Andrew Bacevich is reviewing Eric Miller’s new biography of Christopher Lasch. The review itself is helpful and informative. I came away thinking Christopher Lasch is someone whose ideas I should get to know better. But the first eight paragraphs that serve as intro to the review are masterful.
Every time I read Bacevich I come away thinking he is one of the few public intellectuals who gets it, and gets us. Not that there aren’t others who get it and get us, they just generally aren’t allowed into the rarefied category of public intellectual. I don’t know how he gets away with it. I don’t know if Bacevich is an ideological (for lack of a better word. No Kirk lectures needed.) paleoconservative, but it is easy to detect a broadly conservative disposition, and I detect a certain Catholicness. So why the liberals give him a platform is puzzling. Since he is most often critical of Republican foreign policy and is also critical of the reduction of conservatism to a defense of capitalism, maybe they haven’t quite picked up on the fact that he isn’t one of them. But he isn’t the type of conservative who criticizes other conservatives (Frum, Brooks) who liberals love to promote either. Their critique of conservatism is from the center. Bacevich’s critique, as best as I can tell, is from a more authentic right.
Anyway, read the review. Bacevich makes a point that I have been makingfor years. American politics is dominated by a very tightly defined center. All the fretting and hand-wringuing about the extremes dragging their respective parties to the fringe is all about maintaining the status quo and getting all those uppity middle Americans with their silly ideas to shut up and go away. Best to leave that governing stuff to the big boys. I have never seen this dynamic expressed better than Bacevich does here.
*I am not very familiar with Foreign Affairs Journal. It promotes itself as a journal that argues the “big ideas behind U.S. foreign policy” and give air to divergent opinions. Since foreign policy on both “sides” is dominated by the shared assumptions of internationalism and interventionism, this is probably a good thing and is perhaps the reason they give Bacevich a platform. But the fact that they also give Jamie Kirchick headline billing makes me wonder just how credible they are. Kirchick is a go to PC enforcer which is one of the most powerful weapons the Establishment has for keeping intellectual dissent in check.