All posts filed under: Politics

PODCAST 48: Professor Bruce Gilley on Anti-Conservative Bias on Campus

Toby Young talks to Bruce Gilley, professor of political science at Portland State, about not being able to get his course on conservative political thought approved by his faculty, and his efforts to fight back against progressive authoritarianism on campus. He recently published a piece in Quillette about why he set up the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Scholars.

The Hell of Good Intentions—A Review

A review of The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy, by Stephen Walt. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (October 2018) 400 pages. Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, is sick of academics, politicians, and journalists who regard the United States as the “indispensable nation,” which has to remain “engaged around the world” to ensure that the “US-led international order” is upheld. These are the fundamental assumptions that have underpinned American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War—a foreign policy that goes by many names, depending on who you ask. Left-wing critics call it “neoliberalism” or “neoimperialism,” Hillary Clinton calls it “American leadership,” and Walt—author of The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Primacy—calls it “liberal hegemony.” Walt isn’t alone in decrying liberal hegemony—John Mearsheimer (Walt’s collaborator and a fellow realist at the University of Chicago) published The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities around the same time as The Hell …

China and the Difficulties of Dissent

Over the last couple of weeks, a small but dedicated band of free speech advocates at the University of Queensland (UQ) have managed to catch the attention of the international media with their protests against the Chinese government. The struggles of the protest organisers have a significance far beyond university campuses, as the recent media attention devoted to China’s influence over our politicians, technology, infrastructure, and educational programs demonstrates. The recent campus protests provide a timely reminder of the difficulties of dissenting from the entrenched orthodoxy that China’s rise is benign or even beneficial for Australia and the wider West. The Rise of Fascist China It is important to understand that China is a fascist dictatorship. The term “fascist” is now thrown around with such carelessness that it has lost most of its meaning outside the offices of a few historians or political science professors. But fascism, in its original early twentieth century incarnation, meant a political system defined by three attributes—authoritarianism, ethnonationalism, and an economic model in which capitalism co-existed with large state-directed industries …

How Feminism Paved the Way for Transgenderism

In the last decade, in many parts of the English-speaking world, transgender advocacy has made substantial, and at times, expansive gains, with trans rights becoming embedded in institutions and enforced by the state. Like any significant historical event, this gender revolution has multiple causes. One is digital technology, providing virtual worlds which transcend physical reality and online networks for spreading activism. Another is academic theory: postmodernism and queer theory. I want to make the less obvious argument that transgenderism has been promoted by feminism. Not all feminism, of course. From the start of the second wave, some radical feminists opposed the inclusion of male-to-female transsexuals under the general heading of “women.” Their argument culminated in Janice Raymond’s Transsexual Empire (1979): “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact.” Transsexualism, she observed, was the creation of medical men like John Money and Harry Benjamin. As the current wave of transgenderism was building at the beginning of the 21st century, a handful of radical lesbian feminists warned that it was detrimental …

“War Is the Least Conservative Undertaking”—An Interview with Dr William Ruger

The recently concluded National Conservatism Conference in Washington, DC, attempted to examine this post-liberal moment and the return to great power rivalry in foreign policy. It was no surprise that foreign policy realism billed one whole day at the conference—the realist outlook cuts across the political spectrum, and often unites national conservatives and libertarians against neo-conservatives and liberals.  For those who are uninitiated, realism in foreign policy is a school of thought reaching all the way back to Thucydides, which focuses on narrow national interests based on strategic concerns. In post-Cold War US politics, this usually translates into greater restraint and less activism abroad. I spoke to Dr William Ruger, Vice President for Research at the Charles Koch Foundation, Cato Institute fellow, and a foreign policy realist, about what the conference reveals about the current moment in American politics, and the foreign policy challenges ahead. *     *     * William Ruger: Neo-conservatism, interventionism, and primacy are tired vehicles that haven’t served American security, prosperity, or our way of life here at home. So rather …

