Alexander Zaitchik: Is Josh Hawley For Real? https://newrepublic.com/article/154526/josh-hawley-real: 'How the junior senator from Missouri has become the face of the post-liberal movement—and positioned himself as the philosophical heir to Trump.... For a nakedly ambitious up-and-comer in D.C.’s corridors of power, there is obvious logic to the theater of telling Mark Zuckerberg, “I’m coming for you.” Public opinion has begun to turn on the tech giants, and the populist art of taking on a villainous monopoly is something Hawley, author of an admiring biography of Teddy Roosevelt, understands better than most. As he told The Washington Post, “My great worry ... is an economy that works for a small group of billionaires and then everybody else gets their information taken from them and monetized.”... Hawley, a devout evangelical Presbyterian... [is] something other than just another fresh-faced family values Republican or opportunistic trust-buster. In his very first speech on the Senate floor in May, Hawley invoked an “epidemic of loneliness and despair... a society increasingly defined not by the genuine and personal love of family and church, but by the cold and judgmental world of social media.” These lines illuminated the edges of a worldview bigger than the sum of its policy expressions. Behind this weltanschauung is an emergent conservative tendency dubbed “post-liberalism”—a stewing amalgam of long-marginalized ideas on the right that have found new life, like ancient spores released by an earthquake, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. While the lead thinkers of this movement might more accurately be dubbed “pre-liberals,” they claim Hawley as one of their own, and it is through the prism of their crabbed, reactionary political thought that Hawley’s tech crusade is best understood.... Stated simply... [it is] a profound and widespread if inchoate dissatisfaction with the Enlightenment legacy of pluralism, the primacy of individual rights, and the hard separation of church and state. Lockean ideas about “liberty” have led to an “Epicurean liberalism” that consecrates “the right to choose your own meaning, define your own values, emancipate yourself from God by creating your own self,” Hawley has said. The post-liberals propose an alt-liberty grounded in place and tradition, bound by social relations and obligations, rooted in the Bible. For the post-liberals, Big Tech is basically Armageddon.... The post-liberal project seeks to cage the furies loosed by Donald Trump and put them at the service of an intellectually coherent movement without the baggage of a leader accused by multiple women of rape. Last week, this project marked a milestone in Washington with the inaugural conference of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a post-liberal think tank hatched in January. The only elected politician on the schedule was the junior senator from Missouri, who delivered the dinner keynote on the last night. In it, Hawley blasted sinister, Janus-faced “cosmopolitan elites” whose “old political platforms have grown stale.” He called on like-minded conservatives to fight for their definition of liberty, a fight “born of love for the place we call home” . Hawley’s speech, condemned by some Jewish leaders for trading in anti-Semitic tropes and by liberals for sending coded messages about the dangers of racial diversity, did little to counter the perception that post-liberalism is just high-concept lipstick applied to the Trumpian pig...


#noted #2019-12-27

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