Tucker Carlson Routs Conservatism Inc. On Unrestrained Capitalism—and Immigration
Tucker Carlson Routs Conservatism Inc. On Unrestrained Capitalism—and Immigration by Washington Watcher via UNZ Review
Tucker Carlson’s critique of unrestrained capitalism last week sent the Respectable Righ t into apoplectic fury. That’s why it’s irrelevant—and why Carlson is increasingly emerging as a name to conjure with.
In a now-celebrated monologue on his Fox News show, Carlson blamed multinational corporations and urban elites for the decline of Middle America. [Mitt Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating, Fox News, January 3, 2019] He listed several social ills that he attributed to unrestrained capitalism, including predatory loans, higher drug use, declining marriage rates, and shuttered factories.
Carlson lambasted “conservatives” who bemoan the decay of the family but refuse to consider if capitalism played any role in that tragedy. According to Carlson, “conservatives” consider criticism of the free market to be apostasy.
He offered this blunt advice to Republicans who want to make America great again.
Republican leaders will have to acknowledge that market capitalism is not a religion. Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.
Needless to say, this opinion was met with frothing anger by several Conservatism Inc. writers, a crowd that seems to believe the free market a holy thing that must not suffer blasphemy. They were upset that anyone would dare suggest that the state could act to rectify social ills, arguing that this was rank demagogy and antithetical to conservatism. National Review published several op-eds condemning Tucker’s monologue—a sure sign of Respectable Right displeasure.
David French, briefly Bill Kristol’s Never Trump catspaw, represented the typical response in The Right Should Reject Tucker Carlson’s Victimhood Populism. [National Review, January 4, 2019]. French claims to agree with Carlson that Middle America suffers from numerous ills, but he argues the state should play no role with fixing them. Thus payday loans are a necessary part of capitalism, drug criminalization is bad because it puts nice minorities in jail, and radical feminism and Affirmative Action aren’t serious concerns.
Carlson is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes—civil rights, women’s rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc.—and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you.
French’s solution is for the working class to go to community college and for America to magically experience an organic renewal of virtue. It’s all up to the individual to make America better:
[T]he primary responsibility for creating a life of virtue and purpose rests with families and individuals. In fact, it is still true that your choices are far more important to your success than any government program or the actions of any nefarious banker or any malicious feminist.
It is certainly true that your family and your own choices has a great influence over whether you live a virtuous and even happy life. But that does not show how social ills will somehow be corrected by self-help advice.
Additionally, as one man from a Midwest town destroyed by plant closures pointed out on Twitter, community college and re-training are not sufficient in equaling the old manufacturing jobs. “‘New tech always comes along to save the day’ does not apply. The late 19th-Century farm workers who flocked to Henry Ford for jobs after the last great labor upheaval have nowhere to go this time,” the man, Tom Ferguson, tweeted.