Changing of the Guard on the Right: Freedom is Out, Solidarity is In

Changing of the Guard on the Right: Freedom is Out, Solidarity is In, by R.R. Reno. Warning: important philosophical article.

The thinker - Philosophical

In Reagan’s time, the right aimed for freedom:

[Freedom] has been the Republican brand for a generation. With Reagan, we sought to promote freedom over against communist totalitarianism. We worked to break up a government-controlled, monopolistic economy and unleash capitalism’s potential. We argued that ordinary Americans could and should lead responsible, self-directed lives rather than become ever more dependent on the intrusive ministrations of the Nanny State.

But in today’s world, solidarity and security are more important than freedom to the conservatives and middle of the Anglo nations:

Black Lives Matter, Dallas, and Baton Rouge: They suggest a society that is coming apart. The same goes for student protests at elite universities. We don’t need freedom. We need solidarity, as ordinary people sense.

Islamic terrorism represents a threat to our security. In the long run, of course, it is also a threat to freedom, since a fearful people cannot be a free people. But the more immediate motif is security.

The same goes for the economic crisis facing middle-class Americans who aren’t on their way up the meritocratic ladder. … [I]t is not the case that the decline in high-paying jobs for high school–educated American stems from a lack of economic freedom. Quite the contrary. Globalization is the fruit of free trade and the free movement of capital promoted by America for more than a generation.

The diverging interests of the globalized PC elite and the rest:

Again, it’s not freedom that’s lacking, but solidarity. Increasingly, the interests of Americans who thrive in the global economy diverge from the interests of the less-educated, who now must compete with low-wage labor throughout the world.

This divergence is compounded by a cultural assault on those who have been left behind by globalization. Mitt Romney notoriously called them “takers.” The editors of the New York Times routinely denounce them as racists or (in the case of minorities) infantilize them with gestures of paternalistic solicitude. …

Our countries are much less unified than they were a few decades ago. Once it was taken for granted.

I kick myself for failing to see sooner how disintegrated America has become, not racially—though that, too, has flared up—but economically and culturally.

There’s no longer a large, confident, and unifying middle class. Bright, ambitious, well-educated Americans hold many of their fellow citizens in disdain, thinking them moral cretins (“bigots”) and economic deadweight (“takers”). Meanwhile, folks lower down the social scale are getting angry at the “establishment,” and their frustration unifies blacks, whites, and hispanics even as identity politics divides them. …

We are coming apart, and our public life lacks the reparative rhetoric of solidarity.

Meanwhile the left has become the home of  big money and the politically powerful, aiming to divide, using PC:

The historic role of the Democratic Party has been to promote solidarity. But the character of that party has changed. As I argue in “Bigot-Bating,” the Democrats are increasingly the party favored by our globalized elites, even while they present themselves as empowering the marginalized.

This contradiction has created a political dynamic in which the Democrats have an incentive to employ divisive rhetoric. Anti-racism, anti-bigotry, anti-homophobia, and other campaigns of “inclusivity” require a powerful “other” to play the role of wicked oppressor. So the Democratic party has abandoned the rhetoric of solidarity for the rhetoric of denunciation. The “war on women” is an example. Solidarity themes are transformed into political correctness—an imposed, policed, and artificial unity.

Trump won the Republican nomination because while the other Republican candidates were still blathering on about freedom (witness Cruz’s convention speech), he moved with the times by talking solidarity and security — trade, the wall, ban Muslim immigration, law and order, winning, and anti-PC.

Which probably explains why libertarians feel like so yesterday.

hat-tip Stephen Neil