Jonah Goldberg

So now openly gay soldiers get to fight and die in neocon-imperialist wars too?

David Brooks saw such ironic progressive victories coming. In his book "Bobos in Paradise," he wrote that everything "transgressive" gets "digested by the mainstream bourgeois order, and all the cultural weapons that once were used to undermine middle-class morality ... are drained of their subversive content."

Two decades ago, the gay left wanted to smash the bourgeois prisons of monogamy, capitalistic enterprise and patriotic values and bask in the warm sun of bohemian "free love" and avant-garde values. In this, they were simply picking up the torch from the straight left of the 1960s and 1970s, who had sought to throw off the sexual hang-ups of their parents' generation along with their gray flannel suits.

As a sexual lifestyle experiment, they failed pretty miserably, the greatest proof being that the affluent and educated children (and grandchildren) of the baby boomers have re-embraced the bourgeois notion of marriage as an essential part of a successful life. Sadly, it's the lower middle class that increasingly sees marriage as an out-of-reach luxury. The irony is that such bourgeois values -- monogamy, hard work, etc. -- are the best guarantors of success and happiness.

Of course, the lunacy of the bohemian free-love shtick should have been obvious from the get-go. For instance, when Michael Lerner, a member of the anti-Vietnam War "Seattle Seven," did marry, in 1971, the couple exchanged rings made from the fuselage of a U.S. aircraft downed over Vietnam and cut into a cake inscribed in icing with a Weatherman catchphrase, "Smash Monogamy."

Today Lerner is a (divorced and remarried) somewhat preposterous, prosperous progressive rabbi who officiates at all kinds of marriages -- gay and straight -- and, like pretty much the entire left, loves the idea of open gays becoming cogs in the military-industrial complex.

The gay experiment with open bohemianism was arguably shorter. Of course, AIDS played an obvious and tragic role in focusing attention on the downside of promiscuity. But even so, the sweeping embrace of bourgeois lifestyles by the gay community has been stunning.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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