Monday, June 01, 2009

The Marriage Troubles of Libertarians & Conservatives

THAT title should get some readers.

This is a grossly unfair excerpt from a much-longer essay. But it's the paydirt part; to know how he got here, you'll have to follow the (below) link.

...conservatives largely defend the institution of marriage in two ways - either as a traditional organization that should not be so easily or blithely remade, or an institution based in the natural features of humans, namely, focused on reproduction and basic facts of human sexuality. While I am sympathetic with both of these arguments, they do not seem to me to get to the core of the matter - namely, that marriage as an institution is simply the crowning part of a culture that must necessarily reject individualism as its basic feature. Contemporary conservatives have largely endorsed an economic and political system that places individualism at its core (again, it's worth noting that those parts of the country that are most mobile and where divorce is highest typically vote Republican, and it was, after all, a Republican president - the great hero of the Republicans, Ronald Reagan - who was the nation's first divorced President). David Brooks (and Peter Lawler) have embraced the exurbs as the natural place for "conservative" values to flourish, when in fact this particular living arrangement has contributed profoundly and perhaps irrevocably to the erosion of residual conservative impulses that are closely connected to place and memory. These "conservatives" basically adopt the "haven in a heartless world" viewpoint, defending marriage as a locus where nature, self-sacrifice, duty, obligation, submission of personal autonomy must be promoted - but, the ONLY place where that is the case. Any such view, of course, is pure fantasy, dooming marriage to failure if only by asking it to bear too much weight, to carry to much of the load of an otherwise radically individualist society.

--Deneen, arguing for communitas basis of marriage.

I'm not certain that his post/propter arguments carry as much weight as he'd like them to. But there's no doubt that "individualism" (mostly promoted by Libertarians, not actual Conservatives) is inimical to the reality of marriage.

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