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Why is the Right so unattractive? There's a reason disenchanted liberals won't switch sides

Who would join the merry men of the Right? (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


January 21, 2022   5 mins

Political tribes enjoy attacking their opponents. It is what they do. Far less appealing is the idea of applying the same criticism to your own side. No doubt this stems from a desire not to give ammunition to one’s political enemies. Air your dirty ideological linen in public and it’s likely your opponents will draw attention to it.

Still, there are times when a refusal to engage in self-criticism can be a hindrance to your tribe — as both the American Right and Left are now discovering.

Since 2016, the American Left has desperately cut itself off from reality: its unwillingness to concede that Donald Trump won the election precluded the Democrats from being able to consider why their candidate lost. But the American Right is equally capable of deluding itself. In fact, with Biden in the White House, it is now as much a problem for the American Right as it was for the Left during the Trump years.

Absent any self-reflection, political tribes are condemned to return to the same question: what is it about their opponents that makes them so belligerently wrong? This is why Democrats and Republicans responded to the 2016 and 2020 elections in a similar fashion. What on earth was there to dislike about Hillary Clinton? What could possibly be said against the character of Donald Trump?

Sometimes, however, this lack of self-criticism is more profound. Towards the end of last year, I was invited to speak at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida. Being, as I told one of the organisers, only about two-thirds in agreement with the conference agenda, I didn’t feel it was my place to give a speech. So instead, I took part in an interesting panel discussion with Dave Rubin, Sohrab Ahmari and the conference’s convenor, Yoram Hazony.

It was a rich discussion, but we passed over too lightly a subject which demands serious focus. At one point during the panel, Dave brought up the popular talk-show host Bill Maher. In recent years, Maher has singled himself out on the American Left for his willingness to criticise the excesses of his own political side, in particular “cancel culture” and the “cult of woke”. Dave suggested that, given how much Maher agrees with conservatives on these points, it is strange that he still identifies with the Left. In other words, why should he not come over and join the merry men of the Right?

There are a number of possible answers to this question. The first, which many conservatives would offer (while no doubt patting themselves on the back), is that Maher somehow lacks the bravery or courage needed to commit such an act of apostasy. He may have moved Rightwards, but he is not willing to concede as much.

The second answer, which I imagine Maher himself might offer, is that he hasn’t left the Left — the Left has left him. He has stayed precisely where he was, and remains as true to his principles as ever. There is, perhaps, some truth here. But this still fails to address the key question: why, in the face of the current Leftist orthodoxies, are so many on the traditional Left reluctant to admit they now have more in common with the Right?

After all, previous generations of American public figures had no problem with making a move from Left to Right and admitting as much. Both Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz flirted with Marxism before coming out for conservatism. British public life is also peppered with individuals who made similar journeys without any embarrassment: Malcolm Muggeridge, Paul Johnson and Kingsley Amis, to name but three.

Yet in America today, such apostasy is almost unheard of. There have been semi-regular defections from the Right, especially during the Trump era, when people such as Max Boot broke publicly with their own side to support a Democrat president. But there is a glaring absence of any movement in the opposite direction.

Bill Maher, Bari Weiss and a slew of other liberals who have fallen out with their own tribe have chosen not to identify as conservative. And that should be a cause for concern. Rather than ignoring this trend, conservatives need to ask themselves: what is it about the Right that is so unappealing that people who agree almost entirely with its views resile from joining its ranks?

As it happens, I suspect the one of the answers to this question can be found in one of the speeches given at the National Conservatism conference. During his talk, the distinguished conservative scholar Patrick Deneen offered — and I do not say this to do him any injustice — a lament for the Fifties; for the change in people’s habits of dress, manners and sexual etiquette. I listened to all of this with great interest and considerable disagreement. But as I did so, I could not help thinking that here in a nutshell was the main reason why disenchanted liberals like Maher would never in a million years join the American Right.

All political and social movements have their own oddities and obsessions. Many of the obsessions of the American Right, however, are too illiberal to possibly win over anyone but that type of person who jumps political sides, boots and all, because they favour the political certainty of its all-encompassing ideological home. Why won’t thoughtful ex-liberals consider joining the Right? Well, perhaps it has something to do with the type of conservative they’d be associated with.

What liberal or former liberal would want to find themselves in an ideological movement in which opposition to the right to abortion, opposition to no-fault divorce, and a nostalgia for the era before the invention of the pill are commonplace? This isn’t to say that the conservative movement in America should not make these arguments. They can make them as much as they want. But they can hardly be surprised if others outside of their flock refuse to join them as a consequence.

At the heart of this lies a centuries-old tension in America between the worlds of politics and religion. It was always said that the genius of keeping religion in the background during the founding of America was that it allowed it to flourish in the foreground later on. By contrast, the centrality of the established church in England almost guarantees the obscurity of religion’s place in public life.

And yet in America, the desire on the Right to mix religion and politics remains a significant temptation. The National Conservatism conference was filled with a disproportionate amount of Catholic social doctrine, and it is not the first time I have observed this encroachment. Most gatherings of conservative intellectuals fracture along this same line. The Vanenburg meetings fell into this problem at the start of the last decade. And I was once at a meeting of conservatives on the continent where, on several occasions, an American participant gleefully referred to gay couples as being in “sodomitical relationships”. Should we be surprised that so many liberals instinctively revile conservatism?

All of which is to say that this overlap between politics and religion remains a special type of kryptonite to any separation-of-church-and-state liberal. And that would be a subject of niche interest were it not also for the fact that it is electorally disastrous for the American Right, however enjoyable it may be as a religious or intellectual enterprise.

As many as three in ten American adults are now religiously non-affiliated; fewer than half of Americans belong to a religious congregation. In such a world, the idea that a conservative movement can succeed while being intrinsically tied to religion — let alone one particular denomination — is a steer into the political wilderness.

After all, why would people who share 95% of your political attitudes not wish to join you? More often than not, the answer is not because of any lack of fortitude, but because of that 5% of beliefs you had hoped they might overlook.

Perhaps that small portion of ideas is worth fighting for; perhaps even to the extent that it’s worth alienating would-be conservatives. But these are questions the Right needs to answer, rather than blaming liberals for pointing them out.


Douglas Murray is an author and journalist.

DouglasKMurray

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

It’s great to see Douglas Murray contributing to Unherd again. I’m not sure, though, I’m entirely convinced by his argument in this article.
There are doubtless conservative Christians in the Republican party but I’m not sure they represent or define the party. The Democrats are famously described as a “big tent” made up of a broad coalition of people of varying beliefs. I’d say the modern Republican party is now a bigger tent than it used to be, especially now that it’s becoming the party of the average person since the Dems no longer care to represent anyone other than the professional class.
I’d say what holds the Republicans together, and increasingly defines them, is a reaction to left-wing excess. Many Republicans might not be overtly religious but they do believe in the importance of a moral code and reject the Left’s attempt to impose the lived experience of the individual as the only way to judge behavior.
As Douglas Murray notes, liberals like Maher haven’t changed their core beliefs but they reject the excesses of the new Left as do the Republicans. Yet the fundamental divide between traditional liberals and conservatives remain which is why some liberals now find themselves without a party and, like Bari Weiss, end up creating their own little ideological world on Substack.

Simon Denis
SD
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Quite so. And the second point is: give it time. The Unionists who defected from Gladstone’s Liberals for Salisbury’s Conservatives remained a distinct political tribe for years, but gradually merged with their new allies. As for lamenting the fifties – in some ways, we are quite right to do so. Dress counts. When people are expected to present themselves neatly, it is a sign that society enjoins respect, for your job, for your circumstances, for your company and so on. It also allows us to distinguish between work and play – Haydn, in the glorious eighteenth century, used to dress up in court finery in order to compose. And in this distinction lies freedom, because when you are at play nobody can boss you about at all, whereas now – with everyone mooching about in slacks – we live in a fuzzy work/play no man’s land in which coercion is more likely. Conversely, persons in jackets and ties are less likely either to accept or inflict emotional pressure. That is just one of the points re: the fifties I should like to make. It was also the last decade in which the traditions of our culture were transmitted in their fullness to the rising generation. I wonder what Mr Murray’s late friend, Sir Roger, would have to say re: his dismissal of the fifties?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Yes, first of all the point was not dress codes, but much more explosive issues of sex and sexuality.

But the failure of (some) conservatives to accept social change, sometimes very hypocritically as we saw in ‘ Back to Basics’ not to mention reams of American evangelical preachers rather makes Douglas Murray’s point for him.

Simon Denis
SD
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Accepting social change – a bland phrase for so explosive and unsustainable a series of developments, issuing naturally in the chaos and oppression of today. Liberal conservatism is one thing; classical Liberalism another, but behind both looms Marxism, with its re-classification of issues of conduct into those of “an oppressed class” and the consequent trashing of norms, norms without which society ceases to function or cohere.
As one who self-described as “Liberal-Conservative” in the 90s, I could see the point in relaxing actively oppressive conventions and law. The culminating point of that development was the introduction of a common age of consent. Classical Liberals, meanwhile, such as Mr Murray, here, wanted more and went further. Perhaps the triumph of their position was “equal marriage”, already a step too far for liberalised Conservatism in many instances – see Lord Moore and the late Sir Roger Scruton, for all that he and Murray were friends.
But now we see that the natural centrality and necessity of opposite sex attraction is itself under attack, as “heteronormativity”. This is Gnostic – divorcing theory from any recognition of nature or the human realities which nature involves. It is necessarily oppressive, since millions of people the world over will, for reasons once too obvious to state, take “heteronormativity” as foundational. Any pious theory which gains control of the educated stratum of society and prompts it to suppress, coerce, squeeze and push people into denying this instinctual position is on the high road to totalitarianism.
All of which makes me wonder: were we, the Liberal Conservatives of 90, wrong after all? Should we have stood shoulder to shoulder with Brian Souter and Baroness Young in opposing the slow start of a miserable, unfolding catastrophe?

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well said. I object enormously to being defined as ‘cis’ for example.

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Moore

as do we all, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t imply a return to the 1950s. Come on!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

You look at old films spot in the 1950 and see the way people dress and carry themselves and it is hard not to lament what we have lost, all given up for a handful of potage

Drahcir Nevarc
RC
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

Indeed. It’s particularly instructive to compare the dignified respectability of the crowds who marched with Martin Luther King with BLM’s thuggish mobs.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

An excellent point. Our decline and fall is visibly all around us.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Also when you see footage from South America or places like Mogadishu

Ted Ditchburn
TD
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

spot on..and they got things done. Today we have thugs and nasty’s who decry those achievements setting things backwards while spouting obviously demented theories to try and obfuscate where King and others spoke with clarity and precision.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The highest rate of Sunday School attendance, in the 20th century, in the UK, was in the 1950s, I believe. It had dipped after 1920, risen again in the 1940s, but started to slowly decline again from the 1960s onwards. I don’t think it’s going to go back to the 1950s levels, at the rate the indifference to Christianity is going.

Bill Hartree
Bill Hartree
2 years ago

Maybe no bad thing, considering the state of the church in Russia – sucking up to Putin, or the US – obsessed with abortion, never mentioned in the NT, while in the OT feticide is seen as of a completely different order to homicide.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Great comment.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This article attracted me enough to read it through again. There does seem to be more than ‘ordinary politics’ involved.
Just as the title asked “Why is the Right so unattractive?” it could easily have been “Why is the Left so hideous?”.
Perhaps we are in the last gasp of the current Elite period before a wholesale reset occurs – elites are choosing sides and there is no room for anyone half-hearted.

Noel Chiappa
NC
Noel Chiappa
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“I’m not sure, though, I’m entirely convinced by his argument”
I think Mr. Murray has missed a key root cause of the inability of former progressives to ‘become’ conservatives. That is that progressives, fundamentally, want a world which treats people ‘easily’ – i.e. that they don’t experience negative things: pain, hunger, punishment, etc. Conservatives understand that these things are fundamental, in two ways: first, nature is such that you can’t get rid of them, and second, even more important, they are fundamental feedbacks which are needed to make society ‘work’. (Just as we can’t turn off gravity, no matter how unfortunate it is, because the Sun would stop working.)
So, saying to a progressive ‘become a conservative’ is, to them, saying ‘you must inflict pain on people’ – and they’re just not ready to accept that. They miss, of course, the ‘irony’ that progressivism, in destroying society, will eventually and inevitably inflict far more pain, etc, on the very people that are trying to help (just as progressive governments in US inner cities have made things worse for their inhabitants, in trying to ‘help’ them).
Fundamentally, progressives (and sadly and unfortunately, a large share of the public) are children. Don’t expect them to suddenly grow up.
Noel

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel Chiappa

Murray wasn’t talking about “progressives.” He was talking about centrists and centre-left people like Bill Maher (and me), who could never be described as progressive. And his observations are, in my opinion, 100% correct. They certainly apply to me.

harry storm
HS
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I on the other hand am entirely convinced of his aregument, because it could be applied specifically to me. I’ve made common cause with conservatives with regard to cancel culture, wokeness, gender ideology, and the disapperance of a fact-based media, and was happy to do so. However, any ideology or political movement that wants to roll back abortion rights, disparages so-called “socialized medicine”, and has no time for sensible gun restrictions will never see me join. Were I american, I would have voted for Trump in 2020, but I would have held my nose doing so, not because of Trump per se, but because of these ideological differences that won’t be papered over.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Nice to have you back, Douglas; and looking forward to your new book in April.
The three subjects which you highlighted as stumbling blocks: ‘opposition to the right to abortion, opposition to no-fault divorce, and a nostalgia for the era before the invention of the pill are commonplace’ all have the same root – sexual mores. I generalise on the basis of the connection of each to unrestrained sexual indulgence. It’s difficult to make a point here without appearing to be (and definitely be accused of) moralising. However, if we take the line of refusing to debate any connections, we conveniently ignore the social consequences. And these are consequences which disproportionately affect children. Hence we invent other “reasons” why children have problems such as racism, white privilege, lack of welfare investment, etc., whilst camouflaging the elephant in the room behind “rights”. That is one reason why the Sewell Report met such hostility.
As a contentious example, take Stonewall and trans issues. Has anyone considered that its influence has become destabilising because once sexual rights become the overarching determiner of social ethics rather than the common good, then it gets out of hand and even the ‘liberals’ begin to push back. Conservatives can’t ignore detrimental social consequences and simply wait for the revolution to eat itself.

