The Corner

The (Culture) War’s Not Over

Remember back when folks used to say the culture war was over? They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now. Remarkably, some are still claiming that the culture war is an illusion. John Leo shows why they’re wrong in his latest piece. Some of the problem here comes from a misunderstanding of how society works. Enormous social changes can be brought about by committed groups who make up far less than a majority of the population. It’s sometimes pointed out, for example, that only about a third of the baby boomers were actively involved in the movements we call “the sixties.” That’s true. And knowing it’s true helps explain why we are in an unresolved culture war to begin with. But it’s also true that a “mere” one third of a generation was able to put in place a cultural transformation of massive significance. So too, a mere third of the Democratic electorate, itself a mere third of the national electorate, has been able to rocket Howard Dean into frontrunner status for the Democratic nomination–against all the efforts of the party’s elite. So the numbers of latter day sixties types may not be a majority, but they’re more than enough to have turned this election into an open cultural battle on nearly every front. Our culture war is real–real enough to have changed the story of this presidential election. And “all” it took to do that was a minority of the electorate driven by a powerful commitment to a particular cultural-political framework. By the way, for my own take on why the sixties happened to begin with, see my essay in the new book, Never A Matter of Indifference.


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