Ever since Pat Buchanan delivered his “Culture War” speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, the phrase has been used repeatedly to point out the general differences between Democratic and Republican voters on issues of social and moral importance. I think it’s a phony concept - an attempt to hide the virtually identical positions between the two parties on issues like war, the Bill of Rights, and the budget. But there’s a greater phoniness to it - the very idea that the United States has a culture, or ever had one.
American culture as a whole, has always been mass culture. We have no common ethnicity and religion. We have tremendous variety in our forms of popular and traditional “folk” music, but they originate from their own cultures within the United States - and most of these forms of music are still quite new. Yes, we have a common language, but that’s just out of economic necessity. In fact, I can think of just three common elements in the general culture:
1. Sports - by which I mean everything from high school marching bands to the annual event of the Super Bowl;
2. Commerce - that is, the “open borders” between the states;
3. War, which draws manpower from all segments of society so that New York Jews, Nebraska Methodists, and Southern Blacks all have family memories of it, and are still engaged in it.
Not much to speak of. Yes, there seemed to be a broader culture in the past - when there were fewer choices in, say, what television show to watch. But even then it was mass culture. My own family histories include Music Man-style small towns, but that wasn’t any more“authentic” Americana, than were the streets of New York. If “middle America” was once normally regarded as WASP-ish and small-town, we might forget that Catholics were building dozens of colleges, Jews gave us the film industry, and blacks created new, “distinctly American” forms of music. While Catholics no doubt were motivated in preserving Catholic culture, what all three did was contribute to mass culture.
Mass culture has no central features, no points of reference. It knows no borders - think of the influence of the Beatles or the multi-national effort to put Lord of the Rings to film. It doesn’t operate by any rules except supply and demand.
I have no problem with mass culture. Open commerce encourages progress in the arts and sciences that allows all of us to thrive. America is just too vast - in size, population, and ethnic and religious diversity - to have a common “culture.”
So let’s not pretend that a common American culture could ever be found here. Let’s not pretend that federal “protection” of marriage, or the restriction on immigration, is going to do any good for the “culture” when there is in fact no culture.
Does that mean I am favor of gay marriage and open borders? I didn’t say that. Yes, I am a libertarian, with a moral commitment to allow others the freedom to do as they please as long as they don’t hurt anybody else. Two people of the same sex making an official commitment in binding legal covenant and in religious ceremony, hurts nobody else. Someone venturing into a new country, doesn’t hurt anybody. I view individuals as new resources for exchange and friendship, not as “foreigners taking our jobs and depressing wages.” In a free society, I'd have no problem with either.
The mass culture abandoned contraception, then embraced no-fault divorce, then abortion. There is no reference point to draw the line at gay marriage, when (at the very least) abortion and no-fault divorce jumped far across that line. The one institution that has been consistent in its opposition to all of these - the Roman Catholic Church - is the most reviled institution in America today.
Also, there is no line in the mass culture to tell us which immigrants are good, which bad. Immigrants will merely be incorporated into the mass culture, carving out their own sub-cultures and/or try to appeal to the masses for profit - just like everybody else. Immigrants are not a threat to the American culture, since there isn’t one.
But here’s the problem: we do not live in a free society, but in a socialist one. Does that sound over the top? I don’t think so. A socialist society is one in which a government monopoly controls the money supply, which encourages unlimited government. And our government’s layers of regulations, taxes, and entitlements has made a genuinely free and independent life in the United States virtually illegal.
Because we have the reality of socialism, my positions on gay marriage and open immigration are the same: I am undecided. My indecision springs from a lack of information, because I haven’t really studied these issues. I could make up my mind for one and against the other, or endorse both, or reject both. But the principle by which I make up my mind will be the same with both issues. My interest is to do what is just for the taxpayer. There is no national culture that needs government protection, so the least I could do is support policies that protect the taxpayer from further looting.
Neither privatized marriage amongst gays, nor even polygamy, threatens marriage to those who practice a religion with more strict definitions. Just as the presence of foreigners poses no threat to the job prospects of anyone. In a free society, both open marriage and open immigration would be tolerated, but nobody would be compelled to grant benefits to these spouses or be compelled to provide for or in any way associate with these immigrants. In a socialist society like ours, however, where we grant the State domain over everything, the questions of openly-defined marriage and of open borders amount to the same thing.
With immigration, we could face anything from increased Social Security burdens, to over-crowded government schools, to even congestion of toll-free government roads. With marriage, it could mean a radical increase in sham marriages to grab government benefits and employee benefits. I’m already familiar with cases of sham heterosexual marriages to evade immigration laws, and sham heterosexual marriages for the sake of getting health insurance. Isn‘t it obvious that same-sex marriage, in an age where marriage means getting benefits from legally-bound employers and the government, would invite massive fraud?
It would be easier especially for single same-sex friends in middle age or later to embark on a same-sex sham marriage for mutual economic benefit (at the expense of everyone else), than for either to find an opposite-sex partner to agree to the scam. The increasing legitimacy of homosexual marriage would legally oblige not just the government welfare system, but probably also legal compulsion of employers providing benefits, to be forced to pay through “Family Medical Leave“ and similar laws. And this makes taxes higher and life more expensive for the rest of us.
It’s one of those moral dilemmas. It’s nobody’s business what you do with your own life, provided you don’t hurt anybody else. On the other hand, when open borders and laissez-faire marriage laws are combined with socialist enterprises like public schools, Social Security, and spousal benefits, I don’t see the justice in allowing the foreigner or the homosexual to join in on the looting. Real justice is to protect the taxpayer from further harm, from further burdens. Just because he is robbed already under the traditional means to provide for the welfare of other people, doesn’t mean he should be robbed even more to provide for immigrants and homosexual spouses in the name of “equality.”
That would not be “fairness,” that would be rank injustice. Better to always search for ways to dismantle the socialist system rather than expand it. The forgotten man in these issues is always the one who will actually have to pay the taxes and follow the regulations. What about his rights?