August 29, 2023


Conservative Wisdom or New-Right Dreams? (John Grove, 8/28/23, Public Discourse)

What is sometimes called the "New Right" is a medley of various factions--national conservatives of various stripes, Claremonsters, Catholic integralists, and American postliberals. There are many important differences between these groups, but a certain tendency runs across many of them: namely, they increasingly adopt, consciously or unconsciously, a particular understanding of the nature of political activity. Political power, and therefore all political action, is presented as a means by which a preconceived, substantive, and comprehensive social order is brought into being by a concerted, planned effort. Politics is a zero-sum power struggle among advocates of comprehensive visions. The state, at least eventually, assumes the role of a comprehensive authority, ordering all below it according to a preconceived understanding of the "highest good." As Adrian Vermeule--who is the most forthright about this tendency--puts it, postliberal activists "possess a substantive comprehensive theory of the good," and seize opportunities to "bring about its fulfillment."

Some on the New Right fully embrace this similarity to the Left, arguing that the Left has achieved such a total victory that their vision of political life has been vindicated. Conservatives must learn from their approach, merely substituting good, right-wing ends for bad. We must "move past conservatism as a mindset" and past the old constitutional order, argues one Claremont-affiliated scholar. Integralists suggest that conservatives' cultural failures mean that "they have no alternative but to use the state for the furtherance of their ends." Arguing "Against Religious Liberty," a national conservative acknowledged that "The Left understands the end of politics." And in an admiring profile of Antonio Gramsci, a former staff writer at National Review argued: "One need not abandon long-standing conservative principles . . . to see the merits of the 'long march' strategy as an organizing objective." Or--taking a different tack--we must make ourselves, as one integralist urged, into the "party of the state."

The Right is the Left.

Posted by at August 29, 2023 12:00 AM