Yes, you are horrified by what happened and you condemn it in no uncertain terms. I have no faith in grand, apocalyptic historical narratives, any more than I have faith in optimistic progressive ones. It gives them a purpose and a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. The content of the ideology matters, in both cases. The new identity politics is expressive rather than persuasive. They have become petri dishes for the cultivation of cultural snobbery. That does not mean the present is acceptable because it is where history has landed us. The first is to abandon dogmatic, anti-government libertarianism and learn to start speaking about the common good again.
It celebrates movement politics and disprizes political parties, which are machines for reaching consensus through compromise — and actually wielding power for those you care about. We not only have rights in relation to government and our fellow citizens, we have reciprocal duties toward them. In order to fix what ails us you need to hold onto the universal democratic ideal. Just as moderate imams in Europe preferred not to see what was happening in their mosques, so you have been in denial about the environment you created. Once, say, in our society we were less tolerant but more charitable; today, the reverse. But contemporary liberalism is not known for its absence of sanctimony when its own sacred cows are being gored. Now most liberals learn about politics on campuses that are largely detached socially and geographically from the rest of the country — and in particular from the sorts of people who once were the foundation of the Democratic Party. People were eating the same food, hanging out with large networks of friends, showing up late for everything. Anti-modern critics need to recognize that: And modern society does go on. Those who play one race card should be prepared to be trumped by another, as we saw subtly and not so subtly in the presidential election. It was not the old Catholic Italy, but it was still Italy. In other words, to understand what ails this country you need to pay attention to difference. The only relevant question is whether it is a good way to live or not. We need to recognize that. This is precisely what has happened in the West…. A conservative publisher should bring out an updated version… Or take a look at the reformicon public policy journal National Affairs. I started it on a lovely Sunday afternoon after I had just taken a walk in the park, where I saw kids dressed in punk and goth outfits the Eighties! We still have to choose how to live. That does not mean the present is acceptable because it is where history has landed us. Identitarians became self-righteous, hypersensitive, denunciatory, and obsessed with trivial issues that have made them a national laughing stock drawing up long lists of gender pronouns, condemning spaghetti and meatballs as cultural appropriation,…. Social movements are important too, since they can change hearts and minds. The movement shamed America into action by consciously appealing to what we share, so that it became harder for white Americans to keep two sets of books, psychologically speaking: What should we learn about identity politics from the terrible events in Charlottesville? We much prefer to ignore problems until they become crises, undergo an inner conversion, write a gospel, preach it at the top of our lungs, cultivate disciples, demand repentance, predict the apocalypse, beat our plowshares into swords, and expect paradise as a reward.
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