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Conservatism and Globalization

Daniel Larison has some great comments about the relationship between the American neoconservative right and the issue of globalization/secularization. The American right constantly laments the secular erosion of the distinctively American. What Larison rightly points out is that it is incongruous for the right to embrace the economics of globalization and then decry its cultural outworking:

It seems to me that globalists would argue that national economies and regulatory schemes will tend to become more like one another as globalization continues, but so far as I can tell there are very few people on the right at the moment criticizing the policies that foster and encourage globalization, which is the process that will lead to the increasing convergence of our economic model and the European economic model insofar as one can generalize about a European model. To the extent that there is a distinctive American model, that distinctiveness will be eroded by globalization (just as the once far more socially democratic western Europe has become more like the U.S. in the last 30 years). Left-liberals in America and the modern center-left in Germany and Britain are simply embracing the full logic of that process both culturally and politically. Those who want to shore up and preserve distinctive national economic and political systems cannot simultaneously endorse the main force erasing differences between national systems.

Here is the basic contradiction at the heart of the American right’s embrace of technological progress and globalist trade policies: the cultural and political values and the economic model that conservatives claim they wish to preserve are necessarily going to be changed by globalization, and this process is going to be quickened by technological change. To a large extent, conservatives will have brought this fate upon themselves with their embrace of the economic (and, through hegemonism, the political) side of globalization. Like their predecessors forty years ago, the American right wants to have it both ways by enjoying the economic benefits of globalization, real or imagined, while insisting that no cultural price has to be paid and no political sacrifices need to be made. 


  1. Hill wrote:

    I love this guy: best political blogger around. Plus he’s a PhD student in Byzantine history and devoutly Orthodox.

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  2. mike d wrote:

    This is certainly one of the great failures of American conservatism. Trying to preserve a cultural and political heritage while promoting the one of the primary means of that tradition’s destruction. Conservatives (and depending on my mood I count myself as one) would be much better served to see big government and big business both as two towers rising in the same globalized landscape.

    I think you mentioned Rod Dreher recently and now Daniel Larison. Are you a closet paleo-con? :)

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  3. Hill wrote:

    The answer to that question is yes, and I’m speaking for Halden here. He’s probably constitutively unable to answer that question honestly :)

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    Well obviously a closet paleocon couldn’t admit to being one!

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  5. Matt Wiebe wrote:

    That’s a terrific quote. It has long baffled my how conservatives fail to see this contradiction at work in their ideology.

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

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