Further Notes on the New Right

Last month’s essay “The Problem of the New Right” caused a small stir. Formal writeups have been authored by Ross Douthat, Eric Levitz, Jordan Bloom, Lars Schonander, Peter Spilakos, and Aaron Ren. On Twitter there was even more chatter about the essay, much of it critical. I have found the critiques of my piece, especially on Twitter, to be somewhat contradictory. Some fault me for being of the backcountry party; others for being too sympathetic to the puritans. I am both too kind to and too critical of the New Right. I am both too much of a history nerd (insert here the phrase Albion’s sneed) and historically uninformed. It is difficult to answer such contradictory charges. Here I will answer a more coherent line of criticism, offered by many but stated most succinctly by Eric Levitz: my essay relies too much on the “conflation of Catholic integralists with center-right reformers, and individualist intuitions with libertarian policies[1] 

One way to restate this point: my critique of the post-liberal right was more successful than my critique of the post-libertarian right. This is more of an accomplishment than Levitz and company might allow: if you swim in these circles you know full well that the integralists are hardly the only post-liberals in the water. The integralists are simply the most coherent and mature of the various post-liberal tribes. They do not hide behind memes and do not play Straussian mind games. This makes them both more interesting but also—as my essay evinces—more amenable to outside critique. 

But perhaps this is not the best way to parse the problem I have identified in the New Right program. Like “capitalism,” the words “liberalism” and “libertarianism” carry too much baggage. I fear that by using them I have caused some readers to misconstrue my actual arguments. 

Let me restate my central thesis sans these ideologically charged terms: The New Right vision of politics is unapologetically elitist, hierarchical, and communitarian. The right-wing base, in contrast, is rebellious, egalitarian, and individualist. The New Right and the right base are united in their hatred for the meritocratic striver culture of America’s bicoastal elites. But their attitudes towards elite politics are fundamentally different. 

The New Right wants to replace America’s failed leadership class with something better (e.g. themselves). The right base does not want a new elite, but less elite. New Right intellectuals deeply care about what is being taught at Yale; the right-wing base wants to live in a world where they never have to care about what is being taught at Yale. The New Right wants to restore or revitalize an “American way of life;” the Trumpy base wants to ban all outsiders from telling them how to live their lives. The New Right smiles on phrases like “we live in a society” and “politics of the common good.” The right-wing base is attracted to slogans like “don’t tread on me” and “I will not be masked, tracked, or tested.” 

I am not claiming that the Trumpist base wants to axe Social Security payments, nor that they will light up the streets to bring down a tariff regime. If that is what “folk libertarianism” means then the backcountry voting base is not libertarian. But neither is the median Trump voter an eager communitarian ready to sacrifice their prerogatives for the sake of national “common goods.” To the extent that Levitz’ “center right” post-libertarians wrap their project in the trappings of common good politics, they will be beset with frustration and failure. This is already apparent in some of the favorite policy proposals being shopped about by the American Compass set (I will give an example later in this piece). 

In many ways then my critique of the New Right mirrors my earlier criticism of the Reformicons.[2] Where the Reformicons sought to intellectualize and make respectable the Tea Party explosion, the New Right attempts the same feat with the Trumpy masses. In both cases there is acute divergence between the voting base and the would-be leadership class. In both cases these incongruities remained out of sight because the writers, staffers, and think tankers involved in the new movement spend most of their energy trying to convince other people in their own profession and class milieu of their ideas. The Reformicon movement had many mistakes, but none so large as their failure to build out to the grassroots. The New Right, for their part, seems just as disinterested in moving the conversation out of Washington, New York, and California.

 I could probably end this post here. If you have actually spent time talking to Joe the Trump voter you know that his concerns rarely match the worries of our would-be vanguard. This was the actual origin of that essay: I spent the first two months of Spring visiting some very Trumpy extended relatives, and was struck by the discrepancy between what they and the New Right hope the GOP might deliver. (For what it is worth, Mathew Walther’s “Rise of the Barstool Conservatives” is perhaps the best statement on where the conservative coalition is actually moving).[3] 

Everything else I wrote is ancillary to this observation. But my ancillary points were quite lengthy, weren’t they? In my “New Right” essay I identified the “barstool” voters with an anti-communitarian political tradition that stretches back several centuries. The reason for doing this should be somewhat obvious: if the backcountry voters that make up the Trump base have been committed individualists for centuries, then the newest iteration of folks calling themselves “the New Right” is unlikely to change that. 

2. Several have questioned the basic operating assumptions behind that argument. Does it really make sense to analyze 21st century American society through the lens of 17th century demographics? I say yes, with caveats. I am hardly the only one to make this claim. In addition to David Hackett Fisher, we see scholars as varied as Michael Lind, Kevin Phillips, Joel Garreau, Wilbur Zelinsky, Raymond Gastil, Walter Russel Mead, E. Digby Baltzell drawing on the these same cultural categories to help make sense of 20th century and 21st century politics and culture.[4] 

Colin Woodard’s American Nations is the most recent attempt to bring the story sketched in Albion’s Seed up to our own time. Here is Woodard’s map of America’s over cultures:

 

 What I called “puritans” and “backcountrymen” (following Hackett Fisher), Woodard labels “Yankeedom” and “Greater Appalachia.” While Woodard is neither as scholarly nor as disinterested as Hackett Fisher, he competently extends Hackett Fisher’s basic schema through the centuries. A key passage concerns the large waves of immigration America experienced at the turn of the last century:

These great immigration waves enriched and empowered these two North American federations [the U.S. and Canada], but they did not displace their pre-existing regional nations. These remained the “dominant cultures” which the 19th and early 20th century immigrants children and grandchildren either assimilated into or reacted against. Immigrant communities might achieve political dominance over a city or state (as the Irish did in Boston or the Italians in New York), but the system they controlled was the product of the regional culture. They might retain, share, and promote their own cultural legacies, introducing foods, religions, fashions, and ideas, but they would find them modified overtime by adaptations to local conditions and mores. They might encounter prejudice and hostility from the “native” population but the nature and manifestation of this opposition varied depending on which nation the natives belong to. Immigrants did not alter “American culture,” they altered Americas respective regional cultures. Indeed, in many ways the immigrants of 1830 to 1924 actually accentuated the differences among them.[5]

