“Many conservatives have begun to realize that despite apparent electoral victories which have occurred regularly since the Reagan years, they have consistently lost, and lost massively to progressive forces,” Patrick Deneen writes in a recent essay. entitled “Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservatism”. .” He goes on to argue that conservatives must reject liberal values such as free speech, religious freedom, and pluralism, abandon their defensive posture, and use the power of the state to actively fight against what he calls the ” liberal totalitarianism.
To progressive ears, such statements can be confusing; after all, Republicans currently control a majority of state legislatures, governorates and the Supreme Court, and they are poised to make gains in midterm elections this fall. But even so, there is a pervasive sense among conservatives that progressives are using their unprecedented institutional power — in universities, in Hollywood, in mainstream media, in the C-suites of tech companies — to wage war. to traditional ways of life. And many of them have come to believe that the only viable response is to fight these advances at all costs. It is impossible to understand the policies, leaders, rhetoric and tactics of the populist right without first trying to inhabit this worldview.
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That’s why, for this second conversation in our “The Rising Right” series, I wanted to speak with Deneen. He’s a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and his 2018 book, “Why Liberalism Has Failed,” has become a touchstone among the conservative intelligentsia and has even been quite well received by the liberals. But since then, Deneen’s writings have come to express something closer to all-out political warfare. And along with three other professors, he recently launched a Substack newsletter, “The Postliberal Order,” to build the kind of intellectual and political project needed to wage this war.
This is a conversation about what Deneen’s “post-liberal” political project looks like – and the tensions and contradictions it reveals on the modern populist right. We discuss (and debate) Deneen’s view that conservatives keep losing, why he believes the left is anti-family, whether America needs tougher divorce laws, which the right post-liberal would actually power, the virtues and vices of political analysis, if post-liberals built their core arguments around an invented straw man liberalism, Joe Biden’s agenda for the families and more.
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(A full transcript of the episode will be available at noon on the Times website.)
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Rollin Hu; original music by Isaac Jones and Jeff Geld; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.