Spoiler: It's really about power.
Toward the end of Aaron Powell's discussion of 'post-liberalism' there was introduced the term 'intentional communities'. To me that expressed better the idea I labeled enclaves, where people more or less retreated from the broader society enough to set up their own institutions, like the 60s communes but not so isolated. That came out of my experience moving into a Black neighborhood when I got married and seeing up close how Black families lived in a segregated society. I also learned the LDS missionaries do not always go door knocking but set up housekeeping and allow neighbors to see how well they live and begin to inquire about their habits and values.
It is complicated but intriguing and bizarre people like Integralists muddy the waters.
“How the fuck did liberals convince ourselves that you can beat cancer by doing dumbbell curls? You cannot.” See Figure 3 of Sabel MS, Lee J, Cai S, Englesbe MJ, Holcombe S, Wang S. Sarcopenia as a prognostic factor among patients with stage III melanoma. Annals of Surgical Oncology 18(13): 3579, 2011. It shows dramatic effects of psoas muscle morphometry and survival in stage III melanoma patients. This research group at the University of Michigan has shown similar effects of psoas measures on other cancers as well. The psoas is a "core" muscle that would have benefitted from Justice Ginsberg's core exertice routine. Since you are such an oncologic genius and so dissmissively certain there is no association between musculoskeletal morphometry and cancer survival, please explain Figure 3 of that paper.
Wow… all I can say is that YOU are freaking AWESOME.
Don't lose sight of the real connections between conservative, Inc. and the truckers. Are conservatives doing anything to help the day-to-day lives of truckers? Of course not. They have continuously supported policies that favored trucking related companies at the expense of individual truckers. But Nixon was no better and yet he obtained the endorsement of the Teamsters. How? Well do not kid yourself that the "southern strategy" did not play a central part. Truckers are overwhelmingly red-neck white and almost universally male (never forget about the male part in today's conservative, Inc.).
I'd only add that I think talking about it as a quest for power misses a very specific nuance. There are people who want power because there are things they want to do, for good or ill. I think these people want power for the purpose of intimidation, to remind people who's boss.
JVL: This thought from your first item: Christian theocracy. Can you please write more about this? America is starting to resemble Gilead from Margaret Atwood....
“Nothing. Without power, there is nothing,” James Carville.
Republicans have taken that truth to heart.
The only guiding principle in Conservatism, Inc. is "Owning the Libs". It is also the unifying principle bringing together several constituencies to confront their common enemy. The only difference among them is the degree to which they wish to own the libs and how that ownership is manifested.
There is a through line of moral corruption and intellectual incoherence from Newt Gingrich, to Sarah Palin, to the TEAParty, to Trump, to Marjorie Taylor Greene, Boebert and Madison Cawthorn.
American conservatism needs to return to Burke and Disraeli and put away the Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
It’s funny, I find the same rank hypocrisy on the Left. Since I can remember, I’ve been lectured that the Left cares for Human Rights, Equality, People of Color, etc. However, they quickly and effortlessly, abandoned millions of Afghans to a patriarchal terrorist group that truly implements systemic racism, persecutes LGBTQ, and is leading our former allies into a mass starvation.
And the most that large segments of the Left can muster is: forever war, imperialism, etc.
Perhaps this hypocrisy is inherent in both parties?
Year of the Tiger. Burrow down deep for the win.
JVL, I can't catch all your newsletters, and may have missed a few newsletters of newsletters. I was already following The UnPopulist (clearly, you've got good taste). One with a similar name is Unpopular Front, by John Gantz. He seems to have a bead on a lot of the right's grift:
You might have mentioned Unpopular Front already, but if you haven't, I thought I'd put a good word in.
Loved this newsletter! I was so pissed when RGB didn’t retire and became a meme. Also, I’m a huge fan of the stoics. Seneca is another ancient badass of self control. If anyone wants a great read, I can’t recommend “The Consolations of Philosophy” by Alain De Botton enough. It’s one of my favorite books.
For several decades I patiently listened to libertarian arguments against civil rights laws on the grounds of "freedom of association." In certain cases, such as religious schools and small businesses, I was largely persuaded. But now, that's gone out the window, and only a tiny remnant of libertarians still have a consistent belief in freedom of association. I guess it is not so easy when the shoe is on the other foot. And I understand that many libertarian elites still hold to their values; but that is not where the "libertarian" masses are.
"There is no conservative philosophical attachment to freedom or liberty any more than there is an integralist or populist love of the common good.
There is only power."
So well said. Thank you.
I want to draw attention to a really alarming discussion I listened to yesterday. After listening to JVL and Sarah on the Secret Show discussing the Ottawa Trucker situation, which Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are all cheering, along with their mouthpieces on Fox, I tuned into another Never Trump, former Republican podcast I like, "Politicology."
Now, I don't want to be the kind of person who spreads conspiracy theories on the Internet, but Mike Madrid, long-time Republican operative, has an interpretation that really made me sit up straight. "I don't believe this is a social movement at all. I believe this is a paid operation.... There is something far more nefarious behind this than just a handful of people misbehaving. There is a very serious conflict that is taking place in Ottawa right now that is heavily funded, extremely sophisticated, and I would suggest it is probably heavily armed...There's an operation happening here that could be potentially extremely explosive, and I don't believe it's just a handful of cranks and militia members... These movements are happening in different parts of Europe...because this stuff is orchestrated in a very sophisticated transnational political operation being run by countries that have a vested interest in the destabilization of these countries."
Here's a link, starting with his comments, but the earlier conversation is worth a listen, too.
I really hope there's nothing to this, but, to requote JVL, "There is only power."
There is high libertarianism and low libertarianism. High libertarians live in a fantasy world in which the social space left unoccupied by strong government remains a vacuum which gangsters and thugs voluntarily refrain from filling --because, Liberty. Low libertarians know better but imagine themselves as filling that vacuum so as to prevent worse people from doing so. .
Libertarianism and conservatism are not really compatible.
"There is no philosophical attachment to freedom or liberty...or...love of the common good."
This is absolutely the single best distillation down to the very essence of "what's wrong with the Right" that I've seen anywhere, anytime. An Ah Ha Moment for me only in its succinctness, since my brain, which doesn't like complicated things, has been searching for such a simple, straightforward and understandable explanation for some time now for what the fuck has happened to such a large portion of this country that I have so loved for so long. It's been whispering similar stuff into the ear of my consciousness, but without such clarity or brevity.
I think of Charlie's book How the Right Lost Its Mind, and I realize that isn't what happened at all. That is only a symptom of what happened. What happened is the Right lost its soul. It's forsaken the American Spirit, the stalwart abhorrence and resistance of tyranny and the love and embrace of freedom and liberty born in Lexington and Concord all those years ago and manifested again and again in places like Normandy and Iwo Jima, Bastogne and Okinawa.
It relinquished any love for the common good and has fallen in love with only itself. Its vociferous pretense to patriotism is a sham, a deceit of the first order, deserving of condemnation and now requiring the resistance of those clear-eyed Americans who have not relinquished their love of those things in favor of feel-good self-serving self-delusion.
I am angry about this. And disheartened. And some days I don't know what to do about it other than let that anger spill out here and in similar places. Forgive me for that. But at least I know when I'm here, I'm among friends, fellow Americans whose beliefs in the values I spoke of above are much the same as my own. Otherwise, what reason is there for you to be here? And I am grateful for that.