Thus Eisenhauers are made into Eisenhowers and Kennedys become shadow-WASPS. I will concede that Woodard’s presentation is a bit too tidy. A century of mass media and national political integration means that there a certain bleeding between the regional nations was unavoidable. In particular, Woodard would have benefited from a closer study of what historian Robert Wiebe called America’s “national class.” This class, created at the turn of the 20th century, was national

both in the sense of transcending local attachments or boundaries and in the sense of holding central, strategic positions in American society. Although members of the new class might care very deeply about their geographical roots, particular places no longer defined them. They fulfilled roles that can be played out just as well in hundreds of alternative locations: public commentator, CPA, physical chemist, movie star, labor economist—roles that only made sense as an interrelated set of skills in a rationalize society. Charles Beard and Ruth Benedict, Henry Luce and Harold Ross, Jane Addams and Margaret Sanger, Herbert Hoover and Bernard Baruch, Walter Lippmann and Henry L. Mencken, W.E.B Dubois and Norman Thomas, John D Rockefeller Jr. and Harvey Firestone, Martha Graham and Eugene O’Neill, J. Walter Thompson and Cecile DeMille, all belonged in this interdependent national scheme of things, and each in turn modeled life for countless others who saw themselves as participants or at least aspirinants in some comparable arena.[6]

Wiebe understands most of the political battles of the 20th century as a contest between the interests and values of America’s numerous “local middle class” elites, whose fortunes, and identities were tied to specific locales, and the rootless and rationalized national class he describes in the quote above. This was a class, not a wealth, distinction: then, as now, poverty and riches can be found on both sides of the local/national divide.[7] What has changed in more recent decades is the scale of the national class: the university sorting machine has expanded the ranks of the rootless to include many millions of Americans who in past eras would have happily championed ‘local middle class’ life.[8] 

 However, these classes are not unrelated to the older cultural schema outlined by Hackett Fisher, Woodard, and company. The national class’s origins lie in the metastasis of the old WASP aristocrats, themselves the chosen sons of the Yankee and Midlander traditions. There is thus something of the Puritan found throughout America’s nationalist class culture, even in locales far outside traditional Yankee strongholds (like Denver or Austin). Something similar happened on the right: the cultures of localist resistance to national class rule are far less localist than they once were. Over the 20th century a shared set of cultural markers evolved to signify counter-cultural resistance. Thus country music and charismatic evangelicalism, both of whose roots lie solidly in backcountry strongholds, became nationally recognized vessels of anti-national class cultural commitments. 

Yet viewing politics purely in terms of national vs. local (or as it is usually glossed today, urban vs. rural) obscures some interesting patterns. Woodard, who is still an active writer, seizes every chance he can to make this point.[9]  Consider the following map, created by Woodard to explain the 2016 election

 

 Compare that map with a more recent one, not created by Woodard yet used by him in a column last year. [10] It is a county-by-county accounting of who was locking down in early April 2020 and who still roamed free: 

 Pay special attention to the difference shown between a “Yankeedom” state like Michigan and a “Greater Appalachia” state like Arkansas or Kentucky. Michigan was a competitive Trump state; its rural communities voted for him with fairly overwhelming margins: 

 Yet these same Trumpy, rural counties locked down without objection—or at least they did at the beginning of the pandemic, before the issue had gone through the polarization machine. Why? Because Michigan, like most of the Great Lake states, was settled by Yankee emigres and leavened by an early wave of German and Scandinavian farmers well disposed towards Yankee communitarian norms. The New England township model was successfully transplanted to this region of America, and later immigrants adapted themselves to the pro-social spirit of the people who lived there. 

These things persist. If you have lived in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan you know that their people—even the second generation of their recent immigrants—are simply more conscientious, civic-minded, and norm-abiding folk than people in the rest of the country. This is visible in their willingness to lock up as the pandemic spread last year.

 A fun thought experiment: if all of the country was Michigan, what would have 2020 looked like? We would still have the urban/rural divide. The election contest between Biden and Trump would still have been competitive. But I wager it would have been an election where everyone was happily wearing their mask. 

This is a more realistic counterfactual than you might suspect. It is easy to forget that last April Tucker Carlson was castigating the CDC for recommending that Americans do not wear masks.[11] In the two months preceding Tucker’s pro-mask rant, it was frog Twitter and the dissident right, not establishment liberals, who were prepping for a pandemic and urging everyone to stockpile a store of masks as soon as possible. The New Right position was very much what you would expect from a “common good” political movement. But the President himself was noncommittal on the question, and that left the door open for GOP’s backcountry base to rebel against what they saw as elite imposition on their daily life.

 This was not the default conservative position—partisan opinion only polarized on these questions in late April and May of last year, as anti-lockdown rhetoric and maskless faces became associated with the Trump base.[12] Soon enough Tucker and the rest changed their tune. Most have trouble admitting such a changed occurred. But it did! The backcountrymen were so successful at imposing their priorities onto the Republican Party and its attached conservative intelligentsia that many people in the movement do not realize they flipped positions! What a clear case study in the consequences of the base’s power to shape outcomes! Sometimes “individualist intuition” and “libertarian policy” are closer than they seem.

3 . I suggested in my last essay but the current GOP was the natural heir to the Jacksonian tradition, both because Jackson’s and Trump’s respective bases draw from the same cultural group, but also because both coalitions represented the parts of America least comfortable with the intrusion of the capitalist marketplace and its depersonalized social logic into their lives. The capitalistic Whigs beautified their project by appealing to the common good–what they called the American people’s “harmony of interests.” Democrats knew better. Cue John Taylor of Caroline:

[The pro-tariff forces] endeavour to hide the effects of their policy to classes and individuals, by kneading up all of them into one mass called a nation; and assuming it for a truth, that the chymist Self-Interest cannot divide it into parts. Having created this imaginary one and indivisible being, more valuable and wonderful than the philosopher’s stone, they conclude that its interest must also be one and indivisible… 

[But] as no government can patronize one class but at the expense of others, partialities to its clients beget mutual fears, hopes, and hatreds, and bring grist to those who grind them for toll. Even brothers, whom nature makes friends, are converted into enemies by parental partialities. Will the partialities of a government between different classes promote the harmony and happiness of society? Is not their discord the universal consequence of the fraudulent power assumed by governments, of allotting to classes and individuals indigence or wealth, according to their own pleasure?[13]

What was to become known as the “American System” was largely the creation of warhawk John C. Calhoun, who “turned his back on it,” John Quincy Adams lamented, when “the slave holders of the South discovered it operated against their interests.”[14] Opposition was explicitly sectional. “Should this bill pass,” cried one Virginia senator in an entirely typical objection, “then we, who belong to that unfortunate portion of this confederacy which is south of Mason and Dixon’s line, and east of the Alleghany Mountains, have to make up our mind to perish like so many mice in a receiver of mephitic gas, under the experiments of a set of new political chemists.” [15] The further South one traveled the angrier the objections became. The frenzied declaration of the citizens of Coosawhatchie, South Carolina, was typical of the emotions the issue generated in the Palmetto State:

That the power assumed and arbitrarily exercised by the tariff states, to appropriate the property of the southern states to the support of northern monopolists, is a tyrunny, dangerous in principle and much more intolerable in practice, than the attempt of the British parliament to impose a tax upon our ancestors when these states were British colonies.[16]

Anxieties over the fate of slavery in a future political economy dominated by northern capitalists drove much of this protest. Slavery was the chief culprit behind South Carolina’s plunge towards nullification a few years later.[17] But the salience of the tariff issue lasted long after slavery had been abolished. American System boosters sometimes struggled to understand this: faced with rising anti-tariff sentiment in 1888, the first response of the Republicans was to wave the bloody shirt and claim that anti-tariff complaints were modern children of the ancient Slave Power. [18]These Republicans were correct in one important sense: there was a unity to 19th century attacks on industrial policy. It was a central issue for the Democracy on both sides of the Civil War, and on both sides of that conflict this opposition was grounded in geography. That opposition was strongest in the South.

