Scott was very kind this morning to draw attention to my Weekly Standard article “Crisis of the Conservative House Divided.” I would have done so myself, but I was on the road all day yesterday on a completely frivolous and speculative venture: I drove up to Modesto, the location where American Graffiti was
filmed set, to meet up with my two best pals from high school (we call ourselves “The Executive Committee”) to take in Ian Anderson presenting a sort-of reconstituted Jethro Tull. Because I’m too old to rock and roll but too young to die. And also “Living in the Past,” which they played! And yes, Ian Anderson still strikes his stork pose of playing his flute on one leg, at age 69.
It was a little shocking, though I suppose predictable, that I was among the youngest in the crowd. I guess 70s prog rock hasn’t become a hipster thing. (Which is fine with me.) If I hadn’t been so busy last week I might have thought to try to organize a Power Line meetup for central valley readers. Maybe next time: the Gallo Performing Arts Center is a nice facility. I’d go there again.
Meanwhile, I’ll add just one thought, for now, to my article. I mentioned that our official political culture now constricts what opinions can be considered legitimate, and in dong so essentially says that conservatives (and by extension the Republican Party) are illegitimate unless we simply change our mind and join the liberals.
Our monotone media is one major cog in the opinion conformity machine. This is not a new observation by any means, and it was perhaps best expressed in Winston Churchill’s 1931 essay “Mass Effects in Modern Life.” Here’s the relevant passage:
Public opinion is formed and expressed by machinery. The newspapers do an immense amount of thinking for the average man and woman. In fact they supply them with such a continuous stream of standardized opinion, borne along upon an equally inexhaustible flood of news and sensation, collected from every part of the world every hour of the day, that there is neither the need nor the leisure for personal reflection. All this is but a part of a tremendous educating process. But it is an education which passes in one ear and out at the other. It is an education at once universal and superficial. It produces enormous numbers of standardized citizens, all equipped with regulation opinions, prejudices and sentiments, according to their class or party. It may eventually lead to a reasonable, urbane, and highly-serviceable society.
There you have it, Saturday readers. Jethro Tull and Churchill. In one post. It’s what we do here.
(By the way, very much worth reading the entire Churchill essay at the link above. And buying the collection in which it appears, Thoughts and Adventures, now back in print courtesy of ISI Books.)