Left and Right

The new intellectuals of the American right

The return of “throne and altar” in opposition to the 19th century plutocratic liberalisms that has long defined modern American “conservatism.” It’s interesting how this kind of stuff is making a return on the right at the same time Marxism, Leninism, social democracy, socialism, etc. are making a comeback on the left. It’s obvious that all of this is being generated by the impact of globalization and its consequences for class relations.

By Nick Burns, New Statesman

In political and media circles, an array of thinkers – national conservatives, integralists, traditionalists, and post-liberals – are crossing ideological boundaries.

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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