There’s something I didn’t want to tell you about the Chris Hayes book, lest you cast him out as a firebagger:
Hayes allows himself a poignant thought: We need to build a “trans-ideological coalition” that harnesses the energies of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party
I think that’s bullshit, but I was struck by how much I agreed with RedState’s reaction to Bobo’s anti-peasant diatribe (which may itself have been a reaction to Hayes’ book). Daniel Larison nails it too:
If contemporary populist movements are interested in what Brooks calls “a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king,”* it wouldn’t be surprising after the last decade of mismanagement, incompetence, and disaster brought to us by consensus-minded “centrist” managers.
I think that conservatives are actually right to point out that they don’t necessarily see neoconservatives like Brooks as kindred spirits. As much as it pains me to say this, Sully’s Oakeshott succor was part of an interesting discussion of Straussianism. He linked to an article (by a conservative) that made a point I’ve thought of before but rarely seen put so well:
The esoteric claims provide cover for Straussian interpretive preferences and shield against criticism from anyone outside the clique. Cleanth Brooks once imagined what postmodern literary critics could have made of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and it makes just as much sense to ask what the Straussians could do with the nursery rhyme.
(To provide a little context here, Strauss believed that philosophical texts often contained esoteric arguments that were at odds with the surface-level meaning of the texts.) A bunch of Sully readers then wrote in to defend Strauss from various charges (of being a right-winger, for example) by saying that maybe Strauss was wrote esoterically himself, so who knows what he was saying! So you can see how quickly it reduces to nonsense.
Beneath the layers of nonsense, there is an obsession with maintaining authority, as Lev from Library Grape reminds us, in his own critique of Brooks:
Brooks’s formulation here is that leaders are (not should be, but are, if I read him correctly) extraordinary people who are superior to us plebs, and they deserve our mainly uncritical support. This is not a shocking new concept for him, it’s basic neoconservatism. According to Bradley Thompson, the basic purpose of the public to neocons is merely to back great statesmen uncritically, in exchange for which we get the moral satisfaction of being part of The Nation.
I used to think that the purpose of neoconservatism was to give some intellectual cover to the right, and that it gained power in the United States because the right gained power. I think I was wrong. Neoconservatism is attractive to elites because it flatters them and tells them they are superior. It’s the perfect ideology for an overclass filled with mediocre minds, fat wallets, and delicate fee-fees.
I also used to think “both sides do it” was just a way of empowering the right and trashing the left. Now, I think it’s just an easy way for the establishment to dismiss all criticism of itself. Hand out a double technical and everyone will have to shut up for a while.
Sorry for the long, meandering post.