This is exactly what Richard Rorty would have written if he were still alive. Read Achieving Our Country, Rorty’s urgent, late in life, defense of liberalism. As people have noted, he saw Trump coming way before the rest of us did. He warned us about Trump/Putin.
March 5th, 2022 at 1:13PM
It’s late in the day to sound that alarm. The liberal institutions, in the sense of Mill, are driving people toward variations of Trumpism. When the universities seem more interested in redoing their seals and rewriting their vision and mission statements to conform to the (untested) postulates of critical theory, where does that leave the faculty, students, and alumni who might agree with some of the tenets of critical theory, but for reasons that are subtle?
Likewise, when the governing institutions and information companies come across as more prone to stifle conversation by denouncing it as “fake news” or “misinformation” as if that ends the argument, who benefits by it.
Turning to the Rorty essay, that’s having an effect on the people he sees as benefitting from the past thirty years or so of institutional change. I like Thomas Friedman’s “anywheres” as contrasted with “somewheres” as the stratification. (On Pajamas Media, the “anywheres” are “the laptop class.”)
The past two years have clarified things for some of the anywheres. Perhaps you could continue to work from home, and go about your life with tolerable disruptions. Then, if you had younger kids, you saw what was going on in their schools. The technocrats told you to mind your own business, and ham-handedly investigated “domestic terrorism,” thereby suggesting that anyone raising objections was an enemy, when there was still an opportunity to make common cause with the disaffected as opposed to the jerks.
Perhaps you saw yourself as sharing the world view of the Anywheres, while you were operating a business that catered to Anywheres. Then the public health officials deemed your restaurant non-essential, and when they deigned to let you reopen, your guests were hassled by a woke mob. Or your business sold the sort of goods the Anwheres bought, and you had to figure out how to do curbside delivery, or work with the Somewheres to deliver the stuff, and that didn’t help when a woke mob looted your business and an Anywhere called it “reparations.”
Or you had reservations about states changing election procedures on the fly, and perceived the Zuckerbucks as an in-kind campaign contribution (this story has legs just north of here), and while you were dismayed by the protest-gone-bad in the National Capitol, when you give voice to those reservations, does that make you an insurrectionist?
Or perhaps you’re a track mom, with high school girls, and you have doubts about male-to-female crossers running against your kids. Is that one of the “phobias?”
Taken together, there has been a lot of illiberalism on the part of people who should know better that could be pushing people who might otherwise never consider a Trump figure towards a Trump figure.
March 5th, 2022 at 1:25PM
Stephen: Yes – the liberals have too often gone illiberal, with drastic consequences. Chesa Boudin alone is carrying a lot more than his weight.