Jacobin Notices Anti-Capitalist Right


FPR gets a mention over in this Jacobin article by Lyle Jeremy Rubin, a PhD candidate at Rochester. He notices two things but doesn’t do a very good job of distinguishing them: first, the long-standing traditionalist critique of capitalism, and second, the phenomenon of liberals like Hayek and his Bleeding Heart Libertarian descendants either framing arguments in radical terms or acknowledging a baseline of social services are necessary for a healthy kind of capitalism.

Here’s the name-check:

Venues like Front Porch Republic have taken up similar battle cries, and the influential Catholic conservative journal First Things has praised the economic critiques of Pope Francis and the agrarian writer Wendell Berry.

In these sections of the Right, defending capitalism as such was never really the point. Their loathing of communism always eclipsed their love for capitalism. Now, with the Soviet Union vanquished and capitalism bearing its teeth, the traditionalists are comfortable taking their own idiosyncratic shots at free markets. …

We shouldn’t mistake elite opinion-makers on the Right for the conservative or libertarian bases they purportedly represent — bases that still view even a middling UBI as tantamount to socialism.

But what’s clear is that a growing number of intellectuals on the Right are taking anticapitalist critiques more seriously and are dabbling in socialized measures — provided they can be contained within an individualized vernacular and capitalist framework.

That seems like a fair characterization of First Things, but not FPR, for two reasons. First, the kind of left that is most congenial to porcher sensibilities is anti-communist; things like the SPUSA and midwestern populism. And second, because the kind of conservatism most congenial to porcher sensibilities was very skeptical of ideological anti-communism; people like Robert Taft and Louis Bromfield.

In the last two paragraphs he also seems to miss the most prominent example of this tendency in 2015, Trumpzilla, as Mike Church calls him. To some extent he represents a non-liberal right, with his tax-the-rich plan and criticism of trade agreements. These are the sort of people in Ohio and Pennsylvania who don’t warm to Republican politicians telling them to start small businesses, and if anything, Trump is a strong case that it’s not “elite opinion-makers,” but the conservative rank-and-file, who are getting tired of warmed-over Reaganism.

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