The old saying is that “sex sells,” and after the sexual revolution of the last several decades who can dispute that? Meanwhile, “identity politics” is the obsession of the current moment. Is there a connection? Yes, argues Mary Eberstadt in her new book Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Eberstadt, currently a senior research fellow at the Faith & Reason Institute, takes up an aspect of the current scene that ironically hardly anyone really wants to talk about.

Mary summarizes the issue in this recent excerpt in Quillette:

Yes, racism, sexism and other forms of cruelty exist, and are always to be deplored and countered. At the same time, the timeline of identity politics suggest another source. Up until the middle of the twentieth century (and barring the frequent foreshortening of life by disease or nature) human expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; and that, conversely, it was a tragedy not to be part of a family. The post-1960s order of sexual consumerism has upended every one of these expectations.

In this conversation, Steve and Mary range widely, from man buns to the opioid crisis, to the defects of pure libertarianism to the greatness of the late Christopher Lasch. Eberstadt also reviews her recent spirited plenary address at the first National Conservatism Conference, which you can watch here, and also commentary about the responses to her book from Rod Dreher, Mark Lilla, and Peter Thiel.

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Published in: Politics

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  1. colleenb Member

    The Libertarian and others view of the opioid crisis reminds me of Western women and their demand for abortion. It does not matter how many (mostly non-Western) female babies die, I MUST have my right to abortion. Same with drugs – it does not matter how many people are hurt and killed by drug use, I MUST have my freedom to use drugs. The acceptance of marijuana will not be good for society in the long run.

    OK always wait until the end of the podcast before making a comment as Ms. Eberstadt and Professor Hayward agree with me on what I’ve just written.

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