Michael Brendan Dougherty: Why Identity-Politics Pushers Are Winning the Culture Wars

This is a good question.

I spent several months before the 2020 election answering it.

National Review:

“There is a question that bothers many political conservatives today. It bothers us so much that the progressives and reactionaries take great delight in making us wince by asking it again and again, in their gloating and glowering essays. I can attest that they send it to us in emails and direct messages and even texts, too: “Why have you failed?” Or, “Why do conservatives fail to conserve?”

What is the point of you? is less a question than an accusation or a verdict.

But it’s just as poignant to ask the question the other way around: Why have reactionaries failed? Reactionaries have been blaming conservatives for two centuries, usually for standing in the way, like a donkey clogging up the road. But shouldn’t their politics take account of this and figure out how to whip that donkey into running, or at least push him off the road? Or perhaps, more to the point, why are progressives winning? Many of the answers are pure mythologizing about the “arc of history.” That’s not a reason, it’s just self-flattery gussied up as metaphysics. …

The modern psychological self acts in the world as a kind of solvent, dissolving all the bonds of unchosen obligation that in fact constitute a working civilization. The strangely sovereign, strangely captive “self” demands a form of justification for society that society cannot provide on terms that such an individual accepts. …”

I noted shortly before the election that I was looking forward to Carl Trueman’s book because he was researching the same issue. The book has finally been released.

In the United States, I have explained at length that this is a problem that goes back only a little over a century. American culture is now saturated by modernism which has dissolved our ethnic identity. Eric P. Kaufmann wrote an entire book about it which I reviewed here in August.

As for reactionaries, they have opposed modernism from the beginning. The first group to do so was the Second Klan in the 1920s. The Klan failed because it faced too much opposition from Protestant elites, business elites and the emerging mass media. Modernism became the American mainstream between the 1920s and the 1950s. The battle was fought and lost in Irving Babbitt’s time.

In our times, mainstream conservatives are modernists. Strangely, they complain about how the modern self has dissolved “all the bonds of unchosen obligation that in fact constitute a working civilization,” but condemn us for precisely for that reason. After all, it is the “racists” who insist on the importance of traditional ascriptive forms of identity like their racial, ethnic and cultural identity leftover from the Victorian era. These unchosen identities command the fierce loyalty of “racists” who are immoral and beyond the pale for clinging to them (morality being the -isms and -phobias) and thus have “no place” in the Republican Party which is defined by its retarded, electorally toxic libertarian ideology.

So, you tell me why American conservatives define their project as conserving liberalism, modernism, antiracism and cosmopolitanism against anyone who criticizes or objects to this consensus, which they have done since at least the end of World War II. They are the ones who control the Republican Party and define the American Right. They are the ones who work with progressives to uphold those norms. They are the ones who insist that the only meaningful identities, especially for White people with rightwing views, are ones which are freely chosen by autonomous individuals. We’re the ones who object to this because we have always opposed the premises of modernism and rightly diagnosed the social decomposition it has inexorably led to. Maybe conservatives conserved nothing because of their own values?

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11 Comments

  1. “Why Identity-Politics Pushers Are Winning the Culture Wars.”

    Constant conditioning, by a controlled media and usurped academick institutions, is the reason.

    Remove this and it all falls like a house of card, or, if not that, it gradually diminishes to a very considerable extent.

    • “Why Identity-Politics Pushers Are Winning the Culture Wars.”

      The answer is the Republicans keep funding them.

      They fund the universities with tax payer money, even though they’ve been censoring conservatives off the campus for the last 50 years.

      They gave the social media companies tax cuts when they censored Trump’s supporters.

      They offered BLM 1/2 a trillion dollars in funding as reward for rioting and burning America’s cities down.

      Its not hard to see why Republcians always lose. They are the party of stupid people.

      • @Killiab…

        Yes and no.

        Republicans are hardly the only ones behind this.

        To be clear, a lot of The Republican Party, those to whom you have referred to as, ‘stupid’, are quite far from that.

        No, Sir, what they are is a deceitful and false people.

  2. This situation affects not just America, but all of Western Civilization. The situation did not happen in a vacuum, but has been, and is being directed by a very focused group of individuals with inter-generational goals. But, most White people simply cannot comprehend this, because they tend not to think in these terms, and avoiding these concepts frees them from hard choices, and being called names. Unless White people cut the crap, and for just once in their collective lives, face the stark gravity of the overall situation, our people will lose everything. Even now, our people are being dis-possessed, stripped of everything our ancestors bled and died for; half of our people are cheering on the end, most of the rest cower in a daze.

  3. @Brad For you Trump diehards: Call your State GOP Chair, they are picking up expenses for Georgia and other locations!

  4. Having lurked on this website for a while, and having experienced a thing or two in my own life and those lives of people I know, I can safely say that most people that fall into the ”Socially Conservative Economically Liberal” category really are ”aware” in a traditional sense. They just don’t advertise it, but they do live it. These really do constitute many millions of white people in this country, and they really do have an electoral impact that is ”pro-white”, in my opinion.

    They just don’t ordinarily vote Republican.

    And why should they? Republican policies are actually worse for these people than the Democrat ones, because there are passive and quiet methods of tuning out and blunting the effect of bad Democrat social agendas, while there are no means of redress against bad GOP economic policies other than voting against them in elections and ensuring their defeat politically.

    For these people, being told that Biden is a ”racist” who once opposed busing and was a segregationist, who helped write and push through laws that locked up millions of criminals and kept them off the streets… Is a point in his favor, even if he’s considerably more soft than that now, it still beats the grotesque pandering to minorities that the GOP engaged in that Biden/Harris are unlikely to equal or exceed in when they get into office.

    So I give these people more credit than they are usually given, in their choices and in the genuine wisdom of their political survival strategies. In fact, a good interim strategy in my opinion might be to flood the Democratic Party with new members, push good agendas from within, and leave the GOP to whither up and die.

  5. Why do people claim to be conservatives who embrace positions that no self-described conservative would have admitted holding 15 years ago? In a country where Democratic appointed judges in 2020 are claimed to be “conservative Catholics,” with a straight face.

    There isn’t some sort of ideological conflict between kosher-cons and so-called “reactionaries” (ie, people who think more along the lines of Russell Kirk than say Jennifer Rubin and her ilk) that has anything to do with legitimate defense of traditional values. There are just a gang of Jews, and people sponsored by Jews, who tell us reactionaries are at fault when the kosher-cons monopolize the publishing of so-called “conservative commentary.” The kosher-cons are hellbent on censorship of the racist, antisemitic “reactionaries.” They are hell-bent on maintaining a kosher media monopoly, a kosher monopoly on so-called “polite” political discourse. Where after 2014, you’re not allowed to disagree with homosexual “marriage” being institutionalized by courts.

    The JQ is the only real issue in the context of modern times, and if the JQ is not addressed, you are not remotely a conservative, because the Jews are hell-bent on burning it down, including Notre Dame Cathedral. They will not be limited. But they will be called conservative. And if you disagree with their planned desolation of western civilization, you will be censored.

  6. In short, the Republicans surrendered the moral high ground decades ago (maybe even a century ago) and therefore have nowhere to take up a defense while they are also unable to mount an offense.

    • The Republicans are always looking to sell out their own voters, they have always been chasing that thirty pieces of silver, they just can’t help themselves.

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