Everyone’s just gonna have to take my word for this:
I started writing this column before Gavin McInnes put out this (delightful) video.
No, something purely coincidental prompted me this week: An excerpt from a new book by Andrew Hartman, called A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars, appearing in a publication I was previously unfamiliar with.
Because normally, I wouldn”t go anywhere near a magazine called Jacobin.
Certainly not close enough to learn that it is “ according to itself “ “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture.”
Oh, and that it’s also “a bright light in dark times,” even, if a pride-of-place blurb from Noam Chomsky is to be credited.
And that’s a tough one, given that Chomsky has variously been accused of
a) indulging in Khmer Rouge apologetics long past their best-before date, while”¨”¨
b) simultaneously tax-sheltering his estimated $2 million net worth, yet”¨”¨
c) earning said millions by presenting himself as a sworn enemy of (what passes for) America’s capitalist system, but
d) he is permitted to indulge in suchlike bourgeois table magic because, you see, he is “trying to help suffering people.”
But stick an article in front of me called “The Neoconservative Counterrevolution” and I”m willing to overlook its unappealing setting.
Refreshingly for an author writing about the right from the left, Hartman spells his subjects” names correctly, quotes them without feeling obligated to plant an ellipsis every fifth word (Ellipses: the “suspicious-looking package” of punctuation…), and gets his facts, er, right.
Even more impressively, Hartman neglects to mention Leo Strauss a single solitary time.
The only people who envision God as “a bearded old man in the sky” are atheists who insist that’s what believers do. Likewise, during my going-on 15 years as an “out” conservative, I have only ever heard tell of this “leostrauss” creature from smirking young libertarians and scowling old paleos, for whom he is boogeyman figure of shadowy origin, the Thinker From the Black Lagoon. (“If you stand in front of a mirror and say “Leo Strauss” three times, you”ll vote for Bush,” I think it goes.)
That said, Hartman, while admirably even-handed and objective for the most part, can”t quite help himself: like a stooped old man in Chinatown, Hartman can”t go more than ten blocks (or in this case, paragraphs) without hoarking up a glob of lefty snark.
“In this sense, class resentment aimed at academics made sense, in a misplaced sort of way, since they indeed held the levers to any given individual’s future economic success.”
So… why is it “misplaced” if it is so damned “indeed”?
Luckily, Hartman stumbles so infrequently that his piece could serve as an imaginary encyclopedia’s entry on “neo-conservatives” with just a couple of tweaks.
Hartman does, of course, note that the first “neo-cons,” back in the 1960s, were overwhelmingly Jewish New York intellectuals and often ex-Trotskyites.