 Why? Because Democrats—especially, though not exclusively, Southern Democrats—understood that the American System was anything but. In the antebellum era the American System was a thoroughly sectional project. Its benefits would not flow to the average Jacksonian voter, but to the Whig strongholds that were already benefiting from the “market revolution.” Thus the System was only truly implemented when Southern voters had been removed (via secession), giving former Whigs, now styled Republicans, overwhelming control of Congress. Perhaps this second American System can be credited with the industrialization of America and the fantastic growth of her economy in the latter half of the 19th century. But the antebellum critics’ predictions of how industrial policy would unfold were absolutely correct. America did not industrialize—the North industrialized. America did not prosper—the North prospered. The South remained a stagnant economic backwater until the 20th century sunbelt boom. 

Conservatives must understand that this is the natural tendency of industrial policy. Industrial policy gives to those already have been given much. It succors the wealthy and protects the prosperous. There are two central reasons for why this is so: once industrial policy is announced, it is easily captured by existing industrialists, who have the money and the influence to push for spending to go their way. Secondly, when the goal of industrial policy is to strengthen specific “strategic” industries for national gain, the quickest and easiest way to achieve that goal is usually to rely on the work forces and infrastructure best adapted to it—that is, the regions of the country that are already pushing against capitalism’s cutting edge. 

Consider the front page of the American Compass as it appeared the day that I began this essay:

Here we see what may be the most popular object of industrial policy in contemporary America. There is a strong national security rationale for onshoring semiconductor production. As a notorious China hawk, I agree with this rationale entirely. But understand what is happening here! TSMC and Intel have both announced they will build chip foundries somewhere outside of Phoenix. Just how dire is Phoenix’s economic need?

 Another map (click for a larger image):

 According to the report from which I pull this graphic, ‘innovation industries’ “generate 6% of the nation’s GDP, a quarter of its exports, and two-thirds of business R&D expenditures” and a disproportionate percentage of America’s national economic growth over the last decade. [19] After San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and New York, Phoenix is the highest growth location for these industries. This was true before industrial policy was a DC talking point.

We promised a revitalization of the American heartland; we boost an already thriving tech center. There are no new chip foundries heading for Michigan and Ohio. There are no new jobs here for people in Missouri or West Virginia. We neither protect the regions of the country that have been hurt most by globalization, nor do we reward the beleaguered communities of our own coalition. 

And that is the problem with the ‘common good’ framing that surrounds all of these endeavors. Industrial policy is never about the common good. Industrial policy is about choosing winners and losers. The winners we choose today are those already winning. We give unto those who have already been given much—and who will not vote for us anyways. What is funneling tax money to the tech industry, after all, but a hand out to one of the bluest workforces in America? Is that really a population you want to increase—in Arizona?

 This is where my critique all the post-liberals intersects with my doubts over the post-libertarian project. By adorning itself with the rhetoric of national comity and national goods, the New Right loses sight of what actually brought the right to power in 2016. Trump promised “winning.” The median Trump voter did not understand “winning” in terms of bullet trains or semiconductors. He did not understand “winning” to mean a future more shimmering than Huangpu or more advanced than Zhongguancun. “Winning” was not about foreigners at all. The competition to beat was all at home. Trump was propelled to power by the rage of a people whose social world—be it measured via income, health outcomes, or cultural prestige—was falling, even as other social blocs in America experienced rapid gains. There is no harmony of interests here. America First always meant their America first.

 Michael Lind’s recent series of essays for Tablet on FDR, the New Deal, and the Jacksonian tradition are useful reading on this point. [20] FDR was successful at getting the folk libertarians of the backcountry to embrace large government spending plans. He did not do this by framing these plans as attempts to build a more virtuous political community, nor as a program to achieve a set of nationalist goods. Instead, he framed the New Deal in terms of specific economic boons delivered to specific constituencies. His was an openly adversarial program designed to overthrow the existing economic and cultural hegemony of Northeastern elites. 

 But this is a dangerous game. FDR’s program might have redistributed wealth and cultural authority from the puritans down to the “white ethnics” and the sunbelt, but this was only a temporary victory. Before long the array of national institutions constructed by FDR was staffed by the very national-class puritans the New Deal was designed to dethrone. FDR may have been a traitor to his class, but he could not assure the next generation of northeastern white-shoe lawyers and diplomats would follow suit. 

This is a real potential danger of the New Right approach, one that must be faced squarely. Any administrative machinery the right might build is a ticking time-bomb. It is well and good to have a powerful leviathan at hand, if you can ensure the leviathan rests in your hands. It is a less certain venture when the monster of your making is always one election away from being handed to your enemies. 

How the New Right will address this problem is still uncertain. Authoritarianism is one answer, of course; at the New Right’s further fringes, where it blends hazily with the dissident right, that solution is already being offered. The most obvious alternative is to run with the natural impulses of the base instead of against them. This would be an attempt not to consolidate national authority, but to fracture it. Not to build up great corporations or industrial giants, but to level them. Not to take over the Ivy League and its sister institutions but to demolish them—or at least their possible influence on national affairs. What that vision might look like in practical terms is still uncertain. Few thinkers on the right have seriously considered what might be needed to dethrone the national class and bring about an actually decentralized American polity. Perhaps this is simply not possible. But it is hardly less fantastical than this fever dream of leading the Trumpist masses on a pilgrimage towards classical virtue.

—————————————————————————————
If this post on the history and American conservatism has caught your interest, consider reading my earlier posts “Conservatism’s Generational Civil War,” “A Parable Concerning Tolerance,” “We Were Builders Once, and Strong,” “Porn Restrictions for Realists,” and “Living in the Shadow of the Boomers,” To get updates on new posts published at the Scholar’s Stage, you can join the Scholar’s Stage mailing list, follow my twitter feed, or support my writing through Patreon. Your support makes this blog possible.
—————————————————————————————

 [1] Eric Levitz, “Why the GOP is Ideologically Lost,New York Magazine (30 April 2021). The full quote:

It’s only persuasive if one defines “libertarian” very loosely, and the New Right, very narrowly: It is surely true that most Trump supporters value personal freedom too much to form a mass base for Catholic integralism, or any illiberal state that sought to impose a traditionalist conception of “the common good” upon them. Trump voters largely support marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage. Yet Greer’s analysis conflates two very different questions, namely: “Is the median Trump voter too libertarian to support a literal theocracy?” and “Is the median Trump voter too libertarian to support public investment in manufacturing, collective-bargaining rights, a child allowance — or a Republican Party that endorsed those things?” 

