Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Right Fears the Left

Ross Douthat at NYT:
Let me try to elaborate on what this right is seeing. The initial promise of the internet era was radical decentralization, but instead over the last 20 years, America’s major cultural institutions have become consolidated, with more influence in the hands of fewer institutions. The decline of newsprint has made a few national newspapers ever more influential, the most-trafficked portions of the internet have fallen under the effective control of a small group of giant tech companies, and the patterns of meritocracy have ensured that the people staffing these institutions are drawn from the same self-reproducing professional class. (A similar trend may be playing out with vertical integration in the entertainment business, while in academia, a declining student population promises to close smaller colleges and solidify the power of the biggest, most prestigious schools.)

Over the same period, in reaction to social atomization, economic disappointment and conspicuous elite failure, the younger members of the liberal upper class have become radicalized, embracing a new progressive orthodoxy that’s hard to distill but easy to recognize and that really is deployed to threaten careers when the unconvinced step out of line.

...[The} spread of online conspiracy theories has encouraged liberals in a belief that the only way to safeguard democracy is for this consolidated establishment to become more aggressive in its attempts at cultural control — which is how you get the strange phenomenon of some journalists fretting about the perils of the First Amendment and demanding that the big social-media enterprises exert a kind of prior restraint over the American conversation.