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If you’ve been following this blog so far this week, you can tell I’m fairly clearly on the left side of the political spectrum – especially by American standards. Nevertheless, the blogs I personally read most often and find most interesting right now are avowedly conservative (and American): Front Porch Republic, and Crunchy Con by its contributor Rod Dreher.

Why are these the most interesting? First, it’s always good and mind-opening to know how the other half thinks, and these sites have very intelligent and well written conservative commentary. But there’s considerably more than that. They’re not typical right-wingers by any means. They’re generally strongly environmentalist and deeply disillusioned with George W. Bush, while at the same time hostile to abortion and gay marriage. In a sense these sites are all about being genuinely conservative: wanting to preserve the traditions and ways of life accumulated through generations, against the capitalist market – and the government that supports it, and the libertine pop culture that it creates. The philosopher they take as a founder is Wendell Berry, a public intellectual who defends (and lives) the life of the simple self-sufficient farmer.

What you’ll find there is, in short, a consistent public philosophy, probably more consistent than either the left or the right usually is. Moreover, it’s a philosophy concerned with making us better people, which is something I believe to be absolutely essential – compared to libertarians and liberals, for whom the greatest concern is often just making sure people can have and do more of what they want.

I have many criticisms of this philosophy – the “crunchy” views as well as the right-wing views. But I nevertheless find it tremendously stimulating, one of the most thought-provoking sets of ideas around today. It’s something I have learned a good deal from already, and expect to learn a good deal more.