[2] Tanner Greer, “Learning the Wrong Lessons From Reform Conservatism,” National Review (17 March 2020).

[3] Mathew Walther, “Rise of the Barstool Conservatives,” The Week (1 February 2021).

[4] Michael Lind, Made In Texas: George W. Bush And The Southern Takeover Of American Politics (New York: Basic Books, 2004); Kevin Phillips, The Emerging Republican Majority: Updated Edition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004 [or. ed. 1964]); American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006); Raymond Gastile, Cultural regions of the United States  (Spokane: University of Washington Press, 1975); E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Class (Boston: Beacon Press, 1982); Joel Garreau, The Nine Nations of North America (Avon Books, 1983); Wilbur Zelinsky, The Cultural Geography of The United States: A Revised Edition (Pearson: 1992). Zelinsky somewhat modifies this picture in Not Yet a Placeless Land: Tracking an Evolving American Geography (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011).

[5] Woodward, American Nations: A History of the 11 Rival Regional Cultures of North America. (New York: Penguins Books, 2011), 254-5. 

[6] Robert Wiehbe, Self Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 142.

[7] ibid., 144.

[8] A good account of this process is Will Wilkinson, The Density Divide: Urbanization, Polarization, and Populist Backlash (Washington DC: Niskanen, 2019)

[9] Colin Woodard, “The Maps That Show That City vs. Country Is Not Our Political Fault LineNew York Times (30 July 2018)

[10] Colin Woodard, “How America’s Earliest Colonists Dictate Today’s Coronavirus Response,” Washington Monthly (9 April 2021).

[11] Tucker Carlson show, 30 May 2020, link here.

[12] Joshua Clinton et al., “Partisan Pandemic: How Partisanship and Public Health Concerns Affect Individuals’ Social Distancing During COVID-19,” SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, July 9, 2020).

[13] John Taylor, Tyranny Unmasked | Online Library of Liberty, ed. Thorton Miller (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992), 16, 13-4.

[14] From a diary entry on 25 June 1830, produced in Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, ed. C. E. Adams, 12 vols (1874-7; Freeport, NY: Books For Libraries Press, 1969, original publication), vol. 8, p. 233, and quoted in Songho Ha, The Rise and Fall of the American System: Nationalism and the Development of the American Economy, 1790-1837 (Routledge: 2009), 1.

[15] John Randolph, Speeches of Mr. Randolph, on the Greek Question, On Internal Improvement; and On the Tariff Bill. Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington DC: Gales & Seaton, 1824), 31. This source be found on Google Books.

[16] As reported in the Niles Weekly Register, 20 September 1829, p. 59. This source can be found on Google Books.

[17] William Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)

[18] Joanne Reitano, The Tariff Question in the Gilded Age: The Great Debate of 1888 (Penn State University Press, 1994), 25.

[19] Robert D Atkinson, Mark Muro, and Jacob Whiton, The Case for Growth Centers, (Washington DC: Brookings, 2019).

[20] Michael Lind, “Joe Biden’s German Green New Deal,” Tablet (2 May 2021); “Is it Time to Cancel FDR?Tablet (11 April 2021); “Let Us Honor the Little Magician,” Tablet (14 February 2021); “The New National American Elite,” Tablet (19 January 2021); “Revenge of the Yankees,” Tablet (20 November 2020)

Leave a Comment

41 Comments

This was a very good, reasonable essay, and I enjoyed it much more than the earlier 'inside baseball' piece. Thanks for writing it.

You said:

"It is well and good to have a powerful leviathan at hand, when you can ensure the leviathan rests in your hands. It is a less certain venture when the monster of your making is always one election away from being handed to your enemies."

and later:

"The most obvious alternative is to run with the natural impulses of the base instead of against them. This would be an attempt not to consolidate national authority, but to fracture it."

Both these solutions have their appeal, but people on the right have been talking about (permanently, democratically) taking control of leviathan and/or smashing it to pieces for decades, probably more. Most of Sam Francis's work is 20+ years old, America 3.0 is nearly a decade old. Are we any closer to the vision of either? Sure doesn't look like it to me; in fact, it looks like we're moving further and further away. Dismiss it as you may, the podcast you link to sounds a lot more realistic given the realities we're facing.

While the New Deal obviously did not destroy the power of the Ivy Leagues and the national elite (arguably doing the opposite in the long term), its policies transformed the *composition* of the national elite through the GI Bill, state level increase of funding for public universities, and so forth by opening university education to high performing whites of all sections and backgrounds, including Catholic and Jewish "ethnics". This almost certainly transformed the politics of academia and bureaucracy in a far more politically liberal direction and sped up the process of transforming the Eastern Establishment into the ethnically more diverse Overclass of today.

@Horace–

A fundamental divide I think between myself and those I poke here is our attitude towards the old WASP elite. Is the current meritocratic class the repudiation of the old WASPS, or rather their logical fulfillment?

I vote the second.

FDR's New Deal was this interesting combination of upper class lordship and local class comprises. FDR was able to get it through because it strengthened in many ways the cultural authority of local middle class elites, and opened up the old northeast aristocracy to non-WASPS. But, IMHO, both were sort of poison pills: getting kids from Minnesota and Mississippi into Yale didn't make Yale less puritan — it just ensured that the overclass was more puritan than otherwise. That's the rub really. Before the 1920s-1940s period there was no national overclass. The WASPy elites were Northeastern elites, not national elites. Weihbe argues that the critical transition period in the creation of a national overclass was 1914-1924; from this perspective, the New Deal was an attack on the composition of the overclass, but ultimately only strengthened the political economy that made an overclass possible. A bit of a pyhrric victory, I think.

@anon-

The Caesarian option, realistic? It is, IMHO, absurdly optimistic about the success of a Caesarian venture. A lot seems to rest on this notion of immediate collapse; if the collapse is not immediate, Caesarianism means civil war. There is no guarantee that the right side wins this war; even if the right side wins there is no guarantee you get a Salazar instead of a Stalin. Its a dice roll, and I am extremely skeptical that the odds are in virtue’s favor.

