Every few months or so, someone from the mainstream media reports to us from what's supposed to be the new center of conservative intellectual ferment. I don't think MSNBC's Suzy Khimm was trying to find the future of right-wing thought when she attended a Heritage Foundation event recently, but I think that's what she found. I think conservatism's future is going to look just like its present and recent past:
What do conservatives think of liberals today?Did you read last month's New York Times Magazine cover story on libertarianism by Robert Draper and think that the right was going to stop being a collection of moral scolds? Did you read the previous month's Times Magazine cover story by Sam Tanenhaus, or many Times pieces by Ross Douthat, and think that the right's future is an empathetic "reform conservatism" that, among other things, sincerely looks for new explanations of the persistence of poverty, and new solutions, some of them even involving government intervention?
Here's the view from the Heritage Foundation: Liberalism creates self-indulgent, licentious hedonists willing to cede every other kind of freedom to an increasingly authoritarian government.
"Give up your economic freedom, give up your political freedom, and you will be rewarded with license," said Heritage's David Azerrad, describing the reigning philosophy of the left. "It's all sex all the time. It's not just the sex itself -- it's the permission to indulge."
Liberals, said editor Bill Voegeli, want to create "the United States of Feeling Good About Ourselves." ...
But the threats to the traditional conservative worldview don't just come from the likes of climate-change activists or the Students for a Democratic Society. Libertarians have similarly espoused more permissive views towards drugs and sexuality, upending traditional conservatives' views on this and other social issues.
Azerrad acknowledged as much when pressed on the matter. "In that sense the libertarian policy priorities are not helping the cause when it comes to these issues," he said. Ben Domenech, the panel's moderator, added that libertarians today have a greater understanding that "the breakdown of the family has been a bad thing, and that it's led to more encroachments of government."
Silly you. You were told that conservatism is evolving, but it's not -- the conservative mainstream is unchanged. Conservatism still believes that the culture is depraved, the people are self-indulgent, and the government is evil.
Oh, and nothing is more evil than liberalism. Did you think a libertarian-leaning conservatism would soon make common cause with liberals on certain issues? Did you think reform conservatives would soon lead the right to compromises with liberalism?
"The left is intellectually dead, and where it's heading towards is authoritarianism," said Williamson, citing a Gawker blog post making the case for arresting climate change deniers and a "hate-filled angry crowd, screaming in rage" attending the People's Climate Rally in New York City, as among the signs of oppression. ("As you know from history, the kind of thing that has 'the people's' appended in front of it, genocide is just around the corner," he quipped earlier.) ...Conservatism: same as it ever was. Draper? Tanenhaus? There's your Times Magazine cover story.
Azerrad equated liberalism with the dystopian future of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." "The dictator will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile the subject to their servitude which is their fate," he said, quoting Huxley. "What a luminous description of the inner logic of liberalism," he continued.