Saturday, September 22, 2007

work, save, build a house

Henry at Crooked Timber quotes Patrick Deneen:

[T]he combination of local economies, nearby productive farmland outside every town, viable public transportation and widespread use of alternative energies points to a culture that has never abandoned sustainable communities in the way that America willfully and woefully has done over the past fifty years. You can also get some sense why there is even resentment here toward America’s wastefulness: the Europeans pay higher prices for everything in an effort to use less, and whatever “give” there is in the worldwide production of resources is a kind of unintended sacrificial gift that many Europeans are making so that America can continue its energy gluttony. That said, the last laugh will be theirs, I think, when our civilization corrodes with increasingly worthless suburban housing tracts, our incalculable debt, and our inability to finance the American way of life. … Here’s something funny: my German father-in-law – no friend of big government, and about as anti-60s one could find – describes this way of life (including the solar panels, etc.) as conservative. And what could be more conservative than the Swabian motto – “schafe, spare, Häusle baue” (work, save, build a house)?

I’m reminded of my skinflint landlord in Rome, who drank $2/bottle wine, recycled diligently, and told me I ate spaghetti like a dog. I remember the horror in his eyes when I brought Chef-Boyardee ravioli from the embassy commissary into the apartment. He wasn’t particularly religious. But traditional, conservative? Certainly.

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