And then there is the broader issue of just how much blood the would-be Caesar must bathe himself in to achieve his enemies. I think about imperial Japan a lot in this context, a country whose leaders led their country through years of fire to preserve a way of life. And you know, modern Japanese life kind of sucks. You can see why they would die to prevent modern Japan from being born. Was it worth it? Had the costs been the same, but they were able to avoid occupation and unconditional surrender, would it have been worth it? How many children orphaned, wives widowed, cities burnt, and factories leveled would have been worth that cost?

They tend to alide these issues in their endorsement of authoritarian extremes.

Minor linguistic note: in my experience, David Hackett Fischer is referred to not as "Hackett Fischer" but as "Fischer"; he does not have a compound last name, but uses his middle name as well as his last name. To pick one example, in the Spring 1991 forum on Fischer's work in the William and Mary Quarterly, everyone referred to "Fischer" not "Hackett Fischer". A quick JSTOR search shows this is common. Just FYI.

Somewhat better post than last time, if only because it responds to criticism. This, for instance, is clearly true:

"New Right intellectuals deeply care about what is being taught at Yale; the right-wing base wants to live in a world where they never have to care about what is being taught at Yale."

However, while the post is dead on in regards to the semiconductor issue, it somewhat overstates the endogeneity of vaccine/mask resistance. Traditionally, the antivaccine bloc was concentrated among Bernie voters, not Trump voters. It was Trump who started the right's shift toward pandemic denial back in February. If he was more like Prayut, it's easy to see how the right and left might have flipped on this issue. Trump's pandemic denial wasn't the spirit of the backcountry, it was a dumb manifestation of the spirit of Wall Street. The influence of Trump on the right must never be underestimated.

You still haven't grappled with the fact that in the 1852 presidential election, only VT, TN, MA, and KY voted Whig, and conflate the Deep South with the Upper South.

For what it's worth, "historian Robert Weihbe" is actually Robert Wiebe, as anyone can see who follows the link.

Good essay. I will admit that I was skeptical of the importance of the Fischer/Woodward categorizations (going so far as to call it "astrology" in a conversation with a friend), but you have convinced me otherwise with your travel example. The county-level correlation is shocking in places

How the Right (which I belong to) can win, or at least secure a detente, is beyond me. The last time the Right created a successful movement almost ex nihilo was when it went from nascent early-1960s political mobilizations to becoming the regnant juggernaut of the Reagan years. In that time, it had a politically active vanguard of upper-middle class professionals. Lisa McGirr has interesting notes about this in her book "Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right."

The current Right doesn't have the patience to do decades of work before achieving some success, and has managed to hemorrhage most of its professional-class, politically active supporters.

> Yet these same Trumpy, rural counties [Michigan] locked down without objection—or at least they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

WTF are you talking about? There were a lot of complaints and downright protests (remember Operation Gridlock?), to which Governor Whitmer by doubling down in an effort to crush opposition. You seriously need to get out of your bubble.

> In the two months preceding Tucker’s pro-mask rant, it was frog Twitter and the dissident right, not establishment liberals, who were prepping for a pandemic and urging everyone to stockpile a store of masks as soon as possible. The New Right position was very much what you would expect from a “common good” political movement.

Or from people who don't trust the system to take care of them and so believe they should take preparation into their own hands. Also, remember that some of the early reports out of China made the virus seem more dangerous than it turned out to be.

> The New Right and the right base are united in their hatred for the meritocratic striver culture of America’s bicoastal elites.

Completely missing the fact that said culture isn't all the meritocratic these days, and is actively stripping itself of its last vestiges of meritocracy, e.g., the University of California dropping standardized tests.

The Imperial Japanese government wasn't fighting to prevent hikikomori or low birth-rates from existing, anymore than the Third Reich was fighting to prevent mass immigration to Europe or LGBT rights like certain elements of the alt right like to claim. Indeed, if the Imperial Japanese regime had somehow survived there would be no guarantee that the worst elements of Japanese life such as overwork, suicide etc. wouldn't be worse. People forget how much the postwar American military occupation government in Japan materially improved Japan through land reform, legalization of trade unionism, and especially public health measures that enabled a rapid rise in Japanese life expectancy putting it on the path to Japan having the world's highest life expectancy today.

@pithom
> Traditionally, the antivaccine bloc was concentrated among Bernie voters, not Trump voters.

The anti-vaccine movement has been building on the right for some time, e.g., look at the stance naturenews has been taking on various issues.

> It was Trump who started the right's shift toward pandemic denial back in February. If he was more like Prayut, it's easy to see how the right and left might have flipped on this issue. Trump's pandemic denial wasn't the spirit of the backcountry, it was a dumb manifestation of the spirit of Wall Street. The influence of Trump on the right must never be underestimated.

The above nicely demonstrates a common failure mode of people too caught up the the beltway bubble. They tend to miss developments outside the beltway until a politician reacts to them. Then they attribute the development to the politician.

@horace
> The Imperial Japanese government wasn't fighting to prevent hikikomori or low birth-rates from existing, anymore than the Third Reich was fighting to prevent mass immigration to Europe or LGBT rights like certain elements of the alt right like to claim.

These are also the claims of the modern mainstream left. That's the claim they implicitly make each time they dismiss opponents of these policies a "Nazis".

Support by particular demographics for tariff or industrial policy aren't set in stone. For most of American history from the mid-19th Century to the 1980s, it was the Whig/Republican current that favoured tariffs while Democrats opposed them. This was the case for some time even after the New Deal. It was only with the advent of deindustrialization and serious competition from Japan etc. in the 1970s that labour unions became protectionist out of self-interest thus aligning themselves with the old capitalist interests (manufacturing). Meanwhile, while Republicans remained the pro-business party, the shift of gravity from the Northeast/Midwest to the Sunbelt plus financialization meant that the dominant pro-business interests were pro-free trade rather than protectionist. As the influence of *blue collar* labour unions (as opposed to public employee unions or emerging service sector unions) declines in the Democratic Party and the shift of educated, pro-free trade new capitalist voters to the Democratic Party occurs, Democrats are once more the party of free trade. Meanwhile, Trump has helped shift the Republican Party back to its protectionist roots, firmly aligning it with old capitalist interests that dominated the GOP for most of its history (which is why I laugh when some Never Trumpers complain that Trump's protectionist policy is somehow "leftist"). Part of it is that the South is no longer as pro-free trade as it once was due to the fact that New Deal industrialization meant a lot of manufacturing in the country nowadays is to be found in Sunbelt states but also regionalism is now secondary (though by no means irrelevant as Tanner's maps show) to the metropolitan core vs. periphery divide.