Warren T
WT
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Well said. No one seems to acknowledge that with all the “progression” that has taken place over the last 70 years, we certainly are not a happier population, given the sheer level of anti-depressives that are prescribed. And it’s hard to say that the current generation is worthy of much praise, other than inventing more ways to distract one’s attention with ever increasing levels of “content”.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

There are some mental health benefits to being ‘happy with your lot’ and not constantly being jealous that someone else has something that you don’t

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Sexual liberation is a means of political control.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
L Walker
LW
L Walker
2 years ago

Not sure I see what you mean. Can you elaborate?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

I understand completely and have come to the same conclusion myself. As racial divisiveness, homosexuality and transgender ideology become increasingly injected into the mainstream through news media, education, and entertainment institutions, the numbers of those who question the ethical and scientific correctness of this bizarre sexual orthodoxy will continue to rise. Dissidents lose their jobs and become lumped in with criminal elements.
Fantastical ideologies, such as the current ones being fostered on to us by left-wing organizations, usually die out because they fail reality tests, unless they are continually reinforced with propaganda, ‘education’, and thought-policing, which is what seems to be happening right now. A new totalitarianism is being ushered in: a 21st-century rainbow police state if you will. It’s hard to fight because it disguises itself as a civil rights movement. It demands 100% conformity even in the light of contrary facts, while condemning those who mildly question it as bigots and white supremacists.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
AN
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

Abortion/contraception/lgbtiqrsp/no fault divorce weakens people by encouraging them to have sex outside of monogamous committed relationships, or treat those relationships as frivolous and easy to end. Makes people more pliable and easily manipulated and controlled.

Melanie Mabey
MM
Melanie Mabey
2 years ago

“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase. And the dictator… will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope, movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” HUXLEY

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I agree wholeheartedly with you and it reminds me of my amazement and revulsion when Cameron in his retirement speech said that the proudest moment of his 5 years of PM was bringing legislation for Single Sex Marriage.
The US had a high Christian following which has gradually changed to a secular society and that has not brought an improvement in relationships of all sides.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Murray’s attempt to suggest that social conservatism in matters such as sexual mores should somehow be divorced from political conservatism in order to make the latter more attractive to liberal apostates is simply unrealistic. As Roger Scruton observed, conservatives wish to conserve what they see as precious and under threat. The social and the political will go hand in hand.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

For once I find myself disagreeing with Douglas Murray. I doubt very much that the disaffected left’s reticence to sign up for either the GOP or the Tories has much, if anything, to do with the ultra-conservative wing of either party.
If the past two decades have taught us anything at all, it is that political parties can and do change their stripes. For obvious reasons, this has made us wary of officially jumping ship. I imagine I am not alone in feeling sympathy and support for whoever espouses sound and sensible ideas, irrespective of the party they belong to? I would happily vote for Paul Embery, for example, but would prefer almost any candidate over Angela Rayner. I am extremely critical of Die Linke and Die Grüne in Germany, but am a huge fan of Sahra Wagenknecht and Boris Palmer. While I have no time for conspiracists such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, I appreciate Republicans like Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, and Marco Rubio. Amy Coney Barratt may be a conservative Catholic, but to me she comes across as a decent and dignified human being in a way that the “shout your abortion” brigade are not. 
In other words, I am no longer interested in political parties, only in individual politicians. And if the policies being peddled by whoever is in power are self-evidently illiberal, discriminatory, iconoclastic, and these days even downright delusional then I will vote for pretty much anybody who opposes them.  

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago

I’m beginning to suspect you’re bang on. In the UK at least the chances of forming a successful new party of the ‘sensible left’ (or of the SDP reviving) are pretty well zero. But if enough people make it plain that at the next GE they intend to vote for candidates in preference to parties that might prove interesting. In a two-horse race I could well vote for a moderate Conservative in preference to a loony leftie despite my socialist principles.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jerry Smith
Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I can give one, at least, view from the centre-left; from someone who voted Greens for 30 years (but not anymore!).

In Australia I think the left achieved almost all of its long-standing aims – legalised abortion, gay rights, equal rights for women, Aborigines etc. I don’t think the conservatives will ever be able to roll them back, but as Douglas Murray says, although I feel that we’re ‘safe’ on those issues now, I wouldn’t want to be, or categorised as being, in the camp that wants to take those rights away from people.

But what has always kept me on the left – though now politically homeless – is what the role of government should be. Conservatives want it to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, I want it to be large enough to provide opportunities, safety nets, essential infrastructure …. It isn’t conservatives who raise the minimum wage, improve workplace safety legislation, create a national health service, and so on. It was organised labour that fought for and created the fantastic living conditions a working class person like me currently enjoys.

The class traitors that infest the Australian Labour Party today have entirely forgotten why their party was ever formed – if you are unemployed in Australia these days it’s back to depending on charity, just as it was before the Labour Party was formed. The conservatives can stay wedded to their ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ economic jungle ideology, but I don’t want to join them there.

Last edited 2 years ago by Russell Hamilton
Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago

the left achieved almost all of its long-standing aims – legalised abortion, gay rights, equal rights for women, Aborigines etc….I want [government] to be large enough to provide opportunities, safety nets, essential infrastructure 

The thing is, Russell, that to a conservative, the former looks suspiciously like the straws in the wind that betray the real agenda behind the latter – a desire by the left to use the power of the state to enforce conformity with all its beliefs. The principal ‘long standing aim’ of the left is to abolish everything private: private medicine, private education, private pensions, private cars, private employment, and yes, private opinion, speech, and property. Leftist governments have actually done all of these – in the USSR, for example – to a chorus of silence from more ‘moderate’ leftists elsewhere.
To many conservatives the characteristic feature of the left is its insistence that there is one acceptable view on everything, i.e. its own. Other views are not just wrong but evil, even views such as ‘a woman is someone with two X chromosomes’, or ‘infanticide is wrong’, or ‘society should protect itself from criminals by imprisoning them for a long time’.

It isn’t conservatives who raise the minimum wage, improve workplace safety legislation, create a national health service, and so on

It’s conservatives who find a way to pay for them all, though. Organised labour can demand all the golden elephants it likes, but you need capitalism to pay for it.
In the UK, for example, we heard much from Labour about how it did this and that and the other thing when it was last in power. But when ejected it left the country in worse debt than WW2, because none of it had been paid for. It was all funded in effect off borrowed money, to be repaid by higher taxes on people Labour hates (private employees), and on benefit and services removal from people it supposedly stands up for.
Well, any fool can do that. If a bloke knocks on your door and says Here’s a free Ferrari on me, mate, and walks off, he’s the man – until you find out that actually the Ferrari is on your credit card bill, he grossly overpaid for it, it doesn’t work properly anyway, and by the way, you’re losing your job. That is socialist governments in Britain – every last one of them. The hero is the guy who finds a way to pay it off and get you back into a job; that is not the left.
There is an argument for a number of left of centre positions. An untrammelled capitalist economy would be as environmentally and socially destructive as the USSR or China. But overall, the left is really only suitable as a pressure group, because in the UK at least it has never been fit to govern at any level – not even a school board.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

An untrammelled capitalist economy would be as environmentally and socially destructive as the USSR or China

Would it? It’s the countries furthest to the left that have the worst environmental problems, and this holds true over a period of centuries (or, well, for as long as people have cared about environmental quality at least).

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not to even mention the maintenance costs of a Ferrari. Bought a used BMW once and it cost $400 for every repair. A single wiper blade was over $40 and had to be ordered. Not sure this is to your point, though.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Good stuff. Not sure though if I go along with the last paragraph.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
2 years ago

Interesting to read a thoughtful take on Conservatism, especially as a philosophy that might remove individual rights rather than support them.

I think ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ conservatism is vanishingly rare. We all need help occasionally. My own feeling is that social services should simply be a last resort, not a lifestyle. I suspect an emergency safety net leads to fewer infantilised citizens and so is actually more compassionate than generations dependent on state aid.

I can’t speak for Australia, but the NHS created in 1945 was also in the Conservative manifesto, available online. It was a cross-party arrangement that whoever got in would do it.

It’s my suspicion that any government too big to ‘drown in a bath tub’ (great phrase) will do more harm than it can possibly prevent. Having nanny always interfering makes children of us all – and we only have a short time alive. But thank you for putting another point of view well.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

“My own feeling is that social services should simply be a last resort, not a lifestyle.”
The other side of this coin is the vast army of people on the public payroll need to run the ever expanding role the the state bestows upon itself and the ever increasing amounts of money and power that accrue to those at the top responsible for managing it.

L Walker
LW
L Walker
2 years ago

Dr. Fauci, a government employee, makes more money than our president.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago

It was organised labour that fought for and created the fantastic living conditions a working class person like me currently enjoys.

Organized labour is a term that really means unions. But unions don’t create anything. Indeed their primary power comes from the refusal to create things (strikes).
So conservatives would say that modern living conditions weren’t created by organized labour but rather by economic growth, or rephrased, the general effort of both capitalists and workers to create wealth.
The minimum wage is a good case in point. What stops governments setting a minimum wage of $100 an hour? Well, obviously it’s because you can’t simply make people richer by setting a minimum wage. A minimum wage is just a tax, like any other. Leftist economics is ultimately based on the intuition that wealth is a zero sum game and is thus all about redistribution. Conservatives say no, that’s wrong: wealth is createable, and so they focus on how to help people create it rather than how to take it by force and move it around.
The deep held intuition that the world is a zero sum game is seen everywhere in leftist ideology. It’s not just with wealth, it can be seen in culture and technology too. That’s why the idea of ‘conservatism’ has never quite sat right with me. It implies some sort of backwards looking-ness, but that’s not what I see actually happening. Tech firms are a good example of this, they were once libertarian places. Now they are leftist. Why did leftists focus so hard on taking over existing firms, like Twitter/Facebook/Google, instead of creating their own competing platforms with their preferred safe-space “fact checked” policies? Well because they intuit that it’s easier and better to take over what exists so they can force those policies on existing user bases, than create something new and try to outcompete it. Why have Hollywood, the BBC etc fallen into the pattern of constantly remaking past hits – well, again, it’s because the leftists that have spent great efforts to exclude and cancel all the conservatives are fundamentally focused taking over what already exists rather than imagining a new future. Final example – why is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative people around right now, very obviously not a leftist? Yep, it’s because a focus on building the future is deeply at odds with left wing ideological intuitions.

Dave Corby
DC
Dave Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

“Leftist economics is ultimately based on the intuition that wealth is a zero sum game and is thus all about redistribution. Conservatives say no, that’s wrong: wealth is createable, and so they focus on how to help people create it rather than how to take it by force and move it around.”
Very insightful. I have not heard it stated quite so clearly.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

Yes – which is why everyone is now so equally well off, so satisfied, and why all that wealth generation has benefitted everyone to such a remarkable degree.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Can’t quite tell if that’s sarcasm, but there’s a reason the definition of poverty has to be a relative one. Nobody in the west is in poverty by the definition used even 100 years ago.
So that leaves inequality, and that really depends on how you measure it. There are still people with vastly greater sums of money than other people, but in recent times there are at least two improvements over the historical norm:

  1. The very richest are self made men these days. In the past they were mostly kings, land owners, aristocrats, etc. A very limited supply of those and the positions are all taken. The biography of a man like Elon Musk makes it clear that you could be the next one. This wasn’t true in the past and it isn’t due to organized labor.
  2. If you define wealth as material wealth then there is far more equality now than in the past. A very rich man may have a lot of money, or more likely shares, but in terms of quality of life his experience will not much different to the average middle class person. He has a bigger and better house, because houses are still one of the few areas that money can translate into big quality differences, but with respect to the rest his experience is the result of the mass manufacturing age. His food is the same as ours – good, but the same – as are his clothes, his smart phones, his TV, his car, his speed of travel. In other ways he’s also equalised – strong anti-bribery laws mean his direct influence with government is the same. To influence those with direct power he must buy a newspaper or fund a thinktank and hope it has indirect influence.

