July 25, 2020

JONAH GOLDBERG: Everyone’s (Kinda) a Rebel.

I had Matt Continetti on the podcast earlier this week to do some rank punditry and to wallow in some conservative intellectual history nerdery.

[I interrupt this paragraph to report that my spell checker says “nerdery” is in fact a word.]

He distilled a point I’ve written about a million times with a concision that has eluded me. The American right is the only dissident right in the world. Normally, the right is the defender of orthodoxy, established institutions, and longstanding tradition. Much of the right does that in America, but to do so is a rebellious act here. I’ve got my criticisms of the nationalists and post-liberals, but you’ve got to admit they are imbued with the venerable American spirit of rebellion and dissent, too. But you know what? So are the more traditional social conservatives. And, come to think of it, so are the paleocons and the neocons, the fusionists, and the libertarians. Even the Trumpists—perhaps especially the Trumpists—see themselves as besieged rebels and martyrs in a war against the Powers that Be, the Deep State, the Establishment, and Mainstream Media. The Alt-Righters and QAnonsters—whom I loathe to even mention—lurk in the digital catacombs plotting their next campaign like Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts, ready to raid pizza parlors and Wayfair like some Orc lair. They all see themselves as insurgents of one kind or another, both within the conservative movement and in the larger culture.

But wait. Pull out the camera lens even further, and it turns out that nearly everyone on the left thinks they’re rebels, too. Certainly the anarchists, Marxists, and socialists do. Black identitarians, LGBTQ activists, and feminists all think they are members of a righteous resistance. But, if you listen closely, so do the more moderate liberals and progressives. Pretty much everyone on the left sees themselves as members of the happy few in a culture war Agincourt.

You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!

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