All this is to say that the descendants-both biological and spiritual-of the Jacksonian Democrats who deplored protectionism as upholding sectionalist interests in 1850 no longer applies to the Jacksonian voter of contemporary America, who see protectionism as key to both their economic self-interest and perhaps even a blue collar way of life. I'm not sure even that the kind of complaints you quote can be directly tied to Jacksonians, given they tend to be Tidewater politicians of the coastal South who were always much more elitist and hierarchical than the Jacksonians of Appalachia. It was Jacksonians who favoured Trump over a multitude of Reaganite free trade candidates in the 2016 primaries and who enabled Trump to decisively trounce Hillary Clinton who spoke of a common market in the Western Hemisphere. Thus I don't see why an industrial policy that's marketed in terms of self-interest and nationalism rather than some abstract common good can't succeed with Jacksonian voters. The main concern about such a policy favouring regions that are already thriving can be addressed by a geographical diversification program that brings (or returns) manufacturing to the Rust Belt or Appalachia. Moreover, the Sunbelt (such as Phoenix, Arizona) still has plenty of blue collar Jacksonian voters. Given the primacy of educational level and population density over regionalism in contemporary politics, a policy that benefits Jacksonian Americans even in thriving regions will probably be better received than the reverse-a policy that benefits college-educated types in "left-behind" regions such as proposals to establish colleges and grow STEM industries in Rust Belt cities.

I think there's both a left-wing and a right-wing anti-vaccinationism (sort of like centralization vs decentralization), with one strain/variant predominating over the other at various times, places and circumstances. So for example, within the USA, some Bay Area schools have vaccination rates below 50%, while major outbreaks of measles have occurred with Orthodox Jewish communities (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measles_resurgence_in_the_United_States#Local_outbreaks).

"And you know, modern Japanese life kind of sucks", but its what you want surely Mr Greer?
Japan is a culture that builds high speed rail, highways, affordable housing, functional littoral combat ships etc. Its a culture whose thick web of social capital and civic organization has if anything gotten stronger over the last two decades. While the central government screwed up the pandemic the Japanese self-discipline and local governments tireless track-and-trace infrastructure has kept excess death well below the Atlantic area. There's a wider sense of self-sufficiency too given the expectation that pubic utilities even buses are expected to make an operating profit, that the national healthcare scheme comes with co-pays that make socialists scream. Immigration is low, traditional religion is intact and de-facto in power, the traditional family of pre-1960's America you idolize is not only but expected even among younger . Huge subsidies are sent from the cities "elites" to the rural areas who are the "real Japan" that must be preserved. And I'm sure gloriously for Conservatives the left has never really been in power at all, social change has been inhibited and permitted but rarely encouraged or extolled. Even in education where the Communists are strongest they are kept in line by most private system, textbook supervision etc. And there are plenty of conservatives in the University sector too.

But you know why "modern Japanese life sucks" you'd have to talk about the "traditional family" puts unbearable pressure on women and , how the culture of work destroys family relationships through stress and time. How the whole edifice of rural Japan depends on gerrymandering, exploitation of the urban poor and the big lie that you can keep the 1950's with just a few gimmicks. But most of all you'd have to accept that long consequences of industrial society are very deep and bring out powerful constituencies.

That's why your little "national overlord class" is so bloody self-serving and self-pitying given the Republicans in America are still on average richer than Democrats, given the divisions between propertied baby boomers and non-propertied and clearly in alliance with American plutocracy (Cato, Club for Growth, Chambers of Commerce). That America's vast new professional class has turned on conservativism bugs you so so much that you need to make them the scapegoat. And go Marxist on class systems which are never binaries especially since a college education is no longer an upper 10% preserve. All this Jacksonian blah blah, while editing out the political valence of gender minorities, women, blacks, Asians, latinos etc, those are constituencies that can be filched in a democratic system for conservatives….but not the Conservatism you want. Which is presumably why the words "gerrymander" "voter ID restrictions" never turn up in this blog. As would the pityless misgovernment that conservatives engage in that local level (this also partially extends to Blue american areas, after all Republican's are the most Nimby legislators collaborating with anti-Nimby democrats). The increasingly tally of ignored referendums in Red America, that North Carolina and Wisconsin are no longer democracies outside state-wide offices. That's all edited out so you can be a victim.

One more thing. Red America is weak, if it builds a Herrenvolk democracy, it'll lose to the PRC, badly. It won't be able to mobilize the ideological, economic and social resources to contend let alone fight. It can't mobilize international public opinion against the PRC because it won't be that different from the PRC.

Wouldn't your point about rural Michigan give some hope for the New Right project, i.e. showing that the Trump base does contain a significant demographic (in an electorally critical region) whose culture aligns with New Right communitarianism?

I agree though that the New Right got carried away in throwing the libertarians overboard (I heard the word "irrelevant" a lot, probably even used it myself) and wound up fracturing the delicate Trump coalition.

One very immediate, actionable, and concrete goal I think might be able to unite the various wings of the Right: education. The Right constantly complains – justly – that the whole public education system has fallen into the hands of Left propagandists. Drag Queen Story Hour is an abomination, but what have we done but complain about it? Where is the Right alternative?

Even worse, Republican politicians led the charge to *reopen* the schools. Why?

When the schools were closed for the pandemic, the time was ripe to produce a good, conservative (or even simply apolitical) homeschooling curriculum, publicize it widely, and put it directly into the hands of parents who want to opt out of the monstrous leftist propaganda engine that is the US education system. Pull the rug out from under the universities by giving people a better option. Yes, yes something something accreditation; but the university system is actively decaying the worth of those pieces of paper they hand out. Can't we give them a little nudge to help them on their way out?

It seems to me this agenda would more or less align with all the major strands of the American Right. If there's one thing we all agree on, it's that the public education system is being overtaken by progressive activists, and this agenda would be designed to fight that. The Appalachian types should be in for it – they get to re-assert control over their kids' education, not let them get force-fed progressive cant like those geese they get foie gras from. The intellectual New Right types should like it: we'd probably have a blast building the curricula from the ground up. Religious conservatives of all stripes – Evangelical, Mormon, Jewish, etc. etc. – are actually way ahead of everyone else on this front.

Anyway, just my two cents.

Mr. Greer,

While I think you have laid out a credible case – perhaps not right, but certainly a credible one – that the approach of the American New Right would not work (even if it is the American faction, from my foreign perspective, that I find most palatable) because it strengthens their enemies and can't find sufficient popular appeal, I don't see how the Folk Libertarian approach can in its current form shatter American national authority. Even when Republicans achieve a political trifecta they tend to spend their political capital on laissez-faire policies that, at best, enable the central power-holders (le pouvoir) to maintain their grip and, at worst, even strengthen it – as seen by GOP politicians, states and voters being pressured into dropping or adopting policies by large corporate entities, many possessing monopoly or monopsony positions, even when the GOP has facilitated the unregulated growth of these corporations both nationally and in many cases encouraged them to move to Republican-controlled states.

