Friday, July 3, 2009

Stuck on the Porch

The debate between POMO Cons and Front Porchers has moved into Phase II, a discussion on the merits of localism. Reading the posts reminded me of Dinesh D’Souza’s views on the merits of Western modernity. He is a celebrant of contemporary America and links its success to three (modern) factors: democracy, science, and capitalism.

Now Front Porchers want a return to a pre-modern way of life, what Lawler derisively calls the “It takes a medieval village” outlook. D’Souza is very interested in the debate over pre-modern v. modern ways of life, but he takes a different perspective on the former. When D’Souza usually discusses pre-modern views, he is looking at Eastern (Middle East and India) and not Western practices.

Having grown up in India, D’Souza is well acquainted with Front Porch values like localism and tradition. But he is not sanguine about it:

If I had remained in India, I would probably have lived my entire existence
within a one-mile radius of where I was born. I would undoubtedly have
married a woman of my identical religious, socioeconomic, and cultural
background. I would almost certainly have become a medical doctor, an
engineer, or software programmer….I would have a whole set of opinions that
could be predicted in advance; indeed, they would not be very different from
what my father believed, or his father before him. In sum, my destiny
would to a large degree have been given to me.
-What’s So Great About America
p. 80
It was only in Modern America that D’Souza could have discovered his interest in ideas. And even if Front Porchers disagree with his ideas, surely they can agree the world is a better off with D’Souza as a pundit rather than a programmer.

The downside about all pre-modern living, Eastern or Western, is how stifling they all are. Porches have their place, but they can become prisons.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to imagine where D'Souza would have learned medicine within a one-mile radius of his home...