What keeps me on one side rather than the other is my belief that if we had been living more fully in that real world, a lot of what we call “the pandemic” simply would not have occurred (perhaps including the virus itself, if we accept the increasingly compelling theory that it was man-made).
Continetti’s rendition is distinctive in its focus on the tension and recurrent clashes between an increasingly radicalized populist grass roots and movement elites committed to a principled small government constitutionalism. Academic historians of the movement will be skeptical about the tidy simplicity of that portrait.
These modern forms threaten the desire for familial and communal life—an aspiration traditionally associated with conservatism, especially the conservatism inherited from Aristotle, Cicero, and Burke. The spirit of the careerist and the influencer counter this classically “conservative” spirit that aspires towards an actual family and community with all the duties each entail.
The day will come when parents in the poorest communities will be able to say that they cannot imagine a better place to raise their children than in their neighborhoods surrounded by family and friends. This will not happen because government bureaucracies finally use the correct metrics and better redistribute the nation’s wealth.
If there is to be the equivalent of a Reagan following President Biden, he or she will face a more difficult task than the one leaders faced in 1980. Reagan only had to deal with the political ghost of Nixon, but a candidate in 2024 will have to deal with a flesh and blood Trump and a party with too few who are currently willing to place principle before a cult of personality.
Henry George reviews A World After Liberalism, by Matthew Rose.