Recall the hysterical, war mongering David Brooks of ‘The Collapse of the Dream Palaces’ ?
Mr. Brooks has ‘evolved’ over time, aided by his political opportunism, into an American Political Prophet. In his latest column its headline announces: ‘This Is Where I Stand’ with a sub-headline, ‘The power of conservative radicalism in an age of upheaval.’ The first four paragraphs are awash in the rhetoric of his new status.
Radicals are not my cup of tea, but I’m grateful for them. The radicals who brought us Occupy Wall Street and the Bernie Sanders campaign gave the problem of income inequality a prominence it wouldn’t have had without them.
The founders of the Black Lives Matter organization put racial injustice at the top of the national conversation. The radical populists who ultimately produced Donald Trump showed us how much alienation there is in Middle America.
Radicals are good at opening our eyes to social problems and expanding the realm of what’s sayable.
But if you look at who actually leads change over the course of American history, it’s not the radicals. At a certain point, radicals give way to the more prudent and moderate wings of their coalitions.
It easy to tire of Mr. Brooks’ ‘history made to measure‘, as narrated by him, of a putative ‘conservative radicalism’. This all ends with an appeal to the ‘authority’ of Cold Warrior Isaiah Berlin, an acolyte of the politically/morally toxic Bundy brothers:
Not to forget Berlin’s cowardly black-balling of Isaac Deutscher:
Mr. Brooks final paragraphs present himself as supporting ‘conservative radicals’, as a way of defeating the ‘illiberalism of radicals on left and right.’ No intellectual/political contradiction here! Or the notion of Berlin, as representative of a standard that must be upheld, from a weak appeal to some notion of authority.
If your views haven’t shifted over the past four tumultuous years, you’re probably not doing much fresh thinking. I find I have moved “left” on race, left on economics and a bit “right” on community, family and social issues.
Mostly I find myself supporting the conservative radicals, leaders who are confident that we can push for big change while defeating the illiberalism of radicals on left and right.
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said he occupied the “extreme right-wing edge of the left-wing movement.” If that’s good enough for Isaiah Berlin, it’s good enough for me.
David Brooks riffs on the self-serving mythology of the ‘Radical Center’ that keeps appearing, in its various iterations, as some kind all purpose Political Antidote. America’s Political Class gave birth to Trump, Brooks one of the leading figures in Free Market Necromancy, that destroyed our economy. Not to speak of America’s Wars of Empire that Brooks advocated in his puerile ‘The Collapse of the Dream Palaces’. Mendacity is the point at which Mr. Brooks stands!