From Type Investigations:
The first NatCon conference, held in 2019, was inspired in part by Hazony’s book, The Virtue of Nationalism, which became part of a small library of scholarly right-wing works published in the last three years—including Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed and R.R. Reno’s Return of the Strong Gods—that take aim at what their authors saw as the root of America’s problems. Classical liberalism’s focus on individual rights, this new school of “postliberals” argued, demolished traditional values, built a multiculturalism in which traditionalists could live as they chose but had no social support to do so, and established a “woke” cultural hegemony as coercive as any state.
Emphasis mine, because that’s the whole game right there. Here’s the translation:
Progressives and conservatives fought in the marketplace of ideas thanks to the basic freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment. After two centuries of conservative cheating — barring the interregnum of a foolish, evil civil war they also lost — progressives beat them. The effort to form a more perfect union had at last entered a stage where all could participate with...well, fewer barriers than before, certainly. Conservatives tried to erect road blocks to voting and societal participation, to be sure, but for almost fifty years there was a steady march of increasing acceptance of people that were permitted at last to be themselves. So when they claim that “cultural hegemony” is as “coercive as any state,” what they really mean is that enough other people got wise to their BS that people who weren’t their fellow bigots didn’t like them any more. Oppression!
I mean, for the love of all gods, they’re saying the last quiet part out loud. Our freedom to exist as ourselves is “coercive” to them, because when allies don’t like them for being against our existence, that stops them from imposing their culture on everyone else.
That state of affairs didn’t just rankle those who disapproved of it but constituted an attack on their own right to live in a culture that supports their way of life.
This is modern American conservatism in a nutshell. I mean, there are some weird conflations here — somehow, corporations exploiting workers and using slave labor overseas is the fault of liberalism (sure, neoliberalism bears some guilt here, but that comes from the brief era in the 90s when it looked like the two parties might start to merge in a neo-corporate middle) — but the argument here is that by allowing people to ignore churches, marry who they love, control their bodies, and breathe while Black, that takes away their “right to live in a culture that supports their way of life.” By which, of course, they mean White Christian Patriarchy that suppresses other ways of life. They’re not particularly subtle about that last part.
Conservative postliberals also charge that the concept of public neutrality doesn’t lead to fairness but rather to oppression of the majority, and an inevitable slide into “Marxist cultural revolution.” It follows that if governments are never actually neutral but always either advancing or undermining the public good, the law should use its coercive power to instill virtue. That’s the gist of “integralism,” a conservative Catholic legal movement advanced by many prominent postliberals, which opposes church-state separation and the prioritization of individual rights in favor of a system ordered to uphold “the common good.”
I’m new to “integralism,” but it looks to me like the Catholic variant of Dominionism. (I have a feeling that far-right Catholics would be very unhappy about how ending the separation of church and state would go in Protestant-plurality America, but I digress.) The goal?
When Dreher urged his fellow postliberals to set aside the integralist “thought experiment” for Hungary’s more realistic model, he was speaking of a regime where most had already paid court. And despite the rancor of November’s infighting, a version of Orbán’s Hungary is what began to emerge, at the conference and afterward, as a shared destination
On the one hand, I feel it important to add that the article’s entire foundation is a look into the efforts by Hungary’s right-wing government to forge alliances with American crypto-fascists (and I’m not even sure that the “crypto” part is accurate there). But the scariest part to me is how these pathetic remnants of conservative intellectualism argue that they’re the kinder, gentler version. You know, like Dubya. Sure, they insist, minorities will be marginalized and forced to participate in the cultural traditions of the majority, but we should be grateful for being allowed to exist at all. (I’m not kidding. Read the whole article.)
Their pitch is that multiculturalism will inevitably fail — which is odd, considering that they base their entire precis on how overpowering and oppressive multiculturalism is supposed to be — and we should let them force everyone who isn’t cool with White Christian Patriarchy to submit to it for the right to exist as second-class citizens. Marriage is limited to one man and one woman? Hey, they’re not putting LGBTQ+ folks in straitjackets, so you’re welcome! Overt racism is okay in hiring practices? Hey, at least they didn’t reinstitute segregation. (Probably.) Abortion made illegal? Hey, they want to protect women, honest! The other option, they imply, is the mob. The “real” racists. A final...answer to the left’s insistence on treating all people like people. No one wants that, right?
Nice population you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.
There’s an awful lot of awful revealed in this article, but for me, the most disturbing part is that these people are the right’s thinkers. Their philosophers. This is what passes for depth in American conservatism. It’s obscene in ways I’m still grappling with, but what really drives the moral bankruptcy of the far-right home is, they’re done with liberal democracy. Voting rights? Freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press? They’re obstacles to “human virtue.” Which, again, clearly amounts to (say it with me) White Christian Patriarchy. They’re the suit and tie version of the MAGA Civil War thugs pictured at the top.
Conservatives argued for their ideals. Not only did they lose, in private they’ve admitted they lost. So now they’re going back to jackboots and ghettos. I’m not sure how we fix this, mind you. America needs at least two functioning major parties, and right now it only has one. But I think it begins by saying it outright: the GOP has gone the full fascist. America’s right wing is a toxic, broken mess, and we as a country have to accept the diagnosis before we can figure out a treatment.
It’s also possible that the disease is terminal, but I don’t think there’s any value in giving up. Dark times can destroy societies, and they have in the past. But they also survive many terrible periods. America has overcome so many other terrible periods and gotten better. These vile people have lost power before. I think all most of us can do for now is keep speaking out, standing up to them, and voting in spite of every obstacle they put in our path. They’re afraid because they see true marginalization coming in the numbers — there are, after all, more of us than there are of them. The heart of the Big Lie is their claim to majority. If we endure, we win.
EDIT: Wow! My first trending post (after almost 20 years!). Thank you all so much. I hope I’ve added something to the conversation.