Studying the writings of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, reveals something important: that right-wing intellectual thought is little more than a series of dressed-up defenses of conventional social relations and traditional hierarchies.
Matt McManus is a visiting professor of politics at Whitman College. He is the author of The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism and Myth and the coauthor of Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson.
Far-right intellectuals like Steve Bannon claim to speak for a working class put upon by out-of-touch liberal elites. But their anti-modernist, hierarchical vision of the world doesn’t offer workers what they really need: more money in their pockets, and more power at the workplace.
Today’s right-wing thinkers look to Nietzsche and other German reactionaries to ground their elitist politics — and to do battle with leftists’ project of universal emancipation.
The liberal tradition is a complex body of thought that socialists should grapple with seriously. But today, preserving the gains of liberalism — civil liberties, free speech, and social pluralism — means rejecting the liberal defense of capitalist private property rights.
Donald Trump’s presidency was a catastrophe, and its imminent demise is well worth celebrating. Our task now is to build a politics that ensures Trumpism is dead and buried.
Karl Marx celebrated liberalism’s achievements, such as freedom of the press, while excoriating its fidelity to private property rights. We can hold the same tension in our minds — fiercely opposing capitalism while fighting to make liberal rights real through socialist transformation.
Socialists’ goal isn’t to destroy liberalism, but to transcend its limitations — pairing civil liberties and other liberal rights with a democratic, egalitarian foundation that makes those rights real.
Conservatives are sounding the alarm bell about a Marxist takeover, with at least one philosopher urging liberals to join forces with the Right to destroy the socialist bogeyman. But the values of liberalism have much more in common with socialism than the Right — and liberals sincerely committed to advancing freedom and equality should unite with leftists.
Conservative pundits are more likely to caricature Karl Marx’s writings and beliefs than offer serious rebuttals to his many ideas. Why? Because Marx’s trenchant insights expose deep inconsistencies in cherished right-wing doctrines.
Dave Rubin very much wants you to think of him as a serious man of ideas. But his new book shows him to be a shallow thinker who doesn’t even understand his own ideas.
Jordan Peterson is one of the most famous public intellectuals in the world. But his pronouncements in favor of capitalism and hierarchy collapse at the slightest bit of scrutiny.
Dave Rubin prides himself on challenging dogmas and slaying sacred cows. But his constant invocations of “reason and logic” can’t hide the fact that he trots out the same tired, intellectually lazy anecdotes about triggered college students — and that he refuses to actually debate living, breathing leftists.
Neil Gorsuch’s originalist philosophy isn’t uniquely unbiased or respectful of democracy. It’s a handmaiden of American reaction.