May 12, 2023


The New Right Loves the State: American conservatives are flirting with the authoritarian-adjacent European conservatism of old. (FRANCIS FUKUYAMA, MAY 10, 2023, Persuasion)

Conservative intellectuals have been trying to come up with a coherent justification for strong-state populist policies. Patrick Deneen has attacked the liberal project root and branch in his book Why Liberalism Failed, pointing to John Locke himself as the mistaken point at which Western thought turned away from religiously-defined (or what he calls "teleological") political authority. He has also called for a conservative rethinking of its embrace of the private sector and capitalism. Catholic integralists like Harvard Law Professor Adrian Vermeule have been open in their support for a more hierarchical system that would substantively define the "common good" in place of liberalism's agnosticism about final ends.

Finally, there has been a lot of open admiration expressed for strongman leadership and authoritarian government. Rod Dreher moved to Budapest and sees Viktor Orbán's Hungary as a model for the United States, while Tucker Carlson spent a week broadcasting from there. Donald Trump in a recent interview effusively praised Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Un, all of whom were very "smart" and effective leaders. He has made various proposals for using violence and summary judgments against drug dealers and wants to round up homeless people and put them in special camps. Other conservatives have expressed admiration for El Salvador's Nayib Bukele (including Senator Marco Rubio), a democratically elected leader who has used extrajudicial means to round up tens of thousands of gang members.

Make no mistake: this is not your grandfather's conservatism. American conservatives are now talking more like older European ones--not like, say, the German Christian Democrats, who today are in many ways to the left of the Democratic Party, but older ones like Spain's Francisco Franco or Portugal's Antonio Salazar who were happy to see democracy abolished in their countries altogether. There is plenty to criticize on the woke Left, but this new type of conservative is not talking about rolling back particular policies; they are challenging the very premises of the liberal state and toying with outright authoritarianism. They are not simply deluded by lies about the 2020 election, but willing to accept non-democratic outcomes to get their way. And they are providing ample support for a broad retreat in foreign policy away from liberal internationalism towards isolationism.

There's something undeniably delicious about the European nature of MAGA.  It is Anglospherics they hate. 

Posted by at May 12, 2023 7:31 AM