That’s why when you look at what billionaires do with their wealth it’s almost always investment and philanthropy of various kinds. In other words what they do with their money is “trickle it down” in various ways. This surfaces as the staggering number of people working in non-profit endeavours (or related e.g. money losing startups). What else are the rich supposed to do with their money? Buy diamond encrusted iPhones? Fight a war with France? Please.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave Corby

You need both sides. Without the left (in the old traditional sense) pressing the case for redistribution then the wealth created simply pools at the top and the workers are left destitute. Similarly if taken to the other extreme as we saw with Communism there ends up being no economic growth and the workers are again left destitute.
In my opinion since the demise of the unions, who I’ll admit did need reigning in as they had become a law unto themselves, and the advance of Thatcherism and trickle down theory the pendulum has swung too far in favour of business and away from the workers, so much so that full time workers now require government help simply to pay the bills. Almost every violent revolution has been preceded by times of vast inequality and if we want capitalism to survive then those at the bottom need to start seeing more reward for their labour.
It’s hard to sell the virtues of capitalism to a generation that’s been locked out of owning capital

Russell Hamilton
RH
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree, Billy Bob. Some commenters seem to have missed the bit where I said I was centre-left (not a communist!). Usually centre-left governments alternated with centre-right governments, and things went along OK. We now seem to be in the worst of positions where the conservatives are prepared to run up enormous debts, and the left think politics is all about culture wars.

Conservatives should be pleased to see the left in power now and then – without that, the system will be too geared to the wealthy and ultimately become economically/socially unstable.

I have had a journey (for example being a union delegate who argued on behalf of my colleagues at the Industrial Relations Commission to not even being a union member now). But I won’t be voting for the conservatives any time soon. I may again reluctantly vote for the class-traitors as the lesser of two evils, or I may vote for one of the new anti-immigration parties. I could leave the ballot paper blank, but it’s a pity to waste your chance to put your vote to the closest you can find to good old centre-left policies.

Brendan O'Leary
BO
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

There is no such things as “trickle-down theory” except in the minds of its detractors.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

I really think the left thinks there’s buckets of money the right is hiding from them. They also think wealth can be created out of thin air. And they also think the very rich are just like Scrooge McDuck.

Dermot O'Sullivan
DO
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Hmmm. Good points but it verges on the obscene how these ‘silicon’ billionaires are accumulating.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

Long time since I have heard that old red flag, “class traitor” one. Best you stay where you are drifting in a never ending descending void of indecision that seems to define many eternally “worried” lefties. By the time you wake up the train will have left the station?
“Any man who is not a socialist at age twenty has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age forty has no head.” 

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

And anybody who is presenting hackneyed old sayings such as that, instead of reasoned argument, at any age beyond about 18 is a fool.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well Mr Dai Morley how do you know what age I am ?
“The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what
wise men do foolishly.”

The convention in Elizabethan drama was that the fool be the most insightful and intelligent man in the play. … He is usually the wisest character in the play! Ha ha….

To move rightward is oft a sign of the hard wisdom that comes with experience and age —or, perhaps ones gaining of secureness, if not success -something that Lefties always seem so apologetic about. Often folk are pretty unaware of any shift until it’s brought out by crisis type events that then jolts the person into those first thoughts of crossing over.

Even then, they want to believe that it’s the politics, not themselves, that changed because a political conversion is a painful affair, bit like divorce or losing your religion.

What I think worries many Lefties, who are thus troubled, is their conceited concern that there might be deep contempt reserved for the political apostate from the left—an accusation of intellectual breakdown and a fetid odour of collapse, of betrayal (the old class traitor hook ?). When you switch sides, you have to find new friends and that takes guts and effort and getting over yourself.

So my advice, as a fool, to Russel Hamilton is stop prevaricating and get on with it.

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
L Walker
LW
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

I agree. David doesn’t.

Brendan O'Leary
BO
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Fantastic working conditions are a result of a prosperous economy. Unions are quick to take credit, but never wish to take the blame when they destroy economies. The inconvenient truth is that almost every union leader will accept lower wages for the members in exchange for the power of a closed shop as the Australian Shop Workers union , the SDA, did in recent memory.
The left media wriggled out of that by branding the Shoppies a “right wing union” !

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

Unions are part of the management structure.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

Yet Australia has some of the highest wages and best working conditions in the OECD

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

And the vast majority of Australian workers are not in unions.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

Nonsense, Melbourne is incredibly unionised as are the mines

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“Incredibly unionised” means they’re part of the 15% (mostly public sector) of Australian employees who are in unions. Which means they are a minority.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

You’ve clearly never worked on the building sites in Melbourne, they’re all unionised

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I have worked for and been on strike with, most of the precursor components of the CFMEU and AMSWU or whatever they’re called now. Before construction was the only game in town and Melbourne actually had manufacturing industry, which these clowns and thugs took great delight in destroying.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago

Your argument about the role of government and how much you like it would have more traction if it was not coming from…Australia during COVID. Even thinking about Australian government and people who support those fascist scumbags makes me puke.

T Bone
TB
T Bone
2 years ago

Whether secular, center liberals want to be part of the decaying, fractured, balkanized society their former allies created or join with people that just want freedom and “disproportionately” happen to be Christian is up to them.  The reality is that if abortion is your red line, then maybe you should just stay left and keep talking sense into the Woke base.  Most people on the right welcome Maher’s check on the Woke. If it brings the left back to the center maybe it’ll tone down the reactionary right.  But the right is not fundamentally a Christian National movement it’s a limited government movement.

Over time, Democrats have branded Republicans as racist/sexist etc because Republicans simply limited the role of the federal government. In the past, Democrats said big spending programs were needed for the poor and that Republicans were heartless.  In the 90s, CRT theorist, Kimberle Crenshaw developed Identity Politics while writing her theory on Intersectionality.  Since that time, Democrats have increasingly radicalized their messaging to paint any limit on the role of the federal government as racist/sexist to the point where Democrats now claim that all racial or gender disparities are the result of patriarchal, white supremacy and require federal programs that directly or indirectly redistribute financial outcomes along racial lines.

But here’s the thing 1) It’s a completely disingenuous argument to leverage weak Republicans scared of being branded racists. 2) It’s Socialist and facially discriminatory. 3) It reckless spending that doesn’t work. 4) It massively increases the federal bureaucracy by adding unrectractable programs which over time creates something resembling an unelected, unaccountable, bureacratic shadow government. 5) It piles on more and more regulatory burdens on businesses.  Only businesses with significant resources and unlimited access to crafty, legal counsel can compete.  6) The increases in regulation create a lawsuit environment which again favors larger corporations with significant resources. 7) It creates a astronomically more government contractors and public-private agreements. This not only creates a climate of favoritism/cronyism but makes businesses more compliant and symbiotic with government interest. 8) The symbiotic relationship encourages Corporations to become advertisers for the government.  Corporations broadcast and sell government ambitions to the public. Every commercial or TV program contains direct or indirect political overtones. 9) All corporations begin competing for government contracts and there begins to be indistinctive crossover between State and Corporate interests. 10) Insider trading is indeterminable.  The government controls the market so people on the government are best able to predict the market.  11) Decisions normally made by States like education policy are nationalized and government racial and gender ideas are promoted as a prerequisite for federal funding.  Everything has strings attached.  12) At this stage, the debt incurred through the subpar policy draws Conservative ire but is quickly dismissed because of corporate media alliances that promote a message acknowledging the program didn’t work but only because it wasn’t big enough and didn’t spend enough money. 13) Conservative attempts to limit the spending damage is met by onslaught of manufactured news stories about individual race/gender bias which are then picked up and echoed by all other institutions that are now puppets of the Democrats.  14) Mass movements led by left wing student activists, racial separatists and social justice warriors align to protest “injustice.”  Violence accompanying the protests are then met with laxed enforcement.  Street criminals are viewed as justice fighters while law enforcement is seen as the enemy.  15) Crime destabilizes cities. Vandalism/theft are ignored and considered “symptoms of poverty.” Prosecutors funded by foreign donors refuse to convict violent offenders on racial or immigration grounds. 16) The destabilized city environment erodes safety, schools and disproportionately stresses minority communities. 17) The people that created the problem demand more resources to fix the problem by calling opponents domestic terrorists or white supremacists when all most of them want to do is be left alone.

Bo Yee Fung
Bo Yee Fung
2 years ago
Reply to  T Bone

Great breakdown of the downward spiral we are seeing now all around us.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago

Personally I think both the GOP and the Democrats are seen from the opposite side as poisonous. Democrats = Wokery, GOP = Trump. I know this over simplifies a lot of issues, but I believe the afore mentioned gets to the real center of the prevailing bitterness, as both sides seem to cast their own ‘shadow’ on each other, while claiming they have ‘no imagination in evil’. As a result the divide has never been so great, and its no wonder independents are growing in number in the USA. I feel the same goes for how people see the Tories and Labour, although on a lesser degree on the poisonous scale. As I dont think Johnson is as divisive as Trump, and I am not sure if Starmers mob are quite (but not far off) up to the World Cup winning wokery of AOC. Although having said this, people are starting to sense wokery creeping into Johnsons Tory party, which must be a worry for true blue Tory Conservatives.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
D M
D M
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

Are the tories woke and right wing economically when what people want is a party that is non-woke and left wing economically ? Perhaps neoliberalism and wokery go hand in hand.

Last edited 2 years ago by D M
Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  D M

I think you have a point DM. I would say lines are definitely blurred. For instance the Red Wall Tory voters certainly want right wing cultural policies, along with left wing economic policies, which Johnson has half heartedly tried to deliver. The SDP offer a much more coherent version of this ‘outlook’, but because of the 2 party system that is promoted in the UK, they don’t really get a look in.

D M
D M
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

Woke capital seems to drive ( perhaps all ) ‘successful’ political parties – more so in the US than the UK. I have a lot of time for the intellectually strong SDP which seems to know what ordinary red wall voters would really like ( in total conflict with woke capital ! ) but don’t see how they can attract large scale funding

Last edited 2 years ago by D M
Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  D M

I agree, William Clouston seems a really sound politician, intelligent, calm with a solid, honest philosophical view of issues. He does state that he sees the SDP is a long term project, and is realistic about the Party. I would certainly vote SDP if they stood a candidate in my constituency, and I’m not a Red Wall Tory. Although I must admit Cloustons calm persona (opposed to Johnsons toff Game show host) doesn’t seem to connect as he should with the ‘man on the street’, which is a shame, but says more about modern society, than William.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
D M
D M
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

Couldn’t agree more – and I was able to vote for an SDP candidate in the London assembly elections. The SDP conference speeches, many on youtube, were mostly excellent. They provide an enlightened academic view of what normal people would be expected to like from government as opposed what the elites and brainwashed wokes want to impose on the people.

Last edited 2 years ago by D M
George Glashan
GG
George Glashan
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

“Personally I think both the GOP and the Democrats are seen from the opposite side as poisonous.”

i think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Scott, i’d say both sides are defined by their reaction against the other, Dems are Dems because they are disgusted by Republicans, not because they have any real sincere belief in the Dems themselves. same goes for the Republicans. There are both reactionary parties.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Social media is the driver of this. Each side only consumes what the algorithm’s say they should read or watch. With horrendous results.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

It ain’t axiomatic that Orange Man bad. You’re assuming a fact not in evidence based on rude Tweets and bad manners. What makes the argument so bitter in the US is that the left uses any means necessary to get its way. Obeying the law, or even the Constitution, ain’t a priority for Democrats.

The real coup attempts were the repeated attempts to remove Trump, a duly elected president, using the Steele Dossier fabricated by the Clinton Campaign and two impeachments with no admissible evidence. The real insurrection was the series of Antifa/BLM riots that killed dozens, injured hundreds and destroyed billions of dollars worth of property.

Democrats facilitated the Antifa/BLM riots by ordering the police to stand down. When Trump said he would restore order with federal resources, Democrats defended their right to allow riots in their cities and states. About 50 generals and admirals condemned the use of federal troops to put down riots, as if federal troops had never been used to put down riots before.

The history (herstory?) of federal troops putting down internal unrest starts with the Whiskey Rebellion, which President George Washington put down in 1794.

