Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The new intellectuals of the American right

I don’t really see these guys becoming popular in the US. American-style right-wing populism is the Know-Nothing tradition, not Throne and Altar. The problem with the US right in all its forms is that it is swimming against the demographic, cultural, generation, economic, and technological tides. The future of the Left/Right battle in the US is going to be between neoliberals and social democrats (the battle going on among the Democrats right now). Trumpian civic nationalist-populism and/or the “intellectual dark web” around Dave Rubin will be considered “far-right” by that point.

By Nick Burns

New Statesman

What is happening on the American intellectual scene? In Washington and New York, it is increasingly common to hear people say they are enemies of neoliberalism. They think liberal democracy is insufficient. They are in favour of government intervention in the economy, sceptical of free-trade deals and long to demolish what they call “zombie Reaganism”.

These people are not Bernie Sanders supporters. In fact, they are not on the left at all. They are Catholic professors, or writers for US conservative magazines. They run tech companies in California or work for Republican senators on Capitol Hill. Meet the new American right.

If you would like to find yourself a place in the vanguard of American conservatism these days, you can choose from a widening panoply of neologisms to describe yourself: national conservative, integralist, traditionalist, post-liberal, you might even be welcome if you are a Marxist. Anything just so long as you’re not a libertarian.

The once dominant intellectual lodestars of the US right – Friedrich Hayek, John Locke, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand and Adam Smith – are out. The ideas of Carl Schmitt, James Burnham, Michel Houellebecq and Christopher Lasch are in. Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville are barely clinging on. What happened?

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