The death of neoconservatism? Unlikely

Repeating something over and over does not make it so. For the ‘left’, for example, it’s the narrative that Trump is bad for the economy. The evidence suggest his contributions are positive or, at worst, neutral. Nearly six months later, the tariffs have had no deleterious effects on GDP or other metrics. One can argue that the tax cuts and Trump’s focus on deregulation have created a climate conducive to economic growth.

But the ‘right’, however, are liable to repeating the erroneous narrative that the Trump’s win represents a major loss or fatal blow for neoconservatism. Like above, the empirical evidence does not hold up.

The right-wing political landscape could be seen as being divided between two warring ideological factions of conservatism: ethno-traditionalism vs. neo-market conservatism. The former includes paleocons, the ‘Christian right’, patriots, etc. The latter are neocons, part of what I have dubbed the ‘rationalist right’, which includes Ben Shapiro, Kevin Williamson, and possibly even Jordan Peterson. The rationalist-right are very individualistic, pro-market, oppose identity policies, are anti-populist, and could be considered elitist. Ethno-conservatives are more collectivist, less individualistic, and favor the abstract (such as God or morality) ahead of things that are quantifiable in a scientific sense (such as economics and markets); humans are motivated by emotion and ‘will to power’, not utility-maximization.

Back to my original point, how are neocons not losing? What evidence is there? Although the NRO Buckley-ite disciples such as David French, Bill Kristol, and George Will are in decline, such decline is more than compensated by the rise of Ben Shapiro, who has seen his audience surge despite Trump’s win, but also the general rise of the right-wing faction IDW (intellectual dark web).

Imagine it’s January 2017 and Trump has just been inaugurated, and you poll pundits as to whether or not Trump’s win will prove to be a headwind, neutral, or tailwind for the far/alt-right. Probably they would agree that Trump’s win should help the alt-right–after all, the far-right helped Trump get into office and are among his biggest supporters–surely we would expect the far-right to gain much more influence and visibility–culturally and politically–under a Trump presidency…right? Nope. The opposite happened. For reasons that still elude me, the far-right as a cultural and political resistance pretty much fell apart within months after Trump’s inauguration. The media hardly talks about them anymore. Meanwhile, Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro have seen their audiences surge, and they get tons of media coverage. Jordan Peterson’s second book, 12 Rules for Life–just the book itself–gets more coverage that probably the entire alt-right combined, and Milo , as I correctly predicted, has pretty much become irrelevant compared to Ben Shapiro. Shapiro was a ‘never Trumper’, but apparently not that many people care, probably because despite Trump’s win, not much has actually changed in terms of policy. Rather than a wall being built, at best what we can hope for is the appropriation of funds for the possible but unlikely construction of a wall in exchange for amnesty…not so great. A lot of young people, even among the ‘right’, seem to have grown tired of identity politics and have gravitated towards the pragmatism of Jordan Peterson and Shapiro. Many Trump supporters, especially online, know that despite the differences in labels and ideology, Jordan Peterson is one of the ‘good guys’, although as we all know, Vox Day disagrees.

But also, neoconservatism (but also neo liberalism) succeeds because people tend to be more motivated by self-interest than a collective identity. Second, the growing influence of business in politics. More people means more customers, which is why business tends to be pro-immigration.