The Antifa/BLM riots were intentional political violence, calculated to make Trump look fascist or impotent, depending on whether he took action or not. The riots inflamed racial tensions and locked in the identity voting Democrats depend on. The riots also intimidated officials into ruling on issues in favor of Democrats, and voters into voting for Democrats to avoid further riots.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

I doubt very much voters were “intimidated into voting for Democrats” because of the riots. If anything, the riots confirmed to centrists like me that the Democrats had abandoned the rule of law in favour of the mob. I think a lot of U.S. voters, including those centrists who might normally vote Democrat, thought that too.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

Douglas suggests that people on the left are put off by what those on the right are saying, citing a speech given at a convention. I would argue that the left have no idea what the right actually says or thinks because they never ask and don’t really want to know. Everything they believe about the right they get from a poisonously hostile media, entertainment industry (including publishing), and education. Many on the right aren’t religious and subscribe to a live and let live, you do you, don’t shove your politics in my face philosophy. Oh, and a firm belief that a lumbering, centralized, bureaucratic, corrupt kakistocracy is bad.

jim peden
JP
jim peden
2 years ago

Had to look up kakistocracy. Very useful word nowadays. Thanks!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  jim peden

Yes, indispensable – and tragic.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

Well said.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

I understand where you are coming from in your article – you are 1/3 in opposition with what you believe Republicanism stands for. Which you go on to explain is basically the Judeo-Christian traditions, ethics and morality.

Liberalism has always been tainted with a-morality, even becoming a love of degeneracy later. As the Liberals became hostile to Christian morals, seeing them as restraints on their licentiousness, ability to dirty dealings, to cast off spouses and break families – they naturally became hostile to traditional morality. Liberalism denies there is any ultimate, that life is Nilos and solipist, there is no point but in pleasure and power, and sometimes art – all there is is correct and incorrect as believing in good and evil are merely superstitions and foibles.

And so you cannot speak at a Republican conference as they just do not get your higher state of ethics and morality. At least you understand the difference.

“What liberal or former liberal would want to find themselves in an ideological movement in which opposition to the right to abortion, opposition to no-fault divorce, and a nostalgia for the era before the invention of the pill are commonplace? “

Exactly, what good liberal does not wish ever more broken families, dead babies, and a life never having to commit to another?

Graham Stull
GS
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

For me, true liberalism (or perhaps we could call it ‘libertarianism’) does not deny the need for morality.
It simply believes that these things are a matter of private choice. Moreover, at its core it contends that the ability to freely exercise that private choice is essential for the fulfillment of the human condition: unless you are free to cheat on your wife in a raucous homosexual orgy, drink yourself into a stupor and get beat up in a curbside brawl, then you cannot ever be commended for the restraint, fidelity, or sobriety of one who chooses to avoid those vices. Freedom to choose evil is an essential part of choosing good.
Personally, my moral attitudes are conservative, but I have never been comfortable with the imposition of this conservatism on others.
And I do share the concern that if religious conservatives had their way, they would attempt to legislate against the rights of individuals to be amoral and licentious. That is why I always sit uncomfortably with the right, even though I am currently aligned to them on a majority of issues.

Last edited 2 years ago by Graham Stull
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

If only today’s Progressives were liberal in the classic sense. They ain’t. They punish you for not using their pronouns. They insist on custom decorations on gay wedding cakes, or fines. It doesn’t matter if 10 other bakeries will do the job. If you say a man who identifies as a woman should not play in women’s sports, you may lose your job. If you say you want a colorblind meritocracy, they say you support white supremacy by saying that. Today’s Progressives are totalitarians who think any dissent is misinformation that should be censored aggressively.

If the woke ain’t sufficiently scary to overcome any minor problems you have with the right, I have to wonder what else the left could say or do to make you drop them on their heads. Arguing that a religious right might do something in the future is pretty thin gruel compared to what the left is actively doing right now in suppressing civil rights.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

The trouble is, I’m old enough to remember what America was like when the right held the moral centre of the country. The mind-numbing patriotism that led to bodybags and a generation of ruined young men; the cruel, really cruel, treatment of homosexuals during the AIDS epidemic; and the tacit tolerance of racism – not the Woke kind – but the real, baseball-bat-against-the-skull-of-the-black-kid-who-crossed-the-river-into-our-white-town kind of racism.
While everything you say about Wokeism is 100% correct, my knowledge of what the other side can and would do in a heartbeat is too real for me to become an entrenched partisan.
I will remain a classical liberal, even as the pendulum swings from this brand of oppressive zealotry back to the other.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

One might get the impression reading many of the comments including the one above that conservatives can be every bit as high-and-mighty about their preferred ideology as the regressive left.

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
2 years ago

The cliche is that if you’re not a socialist at the age of 25 you haven’t got a heart and if you’re still a socialist at the age of 60 you haven’t got a brain (or words to that effect). Certainly there does seem to be a tendency to drift ‘rightwards’ as one gets older, and Douglas mentions some well-known travellers on that route. Can anyone think of anybody who’s travelled in the opposite direction? (I mean serious people, not the likes of Bercow or that bloke who’s just crossed the floor of the House of Commons).
Douglas seems to be repeating the ‘nasty’ party allegation here, albeit applying it to a US context. As an English social (but not political) conservative, this strikes me as unconvincing, especially when one sees how much sheer nastiness emanates from the political left. It’s also interesting to note how influential Catholics appear to be in US right wing circles. Catholic social teaching, as set out in Rerum Novarum and subsequent encyclicals, can hardly be described as ‘of the right’. It also strikes me as odd that opposition to abortion should be regarded as a right wing cause. Look at a google image of a four-month old foetus and tell me that extinguishing that life raises no moral issues – I don’t think any decent liberal or indeed any decent human being could easily do so.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I think a lot of nastiness emanates right across the political spectrum with both sides regarding their opinions as fact and those who differ as fools who deserve to be told so.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

True, but I would qualify that to say the right views the left as misguided fools, while the left sees the right as evil fools

A S
A S
2 years ago

I was and am liberal .. just not “a” liberal. I lived in Washington for many years and despised republicans, like most of my peers, and voted fully blue. It took moving to a right wing small town and working a non up in the clouds office job for me to start to feel and be more conservative. I think the most glaring thing is that living in a city, you barely know any “real” Americans other than some caricatures you see on Borat or liberal TV (Maher included). Most people – and I would say especially highly educated immigrants – are like that. They see the common American like some gun-toting, immigrant-hating, scary and dangerous person. Honestly after a decade amongst them, I’ve come to better understand all these things better and come to appreciate and understand conservatives. It would take a much longer essay to explain it all. In summary, I have found conservatives are far easier to have a opposing view with (ironically) and many people here don’t have a lot and I admire that they have an intrepid nature and do a lot to fend for themselves despite not having a lot of money or prospects.

So I guess I am someone who, in the light of liberal extremism, would vote right. However, I totally get what Douglas is saying. If the republicans are smart, they will ditch the cheap crowd-riling side-issue politics and become the sane party. It’s only then that more liberals (especially people who never get to leave the metropolis) will switch sides.

Last edited 2 years ago by A S
Ludwig van Earwig
LV
Ludwig van Earwig
2 years ago

I’m a former New Zealand Labour Party voter. Like Bill Maher, I’m horrified by the progressive woke agenda. But why do I baulk at voting for the right? It has nothing to do with the conservative Christian lobby, which is weaker here in NZ than in the US. My problem is the right’s addiction to privatization and austerity.
While we are all distracted by the pandemic, Jacinda Ardern’s “Labour” government is surreptitiously mounting a wide-ranging assault on NZ institutions. Critical race theory and radical gender ideology in schools, legislation to ban “hate speech” and so-called “conversion therapy” (which is really about trans), planned legislation to shift the burdern of proof onto the defendant in sexual assault cases, and a radical plan for a Maaori ethnostate. But her government has done almost nothing to roll back the user-pays neoliberal model inflicted on the country in the 1980s (ironically, by another so-called “Labour” government).
What of the NZ right? The National Party was the nearest thing NZ had to a conservative party, but has now been infiltrated by wokeism. Their pitch seems to be a more business-friendly and more efficient version of Ardern’s progressive neoliberalism. The only consistent opposition to the government’s wokeism has come from the libertarian ACT party.
The next general election is in 2023. NZ voters face a terrible choice between Ardern’s institution-wrecking wokeism, and the freemarket fundamentalism of the libertarian ACT party. Worse even than USA 2016.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ludwig van Earwig
Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago

But why are you so against privatization and “austerity” (smaller government). The reason there are so many institutions for Ardern to corrupt, and the reason those corrupted institutions are so problematic, is because it’s not a very “austere” government to begin with.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

“Austerity” is a leftist sneer at the principle that you live within your means. The left objects to it because its fundamental offering to the voters is that they can live outside their own means and off other people’s.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Ludwig van Earwig
LV
Ludwig van Earwig
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Ah I quite agree Jon. The poor should live within their means, and forget about going to university for example.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Norman there are several useless or even counterproductive ministries and commissions that we would be well rid of in NZ. The so-called Human Rights Commission is probably the clearest example – it’s just a mouthpiece for woke ideology. Possibly also the Race Relations Commissioner, who seems to think his job is to aggravate race relations. Then there’s the “Children’s Commissioner” – goodness knows what he does. And I’m not sure why we need a Ministry for Women in the 21st century, apart from promoting the feminist take on the so-called gender pay gap. But those ministries and commissions don’t actually employ many people – the main advantage of shutting them down would be in curbing the promotion of woke ideology, rather than saving taxpayer dollars.

But some money would nevertheless be saved by shedding the aforementioned woke organs of government – money that could be redirected towards other vital areas that have been chronically underfunded. The Department of Conservation (DOC) springs to mind – the previous National government slashed their budget, and told them they would have to develop “partnerships” with industry. The current government to its credit has increased their budget, but the underfunding is still there for all to see. I recently had to wait 11 months to get a research permit approved by DOC, because there just aren’t enough people to process applications.

Another example is our universities, which haven’t been funded properly for 35 years. Tuition used to be “free”, but we’ve since gone for the Blairite model of funding universities by shovelling half the population through them – with predictable effects on academic standards. And turning the students into clients (and using student “evaluations” of teaching to manage teaching “performance”) effectively puts students in charge of the curriculum. It’s a mess. But not a priority for Ardern’s prog neoliberal government.

The old system of free tuition needed reform, not replacement. It was too easy to stuff around at the taxpayers expense, some of us spending far too long at university. But if we’re serious about equality of opportunity, there cannot be financial barriers to university education. The only criterion for getting into university (and remaining there) should be the student’s marks.

Another example of underfunding is the state school system. There’s been recent concern about increased drownings, mostly poor kids, Maaori and young men. It’s been pointed out that everyone used to learn to swim at school, but many school pools have since been filled in because somebody decided they weren’t “cost-effective”. Classic short-term Kiwi thinking.

And so to privatization, which so many on the right seem to regard as a universal solution. Norman, you seem to think that privatization will save us from wokery, but Asian Americans who want to study at Harvard (a thoroughly private elite university) might be unimpressed. Are you not aware that Harvard now weights applicants’ grades according their ethnicity, in an attempt to ease their embarrassment at the scarcity of Black students? Asians Americans’ grades are downweighted on “character” grounds, and Blacks are upweighted.

And what of privatization in my own country? The Muldoon government (1975-1984) embarked on a massive infrastructure program, including the building of an oil refinery. The refinery was later privatized by a so-called Labour government (how mixed up is NZ politics!) that had been infiltrated by freemarket ideologues. The (mostly foreign) owners of the refinery have now decided that it’s uneconomic, so NZ is to lose its only oil refinery. Surely this is an issue of national security?

The right is very much part of the current problem, as in most Anglophone countries it fails to offer a reasonable, evidence-based alternative – it just peddles a different dogma. Boris Johnson’s government seemed to hold the promise of the sort of paternalistic Toryism that I would have voted for if I lived in the UK. But that project is undermined by Johnson’s weakness of character and lapses of judgement.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ludwig van Earwig
Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
2 years ago

Quite. Some of us on the left are appalled by the ‘wokeism’ on our side, but don’t see a concerted effort to oppose it on the other side anyway. Theresa May introduced the Self ID plan and Carrie Simmons has been promoting it too. Although wokeism is repulsive, it is not the only or the most important issue, the increase of inequality, austerity, homelessness, food poverty, tax avoidance for the rich, increased taxation for the middle and lower, these are more important issues.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Well said!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Not well said at at all.
We seem to have an issue with politicians of all stripes attempting to look wokish. I suspect most conservatives do it in order to parry criticism from the left wing media and because the civil service and Westminster seem to be bubbles where these views prevail partly due to the prevalence of humanities graduates and partly due to an overweening pulling more power and money to itself on the back of socialist policies. A complete clear out is needed much as happened in the old East Germany.
The rise in inequality is similarly being driven by socialist policies. Who do you think hoovers up all that lovely government case. Having said this you need to be clear about what you mean by inequality. The gap between the poor and the middle class has never been narrower and the gap between the middle class and the few very rich is vast.
There is no such thing as austerity. There is living within you means and there is not living within you means, and you have to have a good reason to live beyond your means because the burden of paying it back always falls to the next generation. Austerity is just a weasel word like racist and is used to stop debate.
Homeless and poverty are problems, but how much of it is down to uncontrolled immigration putting pressure on wage and to governments implementing socialist type policies that suck money of of the economy in order to fund their ever expending empires.
Tax avoidance by the rich is not a real problem or one we can do much about. It is not a real problem because even if they were to pay tax there are really so few of them it would make little difference. It is not something we can do much about since in a globalised world they can easily put their money out of reach. Also worth noting is that the top 1% of earners at the last count paid a third of all income tax and 42% of adults paid noting.
As to  increased taxation for the middle and lower classes, as I mention in the last paragraph 42% of adults pay no income tax so that would appear to take care of the lower classes. As for the middle classes, there is no one left to fund government spending and if they are getting squeezed then this is down to the insatiable demand for money to fund socialist government policies.
As to how well the money is spent, well most state employees spent most of the last 2 years not working form home and no one missed them. In effect the government is involved in a vast redistribution scam and while the money is not going to the truly needy it is going to huge numbers of people who would be unemployable in the real world, at least at comparable salaries. A sort of care in the community or cuckoo in the nest. The danger is that you end up killing off productive parts of the economy that fund this largess

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

Good points. And it’s not always clear that conservatives oppose wokeism for the right reasons.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

I agree with you. Austerity often masks the Thatcherite attitude that if you are not succeeding it is because you are not trying hard enough. This would not even be true if there were equal opportunities, because people differ in ability and temperament.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

And more to the point: would you really want to go out for a drink with them, and spend the evening on the receiving end of all that smugness and self satisfaction!

