Friday, October 28, 2005

Conservative Helplessness

Peggy Noonan's piece in the WSJ today in quite thought provoking. It is worth the read. I am inclined to agree that the current state of affairs (particularly on the political front) are something of a concern. But not for the same reasons. All of the loyal bokononist readers know my kooky theories so I'll leave that alone. My kookiness aside, here is where we part company: It seems to me that, on some level at least, Noonan sees her world turning upsidedown and she wants somebody, somewhere, to do something, to make the world all rosey again. In my opinion, that's just a recipe for a bigger mess. Surely we have more than enough evidence of the damage wrought by the busybodies when they try to keep busy. While I realize that Peggy is speaking more directly to a feeling of utter despair in the face of an ever-changing world, I think that her feelings are ultimately rooted in what she views as the failure of humankind on some level - on human inactivity or, perhaps more precisely, misactivity. This is where I disagree. The "ball of wax" to which Noonan refers does not need to be consciously held together by the activity of men (elite or otherwise). Rather, like all else, the great gobbledygook of civilization will continue to progress in spite of meddlesome and regressive tinkerings of men, individually and collectively. Sure, society, culture and the remote control all become more complex (and confusing) with each passing day - but this is our world. And these are the perpetual unknowns that make it all so darn cool. It appears that Noonan is searching for something in the rearview because she is troubled by what lay before her. I suppose change can be a bit unsettling for some people - indeed, by its very definition, change shakes the foundations upon which we're built. And conservatives, among whom Noonan surely counts herself, by definition oppose change (some more than others). For centuries, traditionalists, appalled by the cultural degradation and societal evolution around them have been predicting the end of civilization. And they were usually correct in a sense. Things were, and still are, changing. Societies, cultures and people evolve. But it's not for the worse and it only seems that the "wheels are coming off" if you try to hold them on.