Ask Dr. Helen: Where Is Conservative Culture?
Is there no creativity today among those who lean right? If so, where can you find it?
November 10, 2008 - 12:53 am
The election is over and everywhere you turn, people are saying that the Republican brand sucks, conservatives are on the way out, and free markets are over.
This is a hope on the part of liberals and not reality. Haven’t people been saying that Democrats or Republicans were on the way out since, well, there have been Dems and Republicans? Conservative and libertarian ideas are still good ones, but ones that need to reach out to a wider audience in venues that they can appreciate.
My email question today has to do with where to find conservative culture:
Hello Dr. Helen,
I am just discovering PJ Media. What a nice surprise. My question is where is the conservative culture? Conservative politics is fairly easy to find. What I am looking for is music, novels, tv, movies, magazines — see what I mean? So much popular culture is lead by deadbeat celebrities. Perhaps PJ Media will evolve to fill this need. I hope so.
You raise a good point: culture drives politics and not the other way around, at least in my opinion. Because of this, it is imperative that if conservative and libertarian ideas are to survive, we must educate people in ways that they can relate to — and this means popular culture in the form of books, music, television, movies, and social groups, starting with education.
I used to think that people could resist being indoctrinated in our education system and culture in left-leaning modes of thought, but I found out that I was wrong. For example, in an article in Forbes, author Ray Fisman explains how professors can turn bleeding hearts into capitalists — and vice versa. Students taught by economics professors who valued efficiency tended to be more capitalistic in their outlook, and those exposed to philosophy professors who focused more on “equality” tended to be more into wealth redistribution.
My guess is that public schools teach more like the latter professors than the former, giving students more exposure to liberal ideas than conservative ones. How do we instill more conservative and libertarian ideas into schools? Talk to your school board member and find out what books the kids are reading. Suggest at a meeting that they be exposed to a plethora of ideas and not just one or two. Donate books to the school library that are conservative or libertarian in nature. I take right-leaning books to my local bookstore for resale or to put them in the free bin just to give the place some ideological diversity. Perhaps you can do the same at your local schools. Run for school board or support those who you think might be willing to balance conservative and liberal ideas in schools.
That point made, there are many good places to read or learn more about conservative culture. I will give my suggestions and turn the floor over to others who can widen this selection. Science fiction is a good place to start (though I am not a big fan, many people are!). Try Robert Heinlein’s books if you have not already done so. Starship Troopers and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress are good places to start. Or try Venor Vinge works such as Singularity and Rainbow’s End. (Here’s an interview my husband and I did with him here.) Orson Scott Card’s books also might be of interest to you; as a layperson when it comes to science fiction, I enjoyed interviewing him about Empire, a fascinating thriller set in 2008 that tells the story of what will happen if the political polarization in America continues to divide this country on the issues. In terms of music, try John Ondrasik’s (Five for Fighting) albums. (You can listen to music clips and our interview with him here.) John writes pro-American songs that I find very beautiful and may or may not be your cup of tea. What about Firefly by Tim Minear, who talks here about his work? There is so much more that I do not have room for.
So, PJM readers, can you help our emailer with more suggestions on where to find conservative culture? What books, magazines, shows, music, movies, etc., do you consume to get your dose of conservative ideas? Do you organize or belong to any groups that have conservative or libertarian ideas? Lastly, how can we reach out and support more right-leaning culture?
If you have a question you would like answered, please leave it below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your questions may be edited for length and clarity. Please note that your first name only or no name at all will be used to identify your question — if you want me to use your name, tell me; otherwise you will be referred to by your first name or as “a reader,” etc.