Conservatism offers them something Robin brilliantly calls “democratic feudalism.” In other words, dominion over your “lessers” in the private spheres of the workplace (middle-management tyrants) and the home (lockin’ down the wife and daughter’s ladyparts): “the most visible effort of the GOP since the 2010 midterm election has been to curtail the rights of employees and the rights of women.” This is the link between the Santorums and the Pauls of the world–one which Reason magazine, the Mises Institute and other appendages of the supposedly “anti culture-war” libertarian propaganda circuit work very hard to obscure.
Robin points out that the U.S. stands alone in the Western world–as it does these days on most everything awful–in the enormous size of its middle-management and supervisory workforce. “Every man a king!” sounds great, but who plays “the serfs”? That would be the usual roster of women, immigrants, and all those who stink of poor–well, poorer than the “little conservative king” handing out the pink slips. The hedge-funder gets the capital gains tax cut and the Walmart Assistant Manager gets to hold the livelihoods of dozens (and their families) in the palm of his hand–permitted to inflict an economic violence on each and every one that, in some ways, makes a public flogging look like a demerit.
Conor Kilpatrick, in a great review of Corey Robin’s new book The Reactionary Mind, which examines the last couple centuries’ worth of conservative thought to find out what the common thread is. I suppose that this will have to be the next book I purchase. And maybe write angry letters to the Boston Public Library for ignoring it. What’s not to love:
Robin’s thesis is simple: ignore the Right-wing taxonomy. Conservatism–despite the seemingly incompatible respective ideologies of free-marketeers, slavers, neocons, neofascists, Buckleys, Federalists, Bloombergians, traditionalists, Tea Baggers, Randians, McCarthyists, libertarians, Birchers, Goldbugs, Jesus Freaks, J .Edgars, pro-lifers—has been, in reality, firmly united behind a single mission since the French Revolution: the creation of new regimes of privilege and domination in the face of democratic threats.