We’re already at war

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Bob says:

    “War” is generally a bad addition to any phrase in the political realm. I think you made that point already E.D. It sounds right to me.Report

  2. Avatar gregiank says:

    Well if Poulos is correct, which i don’t think he is, then Democracy itself is permanent cultural war. Of course policy differences relate to different world views….no duh. But is every difference a binary difference between good and bad. How are we supposed to have a future as a country if every issue will be looked at as as a war? Seeing issues as a culture war is about demonizing the other side, assuming you have all the answers and seeing every issue as a winner take all problem with no common ground.Report

  3. Avatar Simon K says:

    I don’t believe there is such a cultural conflict. Or rather, if there is one the number of people genuinely on the side that dislikes government loans to car companies and taxes on tanning is tiny. There’s a much larger group of people who’ll cheerfully wave the banner of fiscal conservatism as long as the cuts concerned only affect people they don’t know and don’t much like, but who’ll furl their flags and limp home the minute the really expensive programmes they personally benefit from come under threat. Given that Brooks is who he is, one rather suspects that he’s targetting the latter, and that the result if he has any success will merely be the diversion of money from programmes that are well-intentioned but misguided, to programmes that are merely misguided.Report

  4. Avatar Sam Hutcheson says:

    Would it be relevant to point out that Poulos’ fear-casting over whether “the President is entitled to bestow a $400 million guaranteed loan on a single company because he favors their product” is almost completely devoid of merit as a point of debate? “The President” didn’t loan the company $400 million. The federal government did, in much the same way the federal government has incented oil-based energy for decades. Perhaps Poulos wouldn’t be so agitated about the economic “culture war” if he bothered to think the event in question through completely.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    In a reasonable world of course people work on common goals, but when there are two contrasting directions in which to proceed, there has to be a battle of ideas in the marketplace of ideas in order to establish direction — between these contrasting worldviews, in spite of common areas of cooperation, there are differences which can’t be resolved in compromise — decisions have to be made to follow one or the other, and they will be made, if not by you, then by others. Those who opt for indecision will have to settle for watching the direction shift one way or the other, and just hope it doesn’t harm them. We’ve tried the mixed economy idea of finding the perfect combination, but when power is at stake, statism wins in all compromises because of the monopoly of coercion we’ve given government — that power is either strictly limited, as in separation of State and economy, and State and religion, or it expands. Our founders knew this, as did Alexis de Toqueville and many others who have far too few intellectual heirs today.Report

    • Avatar Simon K says:

      @Mike Farmer, The problem is that the opposition being set up isn’t real. The genuinely anti-statist or limited-statist faction in miniscule, and statism-as-statism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Statist means are adopted for particular ends. In practise when people write books about “free enterprise” they’re no really advocating an anti-statist agenda but advocating redirecting the energies of the state away from protecting individuals against predatory monopolies and towards protect the monopolies. Its not a step forward for the most part.Report

  6. Avatar JosephFM says:

    I think, honestly, that as is usually the case, Poulos misses the point, so committed is he to his finely wrought ideology. I mean, to some extent I do agree with him, insofar as I agree that democracy is culture war – where I disagree is that he assumes that people actually have worldviews that make sense. He assumes, wrongly, that most people are like him. But if you’re not an intellectual ideologue or a committed partisan, then odds are, the sort of things he dismisses as “idle preferences” are your worldview.

    (Incidentally, I have always taken him to be the truest form of ideologue – one whose devotion to principles is entirely untainted by either partisan emotionalism or fact, never mind that an absence of logical fallacies does not equal truth.)Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

      @JosephFM,
      I believe people understand the division at a basic level much better than you think — sure, there are inconsistencies in their ideas regarding government interference and a free market, but they understand the contrast. Plus, more and more people are educating themselves on these issues since the issues are getting more play in the media and on the internet. But I imagine Poulos was talking about the politically active and fairly knowledgable in society — among these the divide is pretty obvious.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus says:

    It’s hard for me not to hear Philip Rieff whenever Poulos opens his mouth. I get why that is, given he’s a research interest, but that’s what I see here. For years, Rieff wrote that intelligent people need to ‘hang back’ from the culture wars, before finally deciding that there is nothing outside of endless culture war, whether we like it or not. So, whole worldviews are always at stake.

    I don’t think that Poulos is saying things should or shouldn’t be this way; just that they are. But part of the total insanity of political discussion in the U.S. right now is tied to this inability to have a dispassionate debate about friggin anything! It reminds me of the worst parts of hanging out in college.Report

  8. Avatar John David Galt says:

    Are there really any disputes-of-fact left, on which “light” may usefully be shed? Or is it, as I believe, merely time for the good guys to prepare for a conflict in which almost any means is justified (whether or not it quite qualifies to be called a “war”)? I believe the latter. Everybody’s mind is made up, and the ones who should change theirs won’t as long as they are in power.Report