September 25, 2019

WHO'D HAVE DREAMT THE nATIONALISTS WERE sOCIALIST?:

How right-wing Republicans became America's unlikeliest anti-capitalists (DAN HITCHENS, 9/25/19, New Statesman)

At a recent conservative conference in Washington, DC, according to one attendee, the "slur du jour" was "neoliberalism".

A turning point came in January, when the Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson told his three million viewers that "Republican leaders" were in thrall to "corporate propaganda", and seemed to have forgotten that "market capitalism is not a religion". Carlson expressed his loathing for private equity and payday loan companies, remarking of the latter: "Libertarians tell us that's how markets work - consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives. OK. But it's also disgusting." Subsequently, Carlson has railed against the Koch brothers, the billionaire funders of right-wing think tanks, and has characterised the average Republican politician as "a libertarian zealot controlled by the banks, yammering on about entrepreneurship".

While Carlson fires off sound-bites, a phalanx of intellectuals offers a more in-depth critique. The philosopher Patrick Deneen has persuaded many of his fellow social conservatives that their true enemy is Enlightenment liberalism: a distorted idea of freedom, Deneen argues, which has led to both social progressivism on abortion and marriage, and the injustices and inequalities of modern capitalism.

In March this year, several prominent thinkers, among them Deneen and the writers Sohrab Ahmari and Rod Dreher, signed a manifesto celebrating the death of "the old conservative consensus". Published in First Things, traditionally the intellectual journal of the religious right, the manifesto called for "a political movement that heeds the cries of the working class as much as the demands of capital". The details have been fleshed out by thinkers such as Oren Cass - who advocates an industrial policy based on supporting workers instead of maximising GDP - and in the cerebral quarterly American Affairs, the most recent issue of which proposes a huge expansion of child benefit. Part of the money, the authors suggest, could come from a financial transaction tax. 

Posted by at September 25, 2019 4:09 PM

  

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