On one side sit the rural, suburban and old-guard types, who want a society centered upon a culture.
On the other sit the urban, new-solution types who want a large open air bazaar.
You have to admit, it’s comforting on the urban side. Everything is transactional; you don’t get entangled in much. You go somewhere, pay money for goods or a service, and go home. There’s no worrisome issues.
Sure, you have to face mortality, but there’s actually a comforting solidity to materialism in the face of morality. You can entirely push it back to one distant event, and in the meantime surround yourself with stuff so real it seems as if that day will never come.
And yes, in the city there seems to be a lack of what we’d call faith. There’s no faith in the process of life; it’s a few decades to be exploited and enjoyed. There’s no real faith between people, sexually or otherwise. Everything is a transaction, including marriage, and it’s easier that way on the mind. There are no entangling tendrils of implied meaning, or echoes of eternity. No grandeur, but no complications.
Those of us on the other side — the rural/old-guard side — picked it because of how we’re wired. We can point to families of purposeful people who did more than attend jobs. We can point to the challenges they faced and overcame, and what they created. We are a long line stretching into the forgotten past.
We struggle with things, and by “things” I mean just about anything in life, because things still have significance. Material things don’t, but they can symbolize events, emotions and important thoughts — thoughts for which we struggle and die, ideas we give our lives to because we see them as important.
Asking these two sides to understand each other is pointless and impossible.
To the old-guard side, the urban side is life without a soul, and selfish living that delivers no real meaning in life.
To the urban side, the old-guard side is unnecessary superstition and an interruption in the process of self-enjoyment.
If we say these two are incompatible, we’re tapping into the 200-year divide and mystery of American politics: the South was right — we’re different types of societies, the industrialized coasts and the old-guard interior.
Now that we’ve dragged our feet on the issue, we’re even more isolated. We have nothing in common at this point. It’s gotten to the point that I and most other conservatives, when in professional situations, lie about our political beliefs and pretend to be Mother Jones-reading liberals. Otherwise, we get hostility from people we would otherwise befriend.
To avoid a future of even more fracture, we should take a page from the states-rights South playbook: let’s make California independent of Federal law on many choices. Let them legalize gay marriage, legalize all drugs, enact single-payer socialized medicine, teach diversity to infants, make abortion vending machines, and whatever else they desire.
The rest of us should look on and observe the results. Since the average person is not schooled in political theory, or inclined to crack a book to do so, seeing the consequences of those choices in real-time will be an education for all.
Who knows; maybe they’ll make paradise. Maybe for longer than a generation.
In science, we always use a control group against which to compare any experimental results. If you have a population of test subjects, most of them become the control group and you try new methods on small breakaway groups. You do this to see what the results are before you contaminate the main population.
Otherwise, we’re going to keep hashing it out endlessly, the old-guard versus the open-air bazaar, until the bazaarists are able to destabilize, propagandize, and demagogically pander to enough people to create themselves a permanent neurotic electorate (or import one). Then the country goes full bazaar, followed shortly by totalitarianism of some socialist form, if history is any guide.
Rather than rush headlong into this icky future, let’s set up the test case and see how it fairs. California can be the test-bed of our brave new world in its full-bore form.