Tag: American Affairs

Member Post

 

The United States is in my mind the greatest country on earth. Our decency, our values, the principles we stand on I can say to you with zero hesitation or reservation I am proud to be an American. Unfortunately, many Americans do not feel the same anymore. We view patriotism far too often through the […]

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The Nation and Dissent vs. American Affairs

 

One of my friends showed me today one of the few left-right debates available in American political talk. It’s over on Facebook, organized by lefties — editors from The Nation and Dissent. They invited Messrs. Julius Krein and Gladden Pappin, the people who run American Affairs, a journal which many on Ricochet should like. American Affairs offers a thoughtful view of populism and how Americans could take their nationalism (as opposed to importing European ideas of nationalism). American Affairs is more partisan as nationalism against globalism — less partisan as right against left — so it’s more interesting if you think a big shift might be happening in American politics.

This is a long debate, so perhaps listen only to the 20 minutes or so of opening statements. If you’re curious to see how America’s editors can talk to each other across partisan lines, then listen to it all, as I did. I’ll tell you a few things that matter about rhetoric and politics as they show up here.

The Fifth Republic Must End

 

The presidential elections have come and gone in France. Legislative elections will come soon. I’ve made some dark remarks on events, but sparsely — I think it’s too early to talk about it in detail. Few now speaking seem to take the situation in France seriously enough. To me, it seems obvious that suffering and humiliations will multiply in France. I have seen much excellent coverage of the elections; I recommend John O’Sullivan in National Review. For people less concerned with the elections and more concerned with what’s happening in France, I recommend an essay by Chris Caldwell on French critics of the French governing classes. The best author to read is the wise Pierre Manent in a journal I recommend, American Affairs.

But our own @Claire Berlinski, whom I admire so much, said “Macron vanquished Le Pen.” The depth of futility in that statement — the desperate fantasy of that sentiment — the unbending silence it invokes — was too much for me. I decided to write against everything that stands for, what Manent calls “the fanaticism of the center.” I will warn of the coming disaster like the prophets did in previous ages.

The facts of the election

Let me begin in the American way, by stating the facts of the matter. Emmanuel Macron won some 20.7 million votes and defeated Marine Le Pen, who won 10.6 million. It was a 66-34 election. The LePen name, as well as the Front National party, are poisoned in France. To round out the voting, I’ll add that 4 million votes were blank or null. Add up the tallies, and that’s about 35.5 million votes total, or a turnout of 74.5%, in a country with a population of about 65 million.

How Important Is the Nation-State?

 

Today I’ve been reading over the first issue of American Affairs, a new intellectual journal that appears to have grown out of the (largely Claremont-based) American Greatness movement. American Affairs seems to understand itself as a possible seed-ground for exploring an intellectual foundation to Trumpism.

I should admit forthrightly that I look on this project as a skeptic, and as one who considers that the founders of this project have taken a large (not to say foolhardy) burden on themselves. I’m not, in general, the sort of person who seeks to shut down ambitious intellectual projects. But to my mind, the trouble with American Greatness was always the extent to which it understood itself in rejectionist terms. The spirit of the thing seemed not to be, “The right could use some fresh ideas around now, so let’s explore,” so much as, “The whole conservative movement is intellectually and (probably) morally bankrupt, so we’re starting over. Sign onto our program or be rendered irrelevant.”

That kind of “convert or die” attitude makes it hard to climb aboard, especially if you think (as I do) that there’s quite a lot of good to be found in the conservative movement from Buckley through the dawn of Trump. I’m in favor of exploring new ideas and making needed adjustments, but I’m also quite opposed to chucking free-market economics and neoconservative geopolitics as though they were groceries past their expiration date. Reading the American Greatness blog, I regularly have the same thought: This is all fine, but apart from the overt belligerence, these arguments could easily have been advanced in the conservative movement of yesteryear. What has your blanket excommunication accomplished, except to insulate yourselves from critique that would likely be quite helpful?