Which leads on to my second point; the issue of the commanding heights of the Ideological State Apparatus. As long as the commanding heights of the Ideological State Apparatus are held by Left-Liberals American Conservatives will always lose, and any political victories they achieve in short-term electoral cycles will prove to be ephemeral and inconsequential. The Left-Liberal hold on institutions (academic, media, entertainment, corporate, etc.) will shift both the cultural attitudes of those in power as well as the general culture – which is why Republican-appointed judges on the Supreme Court are ineffective, military is now promoting anti-racist and queer theory doctrine and technology monopolies, that have become nearly indispensable for public discourse, are allowed to set up private censorship boards.

If Folk Libertarianism is to succeed they need to not just to attempt to weaken existing institutions but also create parallel ones to replace them. Can the individualistic and disputatious temperament that Folk Libertarians hold create such institutions?
The Left-Liberal-led coalition (in America and internationally) is not a uniform entity and contains internal economic and ethno-racial contradictions, but I am sceptical of the ability of American Conservatives to take advantage of them.

Now, you may already have thought of objections or solutions to the points I raise and if that is the case I would be interested in reading it.

"A fun thought experiment: if all of the country was Michigan, what would have 2020 looked like? We would still have the urban/rural divide. The election contest between Biden and Trump would still have been competitive. But I wager it would have been an election where everyone was happily wearing their mask. "

I like the essay, but I have to say as a michigander you've completely got this wrong. Those blue areas you see on the map locked down hard, and because they include all the elites in the state (Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Traverse City and Marquette), that was the official line, and worth saying completely uncontested by the Republican majority in the state house. But nowhere north of Highway 10 ever locked down fully except the aforementioned TC and Marquette. I live just inside the blue zones, most of my family and inlaws in the more rural areas. None of them ever wore masks except when they had to visit the south of the state. Mask usage in the hinterland of the state never exceeded ten percent, from what I saw.

An interesting edge case is Grand Rapids, which usually votes Republican and is currently represented by Justin Amash, the libertarian-ish former Republican who quit the party over clashes with Trump. But, GR is respectable, relatively rich, and crawling with the sort of earnest religious people that used to be so influential in elite right-wing politics. It's the ancestral home of Betsy DeVos. GR locked down hard, and stayed there.

The lesson of Michigan lockdowns as I see it is that far from joyously following mask mandates, the elites of both parties followed the lockdowns, but the rank and file of the mostly-republican hinterland did not. There were protests in Lansing against the lockdowns, and a major campaign of civil disobedience outside the major cities. The rules the state put in place were blatantly unconstitutional, and every time anyone fought them in court, they won. The governor had to resort to using MIOSHA to pressure businesses to enforce her mask mandate because her original order got squashed in the courts. And far from the eyes of anyone with a UM degree, the vast territorial majority of the state just raised both middle fingers and kept on trucking.

Agreed. I feel the take on Michigan was not my experience. The militias showed up at the capital in April and that seemed to be supported in my rural community, which has no history of militias. Btw; Amash was replaced by Meijer.

@Unknown
I agree though that the New Right got carried away in throwing the libertarians overboard (I heard the word "irrelevant" a lot, probably even used it myself) and wound up fracturing the delicate Trump coalition.

This is just BS. The Trump coalition hasn't fractured. The mistake the right made was letting the Democratic (voter-fraud) political machines fester for far too long. They like to talk about grave yards voting, but weren't willing to use their political capital to push to clean up (enough of) it.

I would be curious if any of the Michiganlanders in the thread have thoughts on the timeline of rural Michigan's turn against lockdowns. The map I used above shows that whatever they thought of the lockdowns, in April of 2020 they–or at least their cell phones–were staying at home. My interpretation of this is that the Michigan law abiding types followed loc down orders, but became progressively more restive against them as the issue took on a partisan inflection and as the lockdowns stayed in place.

Am I wrong?

Your take on Michigan did not reflect my experience or general feeling. I think most of my home town <1000 population were willing to do their part and seemed to grant the Governor's 30-day emergency powers as reasonable. There were grumblings, but I didn't feel it was out of the ordinary.

Personally, I felt there was a noticeable surge of anger when the Governor outlawed gas motor-boats and it notched up another level when they started posting Officers at the boat launches.

As I recall, it wasn't much later the militia went to the capital. Typically they are ignored as they just stir up Progressive propaganda, but it felt as though they grew active support on this occasion and in turn the Republicans felt empowered to file a lawsuit.

Alpenrose writes:

"epublican politicians led the charge to *reopen* the schools. Why?

When the schools were closed for the pandemic, the time was ripe to produce a good, conservative (or even simply apolitical) homeschooling curriculum, publicize it widely, and put it directly into the hands of parents who want to opt out of the monstrous leftist propaganda engine that is the US education system."

What a fun question! I do agree that this was the time do to these things. But the truth is that most Americans, and most Republican Americans for that matter, do not want to homeschool their children. It is kind a perfect illustration of this entire dynamic.

And of course in America where most households have two working parents, it is not a feasible mode of culture change anyway. But even without that, you have the simple problem of a public that isn't that bothered by what their children are taught at school–and those who are don't want the responsibility of running their own curriculum.

The other issue here is that conservative thought leaders don't think in terms of education. Its a perennial problem. There are is so much low hanging fruit here–the first person to make a half-good AP Language syllabus will see it spread across the nation, given how terrible materials for that class are. but the conservative movement doesn't get that sort of thing. No experience with teaching.

Horace-

"Thus I don't see why an industrial policy that's marketed in terms of self-interest and nationalism rather than some abstract common good can't succeed with Jacksonian voters"

I agree with this. I think it is possible to sell it on those terms — and only those terms.

This gives me hope. So I’m understanding the distinction here is a clearly defined “this will be good for you as an American citizen tomorrow!” and not “this is a project of grand scale bigger than any of us”

It’s a mystery to me that conservatives are unable to see “The Common Good” in the abstract as being in their self-interest. It’s taking the position that you will only allow things that solely in your selfish interests.

But what is self-interest?

There’s no recognition that when your neighbor’s kid with no education and a $7.25/hour job proceeds to rob your house while you are on vacation that your self-interest has been harmed.

Maks-wearing was another one. It really felt that Conservatives were ok with it when it was for self-protection. As soon as mask-wearing was to protect others, it was f**k that noise, don’t tread on me you tyrant. Except when the maskless guy next to you gives you Covid, your self-interest was, once again, not served.

The fact that this explicitly selfish political program is popular with the groups that explicitly endorse America being founded and run as a Christian Nation just adds to the overall intellectual confusion of it all.

@Borners–

I'm surprised you think I pine for the 1950s with a few gimmicks (much less herrenvolk democracy!). Do you read this blog?

HM:

"The current Right doesn't have the patience to do decades of work before achieving some success."

