Alexander Zaitchik essay in The New Republic, is steeped in a modified form of journalistic kitsch, but offers this, in conclusion to his essay on Sen. Josh Hawley.
Nobody is accusing the post-liberals of being Hitler-style fascists. It’s enough that they often sound like the people who prepped the ground for later authoritarian or fascist movements. Much of the language, sensibility, and obsessions of the post-liberals—the modern university, cosmopolitan elites, social cohesion and order—echoes the anti-modern rumblings in Fritz Stern’s study of post-liberalism in Wilhelmine Germany, The Politics of Cultural Despair. One of Stern’s subjects, the nineteenth-century German biblical scholar Paul de Lagarde, liked to imagine the Literat and the liberal political system that he believed inseparable from it as a “poisonous weed” that “must be extirpated from our streams and seas” before the “ancient gods [could] reemerge from the depths.” The idea of avenging gods is echoed in the title of R.R. Reno’s forthcoming post-liberal treatise, Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West.
Nobody knows how the gosh-golly, Ivy League–educated senator from Missouri will figure into all this in five or ten years. But if Josh Hawley seems too smooth, too educated, and too thoughtful to worry about, well, that is precisely what makes him worth worrying about. He was the only elected official to address the Burke Foundation last week for a reason. And he didn’t launch a PAC after one month in the Senate to teach Sunday School on a commune with Rod Dreher. He aspires to be a transformational figure, in more ways than one, and has the support of both the post-liberals and the billionaires. If it’s premature to say what, exactly, this portends, it’s not too early to know it isn’t anything good.
Sen. Hawley shows his hand when he identifies the ‘enemies’ of his re-imagined American Republican Virtue:
That work begins with a clear assessment of where we stand.
For years the politics of both Left and Right have been informed by a political consensus that reects the interests not of the American middle, but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities.
This class lives in the United States, but they identify as “citizens of the world.” They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community.
And they subscribe to a set of values held by similar elites in other places: things like the importance of global integration and the danger of national loyalties; the priority of social change over tradition, career over community, and achievement and merit and progress.
Call it the cosmopolitan consensus.
On economics, this consensus favors globalization—closer & closer economic union, more immigration, more movement of capital, more trade on whatever terms. The boundaries between America and the rest of the world should fade and eventually vanish.
The goal is to build a global consumer economy, one that will provide an endless supply of cheap goods, most of them made with cheap labor overseas, and funded by American dollars.
But it’s about more than economics. According to the cosmopolitan consensus, globalization is a moral imperative. That’s because our elites distrust patriotism and dislike the common culture left to us by our forbearers.
The nation’s leading academics will gladly say this for the record.
MIT Professor Emeritus Leo Marx has said that the “planet would be a better place to live if more people gave [their] primary allegiance ‘to the community of human beings in the entire world.’”
NYU’s Richard Sennett has denounced what he called “the evil of shared national identity.”
The late Lloyd Rudolph of the University of Chicago said patriotism “excludes difference and speaks the language of hate and violence.”
And then there’s Martha Nussbaum, who wrote that it is wrong and morally dangerous to teach students that they are “above all, citizens of the United States.” Instead, they should be educated for “world citizenship.”
You get the idea. The cosmopolitan elite look down on the common affections that once bound this nation together: things like place and national feeling and religious faith.
They regard our inherited traditions as oppressive and our shared institutions—like family and neighborhood and church—as backwards..
What they offer instead is a progressive agenda of social liberation in tune with the priorities of their wealthy and well-educated counterparts around the world.
And all of this—the economic globalizing, the social liberationism—has worked quite well. For some. For the cosmopolitan class.
Does it startle the reader that Marx , Sennett and Nussbaum are ‘Liberals’ in the largest sense of that descriptor? Or that this Cosmopolitan Class in to blame for the nation’s economic ills. What remains off stage, in Sen. Hawley’s narrative, is the brutal fact that Neo-Liberalism and its Free Market Ideology collapsed in 2008: the politics, the economics of America, has yet to fully come to terms with, or to emancipate itself from this economic theology of greed. The Senator is the conscious agent of that failed political/economic system, in his project of re-description. As a Public Moralist Sen. Hawley is an abject failure, in sum , he’s another political grifter reciting the New Party Line: the Cosmopolitan Elite becomes his scapegoat.
Mr. Zaitchik mentions in his essay the ‘Post-Liberal’ thinker Yoram Hazony.
Stated simply, the post-liberals—represented foremost by the right-wing Israeli scholar Yoram Hazony, but also by more mainstream writers like The New York Post’s Sohrab Ahmari—reject universal reason as a basis for laws and government
For additional insights, into ‘Post-Liberalism’ / ‘National Conservatism’ read Daniel Luban’s July 26 ,2019 essay on Mr. Harzony in the New Republic:
Headline: The Man Behind National Conservatism
Sub-headline: Yoram Hazony has written the closest thing to a manifesto for intellectuals on the right
Media coverage of Hazony in the United States has tended to refer to him simply as an “Israeli political philosopher,” but the label doesn’t really do justice to his interesting and highly illustrative career. Born in Israel in 1964, but raised and educated in the United States, he described being “mesmerized” by an encounter as a Princeton undergraduate with the ultranationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, a few years before Kahane’s party was banned in Israel for anti-Arab racism. Going on to earn a doctorate in political theory, Hazony chose not to pursue an academic career, instead moving to Israel with Princeton friends to found the Shalem Center, an American-style think tank based in Jerusalem. Hazony was an early member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle, and Shalem would remain closely aligned with the Likud Party. It would also serve as a nexus for the Israeli and American right; funding came from American billionaires like Ronald Lauder and Sheldon Adelson, while the roster of fellows tended to feature Israeli political figures who played well inside the Beltway. Hazony and others in the Shalem leadership spent the 1990s living in Eli, an Israeli settlement deep in the West Bank, until security concerns following the Second Intifada convinced them to relocate to East Jerusalem.
Daniel Luban also provides a valuable link to a 2007 Haaretz essay on Hazony. Thank you to Mr. Luban!