What The New Right Can Learn From The New Left
The New Left radicals won. They constituted only a minority on college campuses in the 1960s, but their ideas about antiracism, radical feminism, and sexual liberation have become orthodoxy for a state-established priesthood of government offices and commissions, university compliance officers, and corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Beginning as a movement that challenged and displaced mid-century liberalism, the New Left has much to teach today’s New Right. Like mid-century liberalism, movement conservatism has ceased to be authoritative in its ethical, moral, and political teachings. Young conservatives would be prudent to assess and borrow from the successful political strategies, though not the political ideals, of the New Left.
First, the New Left adopted a utopian political philosophy. Mid-century liberal intellectuals such as Daniel Bell, Seymour Lipset, Raymond Aron, Robert Dahl, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had proclaimed the “end of ideology” and the “exhaustion of political ideas.” They rejected “absolutism” in philosophic truths and moral and political systems in exchange for an experimentalist philosophy and scientific “realism” in domestic and foreign policy.
Schlesinger presented a horseshoe model in which liberalism marked the “vital center” between opposing socialist and fascist dogmas, which meet at the opposite center in totalitarian government. The “continual, potential threat to liberalism” was millennialist faith, which “often hides behind a rationalist façade.”
Liberals declared themselves to be the antithesis of mass man and mass movements, and this, they said, was “intolerable for the true believers.” They diagnosed religious faith in order to diffuse its dangers.
The thinkers that founded the New Left proclaimed “the end of the ‘end of ideology.’” After the death of their own god in socialism, liberal ex-socialists demanded the death of everyone else’s. Moreover, the “end of ideology” was
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