David George
DG
David George
2 years ago

Fellow Kiwi here Chris, I share your concerns. The NZ Labour party have, apart from their wokeist and divisive agenda, a serious problem with general competence. There’s also a willful blindness, something we didn’t see in the conservative liberal governments of Clark and Key: their failure to consider obvious, predictable negative social and practical consequences. A tendency evident in ill considered policies like the gas exploration ban or, more recently, in the extreme tolerance of egregious behaviour of state tenants or the new loan laws. The frightening consequences of the He Puapua program and speech laws don’t even seem to register. In this, perhaps, they have more in common than they’d care to admit with the reformers under Lange; although that government, at least, acknowledged the disruptions they were enabling.
Perhaps the great dividing line between the left and right is the assumptions over inequality. Is inequality proof of injustice or proof of justice. Of course it’s neither, or both; life is way more complicated than those simplistic assumptions allow.
“Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I’ll make a sweeping generalization and argue that many Republicans truly believe in God and many Democrats truly believe in Society. Each of course pays lip service to the contrary view.
Because it’s a matter of ‘true belief’ then people who switch allegiance are regarded as apostates. Not merely moving further along a political spectrum, but changing their very beliefs.
Which leaves a lot of ordinary political middle-of-the-road people abandoned in the no mans land between beliefs. And sadly, in the USA, middle-of-the-road wins no elections.

aaron david
aaron david
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

This is probably the most insightful comment on the subject.

Kat L
KL
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Have to disagree with this assumption; after all that’s what got uncle joe elected. Doesn’t matter that he lied about it, he sold himself that way and it worked.

Madeleine Jones
MJ
Madeleine Jones
2 years ago

Why would we expect the Right to act like liberals? Last time I checked, the Right was mostly conservative. Also, Right-wingers are under no obligation to welcome, or appeal, to any stray left-winger. The problem is, when we (the right) let anyone into our movement/(s), they start to freak out and try to change things once they realise that we’re actual right-wingers.

Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago

The left also imagines that the right thinks ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, and that therefore the right will treat as allies Marxist lesbians who are being assaulted as ‘transphobes’ by other Marxists.
Like the Iran-Iraq war or the Eastern Front in WW2, the right wants both sides to lose because it sees these merely as trivially different smithereens of the same unpleasant mentality.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

But that is the point of this article isn’t it? The right wondering why the left doesn’t join them?

aaron david
AD
aaron david
2 years ago

As an ex-Democrat, I will tell you what a big problem is. Outside of all the things that you, legitimately, mention, is the singular problem that the right is “uncool.” And that, more than anything, is what will keep the public faces away. The Maher’s and Weiss’ are always and forever going to be cool kids. And right now, that is not with the left, nor the right.
But we are in flux right now. What was cool for the last 50 or so years is no longer cool. Partially because it didn’t work on a significant number of fronts, but partially because what is cool always needs to be changing. In 10-20 years, being conservative will probably be cool, and not in an “edge lord” way, but legitimately. Like it was in the fifties. Sure, all the things will change, the dress, the social issues, etc. But that is how society works.

Michael K
MK
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

Yeah, but the left can’t meme.

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

Exactly! I was going to say the same thing. Starting with the Boomers, the most important thing to the entire educated class is to be cool and hip. This is one reason the born again/creationists are such a problem for the Republicans.

Kat L
KL
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  aaron david

With the demographic changes that are predicted I seriously doubt it.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

Perhaps the real issue is that what you see as positions worthy of revulsion are the key marker of being on the right. As far as I am concerned, there is no need to be ashamed of ideological ‘purity’ given how much the right has conceded in the name of liberal progress.

M. Gatt
MG
M. Gatt
2 years ago

You dont have to join a bible thumping group to be a conservative. But to be a member of the Church Of Woke you must rigidly follow the dogma.

S Smith
SS
S Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

Exactly. I’ve found the right to be far more pluralistic and accepting. Hell, they don’t even care if you still cling to some of your old leftist ideas and I think will eventually integrate some of them into their platforms (esp. related to economic justice).

A S
AS
A S
2 years ago
Reply to  S Smith

I think that is absolutely correct. Because the left controls entertainment culture (including most of the news), the image of the right is very twisted. As a former city dweller (and non-white), I find that even the Bible thumpers are far more amicable and agreeable than my highly educated intellectual city friends. Not to mention there is FAR more genuine integration and between the races than I ever saw in the city. A big yarn has been spun and grown by the American love of stereotypes ..

tom j
tom j
2 years ago

And yet in America, the desire on the Right to mix religion and politics remains a significant temptation.”
Surely it is no longer in any doubt that Woke is a religion. These people believe that we are a blank slate, and so any life outcome that doesn’t map precisely to demographic make up of society is the result of discrimination. This is a matter of faith, and the generator of the passions which are slowly consuming us.

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I understand the curl of Murray’s lip. The new conservatives are really “not out of the top drawer, old chap.”
This is because conservatism used to be a Gentry thing. Now, in the Trump / Le Pen populist nationalist era, conservatism is a Commoner thing.
Of course, back in the day, the intellectual Gentry were really concerned about the workers, even though the workers were a little bit rude and crude, not above a bit of riot and rebellion, old chap. Somehow the Captain Swing riots were OK, back in the day.
So why is today’s intellectual Gentry too refined to descend to the level of the ordinary Commoner?
Good question: more research is needed. Old chap.

JR Stoker
JS
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Arguably conservatism was never a “Gentry thing”, whatever that is. If it had been the Republicans, the Conservatives the Gaullists, would never have won elections, let alone been the natural parties of government

We live in a populist age, that’s all

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

This accords with my own [Tory] experience, I have known and befriended dozens of Tories and dozens of lefties; nearly all sensible, level headed people because that’s the type of person I hang out with. We get on fine and I am happy to acknowledge that the left has some good ideas and the right has some bad ideas. But one has to draw the line somewhere and I emphatically will not vote for a party which has embraced, at the highest level, a handful of second-rate individuals whom I actively despise.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I agree, most people I know from both sides are entirely reasonable but, alas, all parties “have embraced, at the highest level, a handful of second rate individuals who I actively despise.”

Malcolm Knott
MK
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I guess we just have to vote for whatever we judge to be the lesser of two evils.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

There is so much wrong with this article it is difficult to know where to begin.
It is true that the right attracts religious groups which for obvious reasons cannot find a home on the left, but the left itself is nothing more than another religious movement whose adherents, having cancelled God, have had to fill the void with a secular faith built on the works of the prophets Marx and Lenin.
Since we are dealing the devote there is no point in attempting to reason with them. Unable to rationalise their faith, they still cling to regardless of any evidence to the contrary. It is core to their being and without it they would be bereft. They deal with argument by a mixture of denial, emotion and abuse and the closer you get to a nerve the more hysterical they become.
The best summary I have come across of the issue we face in dealing with left is contained in this substack, and I urge people to read it
https://theupheaval.substack.com/p/no-the-revolution-isnt-over
As to Mr Murray, I have said it before, he fulfills the role of useful idiot. While he bangs on about dialogue and reason the march of the left continues relentlessly. They are zealots who have no interest in discussion or debate, save to the extent that it serves as a distraction while they continue to further their objectives.
He puts me in mind of the Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh who, in a last desperate attempt to save his life as he was being stabbed to death by a Muslim extremist, reportedly pleaded with his attacker: “We can, still talk about it.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
David Batlle
DB
David Batlle
2 years ago

So we’ll put.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

Basically the whole issue is not so complex. Classic liberalism means to foray into new territories, to try out new things and re-invent the world, ever making progress in the name of bettering humanity. Classic conservatism means adhering to hallowed tradition, drawing strength from one’s roots and closely evaluating the consequences of changes before applying them. Both are generally excellent strategies, and benefit from balancing each other out. Walking into the future with an open heart, but strongly rooted in that which has served our forefathers well, is a perfectly sound strategy for practically anybody.
Unfortunately, as society becomes more modern, atomized and individualized, the amount of different opinions and viewpoints flourishes on all sides. Today there are more issues to disagree on than ever, and those who would have been on the same side in the past may hate each other today over some small issue. Traditional systems, which have been essentially the same over multiple hundred years, are now massively modified in the span of just a few years. Meanwhile, progressive movements change faster than even those who founded them would have liked.
Politicians and media are now trying to reel in the greatest possible mass of people, which can only work with something we all agree on. These issues, as a result, must be of a highly emotional nature and are closely tied to our primal fears and our desire to survive. Once a profound fear has been awakened, we see the deterioration of reason on both sides. We are now fighting over what’s more important: our fear of dying from a virus or that of losing our souls to a tyrannical government. Liberals totally lose it and come up with ever-new, completely nonsensical things that won’t even work in theory – they mess things up, but at least they’re exciting. Conservatives deal with their new-found existential dread by reverting back to old traditions and defending them with mad fervor – more stable, but pretty boring and unproductive. We now either sit around and do nothing, or overreact and make things worse.
We have thesis and antithesis, but we are further away than ever from synthesis. Both sides have something valuable to offer, but only if we collectively calm down and start a productive discussion.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael K
T Bone
T Bone
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

The Classic Right vs Left Hegelian divide.

The way I see it is that the dialectical fusion algorithm (especially with progressives) constantly revising failed ideologies has picked up so many false assumptions that the end result is borderline psychosis. I don’t know exactly where it started to seriously awry, possibly Gramsci or the Frankfurt School…but at some point the left stopped fusing successful opposite contradictions and started fusing failed similar contradictions apparently thinking two cynical ideas = positive outcomes. Over time, they’ve continued the same method of fusing more and more cynical ideas assuming a circular progression which actually results in a regression.

They’ve effectively emboldened venture capitalists through Stakeholder Theory which is a fusion of State Capitalism and Market Capitalism. Its taking us back toward a sort of Neo-Feudal State where billionaires are buying up land and a counsel of oligarchs steer society claiming to act on behalf of the greater good. Since they claim to know all, they control and shape society.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Manners Maketh Manne. The manner in which one presents oneself to the world is the manner in which one is judged. The threatrical gestures in a conference become overbearing and absurd when watched from a screen in one’s home. It is said that television puts 10lb on someone and people do not find a double chin attractive.If a politician cannot develop the will power to get fit and control their waist line, why should we trust them with a budget? Learn how to debate and speak in public. If necessary have lessons in speaking from a voice coach so one can speak clearly and audibly. Probably the best spoken English was by the actor Richard Burton.C Hitchens success was because he spoke well and had a far superior general knowledge compared to most Conservatives. One could say Hitchens was ” In the land of the blind , the one eyed man is king”.
A person who is fit, exudes energy and cheerful good wil,l plus speaks clearly in well modulated es is attractive; surly fat slobs with whiny voices are not.
When one enters a persons home via a screen, the first aspect is appearance, then tone of voice then content. If a middle aged middle class woman would not feel happy drinking tea or coffee with a politicians in their kitchen, they are unlikely to vote for them.
Read Orwell. The content of one talks should use concrete terms with sentences of not than 20 words and no sub-clauses. Do not use not ornate conceptual phrases.
The Conservative Politicians needs to demonstrate in concrete terms how one will solve problems which will provide short, medium and long term benefits to the audience. What solves problems is a combination of ingenuity and endurance.
Conservatives need to demonstrate that learning from the past is preferable to Progressive who ignore it, and make repeated mistakes. If we did not learn from the past we would still be living in caves. The mass building of tower blocks post WW2 which have been demolished because people living in them hated it are examples of Progressive Folly. Churchill wanted to build cottages fro the workers.
True Conservatives learn from the past and create civilisation. Progressives ignore the past,therefore make mistakes and create The Terror of the French Revolution, Nazism and Communism.
J Bronowski in “Ascent of Man ” p374 , standing in the ash pit at Auschwitz ” It was done by dogma. it was done by arrogance. . It was done by ignorance. When people believe they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality , this is how they behave. This is what men when they aspire to the knowledge of gods”.
Progressive think they are gods. Conservatives, even if they do not believe in God, value the collected wisdom of the past, as a guide for the future. The earliest history goes 5000 years and Robert Graves consider some myths may go back to The Stone Age. Human nature has not changed much; vanity, cowardice, cruelty, lazyness, venality, treachery are as much part of people today as they were 5000 years ago; just look at the mass murder by Communists and Nazis in the 20th century and the awful tower blocks they built.

