Three core centers of power in America

Saurabh Sharma spoke earlier this month in Miami at the National Conservatism Conference on how those of the new right can think about culture, capital, and government:

We need to implement what is said here. And that’s what I’d like to talk to you about today.

Let’s take a step back and assess where the right stands in the three core centers of power in contemporary society.

In culture, the situation has been so dire for so long that it’s almost passe. Once, ordinary Christian families could make Hollywood submit to their censure when it tried to propagate some novel form of degeneracy. …

In capital, we see the biggest own-goal of any political movement in recent world history. The Republican Party became the willing and eager handmaiden of corporate power over the last 30 years and barely got paid minimum wage for it. …

And finally, in government, the right faces its final test if it wants to avoid oblivion. We can win elections—especially if we actually run on something other than slashing Social Security and sending our base to die in foreign wars. But we don’t have a particularly good track record of doing much with power even if we get it. …

First, I have no interest in conserving this status quo and neither should you. There is no place in this American moment for polite and orderly caretakers of American decline. I treasure the great tradition of the ancients as much as any of you, but there is little that a temperamental comfort with the status quo has to offer a movement fit to the task ahead.

Second, there is no unwinding this state of affairs cleanly to the status quo ante. Restorationist politics is essentially live-action role play. Personally, there is little that will change in the world around us by mustering the superhuman will to pantomime the lifestyle of an early 1900s sweet-potato farm. Politically, the consensus of generations past—which was often healthier than what we have today—relied on core assets we no longer have: broad religiosity, a smaller state, a less developed corporate superstructure, and most importantly a level of technological development that is more determinative of the course of human events than any idea cooked up in grad-school seminars. There is no going back, there is no returning, with a v or otherwise.

There is only what we can create. With the few tools, many people, and political vision we have, we need a posture of American creation implemented as quickly as possible or risk losing a truly great country and consigning millions of decent people to illegitimate rule.

Creating new vectors of power that can actually implement change is messy. It requires a kind of realism about how politics and power work—a realism that many in right-leaning intellectual circles simply do not have. Part of the reason for this is simple—many of the leading lights on the right of center are people who either are academics or would be if the academy wasn’t so closed off to talented conservative thinkers. The academic temperament prioritizes constant argumentation about dogma, an obsession with theory, and above all a consistency that is alien to real politics. Even the disciplines we pull these academics from skew us toward error. We have many political theorists and philosophers where sociologists and historians—people who study the practical realities of regimes and what they do to polities—would serve us better. 

Saurabh is president of American Moment, which exists to “identify, educate, and credential young Americans who will implement public policy that supports strong families, a sovereign nation, and prosperity for all.”