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The End of the Twinkies Union Label Obama Wants a War

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It Will Take a Moral Movement, Girls

by Christopher Chantrill
November 27, 2012 at 12:00 am


AFTER THE ELECTION, conservatives are still full of foreboding--and also a pessimistic hope. Want to know how to spell “default” asks Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.? It goes like this: “entitlement reform.”

Or this from Randall DeSoto: It takes about ten years for Americans to get it together and form a political movement for change. As in 1765 to 1776, 1850 to 1860, and so on.

I was taking a similar line back in June, trolling James Piereson’s take in The New Criterion on the fourth American revolution. Only I prefer a stronger brew, the kind of thing argued by William G. McLoughlin in Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform. McLoughlin argues that the great reforms in North American history have always been preceded by a religious Awakening. Liberal economist Robert William Fogel was so impressed he wrote The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism to warn liberals of the coming threat to their power.

But now liberals think the weather is set fair, what with the black and the Hispanic vote, ObamaCare, and beneficial financial and environmental regulation about to transform America. It was all laid out in The Emerging Democratic Majority by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, and they were just confirming what the Clintons were doing with the Motor Voter Act in 1993.

Don’t look now, liberals, but this is probably the beginning of the end of the Liberal Hour. We will know this for sure if and when a great new moral movement arises in America.

What was going on just before the American Revolution? It was the massive Great Awakening led by the Wesley brothers and Jonathan Edwards. What did it all mean? One revivalist preacher commented that it was like waking people up from “the sleep of ages” to the idea that they could be “responsible beings” called to a “life of purpose” by a God that would never forsake them.

What was going on before the Civil War? It was the Second Great Awakening, led by preachers like Lyman Beecher and Timothy Dwight. And of course there was Joseph Smith, raised in the “burned-over district” of upstate New York. Hey liberals, is America ready for a Mormon president?

In our time we conservatives would have to admit that the Sixties saw the last great moral movement, with civil rights, the sexual revolution, the Summer of Love and environmentalism.

But now the idealism of the Sixties has corroded into a corrupt ruling class of educated liberals hanging on to the shreds of its moral authority by cynically manipulating blacks and Hispanics with naked appeals to race and government loot: promises that can’t be kept, debt that won’t be repaid. The nation staggers from its unaffordable entitlements, its unpayable government pensions, its limping economy, its crypto inflation, and its regulatory and environmental fascism.

But somehow I don’t think that the next moral movement will be about all that. I suspect it will be more direct and personal, about the way that the sexual revolution and the welfare state have marginalized the lives of ordinary people: women in particular. Scratch a woman, I believe, and you will find an instinctive faith in marriage, children, and modesty. Our liberal ruling class has taught women to value instead sexual liberation, careers, and childlessness; but these are the values of privileged upper-crust women, not ordinary women. Sooner or later, I predict, women will turn away from their top-down re-educators, just like ordinary people did in the Great Awakenings.

We conservatives are already in touch with the woman-led pro-life subculture that is revolting against Planned Parenthood world. Suppose that subculture went viral, and started to reach the tattooed single mother working part-time as a hairdresser? Suppose that some moral leader emerged who could speak to these women and awaken them from the sleep of ages to the astonishing idea that instead of being depressive welfare state dependents they could be responsible beings called to a life of purpose by a God that would never forsake them?

Of course, if I can think it, someone is already doing it. Here in Seattle we have Mars Hill Church reaching out to the tattooed set. Could it turn into something really big?

Whatever happens, it won’t be nice and tidy. Liberals, of course, will try to stigmatize any non-liberal movement as a nest of racists, sexists, extremists and homophobes; it’s what they do. But any movement worthy of the name will power through all that. It will upset the apple cart, not just of ruling class liberals but of middle-class conservatives too.

Moral movements are like that. Just ask the folks in the Middle East.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy

Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing

Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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