And that is exactly the problem. I am thinking I will title my next big essay on these topics something along the lines of "Culture Wars are Long Wars." If you are serious about changing a culture you need to realize it is a 40 year game. It always is. But there is never any patience for this sort of thing, you are right.

I will admit I am not particularly well read on the subject of America's folkways. Hackett's tome intimidates me, but I will have to get to it eventually.

I am particularly interested in the interplay between immigration and the folkways. I have heard many—like HM above—characterize the folkways as astrology. And the explanation given for how immigrants just were subsumed into adjacent folkways seems far too pat.

Does Woodward's book explore this more?

@T.Greer

I hope you don't mind if I ramble a little on the following:

> you have the simple problem of a public that isn't that bothered by what their children are taught at school–and those who are don't want the responsibility of running their own curriculum.

I agree that this is the state of affairs as it stands – and it's certainly a big ask of parents to take on this additional responsibility! The very religious have been doing it for a very long time already, but I suppose they have some key advantages: a very specific vision of the education they want their kids to have, a definite understanding that the public education system will not deliver it, and tight-knit communities who can share the burden.

Hence I think that it's not so much that they're not bothered than that they don't have a clear and specific notion of what education should look like, with which they can contrast the mess dished out in the public schools. (Imagine if you didn't know what food should look like: they could serve you all kinds of horrible crap and you'd shrug and eat it.) This is, I believe, the really insidious part of the effort to introduce PoMo thought into the public consciousness: it smashes down the old accepted standards, leaving parents apathetic and willing to take whatever disgusting low-grade slop the ideologues want to force-feed their kids.

So if we are to realize this project of "homeschooling the right"* (or even "homeschooling the not-totally-loony-left") and avoid raising a generation of Pavlik Morozovs**, we'd need a two-pronged approach. (1) Produce some strong, specific vision of what education should be; (2) provide tools for parents to deliver that vision with minimal additional burden. Neither can succeed without the other.

Luckily, much of the administrative burden of homeschooling can be automated away: generating, assigning, and grading simple math or grammar homework, for instance, is comparatively trivial. The burden of designing the curriculum itself is also offloaded, and it can easily be an improvement on the ridiculous leftist propaganda patchwork we currently have.

There are of course critical factors that cannot be replaced by software. Lectures can be delivered by video (probably better than most in-person lectures even!) but an important function of a teacher is simply making sure the students are paying attention – this requires an adult in the room, or at the very least an adult that is actively engaged with the child's learning on a daily basis. I suppose there are no substitutes for this.

Still I suspect the right tools (made feasible with technology) can greatly reduce the burden on parents and an optimized curriculum would not only cut out the political agenda but would leave the child better prepared for a productive and fulfilled life. As the public education system bloats and rots*** I'm counting on this last factor to tip the scales – if only we are ready to step in with a worthy alternative.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*This phrase courtesy of a terrible article from CUNY, which made me spit up my coffee in a fit of laughter. How exactly did the author manage to equate "threatens democratic accountability" with "wrests power away from the Democrats", a party famous for just *impeccable* transparency, without suffering an irony-induced stroke? Note also the rather blatant admission that the education system is in the control of Democrats.

**Or would that be "Pavliks Morozov"?

***no Algebra II requirement! drop the SATs! everything at the whims of politically motivated and totally unaccountable teachers unions and admissions officers!

To the host:

Am greatly puzzled by your article’s assertion that the current New Right is dominated by Jacksonian types that are ” rebellious, egalitarian, and individualist.”
How then do you make of the phenomenon of ardent pro-Trump red states passing laws banning their blue counties from mandating masks, banning private business from doing vaccine passports, banning trannies from competing as women in schools, banning local public schools from teaching critical race theory, to banning their blue counties from doing sanctuary laws for illegal immigrants or even new energetic attempts to ban early abortions. For a more articulate version of those examples above, see this David Frum article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/sudden-conservative-outrage-over-vaccine-passports/618476/

Truth be told, the New Right doesn’t very “rebellious, egalitarian, or individualist at all”.

> passing laws banning their blue counties from mandating masks, banning private business from doing vaccine passports

Giving individuals the right to be free from vaccine passports and mask requirements.

> banning trannies from competing as women in schools

Having men (propaganda aside that’s what “trans-women” are) compete with women in sports isn’t very fair to the women.

> banning local public schools from teaching critical race theory

Banning public schools, which are state institutions by the way, from indoctrinating students in a totalitarian ideology.

Seriously these are not hard.

>New Right intellectuals deeply care about what is being taught at Yale; the right-wing base wants to live in a world where they never have to care about what is being taught at Yale.

It’s the defining appeal of a democratic strongman’s political formula, innit? The new elite undertakes serious politics so the everyman can depoliticize ordinary life.

Wonderful essay, as was the previous. Thank you. I nodded along in agreement until I came to “Perhaps this second American System can be credited with the industrialization of America and the fantastic growth of her economy in the latter half of the 19th century. But the antebellum critics’ predictions of how industrial policy would unfold were absolutely correct. America did not industrialize—the North industrialized. America did not prosper—the North prospered. The South remained a stagnant economic backwater until the 20th century sunbelt boom. Conservatives must understand that this is the natural tendency of industrial policy. Industrial policy gives to those already have been given much. It succors the wealthy and protects the prosperous.”

The Old Confederacy stayed poor because it preserved serfdom and concomitant oligarchy, not because Yankees foisted poverty on it. In turn, even before the New Deal, broad swathes of the rest of America enjoyed enormously improved standards of living.

Separate topic: you should write about how you would like child care and the lives of adult women to look in modern America. Do you want taxes to fund home-making, professional pre-school, or neither?

I never said the Yankees fostered poverty on the south (though war destruction might be considered such), only that industrial policy did nothing for them, and indeed was not designed to. (The West also did not do so hot in this time period; there is a reason the West and the South were the center of the Populist movement).

Thanks for the reply. Your original statement: “America did not prosper—the North prospered” misleads. The North and Midwest were a consistent ~63% of the people through this period[1], and when the populists held sway in the mountain West, it was mostly deserted. America was 2/3 N and MW, 1/3 Old Confederacy. More accurate would be “America prospered except for the Old Confederacy where oligarchs preferred to rule over poverty than allow growth.”

The Jim Crow South stayed poor because it did not industrialize, which it prevented by violently maintaining serfdom and oligarchy. The antebellum critics were correct only on their own benighted terms: they were slavers, who thought wealth came from pre-industrial serfdom. I.e. wealth was the violent claim of a few upon the static whole created by the dumb labor of the many. What you call—in scare? quotation marks—”the ‘market system'” is … the only system of total enrichment we know of, unless I am missing something. I don’t know whether your purported Northern non-inclusivity existed (source?), but we know that the South vehemently rejected inclusion, making the point moot.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/240766/regional-distribution-of-the-us-population/