First published at Counter-Currents, Dec 29, 2011.
The West is one bitter old codger.
He’s lived long enough to see all of his truths twisted. He’s surrounded by fools. All the things he gave his life to are broken now, and he’ll never make it out to the garage to rifle through his worn out tools.
There is no new poetry in The West.
He didn’t want to go out like this. He would have rather gone out fighting, or at least standing. That’s not how things work now. His children—ungrateful, resentful children—locked him away in a state facility run by strangers who mock him in foreign languages and spit in his mashed peas. They leave the television on to torment him. Reality shows. Cynical family sitcoms. The news. The exaltation of the vulgar and the trivial. Everything he can see with his one good eye is out of tune. Everything he can hear is ugly.
All he can do is lie there and wait for it.
The West has no future.
* * *
If you live behind the old man’s eyes, things look pretty grim. There’s not a lot to smile about. It’s all going to Hell.
There’s a lot to hate in the world. Globalism turns everything that ever meant anything into something meaningless, trashy and stupid. Sex, culture, and religion are mixed and matched for effect—then discarded. When God died, he left Madonna in charge.
Any challenge to globalism is going to require some kind of localism. Rejecting cosmopolitan consumerism means bringing things closer to home, creating regional networks and nurturing distinct local and tribal identities that can withstand the great Nothing of mindless global monoculture.
With that in mind, I’m going to try out a new policy.
This year, I’m going to hate globally and “like” locally.
I’m going to keep writing about the bad in the world, but I am going to make an effort to support people in my area who are doing good things.
There’s a lot to hate about where I live. Sure, the chicks come in thirty-one flavors of hobo dyke. The males are best characterized by the pasty PBR muffin-tops that hang over their skinny jeans. The self-righteous, self-flagellating nature of Portland SWPLs can be summed up by their passionate advocacy of brown paper grocery bags and biking to work in a city where it rains nine months out of the year. Over the past twelve months, I’ve trolled the local SlutWalk franchise, poked at OWS protesters, and argued that Pearl District’s Tikitotmoniki are totems of pure, soul-destroying evil. These were all worthy targets of my scorn.
But, while it is tempting to hang out in the balcony laughing like Statler and Waldorf, the truth is that I live here by choice. I’m a transplant, I’m not stuck here, and I live here because out of all the cities I’ve lived in, I like this one the best. Drive twenty minutes beyond the fence of our hipster playground and there are God-fearing country folk a generation or so away from being lumberjacks and farmers. Even downtown, I meet decent people every day. I meet people who are out there working, trying to do what they love, and living their lives in the present. Some are doing interesting things. There is a lot of garbage culture and “self-expression” here, but there are also people making art and music that I genuinely like.
There’s a restaurant chain that restores old schools, churches, hotels and ballrooms in a hand-painted, Celtic style. There’s a locally based shoe company that makes really comfortable utilitarian shoes. Portland may look like a crunchy vegetarian city from the outside, but several restaurants here cater passionately to carnivores. I never get tired of the Northwest’s lush, Tolkeinesque landscape, and while words like “sustainable” and “locovore” do taste of the Bohemian Bourgeoisie, it’s good to live in a place where people genuinely care about preserving and enjoying the natural beauty around them.
It’s hard to like a miserable bastard who hates everyone.
It’s hard to support someone who can’t spare a kind word.
It’s hard to take a man seriously when he can tell you a hundred things that are wrong but can’t tell you about one person who is doing something right.
Who wants to be around someone like that?
Who wants to listen to his point of view?
I’m sure that if I investigated every person or company in my area who is doing something that I think is good, I’d find something they’re doing that I think is bad. I’m not going to subject them all to a thousand idiosyncratic ideological litmus tests. That would be pointless and counterproductive.
This year I’m going to set aside some space on my personal blog and on my social networking profiles to support local businesses, artists, writers, craftsmen and so forth. I’m going to promote the doers around me who are doing something right, and save my criticism for people who are making the world worse on a national or global scale.
Not all of these folks will want my support, but I find that people have a difficult time objecting to praise.
Old man West may be a goner, but If you are serious about renewing traditional lifeways and offering nationalistic, tribal alternatives to the disposability and spiritual desiccation of global consumerism, I challenge you to start supporting the people next door. They’ll be a lot more open to considering your ideas, and it will be a lot harder for them to treat you like a cartoon.