Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Can Left And Right Populists Unite?

Sep 1, 2023
∙ Paid

Social conservatism comes into conflict with economic leftism in this exciting episode of KK&F, where we’ve brought writer Sohrab Ahmari onto the show to get into his book Tyranny Inc. with us — and to think about how right-wing populism makes the attempt to reconcile conservative social views with an economic program whose elements might be at home in a social-democratic system. It’s an opportunity for a debate on which side of this tenuous reconciliation ultimately wins out over the other — because the way we see it, you just can’t have it all. Watch below:

Sohrab’s argument for the coexistence of social conservatism and economic leftism provides important insight into the role that religion plays in shaping our cultural and social lives. The daylight between his stances on social issues and those usually allied with economic leftism isn’t just a matter of left versus right, he suggests; it’s also about secular versus religious perspectives, with his own religious perspective imposing a barrier against further-left positions on issues like abortion.

Coalition on economic issues, then, is the kind of engagement that becomes possible between right- and left-wing populists who differ significantly in their views on important social issues but envision a less exploitative economic system. Per Sohrab’s description, right-wing populists hold opinions that are significantly separated from the economic analysis they put forward, suggesting that they’re not simply leftists waiting to be reached and won over through economic issues. But Sohrab also suggests that circumstances may call for coalitions between right- and left-wing populists, and we think about what those might look like, if they’re possible.

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