Plumb Lines

April 22, 2009

Join the Club

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthew Schmitz @ 9:27 am

Conservatives have long decried the decline of standards, and rightly so. Nowhere is this decline more evident than in the political sphere, where there have never been more minimal standards for qualifying as a reactionary than there are today. What was once a rather exclusive club occupied by Edmund  Burke and his dog (who loyally adopted his master’s political program), is today flooded with all kinds of comers.

In the age of political revolution, one had to have a strong preference for the interests of the rich to be considered a revanchist in good standing. After the passions of upheaval had gone under the surface, one had to sniff out right-wingers by their fond attachment to Brahms and insistence on opening doors for ladies. Today, though, anyone who merely believes that marriage is between one man and one woman is a right-winger, a reactionary, even a bigot. Nearly all of history’s radicals would fall under this definition today.

People who are in no other sense ‘conservative’ are right to feel some discomfort at their new status. What’s worth remembering, though, is that gay marriage is a system pushed by activists who are, despite the presence of some real discrimination, educational and economic elites. Increasingly, marriage will be defended by the poor, who stand to suffer the most in a society where marriage is whatever I damn well please.

-Matthew Schmitz



  1. […] Schmitz, writing for the delightfully quirky new blog called Plumb Lines , bemoans the proletarian invasion of what used to be the “exclusive club” of reactionaries: […]

    Pingback by First Things » Blog Archive » I Say, Jeeves–Here Comes Everybody! — April 22, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  2. Matt, I’m not sure how you draw this conclusion, “Increasingly, marriage will be defended by the poor, who stand to suffer the most in a society where marriage is whatever I damn well please.” The poor have higher rates of divorce and also higher rates of pregnancy out of wedlock. Not exactly “defending marriage.”

    Ethical qualms with homosexuality and natural law aside, at least those like Sullivan are encouraging monogamy whatever it is called. My new favorite is “opposite marriage.”

    Comment by Michael E. van Landingham — April 22, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  3. Good point, Michael. The higher divorce rates that you cite are in fact one of the main reasons why the poor tend to be more in favor of restrictions on gay marriage–and in favor of conservative sexual ethics more generally–than the rich. They disproportionately feel the negative effects of the liberationist ethic. The apparent disconnect between the personal and political here masks a significant connection.

    Comment by Matthew Schmitz — April 22, 2009 @ 10:52 am

  4. Such apparent contradictions are quite widespread. American blacks are usually very conservative on abortion, for instance, yet have astronomical rates of abortion in their communities.

    Comment by Keith Staples — April 22, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  5. And let’s see how long monogamy stands. We’ve already seen intellectual elites trying to move us “beyond gay marriage” to recognition of polyamory, etc.

    I suppose this trumpeting of monogamy illustrates the essence Sullivan’s brand of conservatism: Lazy refusal to think ideas through combined with selective and frequently disingenuous outrage in pursuit of one’s perceived interests. This happens to be exactly what many people think all conservatism is. No wonder they mock and reject it.

    OK, I won’t mention Andrew Sullivan again for another month.

    Comment by Keith Staples — April 22, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  6. […] should institute a cover charge and keep the rif-raff out. Filed under: We transcend your bourgeois categories | No Tag No Tagx April 23rd, 2009 16:34:12x […]

    Pingback by Its too easy to be conservative. | Junior Ganymede — April 23, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

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