National Conservatism and the Preference for State Control

A nation that makes greatness its polestar can never be free. ~Abraham Bishop National conservatism is the new hot political topic. Following a July 14–16 conference in DC that was part intellectual movement building, part political strategy session, many commenters speculated about what this meeting portends for the future of American conservatism. The program at this conference differs significantly from your grandfather’s conservatism. National conservatives are quickly distancing themselves from the older conservatism in several important ways. First, national conservatives are much more willing to question the efficacy and desirability of markets in allocating a nation’s resources. Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argued that “market economies do not automatically allocate resources well across sectors” and that “policymakers have tools that can support vital sectors that might otherwise suffer from underinvestment,” namely industrial policy. This entails wide-ranging federal programs that subsidize research and development, increase infrastructure investment, and impose “local content requirements in key supply chains like communications,” among other interventions. Not all conference attendees were on board with this kind of …

Empiricism and Dogma: Why Left and Right Can’t Agree on Climate Change

As a climate scientist, I often hear puzzled complaints about the political polarization of the public discussion about anthropogenic global warming. If it is an empirical and scientific matter, such people ask, then why is opinion so firmly divided along political lines? Since it tends to be the political Right that opposes policies designed to address and mitigate global warming, responsibility for this partisanship is often placed solely on the ideological stubbornness of conservatives. This is a theme common to research on political attitudes to scientific questions. Division is often studied from the perspective of researchers on the Left who, rather self-servingly, frame the research question as something like: “Our side is logical and correct, so what exactly makes the people who disagree with us so biased and ideologically motivated?” I would put books like Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality in this category. Works like The Republican Brain correctly point out that those most dismissive of global warming tend to be on the Right, but they incorrectly assume that …

Who Needs Democracy Anyway?

On June 18 this year, climate change demonstrators glued themselves to a main street in the centre of Brisbane, Australia, protesting what they regard as a climate emergency and voicing their objection to the recent approval of the Adani coal mine in Australia’s Galilee basin. Their protest caused major disruptions to business distric traffic and has continued with a series of deliberate actions to block inner city streets and cause as much congestion and disruption as possible. Their moves started almost a month to the day since the national “climate change election” clearly resolved that the mood of the Australian electorate was not on the side of the climate protestors—at least not to the extent proposed by the more radical elements. (In fairness, there were other significant election issues, but having claimed this as “the climate change election,” those same political groups now need to stand by the results). The Australian Labor Party, which promised a sweeping range of climate initiatives, recorded its worst showing in decades with just one in three votes.  In the …

Intersectionalism Is Nonsense. But the Backlash Against It Is Very Real

The campaign to silence those who question progressive ideas about race and privilege requires frequent rebranding. Labels such as “far-right” and “alt-right,” which once might have served to strip a person of his or her livelihood and personal reputation, have become such common terms of abuse that they’ve effectively become meaningless. The words “white nationalist” once were used to describe someone who actually supported the creation of a white ethnostate. But now, activists are claiming that the mere act of making an “okay” hand gesture could mark you as a “white power” extremist—or at least someone who is “alt-right-adjacent.” The goal of this perversion of language is to drive up the number of people who may be classified out of hand as extremists, and thereby disqualify even the mildest forms of dissent as de facto hate speech. As a visible minority, I’ve experienced my share of prejudice and ignorance. I don’t deny that racism exists and that it is repugnant. But the solution is not to divide society into ideological factions, with one side being …

Knitting’s Infinity War, Part III: Showdown at Yarningham

This is my third report for Quillette on the shockingly vicious social-media wars that have erupted in the world of knitting. My first, written in February, described how knitters’ blogs and Instagram accounts have become weaponized over the issue of racial representation after a knitting designer gushed publicly about her forthcoming trip to India. I concluded with the hope that “the world of knitting can return to a focus on designs, colors, and the value of something that’s unique and handmade, rather than the nationality or race of whoever made it.” This proved to be extremely naïve. In my second article on the subject, published last month, I described how this subcultural farce had descended into a full-blown tragicomedic soap opera, with knitters seeking to destroy one another’s livelihoods because of arguments about whether certain yarn colors might be racist, or whether yarn-related publications profile enough black women. I was surprised that such an esoteric subject would stir up so much reader interest. (My editors tell me that both articles went viral.) And I honestly …