Stuck in the Middle with Hayek (James E. Hartley, 2/29/24, Law & Liberty)
In 1944, Friedrich Hayek wrote in “Why the Worst Get on Top” in his The Road to Serfdom:
It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off—than on any positive task. The contrast between “we” and “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. […]
The stories Alberta tells are interesting, but the most important part of the book is a conversation Alberta relates with a set of prominent evangelicals who vocally oppose the Trumpian wing of evangelicalism:
We all agreed that these ideological diehards whom [David] French was describing were not a majority of the evangelical movement. There is a difference between the people who prefer the 6 p.m. hour of programming at Fox News to those of its cable rivals, and the people who marinate in right-wing misinformation all day long. That latter group, everyone estimated, was still no more than 15 or 20 percent of most church congregations they knew of. The problem is, as [Russell] Moore pointed out, “That vocal minority will always push around a timid majority. The people who care the most usually get what they want.”
It was at that moment I had an epiphany.
I am an evangelical Christian who works at a secular liberal arts college. I am thus personally acquainted with not only this new wing of evangelicals, but also with the woke academy. While the woke movement is incredibly and aggressively vocal on college campuses, it is a minority of the community. There is a very noticeable difference between the generally liberal members of the faculty and student body and the woke activists who capture all the headlines. A good estimate of the size of the latter group is 20 percent.
Looking at the American landscape, we are watching a pair of dueling religious movements consisting of a vocal minority of people using fear of their opponents as a recruitment tool. As John McWhorter documents in Woke Racism, what is happening on college campuses, the rise of what he calls “the Elect,” is not “like” a religion; it actually is a religion. “An anthropologist would see no difference between Pentecostalism and this new form of antiracism.” There is a clergy, an original sin, attempts at evangelism, an apocalyptic narrative, and ostracism of heretics. The stories in Alberta’s book have obvious parallels with this new religion on the Left. Thinking about the evangelical church, David French noted, “If [pastors in evangelical churches] had a just-as-committed twenty percent to push back on [the politicized 15 to 20 percent] the churches would be just fine. But they don’t.” The same thing is true in the academy.
The Right is the Left.