THE CONSERVATIVE ALLIANCE….Roy Edroso catches NRO’s Mark Bauerlein in a seemingly odd statement. After complaining that virtually the whole world is still liberal (you know the drill: the media, higher education, arty types, etc.), he adds this:
There are other, smaller realms to list (hip-hop, malls, etc.). But [Rick] Perlstein would probably claim that, for instance, malls are a free-market zone entirely in accord with conservative economic freedoms, not recognizing a difference between, on one hand, cultural values and effects, and, on the other, economic behaviors.
“Malls?” asks Roy. “Maybe he’s upset by the mannequins at Victoria’s Secret.”
Roy is probably closer than he thinks. One of the strongest tensions at the core of the current conservative alliance (free market fat cats + religious reactionaries = electoral victory!) is the fact that smart conservatives, anyway, are well aware that capitalism is by a long way the most powerful force ever invented for social change. After all, successful capitalism requires lots of educated workers, provides those workers with lots of money, and thrives on the notion that corporations should be allowed to produce anything they want to satisfy the needs of consumers.
In other words, give the customer what he wants. But guess what rich, educated customers turn out to want? Something different. And something different is precisely what social conservatives don’t want.
It’s amazing, really, that the alliance has lasted as long as it has. The key to its demise ought to be the eventual rise of a demagogue who whips up social conservatives into a massive and righteous revolt against unrestrained capitalism, which has brought us an onslaught of porn, birth control pills, working mothers, the breakdown of the nuclear family, etc. etc. So far, though, the Republican Party apparatus has kept them under control. But for how much longer?