World

Why the movement of conservatives who want to separate from liberalism grows

Viktor Orbán’s sweeping victory for a new term as Prime Minister of Hungary excited conservatives around the world, but within that political spectrum there is a rising current that celebrated more. It is the one that brings together the defenders of a rupture in the alliance between conservatism and economic liberalism, two lines of thought that since the Cold War have come together in several Western countries in order to oppose a common enemy, communism.

Recently, intellectuals and advocates of this departure decided to intensify the dissemination of their ideas through the publication of articles, greater activity on social networks and by launching sites such as PostLiberal Order, a term that refers to what they intend: to strengthen a right that leaves liberal dogmas behind, which would make it free to use a large and strong State in favor of defending the family institution, Christian values ​​and other conservative agendas.

Why did liberalism start to bother?

The defenders of this doctrine under construction start from the pessimistic realization that conservatives are losing the culture war, and if everything continues as it is, they will be extinct or will have to settle for irrelevance. . The cause of this gradual failure would be the alliance with economic liberalism, which, for them, was the only one to gain from the partnership. After all, today, the communism that brought them together is just a ghost of what it once was, the West is richer than it used to be, but moral values ​​and the family — a priority for conservatives — are languishing. In part, they explain, this is due to the veto imposed by liberalism on using state power to promote a certain moral worldview, since for most contemporary liberals the ideal state is minimal and neutral.

While these two sides of what is often called the right are fighting each other, the new version of the enemy that brought them together, the progressive left, does not spend time or energy on the dilemma, but takes advantage of the confusion, imposing both its economic vision as its cultural vision through the State, whether in the appointment of judges and prosecutors engaged in their causes, in the equipping of the civil service, in ideological indoctrination in schools and universities and in the approval of anti-Christian legislation. They complain that the current left does this even cynically, claiming that the state is neutral, but acting as if it were not.

Hungary as a model

There is no record that Orbán identifies himself as “post-liberal”, but his administration is the most admired and cited as a model by exponents of this new right, especially after Donald Trump’s departure from the global stage. Gladden Pappin, for example, who is professor of Public Policy at the University of Dallas and one of the co-founders of the PostLiberal Order, made a point of being in Budapest to follow the Hungarian elections. He celebrated the result with a text entitled A Fidesz Earthquake Shakes Europe, in reference to Orbán’s party.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s impressive victory by an eighteen-point margin, Pappin says that the slogan adopted by the progressive opposition, ‘let’s bring Europe here to Hungary’, was implausible even for Budapest, but ‘sounded insane for a small-town mayor to bring into the Hungarian countryside’. He concludes by pointing to the ignorance and disconnection of progressive forces towards the Hungarian people: “Opposition rhetoric is designed to work well on English-speaking Twitter, but Western commentators are not voters in this election.”

The analysis brings with it an echo of Trump’s victorious campaign, in 2017, when his speeches and his agendas privileged low-income workers, humble people, cultivators of traditional values ​​who saw their jobs being threatened by the waves of immigration and their customs being ridiculed by activists of identity agendas. It is at this point that post-liberals approach audiences that were once the favorites of the left, but in recent decades have lost space and attention, such as workers.

Against a libertine left and a libertarian right

In post-liberal ideas, agendas such as maintaining jobs in state-owned companies or even the proximity between government and unions are perfectly reconcilable with what they consider essential: a State that recognizes the value of religion, authentic local culture and protects the family institution from social engineers who try to destroy it.

At least in the United States, this rearrangement of priorities has opened the possibility of alliances considered unusual by many. This is the case of the recently launched digital magazine Compact, which brought together as founders the conservative journalist Sohrab Amari, writer, former editor of the newspaper New York Post and Wall Street Journal; Mathew Schmitz, also a conservative and former senior editor of the Catholic website First Things, and Edwin Aponte, who declares himself a Marxist and in was one of the founders of the left-wing website The Bellows. In the project’s introductory letter they claim to defend a “strong social democratic state that defends the community — local and national, family and religious — against a libertine left and a libertarian right.”

