After a year of global populist upheaval, the elite consensus that has guided policymaking around the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union is splintering apart. What comes next? Are new political categories required to make sense of politics today, or are the divisions between left and right starker than ever? And what role do intellectuals have in a time of surging populism?
Watch as Dissent editors Sarah Leonard (also of the Nation) and Timothy Shenk debate these questions with Julius Krein and Gladden Pappin, editors of American Affairs, a new journal the New York Times says “seeks to fill the void left by a conservative intellectual establishment more focused on opposing Mr. Trump than on grappling with the rejection of globalism and free-market dogma that propelled his victory.”
“The culture wars aren’t over, they’ve just changed shape. The religious right is weakened, but the alt-right is surging. The Christian Coalition might be running on fumes; Breitbart isn’t. In this fight, you’re not allowed to call a truce on social issues in one breath if you’re going to gripe about identity politics in the next—especially when ‘identity politics’ means any discussion about the realities of racism in the United States.”
“Nationalism in America is always accompanied by paranoid attempts to purge the agents within—interning Japanese Americans during the Second World War, attacking Sikhs as we geared up for war in Afghanistan. When Trump stands up and says ‘these are my people,’ it has that George Wallace ring to it. He doesn’t mean ‘all Americans.’ He means the people who are cheering his attacks on the rest of us, all under the guise of making America great again. So, whose America?
“When American Affairs talks about nationalism, it’s a proxy for a white America they wish existed, but doesn’t and won’t without something worse than internment.”