. I am not out to bash what's new, I'm oriented towards saving what's true. It must be said that my livelihood exists in an industry that didn't when I was born - there are few things more progressive than the IT business which is constantly suffused with change. But in this as in any human endeavor there are principles which are as immutable as the function of human organs - which is to say, they simply don't evolve on any timescale our politics and thinking might like them to. Just as 010 + 010 = 100 (in binary), the stomach will digest what it can. As much as we'd all like to end world hunger and thirst, we cannot eat wood and we cannot drink seawater. And so there is a finite limit to useful human behavior much experimentation with which is a waste of time, sometimes deceptive and often a distraction from what is true and ought to be.
I am fatigued of the noisome politics associated with the tinkering of gender and identity and family which have suffused American life, not only because it is vapid and vulgar but because so much of it is just wrong. Nuff said. Kali and I and you will engage on a mission to give some insight into how much fiddling we ought to afford and what might be the consequences of such messing about.
I'll start with my essential premise which is that for the majority of human history such as I can gauge it, we have been ruled by kings and tribal chiefs and that our ideas about honor and dignity flow from such feudal arrangements. I believe that there is something fundamental and hardwired in human circuitry to give us such ideas as 'honor thy father and mother'. I want, of necessity, to keep in mind the permanence of human conflict - of war - and of the ways and means humans employ to survive instinctively and to maintain their populations in hard times. I think we have the frivolous desire to define ourselves into arbitrary social arrangements that cannot and will not survive human conflict and that these desires fuel the raisons d'etre of today's social fiddlers. Instead, we should reform our society in such ways as it remains fundamentally robust in the ways and means that have gotten us from pre-history to now and that the overwhelming majority of us remain politically and socially invested in these tried and true conventions. I assert that without commitment to conformity all of our experimentation, all of our liberty, all of our tolerance comes to naught.