S Smith
S Smith
2 years ago

I appreciate this piece very much. I would offer, however, that many of us who are formerly of the left have seen the goalposts change almost overnight and have found the American right actually quite a welcoming place. The “left left” me, some time ago really, but most especially during Covid. To encapsulate how this movement has been completely de-legitimize one looks no further than the endless bleating for Big Pharma by, most especially, the hard left in America who little more than 2 years ago was at war with these peddlers of sickness and corruption. It is a movement of mindless hypocrisy, coupled with a crippling reliance on victim-speak and victim-culture. I am being heavily coerced to put my pronouns on my signature at work and my 12 year old daughter is exposed to books like “GenderQueer” at her middle school library, which is both true pornography + throw in a little pedophilia. Leftist school boards defend this kind of thing. I see not inclusion and tolerance in the movement but more often a neo-Red Guard hatred of the “other” (i.e. the unvaxxed) and an endless quest for purity of thought. The current left in America is on the same path that wound its way to Choeung Ek in the 1970s.
I couldn’t be happier to be part of the political spectrum which will rightfully put this dangerous movement into the dustbin of history and will probably vote Republican the rest of my life. The party will be gaining a huge brain trust over the next 4 years.

Last edited 2 years ago by S Smith
Stewart B
Stewart B
2 years ago

The reason people find it hard to switch allegiances has nothing to do with the policies. It has to do with the fact that society is defining people more than ever by whether they consider themselves Democrat or Republican. 20, 30 years ago, it was a non-issue, barely discussed. Now it seems to be the key defining issue from which all judgement of an individual follows, and the judgement is merciless. So of course, it takes much more to switch sides and find oneself being so thoroughly redefined.
The fact that we know that Maher is a Democrat is a change from the past. Go back to the 80s & 90s and you wouldn’t know which party a comedian, a news anchor or pretty much any non-political public figure would support. No clue. Now, you know pretty much where every public figure stands. Or at least, where they stand publicly.
It’s not the policies that are polarising (Republicans have been anti-abortion for a long time), it’s that the climate itself is polarising. But it’s not surprising Douglas Murray gets this wrong. He starts his article claiming people were asking, :”What could possibly be said against the character of Donald Trump?” I don’t recall a single person asking this question. I do remember plenty supporting Trump, despite his character.
I’m not sure what world Murray lives in.

S Smith
S Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Stewart B

This is so well put. I’m actually a former Bernie guy who is currently supporting his populist Republican Attorney General financially and through volunteering because he is fighting the Covid hysteria tooth and nail. There are some things I absolutely do not have in common with him but I have realized I have far more in common with him than anyone on the left. Also, if many of my friends found out about my switch, I believe they wouldn’t even want to hang out any more. And that is really sad.

C Quinn
CQ
C Quinn
2 years ago

What isn’t touched upon here is that the Republican party created and backed policies which gutted American agricultural and manufacturing industries, and Clinton and the Democratic party confirmed that corporate interests would be the priority of both parties. If conservatives want more social cohesion, they should pay attention to how corporations ravage their communities and create desperation and increase anti-social behavior. And if liberals would actually like to nip white supremacist sentiment in the bud, they should learn more about America’s demoralizing farm policy and its effects, as well as consider that support of open borders was once the domain of the likes of the Koch brothers.

David Batlle
DB
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  C Quinn

I am a conservative and I agree^^^

Art Johnston
JS
Art Johnston
2 years ago

The author is too hung up on names. I have came out as a–whatever you call it–Republican/conservative/libertarian–I don’t really care what you call me. Us ex-Democrats are now using the term “coming out of the closet”.
I have literally lost many of the “friends” I had because I don’t hate JK Rowling or D Trump as much as they do, so they now hate me more than they hate Rowling or Trump.
Just because the Bari Weiss’s don’t call themselves “conservative” doesn’t mean that they don’t have a lot in common. For example, I doubt that she will be voting for Biden or AOC.
There are more of us than you think. Reading Bari Weiss’ recent conversation comments shows that there are a lot of us fed up with the nasty, dictatorial left..
The Democrats have become the party of HATE. Like the author (and Reagan) said: I haven’t changed, the left has.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
2 years ago

This os the old ‘conservatives should give up on social conservatism’ argument. It’s only partially right. What we need is a New Social Conservatism, one largely based on the ideas of JBP.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Corrie Mooney

Who is JBP?

David George
DG
David George
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Jordan Bernt Peterson.
“Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

The US is an alien country – 17th attitudes with high tech add-ons. I think that the rest of us would be well advised to give it a wide berth.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Conservatives are unattractive, liberals are hideous. Take your pick.

When it comes to values, however, none of these things matter. They are superficial markers the tribes use to distinguish themselves from each other.

A serious thinker with real reservations about where the Left is headed does not bother himself with whether something is “attractive.” You don’t have to be religious to believe in smaller government, individual responsibility, patriotism (or nationalism), free-markets, traditional values, etc. You don’t even have to be religious to believe in the rights of the unborn, Or that men can’t become women.

If you don’t believe in these things, that’s fine. But “attractive” is for the unserious. If you are scared of religious people giving you cooties, then stay away. We don’t need you diluting our energy or message. Stay on the Left and fight it out with your more “attractive” hipster buddies over there.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
jim peden
JP
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  David Batlle

Yes! I think we have all – including Douglas Murray – been railroaded into the notion that we have to belong to one tribe or another. But how do we, the outcasts, associate without a banner under which to do it? (not a rhetorical question)

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  jim peden

Coalitions, the way the Left does it. You don’t have to be a Bible thumper in order to vote along side them. Leftist trans activists are more than happy to vote alongside Muslim activists.

Drahcir Nevarc
RC
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I agree. It’s easy for me to be of the right here in the UK. In the USA I would find it more difficult, precisely for the reasons given in this article.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I’ve always thought of myself as leaning to the right culturally, though slightly to the left economically. I’ve no idea who I’d vote for in the States. The right seems to be in the thrall of evangelicals, and the left in the pocket of big business. There’d be very little on either side I’d find very appealing

Carol Moore
CM
Carol Moore
2 years ago

Douglas is sharp as ever. The Left has always had a better public relations machine , presenting itself as tolerant and kind versus unfeeling and narrow minded bigots who (when I was young) were very definitely not ‘cool’. Pressure groups on the left still manage to hide behind a facade of caring. The constant deification of victimhood and the scramble to be more of a victim than the others, hides the very unpleasant reality of the persecution of those who disagree and do not want their children taught that there are myriad genders for example, or self identification for trans persons.

Ian Stewart
IS
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

I’ve watched Maher for years, even though some of his views wind me up, because he does break the Democrat echo chamber.
This article misses the point because he’s not a conservative but he does want to reach across the aisle with views that are commonly held by both sides, and he seems to yearn for the cross-party consensus that could often be achieved in the past.
Unfortunately that cross-party consensus looks like it’s never going to happen again, or at least not for a very very long time. Even a pandemic failed to create unity.

jim peden
jim peden
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Well, the cross-party consensus did happen here in the UK where the ‘opposition’ wasn’t because the government was performing rain dances but because it wasn’t sacrificing goats.

David Barnett
DB
David Barnett
2 years ago

I think the issue is one of seeking to apply the coercive power of the state to impose one’s philosophy. That is the source of all political trouble.
The left, of course, has been on overdrive with state coercion, and since their philosophy is now the dominant one in all our established bureaucracies, it is especially frightening.
In yesteryear, when the right-leaning was the “establishment” they were equally frightening. It is the (albeit now distant) memory of that which inhibits liberals from joining conservatives.
Classical liberalism seeks to minimise the role of state coercion. Since we all experience the idiocies and horrors of bureaucratic coercion, classical liberalism ought to command widespread support. Why does it not?
Unfortunately we all have things that we would like to force our way. State power is such a tempting short-cut. That temptation must be resisted.

Dominic A
DA
Dominic A
2 years ago

E O WIlson said that man’s problems boiled down to – paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god like technology. There it is I think. Emotions such as shame,outrage, fear are the raw power driving the thing; anachronous estates of the realm, alive and unwell, are hard to reform (as that would clash with the medieval principle that the elders knew best, the constitution is sacred etc); and tech, chiefly social media, wickedly amplify every dissonance.
US politics is best understood as unsporting sport, and best described by comedians (Maher, Colbert etc).

beasie4
JC
beasie4
2 years ago

A salutary piece – it succeeds and fails and is interesting for that. I am a political writer (speeches and opeds). I write little in my own name now as it doesn’t pay and, well, I have a horse. So, I ghost. I am also a liberal of the Bill Maher/Bari Weiss sort with one exceptional difference: I am an advocate for the Republican Party’s natural constituency, rural communities (most of my own published work is on that topic). Rural communities throughout the world are at odds with “globalists” and liberals, but they are conservative in ways that appeal to me: practical, practiced, live-and-let live, where the need for physical courage and an immediate community tempers cramped responses to the “other.”. (Or they used to be this – interesting essays on this in the Politics of Moralizing by Jane Bennet). I am also largely comfortable with many conservative intellectuals – I find the arguments that they have developed over years of disagreement with liberal ascendancy of interest and at least as partially true as ours. But I cannot “cross over” because it is a cramped space in which to live – intellectually and emotionally. I have been shocked by even fine conservative minds that will refuse to take in new work/research – most recently I brought up Raj Chetty’s economic analysis (genius) of wealth inequities in the US between races. Our Republic does not survive without public trust, and persistent, overwhelming inequities (even where there are no longer laws on the books that script that for us) threaten that foundation. I like your essay because it spurred on my thoughts here: I think that is what we should do for one another — encourage our thought and our moral concern to flow freely into a closer description of reality that can bear fruit in both heightened compassion and rational, realistic, practical action. Joan Chevalier (I don’t post anonymously)

Last edited 2 years ago by beasie4
Warren T
WT
Warren T
2 years ago

If conservatives allowed their core beliefs to simply shift with the wind, like progressives do, they would become………progressives.

Emre Emre
ES
Emre Emre
2 years ago

I suspect the only reason to join the Right for a liberal would be if the Left became conclusively more illiberal than the Right. At this moment, there’s something of an equilibrium where the level of illiberalism is at similar levels for both sides, so disenchanted people sit at the side lines. There’s however a growing danger of tyranny in US – arguably from both sides of the spectrum – which is what makes some liberals understandably alarmed.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

I now consider the left by far more illiberal than the right, which has made me switch sides. Not that I agree with all the positions on the right.

S Smith
S Smith
2 years ago

Oh yeah, me as well.

Tom Jennings
TJ
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

If you conclude that a left-leaning element of the US Government commissioned gain of function research that led to release of covid 19 and then promoted a series of lockdowns and executive mandates that devastated millions, would that be illiberal enough?

JR Stoker
JS
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Further evidence, at last, that we are returning to a serious intellectual discussion of liberal (libertarian) conservatism, as there was in the 1970’s. Hopefully with the same beneficial and indeed glorious results we saw in the 1980s and the next 30 years or so.

Lovers of liberty will only win if they can show a serious intellectual and practical justification for their proposals. It’s going to be a big job, but it has to be done.

Kiat Huang
KH
Kiat Huang
2 years ago

“Why is the Right so unattractive?” I’d suggest two reasons are the most important.

1. an association with intensly polarised positions or polarising people (this is also true of the Left).

2. the perception that the Right is associated with selfish motives, whereas it’s a perception of unselfish motives engrained in the Left. Neither is intrinsically correct.

Human beings strongly resist being associated with causes, movements or people they abhor, that they can not stand. Those won’t find the other side attractive enough to make the move.
Conversely those that do not have entrenched positions are far more likely to move without too much friction between the Left and the Right as political policies and performance ebb and flow.

Martin Johnson
MJ
Martin Johnson
2 years ago

I suspect Murray is on to something but it cuts both ways. In both parties the activist energy is from people who are distasteful to anyone on the other side who might be approachable otherwise… religious traditionalists for conservatives, and “Democratic Socialists”, the very woke, and BLM zealots for liberals.

