If you’re a regular listener to the Commentary Podcast, you probably came to know Sohrab Ahmari in his capacity as a contributor to that enterprise. Sohrab’s immigration to America from Iran and subsequent conversion to Catholicism have also produced a much-discussed memoir – From Fire by Water – and another outgrowth; the curious creation of an entirely new branch of conservatism, which he calls “David French-ism.” Setting aside for a moment that nascent political movements love to identify heretics and then place them on trial in order to better indulge the narcissism of small differences (this gets the juices of the true believers flowing), what is this thing and why should we care?
The definition he gives of this philosophy is that it essentially consists of a “polite, (David French-ian) third way around the cultural civil war.” That’s it. The notion of “liberalism” itself is called into question as liberalism is inherently agnostic about ends, and cares considerably more about the means by which cultural and political questions are sorted out. This is clearly seen by Ahmari and those at First Things as some type of bug, not a feature. David has done a better job of defending himself from this spurious straw-man than I likely can, but I’m more interested in the other side… in what French-ism’s flip side “Ahmari-ism” consists of.More