An Anatomy of Radicalism

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https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/...adicalism/

EXCERPT: What is radicalism really about? When does it make sense? Do we need it now?

These seem to be impossibly abstract questions. At first glance, everything turns on the substantive commitments of those who purport to be radical. Do they believe in theocratic rule? In authoritarianism? In decentralization? In economic growth? In liberalism? In the collapse of liberalism? In property rights? In free markets? In self-government? In liberty? In freedom from discrimination on the basis of race and sex? In executing or imprisoning political enemies?

In Young Radicals, Jeremy McCarter explores the lives and views of five American radicals, who thought that society had to be remade in fundamental ways. John Reed, Alice Paul, Randolph Bourne, Max Eastman, and Walter Lippmann are his cast of characters. I want to use McCarter’s account to cast light on five enduring radical “types”: Manicheans, democrats, identitarians, propagandists, and technocrats. All of them should be immediately recognizable today, especially on the political left. (Importantly, we can find analogues on the right as well.)

I will suggest, with some qualifications, that we do not need Manicheans, propagandists, and identitarians. (I will be especially hard on the first and last of these.) But we do need democrats, or at least a certain kind of them. Insofar as she opposed something like a caste system, Alice Paul was an American hero. We also need technocrats, whom we will not be able to categorize in ideological terms. In a period in which expertise of all kinds is under serious pressure, we are past due for a Lippmann revival. Some of his work is clunky, and some of it seems dry and desiccated; it is not exactly teeming with life. But it speaks directly to our current situation.... (INCLUDED: Exploring the 5 types + models of radicalism)

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