Elvis is still the King

As someone who is largely on the libertine side of things, I often find myself on the opposite side of cultural issues from my conservative brothers and sisters (not all of them or all of the time, of course). I think I still belong more on the right than the left, mostly because I cling to my guns, I listen to alt-country & bluegrass, and I think society should be molded to human nature and not vice versa. Despite my self-identification as a man of the Right, the mental world that religious fundamentalists and reactionaries inhabit is still very alien to me.

While it’s tempting to dismiss reactionary opinions as ignorant and fear-driven, those motivations are beside the point. Because whether it’s comfortable to us high-minded types or not, the reactionaries are usually right. For example, consider the contemporary reaction to Elvis, which went something like:
Satan! This music and dancing will lead to sex! Miscegenation, irreligion, and licentiousness!

Look around you -- they were right. We now live in a world of secularism, interracial relationships and general promiscuity. There's no social penalty for an atheist girl who boinks men from all different races without even knowing their names. Hell, they even have a TV show for a girl like that. The old culture that the fundies were defending is dead. Elvis and what he represented destroyed it. There were massive changes to our culture as a consequence, and we lost some very good things. Personally, I think the world is a better place now, on balance, than it was before Elvis. We have a greater depth of experience and the freedom to explore it now, for good or ill.

What the reactionaries tend to focus on is what is to be lost, while the revolutionaries devalue that to focus on what is to be gained. Perhaps it is possible even in the moment to foresee the consequences of some social changes and find a way to embrace them while also conserving some of the things from the past that are worth keeping. I think it behooves us as enlightened men to see through our own condescending prejudices as we are able and consider what we lose by not listening to the reactionaries.


Christopher said...

This is a superb piece. Much of the blurring between the "right" and the "left" seems to stem from the confusion over "conservative" and "Republican" - no longer synonymous by any stretch of the imagination, and "liberal" and "Democrat" - associations in flux, but perhaps to the extreme as opposed to the separational.

As to the constant evolution, devolution, transformation, or what have you with society as a whole - at least it ain't boring!

CounterClckWise said...

Thanks, C! I appreciate it. :)