This introduction to Issue 2 of The Hipster Conservative continues the theme of the previous one. This intellectual project is intended by its creators to serve as a kind of ideological exorcism. The inherent silliness of our claim to be hipsters, a class somewhat justly derided for its insouciant faddishness, underlies the fact that we are really unsatisfied with the forms of moral and political involvement offered to us now by cultural and political leaders. We question the moral conservatism offered to us in the media by adulterous politicians and microphone jockeys of the Baby Boom, and wonder whether perhaps they are clinging to influence too long after they have ceased to work any good. Meanwhile, their leftist counterparts espouse a philosophy of action (oxymoron) which can best be summed up as Guilty Globalism.
In aristocratic times, young patricians learned to regard their privileged position as a trust, an opportunity to serve others and perfect the virtues of noblesse oblige and civic-mindedness. Today’s children of privilege have acquired a sense of guilt fostered by the ideology of equality. Having more opportunities and wealth than most, they come to believe that their existence is unjust. They feel they must expiate their advantages through egalitarian, non-profit, global charity “work.” The same spirit can be seen in evangelical youth who get caught up in the flagellant rhetoric of Religious Left social justice preachers. Many pursue these ends for noble motives, but for the type of young person we describe his motive is not primarily compassion for the poor and lost, but rather an internal unease far removed from the liberating peace of the gospel.
We believe this is due in part to modern alienation (we sympathize), but a large part of it also has to do with moral guilt. Having abandoned the personal demands of traditional morality, many seek to fill their own internal moral void with dizzy activity; particularly in promoting external causes of political justice and social equality. This is the reason for the shift in many churches toward more discussion of political justice-‘n’-peace and less of righteousness. Humility is invoked when it is necessary to remind people not to make moral judgments, but probity is rarely probed. It is easy to be an activist against Human Trafficking. If there is anyone regarded less favorably than Hitler in the modern mind, it is the perpetrators of human trafficking. While we don’t deny that if we ran the world we would round up and gas all pimps, madams, johns, and child molesters, it is hard to imagine any cause requiring less moral courage to support. There is not one person in the world, I am convinced, who would be willing to go on record in favor of human trafficking. So of course this cause is all the rage because it allows people to feel good about opposing something that absolutely everyone agrees is evil and no-one would ever do. Of course, many people are involved in these travesties in both direct and indirect ways, but it’s best to keep the focus narrow enough to exclude most on the fringes.
This issue examines in particular the corruption of sexual morality in American culture, particularly with reference to those who should know better: evangelical Christians and conservatives. We observe how the Puritan legacy lives on in confused evangelical ethicists. On a theoretical tack, I attempt a brief Straussian analysis of modernity and the corresponding stages of feminist thought.
This, as we have mentioned, is an exorcism, and one should not cast out demons without providing something positive and healthy to restore their victims’ broken souls. With this in mind, Sordello has provided an essay on “taste”; Paul Odradek continues his “Superfluous Book Club” and reviews one of 2010’s most significant popular music albums; Bede Adulescens reads Yeats; and Alyosha, a new contributor, graces us with a spectacular review of Trollope.
These and more make up the second issue of The Hipster Conservative. We hope you enjoy it.