Brendan O'Leary
BO
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

The hideous nutters of the far left never put me off being a lefty.
As I learned more of the world and the left drifted away from me and I drifted right of them, it never occurred to me that I should let ostensibly right wing nutters put me off the right.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

As much as I admire and respect mr. Murray he and the others couldn’t be more wrong about his assumption that any of those people are now conservative. Just because they aren’t in lockstep with their party doesn’t mean they’ve become something other than what they’ve always been. Maher in particular, and probably the others too, birthed these monsters by demonizing and relentlessly attacking conservatives for decades. He’s not on the right nor is he any kind of ally.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kat L
Bernie Wilcox
BW
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

I’m in full agreement with Bill Maher. I’ve not left the Left, the Left has left me. nor do I have any interest in joining the Right even though on many matters (the EU, freedom of speech, large immigration numbers, Net Zero and the response to Covid) and almost fully agree with them.
However, both socially and economically their philosophy just doesn’t appeal to me and I also have an ongoing worry that Tory administrations are generally far more corrupt than others (although there are lots of instances of the others also being corrupt)
However, what’s more disconcerting is that my former Leftie friends will simply not even enter into a discussion on many of these matters and won’t even consider any evidence against their viewpoint.
At least I have lots on non political friends. Some of my Leftie friends haven’t and have been frozen out of their social life by these zealots with one of them being banned from a long standing social group because he’s unvaccinated.
Whatever happened?

David McDowell
DM
David McDowell
2 years ago

What Murray has put his finger on is that being conservative and being on the right are not synonymous.
The right values agency and freedom while conservatism values social cohesion. Hence why the RCs are at the forefront of conservativism in the US.

Last edited 2 years ago by David McDowell
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

I really admire Murray & listen & read his work with great interest. But this essay just skims the surface and doesn’t really get to heart of what each political party stands for. And why one would want to ‘convert’. For one, it’s very ‘fashionable’ to be a liberal, people who are not always deep thinking and respond to many issues emotionally (versus rationally and with insight) so that at least you can argue a point. You can’t argue ‘faith’, ditto emotion. Liberals & their ‘virtue signaling’ is performative art unto itself. It’s hard to know where to begin.
He wrote: “I was invited to speak at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida. Being, as I told one of the organisers, only about two-thirds in agreement with the conference agenda, I didn’t feel it was my place to give a speech.”
Similarly, this doesn’t seem to be his bailiwick….

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Peter Taylor
PT
Peter Taylor
2 years ago

All very interesting for me. When at Oxford studying ecology (paid for by a State scholarship), I was further left than Mao Tse Tung and my Dad was a councillor in the Liberal Party. Ten years later, I helped create the Ecology Party (later the Green) – at least the manifesto, because by then I thought ‘party’ was the problem. I became an ‘environmentalist’ – using my scientific and legal expertise to stop the ‘bad guys’ polluting the air and ocean. I represented Greenpeace a few times. Another ten years of activism and I had met enough top CEOs to realise there were as many good guys at the top as bad ones, perhaps even more. The real problem was the ‘system’ itself. No one talks about that these days. I have no one to vote for – the Greens have gone madly totalitarian (to solve climate change, of course!), Labour are trying to rescuscitate Blair, after ditching Corbyn whom they vowed to include, and the Liberals…no ideas. The most sensible parliamentarian I met was a Conservative shadow minister. If he were standing locally, I would vote for him. But I could never join that Party. Where do I belong if I don’t believe climate change is an emergency, that Covid was an escaped bioweapon (hopefully just that), that the planet is in dire straits from population growth, material consumption and loss of biodiversity, that the guys at the top of the pyramid (Musk and Co ) need to be divested of their power before they screw the planet even further? And if I were in power I would lean to dictat on one thing only – to ban political parties. I have been encouraged in this seemingly impossible step by some comments here. Each candidate would have to stand as an Independent and be elected on their merits. If anyone with deeper political knowledge can do so, I would like to know how best to form a cabinet and elect a Prime Minister. BUT how to change the currently unsustainable ‘system’ – and I mean capitalism, but more specifically, the role of investment bankers and their choices?

Dianne Bean
DB
Dianne Bean
2 years ago

I kept waiting for the author to get to the point while wading through atrocious sentence structure and wild punctuation.
Finally he implies that the problem is religion. Certainly there are some extremist in any religious group and he quotes someone who mentioned sodomy relating to a gay couple. What the conservatives want but it gets distorted by the 95% liberal media is a return to values and religious freedom. It is not to push religion on people.
By the way the most recent poles here in the US show a huge shift in the population towards identifying more with Republicans than Democrats. I guess we are becoming more attractive after all.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I think this is true, but there’s also the dreadful smugness of so many conservative voters. Their unshakeable certainty that they are where they are because they deserve it. The boring predictability of their tastes and opinions.
There is a conservative type, that almost everyone else finds a bit repellant. And it is this type that sets the image of the conservative.
Indeed, I would say that part of the success of younger conservatives on line is that they simply do not fit this stereotype.

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Smugness? Have You read your own comment? Pure projection.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  David Batlle

Or nail on the head perhaps.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

On the merits, just curious about what you meant by conservatives believe “they are where they are” because they deserve it. Where “are” they precisely?

hugh bennett
HB
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

hi, David its the “fool” here. I come from a hard working working class family background and over a few generations we have greatly improved our lot, and the lot of others. And yes we are Conservatives ( with a Big and small “C”), we are not complacent, rather we are grateful that this country has provided us with the opportunities that have rewarded hard work. The last thing we are is smug.
Whereas you always seem to write with a sneer……………..

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 years ago

Not keen on the article, too many unsubstantiated comments and to my mind incorrect theories. There is nothing here.

Christian Moon
CM
Christian Moon
2 years ago

There are arguments for social conservatism that are not rooted in Christianity or any other religion. They stand on their own merits as instrumental to a better society.
The first issue they address is below replacement fertility, and they do so by considering what policies would encourage family formation and having children. There are all too many women who find themselves reaching their forties while all the time still expecting to have a family, a family that somehow never happened. Social conservatism asks what policies would have helped these women to avoid this sad and unchosen fate.
Of course, given the general heritability of behaviour, this problem will be self-liquidating as the contribution of this group of women to the gene pool is withdrawn in favour of those women who do prioritise their families. Perhaps that’s fine, but many social conservatives think it’s a shame.
(Following Polderman et al 2015)

Keith Dudleston
Keith Dudleston
2 years ago

I say people in the UK are uncomfortable supporting the “Right” in politics because they think this political movement supports the interests of multinational companies [and the byzantine relationship they have with some media companies and our inept civil service]. Most people I know worry about the influence of “big tech” and pharma. The controversy about vaccine mandates illustrates my point. Pfizer [along with similar companies] appears to be running government policy about vaccination and is successfully suppressing almost all criticism both on TV and on the internet. Were told cheap drug treatments for the virus mostly don’t work while vaccines and lockdowns do work. This is obviously not entirely true yet the narrative remains largely unchallenged. It’s very worrying.

Lawrence Bennett
LB
Lawrence Bennett
2 years ago

It is absurd to think that Bill Maher’s reasoned criticism of “the excesses of his own political side, in particular “cancel culture” and the “cult of woke” puts him in the conservative camp. His liberal credentials are indisputable until he recants on his support of individual rights, civil liberties, democracy and free enterprise.
Lawrence Bennett

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago

Mr Murray is missing the forest for the trees.

As bad as it is being an outcast from the Left, there is still redemption or, at a minimum, living as a rebel with a cause within the progressive movement (which is like earning an anarchist badge-of-honor with some Leftists)…

…but if the outcast associates with the Right, they know they will truly be cast into outer darkness by their associates…the ultimate cancellation.

Who would dream of giving up even lukewarm relationships within their tribe for the simplistic caricatures of folks from the Right that these Leftist outcasts see on cable, or hear on NPR or their favorite progressive podcasts?

The fear of this ultimate rejection keeps these Leftist outcast on a short progressive leash.

(You can take the person out of organized religion, but evolution has dictated that the underlying religious tendencies are still within the person and will manifest via other avenues whether the person desires it or not.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
Ri Bradach
RB
Ri Bradach
2 years ago

One of the usually brilliant Douglas Murray’s poorer pieces because it can be reduced to this:
Conservatism and Baptist Christianity are not friends. Conservatism isn’t about the Old Testament and a literal interpretation of that set of fables.
The ongoing presence of this cancer in US Conservatism have us Sarah Palin, arguably the best reason to vote for Obama.
The sooner US Conservatism and Christian Taliban interests deserve, the better.
As to sexual mores, there is again a difference between Taliban and socially coherent policy:
No fault divorce, contraception and the extension of the definition of contraception to the “morning after pill” are reasonable positions that recognise the need for adults to have both rights and responsibilities.
Abortion is another issue and the “God says” or the “Bible says” approach isn’t helpful to sorting out competing life interests.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
RB
Ri Bradach
2 years ago

One of the usually brilliant Douglas Murray’s poorer pieces because it can be reduced to this:
Conservatism and Baptist Christianity are not friends. Conservatism isn’t about the Old Testament and a literal interpretation of that set of fables.
The ongoing presence of this cancer in US Conservatism have us Sarah Palin, arguably the best reason to vote for Obama.
The sooner US Conservatism and Christian Taliban interests deserve, the better.
As to sexual mores, there is again a difference between Taliban and socially coherent policy:
No fault divorce, contraception and the extension of the definition of contraception to the “morning after pill” are reasonable positions that recognise the need for adults to have both rights and responsibilities.
Abortion is another issue and the “God says” or the “Bible says” approach isn’t helpful to sorting out competing life interests.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ri Bradach
Su Mac
SM
Su Mac
2 years ago

I have not forgiven Douglas for shutting his eyes completely to blatant 2020 election fraud. However…I think this is bang on.
As a conservative leaning Brit with a stong interest in the USA as a future home I find the incessant religiosity of conservative politics in the USA quite revolting. I have been on Gab (waaay too churchy) and now on Getrr as alternative SM platforms throughout the “pandemic” and always the Biblical explanations of political events and reminders to go to Church from political commentators floor me. It is the absolute thing that puts me off feeling fully at home.
I was fascinated and cheered by the Blexit (Black Democrat Exit) movement but of course it is underpinned with those PragerU sermons. Maybe this is how the political space for Libertarians arrived – fiscally conservative, socially liberal as they say.

Su Mac
Su Mac
2 years ago

I have not forgiven Douglas for shutting his eyes completely to blatant 2020 election fraud. However…I think this is bang on.
As a conservative leaning Brit with a stong interest in the USA as a future home I find the incessant religiosity of conservative politics in the USA quite revolting. I have been on Gab (waaay too churchy) and now on Getrr as alternative SM platforms throughout the “pandemic” and always the Biblical explanations of political events and reminders to go to Church from political commentators floor me. It is the absolute thing that puts me off feeling fully at home.
I was fascinated and cheered by the Blexit (Black Democrat Exit) movement but of course it is underpinned with those PragerU sermons. Maybe this is how the political space for Libertarians arrived – fiscally conservative, socially liberal as they say.

Phillip De Vous
PV
Phillip De Vous
2 years ago

This is Doug Murray’s worst and most shallow essay. Another example of a cosmopolitan selling a certain brand of conservatism while not actually wanting conserve anything. Bourgeois materialism is Murray’s real philosophy.

john zac
JZ
john zac
2 years ago

Perhaps it is time we do away with these terms altogether and invent new ones. The belief systems of old, such as banking and religion need to be further refined and redefined, while conscious progressives must more carefully choose which institutions need to be destroyed. The center then has to reestablish itself as the place where all this dialogue should take place. We are so far off in balance at this moment that unfortunately only total disaster will initiate the self reflection needed to guide us towards the correct political equilibrium.

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

Bill Maher, Bari Weiss and a slew of other liberals who have fallen out with their own tribe have chosen not to identify as conservative. And that should be a cause for concern. Rather than ignoring this trend, conservatives need to ask themselves: what is it about the Right that is so unappealing that people who agree almost entirely with its views resile from joining its ranks?”
What?
In his beautiful essay in “The God That Failed” (195X), the committed Italian communist Ignazio Silone did not make a point of giving up his communist policy preferences, but he did give up on the organized Left — specifically the Bolsheviks and their Stalinist successors — because these folks were interested in dictating outcomes and commandeering the Comintern. They weren’t interested in any kind of democratic process.
One might suggest to such people that democratic process is not really consistent with economic centralization, and that is a question that another committed socialist never considered to ask himself. In “Homage to Catalonia” Eric Blair (George Orwell) complains about how “neat little professors” pushing their “market socialism” — he must have been complaining about people like Oskar Lange — had given up on what socialism (in his mind) should really be: “democratic socialism”. I’d suggest to Orwell that “democratic socialism” is an oxymoron. How much fun it would be to debate that!
Folks like Bari Weiss only now seem to be rediscovering “individual rights”, but they have long belabored under the illusion that “democracy” constitutes a kind of governance-by-consensus. Susan Sontag was way more sophisticated. She maintained a more Madisonian (and sophisticated) view of “our democracy”:
From the New Yorker, September 17, 2001:
Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen.
—Susan Sontag
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/09/24/tuesday-and-after-talk-of-the-town

Richard Kuslan
Richard Kuslan
2 years ago

People who consider themselves conservative still identify themselves within the Leftist binary worldview: the bifurcation of US and THEM. Conservatives call themselves “right-wing” because they continue to operate ideationally within the Leftist worldview. Even as impressive and persuasive and literate as Douglas Murray. Why would one even surrender without a fight to these definitional terms in debate? The misuse and abuse of language in furtherance of the tautologies, based upon fundamental falsehoods, must not be fostered, but rather exploded.

