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The problem with anti-liberalism, and its latest mouthpiece, Compact.

Ben Burgis:

Compacts founders seem to believe that the ruling class is imposing social liberalism on an unwilling majority. But the majority of our society is wildly socially liberal by historical and global standards — or even by recent American ones.

According to a recent Pew poll, fewer than 10 percent of Americans think that marijuana should be illegal, for example. Almost three quarters agree with the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage assailed by [Compact writers]. Two-thirds oppose laws that limit trans rights. As young conservative Nate Hochman recently acknowledged, polling shows that even young Republicans are “more liberal than their older counterparts on everything from diversity to LGBT rights to immigration to climate change.”

Few European countries have been as historically friendly to the kind of laws [Compact‘s editors] might support to defend “familial and religious” communities against “libertine” encroachments as the Republic of Ireland — and within the last decade, abortion and same-sex marriage were both legalized there by popular referendum. And they were playing catch-up. At least until some unforeseen cultural shift dramatically realigns public attitudes, any scenario by which neo-medieval traditionalists succeed in wielding state power to smite gay people who want to get married and women who want to control their own bodies and drag queens who want to read to children at the library is a scenario by which social conservatism is imposed against the will of a large majority of the American populace.


In the words of Eric Levitz, Compact‘s editors share “the delusion that their own esoteric misgivings about liberalism reflect those of a silent (or latent) majority.”


Compact calls itself “radical,” and UD‘s heart goes out to it. She knows radical – the smell of it, the sweat of it, the aching sweetness of it. Her radical lover, David Kosofsky (brother of radical Eve), massaged her feet after their long march together on the Pentagon and it all went directly from UD‘s feet to her head. Started feety, ended heady. She was swept up in the edgy epater les bourgeois truth of existence, and her sense of excitement, clarity, and superiority was … she could taste it, man. UD remembers attending a John Cage concert around thirty years ago at Harvard – it was put on by a group of undergraduates – and, you know, some affectless madwoman drags herself forward onstage and begins chewing her violin – and, bored out of her gourd, UD began glancing around, and there entwined on the floor behind her were two students involved in the staging of the show, and the way they looked at each other! The certainty, the arrogance, the excitement! Tell me about it, babes, thought UD, smiling at them. Tell me about it.

Right rads got the same thing going, only they’re clenching in the back row of a heretic getting burned at the stake. As I say, my heart goes out to them.


Update: Thanks go to my friend Rita for telling me about the phrase RAD TRADS — “young Catholics who prefer traditional liturgy, including the Latin Mass, and subscribe to more conservative political beliefs and religious practices.” UD was reaching for this when she wrote “Right rads,” but Rad trads is double-plus-good! Rad trads are like the Rad rois Lucien Goldman recalls encountering when he first arrived in France in 1934:

There was a very strong royalist movement among the students and suddenly a group appeared which was equally in defense of royalism, but which demanded a real Merovingian king!

Margaret Soltan, March 24, 2022 3:03PM
Posted in: forms of religious experience

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4 Responses to “The problem with anti-liberalism, and its latest mouthpiece, Compact.”

  1. University Diaries » “Ginni Thomas urged Mark Meadows to overturn the 2020 election by any means necessary—while her husband was ruling on cases attempting to overturn the election. A truly extraordinary level of corruption.” Says:

    […] A professor of English describes university life.Aim: To change things. UD at Inside Higher Ed About Margaret Soltan Other Writings Subscribe to UD's Feeds ← Previous Post: The problem with anti-liberalism, and its latest mouthpiece, Compact. […]

  2. Rita Says:

    The term is “rad trads.”

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: Thank you! Who knew?

  4. Rita Says:

    They’ve owned it for a few years already. You have to admire the stylistic charm.

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