A few of you have asked me what I think of this movement, surveyed here (possibly gated for you), or try this coverage. If you would like the whole thing in one tweet, maybe try this one from Sohrab Ahmari:
What I’d say to liberal friends who are men and women of goodwill: “Persuade your comrades to ease up and back off while there’s yet time. You don’t want to pit your ideology against forces much older and more potent than liberalism, which is thin civilizational gruel, indeed.”
Other than disagreeing with this group, here is my general impression. They have not managed to produce a deep, compelling illiberal book comparable say to the works by James Fitzjames Stephens, Carl Schmitt, Burke (not actually an illiberal in my view, but the comparison remains relevant), Jean Bodin, or others from that tradition. I’m not sure they could beat the arguments of Thomas Mann’s liberal caricature Settembrini in The Magic Mountain.
They have not attached themselves to any great social movement or revolution, either as leaders or followers, unless you count the Church itself, but that is hardly new news.
They do not have a signature policy proposal (at the end of the article behind the first link, the big policy proposal unveiled at the end is “restrictions on share buybacks” — Cliff Asness, telephone! Are they kidding?)
Do they have a T.S. Eliot or an Emil Nolde or for that matter a J.S. Bach, who probably was not a Millian liberal?
So I believe they are part of the same “thin civilizational gruel” as the rest of us. They are too embedded in liberalism and its presuppositions to get very far with their own programme. That said, I am fine with them coexisting within the froth of a liberal order, insisting correctly that the heritage of “the Church” is essential to western civilization, in the meantime allowing their intuitions to be muddled by a confusion of rates of changes and levels when it comes to liberalism in the West today.
A few comments to close, returning to the tweet presented above:
1. Is all gruel thin?
2. Would thick gruel be better or worse?
3. Is Karachi haleem a form of thick gruel?
4. Isn’t the key word here “civilizational”? It is liberalism that produced, nourished, and sustained the world’s first truly admirable societies. There is nothing in the arguments of these new illiberals which seriously contradicts that.
5. Many people have longed for gruel, which I take to be underrated.
Do they object to dividends as well?
Thanks to the Courtesy of :