I have a confession to make: I almost never read the “conservative media”. And why should I? Traditional conservative, or “tradcon”, publications are worse than useless. They’re the “Washington Generals of politics”, so to speak, preaching a bizarre gospel of corporate personhood and ever-decreasing taxation to a statistically insignificant demographic of drywall contractors and YouTube grifters. Their “conservative” positions are merely the “liberal” positions of twenty years ago, and they are adjusted on an annual basis. Today’s Koch-Brothers-funded mouthpieces are solidly to the left of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign platform. In two decades, they’ll be advocating a Green New Deal.
Which is just another way of saying that magazines and websites like National Review are utterly irrelevant. They are literally allowing the Washington Post to beat them to a comprehensive dismantling of Rachel Maddow. The only place where the Buckley crowd is out in front with a policy position is with regards to immigration — the Democrats want it to be both unlimited and socialized, but the conservatives want it to be unlimited, subsidized, and untaxed.
No, I’m afraid that if you want to see where public opinion is going, you have to read the far left wing — publications like Jacobin and The Nation. Anything you see in there is usually no more than five years away from being mainstreamed, ten years away from being compulsory, and twenty years away from being strongly advocated by National Review. And what is The Nation saying lately? Here’s a hint: you might want to hold off on that kitchen remodel.
Alright, buckle up:
Let’s get rid of private housing… Closer to home, private ownership of land underlies racist segregation… For a start, everyone should be compensated for their exclusion from passage over certain locations on the earth. To do this, we ought to levy an exclusion fee whereby the location price of the property in question would be returned to its rightful recipient, the community. As long as land value is socially created and land ownership is duty-free, a theft is occurring.
That’s the gist of this piece, which argues that we should all live in public housing and that “private housing” is theft. Ah, but surely this is some kind of lone-wolf thinking, right? Guess again. Dig this tagline:
If we want to keep cities safe in the face of climate change, we need to seriously question the ideal of private homeownership.
It’s time for the Country Mouse to move to the city and take uneasy root in a low-priority housing allocation in a public building that is deliberately, offensively ugly. And this is where the future of centrist and right-wing Americans becomes drastically and permanently different from their present. The vast majority of American conservatives are “OK Boomers” who are more than perceptive enough to see where this strategy is headed — they simply don’t think they will live to see it. If you were born in 1950, you’re not going to see the day when your home is forcibly returned to “the community” in some Maoist relocation strategy. But if you were born in 1970, you might — and if you were born in 2009, like my son, then you can be pretty well assured that private home ownership will be the racism/sexism/everythingphobia of your middle age. The math is against you: there are more renters than homeowners out there, so this will be the classic case of democracy being two wolves and a lamb voting on dinner.
The National Review-slash-prepper-slash-“boogaloo” fantasy that conservatives will be living some sort of Laura Ingalls Wilder existence in pristine, crime-free flyover states while the trash of our society is compacted in massive arcologies — well, it’s precisely that, a fantasy, based on the idea that those massive urban collections of miserable and furious +2SD IQ individuals would simply suffer their detractors to live in peace. Letting your detractors live in peace is an outdated and obsolete philosophy. It’s the Lexan shield behind which today’s progressives developed their chokehold on American society — millions of Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer types looking at Berkeley or Brooklyn and saying, “Oh, the hell with it, let them believe, say, and do whatever they want. It’s not my right to interfere.” It is not a courtesy which will be reciprocated. William Buckley believed that everyone had an American right to disagree with him. The architects of the Green New Deal view its detractors with the same murderous fanaticism present in the eyes of Tomas de Torquemada. They have no intention of permitting anyone to “opt out”.
The frustrating part is that the authors of the various Nation pieces have a few extremely cogent points. The price and value of real estate, considered in the aggregate, has an outsized effect on the American and global economies. The government has no business guaranteeing home loans or engaging in social engineering via the FHA or any other program like it. There is something obscene about private citizens acting as landlords to hundreds of families; it stinks of feudalism. And I wouldn’t lift a finger to defend the so-called McMansions or the system which makes them almost mandatory for entire segments of our population. The Nation is right to decry these distortions of American life as what people are increasingly calling “late stage capitalism”, the inevitable result of modern conservatism’s enthusiastic decoupling of fiscal and moral priorities.
Plainly stated, you cannot have largely unregulated financial and real-estate marketplaces if you cannot rely on the people participating in those marketplaces to have some sort of moral sensibility. There’s a reason that Ebenezer Scrooge was such a memorable character a few centuries ago; he was that rare creature who put wealth above moral concerns. Jeff Bezos and Travis Kalanick make Scrooge look like Ralph Nader. There is no record that Scrooge ever forced his employees to urinate in bottles, nor do we read that ten percent of his employees were injured on the job every year. For these and many other sins, we venerate our tech leaders and make them richer than any known figure in human history. They have been elevated to the status of idols in a society which nonetheless unironically claims to have eliminated the Godhead.
To this accusation, a tradcon might plead, “But we didn’t support the destruction of public morality!” Of course you did. You had a certain amount of political and social capital on hand — and you used it to keep the marginal tax rates low. Meanwhile, the people across the aisle eagerly accepted that sacrifice as a largely inconsequential tradeoff for full control of the national discourse. They were smarter than you were. They out-thought you. The Buckley Conservatives, and their modern successors like Ben Shapiro, simply aren’t intelligent enough to think in terms of strategy instead of tactics. They were outflanked. And now they have nothing. Soon enough, that will be a literal fact. Don’t plan on keeping your home. It doesn’t align with our future priorities as a society. If you disagree, you’ll have to so something more serious about it than just subscribing to National Review.