There has been a dawning realization among the more astute conservative thinkers like Mark Steyn that politics is not enough. To win the game from the liberals one must win the culture because culture is upstream of politics. Our movies, our TV shows, our magazines, our video games and our fashion tastes will shape our beliefs, which will be reflected in our preferences in the polling booth. The enemy of this brand of conservatism is the ‘fiscal conservative’ who wants to think only of ‘serious’ issues and leave all the arts and crafts fluff to the liberals. As people like Mark Steyn point out, they are fools.
But this has me thinking, what’s upstream of culture? Does culture just come into being like some deus ex machina?
No. Culture is not the prime mover, the original, uncaused cause. There is something upstream of culture, and it is economics. For economics defines what we are and what we think even more effectively than culture.
Take the English rioters. What impelled them to take to the streets looting and burning at the least provocation? It was the fact that a huge number of Britons don’t go to work. Something like 10 million Britons have not gone to work a day in their lives since Tony Blair came to power. If part of your daily ritual is to get up at 6 AM, get dressed and go to work, you simply won’t have time for such foolishness and you will despise those who try to get ahead without effort (i.e. looters). What allows people to live without working: welfare. Paying people to not work leads to a culture where work, savings and responsibility are less valued. Economics drives culture.
Take another example: feminism. What inspired the women’s movement was not the writings of people like the Stalinist Betty Freidan. It was the fact that by the time the 1950’s rolled around, rising living standards caused by automation had taken away a lot of the work women traditionally did. For you see, women have always worked. But by the 50’s their job had gotten fairly easy. The women’s movement was inspired by the fact that 50% of the adult population was underemployed. Again, economics driving culture.
And what’s upstream of culture? Answer: politics.