Friday, December 04, 2009

Politics of Reading

Andrew Sullivan writes:
I continue to call myself a conservative, of the tradition of Burke and Hume and Montaigne and Oakeshott. I suspect that all four of them would regard the term "conservative movement" an oxymoron anyway, as I do, even if they understood it at all. And although I have deep respect for the liberal tradition, I am much too much a skeptic, and an individualist, and an anti-collectivist to join the Democrats. I try to join as few organizations as I can get away with. And I lived under socialism so know how poisonous it can be.
Leaving aside his quasi-individualist statements, there's a name for someone who gets his political ideas from books. It's called a Liberal with a big "L". That's why they call it the Liberal Arts. This isn't a left/right question it's about college educated persons versus people who do not read books. And I think it's a little disingenuous to assume that Democrats are some sort of hive mind that assimilates its members like the Borg. Being skeptical, anti-collectivist, being a non-joiner, believing socialism can be poisonous isn't a conservative position; it's an artistic position. Joyce's "non serviam" and all that. It's existentialist, alienated, and rhetorical. It takes as its premise the position that the individual is an outsider, misunderstood, and that the development of the self is the path toward truth (or whatever). It isn't about politics anymore. It's about life as a writer.