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No Enemies to the Right?
A Twitter Spaces debate on the future of the conservative movement.
The so-called dissident Right—a constellation of young right-wing activists, artists, and intellectuals—has brought much-needed vitality, and some tension, into the conservative movement. The best of this cohort has disrupted stale orthodoxies, launched publications, and broken into the culture with provocative new ideas. But others have fallen into some predictable dead ends: right-wing racialism, street brawls, and conspiratorialism, all easily highlighted and used by the Left to discredit the political Right as a whole.
Some voices in this new network have called for a policy of “no enemies to the Right.” The basic concept—a play on the French Revolution slogan pas d’ennemis à gauche, or “no enemies to the Left”—is that constant infighting, gatekeeping, and self-regulation have rendered the Right fractured and impotent; in order to salvage the coalition, these figures argue, establishment conservatives must cease to criticize or exclude the voices on the movement’s outer limits. All politics, they maintain, is friend-enemy politics. The man who would shun any potential friends is bound to kneel to his enemies.
My own inclination is one of prudence. The essential function of coalition management is to maintain a balance between size and strength and to calculate the tradeoffs between various arrangements, alliances, and entanglements. Furthermore, some elements on the fringes of any political movement are moral non-starters—they should be given no deference, much less support. Anyone who has spent time in large organizations will recognize a plain truth: sometimes, addition is accomplished through subtraction. This might be even more true in politics, which has always attracted an element of the pathological.
Which position is the correct one? To explore the question, I will be hosting a debate on Twitter Spaces today at 3 p.m., featuring Nate Fischer and Charles Haywood in support of the proposition and Michael Young and Neil Shenvi in opposition. Sign up now and leave your thoughts in the comments below.