O jornalista Sohrab Amari, ex-New York Post e Wall Street Journal, se tornou um dos fundadores do Compact, site que une antiliberais. Foto: Wikimedia Commons.
Journalist Sohrab Amari, formerly of the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, became one of the founders of Compact, a website that unites anti-liberals. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In 2019, by the way, Amari and Schmitz had already signed together, together with other intellectuals who share of his revolt against liberalism, the manifesto that best summarizes the dilemma, at least in the North American context. Entitled Against the dead consensus (Against the dead consensus), the text published on several right-wing websites was aimed especially at the leaders of the Republican Party, emphasizing that it was no longer possible to return to the old dominant consensus on the acronym until , in a clear message to Republican politicians who were opposed to Trump’s way of governing and not they didn’t even want him to be the party’s candidate. In the text, the authors state that “the old conservative consensus paid lip service to traditional values, but failed to delay, much less reverse, the eclipse of enduring truths, family stability, communal solidarity, and many other problems.”

For the end of the neutral state

To justify their argument, post-liberals question ideas given as immutable by modern liberal democracies, such as the neutrality of the State, the vision of law as a mere instrument of peace and the exaggerated separation between politics and religion. The best possible society, for them, is not one in which an impartial state limits itself to protecting individual rights and freedoms, but one in which the political order facilitates the “good life”, to use an expression of Greek philosophy, notoriously very well-liked by the popularizers of post-liberalism.

Patrick J. Deenen, um dos expoentes mais ilustres do pós-liberalismo. Foto: reprodução/YouTube

Patrick J. Deenen, one of the most distinguished exponents of post-liberalism. Photo: reproduction/YouTube

The professor of political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Patrick J. Deneen, stands out as one of the theorists most mentioned by supporters of this new trend, in part, due to the enormous repercussion caused by his book ‘Por that liberalism failed?’ (Ed. Âyiné), published in 2019 and translated into several languages. He explains that for post-liberals, the State should not refuse to make value judgments, simulating a total neutrality that is simply impossible. Instead, he argues that the ideal state should guarantee its citizens the conditions that guarantee them, for example, a stable marriage, a healthy environment for children, a religious community and a consistent cultural heritage.

Ways of achieving these goals in practice have been frequently suggested by post-liberalism advocates and sympathizers in their writings. One of the most committed to this task is Nathan Blake researcher at think thank Ethics and Public Policy Center.

For the Brazilian public, much more used to a large state than the North Americans, some suggestions are similar to what we have known for decades, since the government of Getúlio Vargas, such as maternity and paternity leaves or the family salary. There are also those taken for granted for any conservative government, such as appointing only judges with notoriously pro-life and pro-family positions to the higher courts.

Others, however, prove to be more bold, such as the idea of ​​forcing pornographic sites to implement effective systems to verify the age of users; earmarking at least 5% of GDP for family support and promotion policies (exactly as Orbán does in Hungary); exemption from personal taxes for fathers and mothers of large families; grants for grandparents who care for grandchildren up to two years of age; flexible working hours for parents with young children; family tourism seals or certificates for tourist establishments that favor customers with children, as well as measures to reduce the cost of family life, such as free school supplies or even subsidized vacation programs for disadvantaged students.

It is in this absolute priority given to the family that post-liberals differ from conservative nationalists. Although they are united in the idea of ​​a strong state, with a predilection for the protectionist economy and are quite cautious in welcoming immigrants, many of today’s nationalists tend to leave moral questions in the background. An example is the stance of Marine Le Pen, the French presidential candidate and leader of local nationalism. She vigorously opposes European Union interference in the country’s decisions, but declares herself in favor of abortion and maintains a relative distance from religious issues.

In that country, post-liberals prefer Marion Maréchal, the young former deputy and niece of Marine Le Pen who broke up with her aunt after the elections in 2017, precisely because of the Le Pen’s hesitant positions on issues such as the defense of life from conception and the LGBT agenda. In the elections of 2022, Maréchal declared his support for Éric Zemmour, his aunt’s rival on the right.

Back to top button