Zorro Tomorrow
JK
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

The ugliness is the virtue signalling of the woke liberal, their identity politics, race theory and gender obsession. They belong in 1930s Germany. I won’t use the acronym but it flew the false flag of socialism. On the other extreme we see intolerance, ignorance and reactionary myopia. The insincere blow in the wind of whatever’s in. Hollywood for example, the saddest deluded bunch of millionaires in the world. Religion just pours gasoline/ petrol on the flames.

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Shorter Douglas Murray: I could not possibly believe in things that those christians also believe in. Gross.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
2 years ago

Maher has spent so many years yelling mean-spirited abuse at mainstream conservatives he knows if he publicly came out as a conservative he would gets lots of abuse and very little support.
He now says that whereas in the past he disagreed with Republican leaders like the Bushes,Romney Cheney,Romsfeld,Reagan,Nixon etc on policy he did not them regard as ‘mad’ people.He does regard many Trump supporters as ‘mad’ as he does not understand whatever the rationale is behind Trump supporters thinking

David D'Andrea
DD
David D'Andrea
2 years ago

I look forward to Deneen’s response in these pages.

Martin Terrell
MT
Martin Terrell
2 years ago

It all depends on what part of ‘the Right’ you look at. Douglas Murray and Dave Rubin are good representation of today’s Right – thoughtful, compassionate and not afraid to debate ideas with people of different values but of good will – like Sohrab Amari. The media (of the other side) will though lump them together as undesirable religious racist reactionaries.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

The elephant in the room is Donald Trump. When he is ejected completely, conservatives in the US can get back to more reasonable ways of sorting these things out.

Melanie Mabey
Melanie Mabey
2 years ago

We’re in the ‘Fall’ part of ‘Decline and fall’ no wonder people look back to the last time we had the highest EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) in our history. They might focus on this or that issue but what they yearn for is ,the nation that was ‘going somewhere’. Today none of us is going anywhere – globalisation is breaking down, there is no engine of growth anymore.

Peter Morgan
Peter Morgan
2 years ago

I rarely agree with Murray but on this I think he’s right. I’ve been left leaning all my life but now feel that the Left has left me behind. But much of the right is no better. Perhaps when a cure for TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is discovered, and variations of it in other countries, I’ll take another look. Until then, I’m independent.

Peter Lee
PL
Peter Lee
2 years ago

‘Crossing the aisle’ is understandably rare. But not for the reasons mentioned herein, Hopefully, the name ‘Drew’ will correct the factual error made in this paper.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

The first sentence describes what is wrong with politics and what needs to change. Political parties and the politicians who belong to them just disagree. They create problems that would not exist otherwise. We must stop supporting politicians who belong to parties and only vote for independent MPs who genuinely represent us and not a party. Parties have one objective and that is control over us.

John T. Maloney
John T. Maloney
2 years ago

Faith does not frame the Left / Right Bifurcation. Rather it is Hip v. Square. It is easy for the Unattractive Square to become Hip; impossible for the Attractive Hip to become Square.
The Hip are groomed by the Academy, cosmopolitanism, and cappuccino; The Square are nurtured by NASCAR, local picnics, and Budweiser.
You won’t find a hip trans lesbian at a State Fair tractor pull; You won’t find a square boilermaker in dungarees at a Vermont Climate Rally.
The easy pathway from the Square to The Hip is enrolling in a small college in bucolic New England for $60,000/year. The barrier from the Hip to The Square is stronger than Trump’s Big, Beautiful Wall.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

I thought you were onto something there. But the success of the young right which flowered during the Trump era and just before, was due precisely to the fact that they were hip and not square.

John T. Maloney
JM
John T. Maloney
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Our secret is out! Hope it spreads.
Hip to Be Square, – Huey Lewis and the News
Lyrics
I used to be a renegade
I used to fool around
But I couldn’t take the punishment
And had to settle down
Now I’m playing it real straight
And yes, I cut my hair
You might think I’m crazy
But I don’t even care
Because I can tell what’s going on
It’s hip to be square
It’s hip to be square
I like my bands in business suits
I watch them on TV
I’m working out most every day
And watchin’ what I eat
They tell me that it’s good for me
But I don’t even care
I know that it’s crazy
I know that it’s nowhere
But there is no denying that
It’s hip to be square
It’s hip to be square
It’s hip to be square…

https://youtu.be/LB5YkmjalDg

David Batlle
DB
David Batlle
2 years ago

I love this comment, and so true. For nine people out of 10, their political inclination is based purely on culture, not policy. And I use the word “culture” generously. It’s the hipness, cool kidz factor.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

Leftists are primarily anti-clerical.

OK, got it.

Thanks.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

I belong to that faction of people that agree with Alice Roosevelt. I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t do it in the street and scare the horses.

Matthieu Bousrez
Matthieu Bousrez
2 years ago

I

Last edited 2 years ago by Matthieu Bousrez
wkkbooks
wkkbooks
2 years ago

Unreadable verbose attitudinizing — perfect example of unattractiveness.

Jesse Porter
Jesse Porter
2 years ago

Somewhat deeper into the great divide, the tradition of the conflict between good and evil and God and the Devil need to be explored. For instance, why would God make such a stupid prohibition as the eating of a desirable fruit? Why would Adam and Eve fall for such a stupid temptation? Why Why would an all-knowing God place the tree bearing such a fruit in the center of Adam and Eve’s living space. Why would such an intelligent God design such a prolific creation in such a space-limited planet? Why would an intelligent human being believe in, let alone love, such a God?
Why would believers and unbelievers grow to hate each other? It is no skin off a believer’s nose if someone else does not believe, nor vice versa. It is a real stretch to argue that belief or denial in God harms others in any way. Yet, they, in many instances, not only hate but war against each other. Indeed, virtually any disagreement will provoke hatred and killing. Are humans worth saving?

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Well we’d still have to explain why these liberals don’t join the Libertarian Right instead of the conservative Right, don’t we? And in fact the Left needs to explain why Libertarians won’t join itself of course, the argument cuts both ways.

Being a Libertarian myself I know the answer anyway: my primary political principle is limited government, so I can’t align myself with any Big State operation no matter how open, inclusive and tolerant it is and no matter how much of the massive wedge it takes off the taxpayer is spent upon being nice to people. It’s nicer not to take our money in the first place, end of argument as far as I’m concerned.

I do agree with Douglas Murray here though in that the conservative American Right does tend to possess a very few principles that I could not be seen dead with. There aren’t many of them and they are nowhere near as bad as the hilarious cretinism that attends the Left in general, but they are enough to put me right off them nonetheless.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Lord Rochester
LR
Lord Rochester
2 years ago

What a peculiarly binary viewpoint: ‘Maher thinks nutters are nutters, so why is he not outing himself as a conservative?’

Just because Orwell recognised off-putting, sandal-wearing cranks in the left in the second part of The Road to Wigan Pier, doesn’t mean he crossed the aisle to get away from the needs of working people he documeted in the first part.

Douglas Murray sometimes strikes me a bit like Bindel in these pages: there’s always that jump-the-shark assertion that undermines the believability of the piece. Bindel always crowbars in a ‘grrr men’ moment; Murray always assumes a monochrome ‘them or us’ binary view of politics. I recall Lionel Shriver querying him on who ‘they’ are in their Spectator chat.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

For some the 1950s were superb but the Consertives lack the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to explain why.
Let us take the 1950s. A husband and wife could have been born in the slums and perhaps lived in a workhouse. The husband had TB and perhaps Polio. Taking up boxing and running he strengthened his mental and physical constitution. He volunteered and fought in the trenches and then volunteered again, serving in the RFC as aircrew. He went to work after WW1, he had to as so many family had either been killed in WW1 or the Spanish Flu. The wife left school at 12 and was bright, a keen reader. Family could not afford any training but through hardwork, wife became a skilled worker, perhaps assistant to the MD of a large company. The husband worked in a company, went to night school and they prospered. Man and women married in the 1920s. Husband and wife set up a company. The Depression hit and through skill, hradwork and luck, they survived and prospered.They moved to a pleasant area and sent their children to good private schools. Along came WW2. The husband had been gassed in WW1 and was unfit for WW2. Husband and wife had skills useful to the war effort which involved becoming aware of Nazi atrocities. Many family and friends did not return from the war and those that did, often died young.They worked hard after WW2 and by the mid 1950s were able to take foreign holidays and the odd cruise.
Compared to the slums, workhouse, trenches, aerial combat ( aircrew had the highest death rate in WW1), fear of invasion and knowledge of Nazi atricities, the 1950s were paradise.
J S Mill said the Tory Party was the stupid party; is he wrong?

Brad Mountz
BM
Brad Mountz
2 years ago

I like Douglas Murray’s writing and I like the article. Yet I wonder if getting closer the fundamental and not the fringe differences of conservative vs. liberal idealogy would be a more useful study to understand this issue. The examination of cancel culture as a point. This tool of the left will only exist until the left is repeatedly snared in their own trap, being or having things canceled. The far left wishes to deplatform and eviserate free speech. The far right has antiquated idealogy and accepts no argument that does not involve religion or Imperialism. Neither are attractive. There is much room to come together and retain or share core beliefs, which I think is exactly what Mahr or Weiss are doing around cancel and Woke theology. However, policy on the environment may be something that would disallow someone on the left from joining the right or vice versa. Douglas Murray makes you think and that’s the sign of a great writer.

David Batlle
DB
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  Brad Mountz

Your “far right” exists only in your fever dreams. Conservatives today are what liberals would’ve been in the 90s.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

Adopting a godless secular belief system with its moral relativism and its other shortcomings is anathema not only to Catholics but to Evangelicals. The fading mainstream faiths –the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians et al– have shown that good humored acceptance of modern social justice and the passions de jour leads to the desuetude and meaninglessness of the Church of England, the land of empty churches. Elections are important — politics fulfill the role of religion in the Democrat Party — but the human soul is more so. You will never see the Republicans boo God at their national conventions. That’s for Democrats. Their handmaidens in the news media do not mention this.

Bret Larson
BL
Bret Larson
2 years ago

“three in ten American adults are now religiously non-affiliated
Just because they think they aren’t religious doesn’t mean they aren’t, in fact it probably means they are more religious then the ones who pony up a tag for themselves. Its just that their religion doesn’t currently have a stated tag.
So if feigning non-religion is your religion its obvious why they wouldn’t move, lets just call them the rudderless.
And that’s about as far as I will go into the definition of what is left and what is right.

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

They don’t have a problem with “religion”, they have a problem with Christianity. It is “the enemy.”

John Hilton
John Hilton
2 years ago

“The National Conservatism conference was filled with a disproportionate amount of Catholic social doctrine, and it is not the first time I have observed this encroachment.”

The author seems to think the movement would be be fine, if it didn’t contain all those rotten Catholics. Perhaps the problem isn’t Catholics: perhaps the problem is the ugly Nativism that the American media has subscribed to since the founding of the country.

Indeed, more often than not, “separation of church and state” has been invoked to make the claim that Catholics should not be permitted to engage in public life. The current article is just another example.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

America, in the 1950s, was probably by far the most exciting nation on earth. The 1956 American-made movie, the Oscar-winning Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn, in which we see much that is great about being stylishly dressed, that is to do with manners and being respectful, is just the sort of delightful and charming movie that the ‘distinguished conservative scholar’ mentioned above must enjoy. Has this movie been shown on Iranian television? Ever? What would happen if it were shown there at prime time? Would there be a revolution? Or just the usual ructions? At least there would be a reaction, I imagine. Here in the West, mention ‘Roman Holiday the old black-and-white movie starring Audrey Hepburn,’ and most young folk under 45 would probably just shrug their shoulders. Meanwhile, back in Iran, the young folk of Tehran’s hard-pressed, suburban working-class are delighting in the ructions in the conservative establishment after a TV station there inadvisably broadcast first a Doris Day movie one week, then Roman Holiday the next. Those decadent Americans trying to upend the world! Perhaps Roman Holiday had once been beloved of the conservative, middle-class American cinema-going public, sixty years ago. Maybe mostly young and educated twenty-something Hillary supporters would really be the only type to go out of their way to watch it now. Apart from poor yet curious enough folk living in repressive and austere countries who might like that kinder face of America that did present itself in the movies of yesterday. The West shoots itself in the foot, as usual. The Left?

America is, in any case, and always has been to increasing degrees, like a runaway freight train that sounds its horn on the whole journey. It just can’t slow down. It just won’t shut up. The far Left got control of the points and now the train is hurtling towards a cul de sac in the middle of nowhere. From one extreme to the other.