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On "the new authoritarians," men and women at the end of history - and what happens when two Catholic conservatives and a Marxist populist get fed up with the mainstream media
It’s been quite a week in media. And a particularly good one for complicating dominant narratives.
First: The logic around vaccine mandates continues to fall apart. Yesterday, Newsweek ran a striking opinion piece from an international PhD student in physics at Stanford who’s at risk for deportation after refusing to get a booster shot. Read Diogo Braganca’s argument; it is a convincing one. (Meanwhile, here at home, British Columbia recently scrapped plans to expand the vaccine mandate to all healthcare workers in private practice. To date, about 2,500 healthcare workers in B.C. hospitals have lost their jobs after declining to get vaccinated. Will these workers be reinstated?)
Next: Allow me to draw your attention to this very provocative piece at Tablet — arguing that the woke class has come to embody the kind of authoritarianism they once warned about — and this paragraph in particular:
…the professional class consistently portrayed unvaccinated people as Trump supporters even though in many major cities vaccine passports mostly excluded Democrat-voting Black residents from indoor establishments. Under the guise of combatting anti-vax extremism, woke liberal politicians embraced segregation and the exact kind of “systemic racism” they claimed to oppose.
Alex Gutentag’s response to the Times editorial board piece on cancel culture and social silencing also stands out:
This silencing had serious repercussions. It is now commonly acknowledged, for example, that school closures were a mistake, but those who spoke up early lost friends, jobs, and opportunities. What is dismissed as cancel culture is actually central to the authoritarian project. A new idea (“flatten the curve,” “save Grandma,” “two weeks to stop the spread”) can be introduced at any moment, and if it’s framed as morally necessary and unquestionable, it will receive resounding support from the most well-educated class. This poses a huge threat to society as a whole.
Meanwhile, over at the New Yorker: A riveting story about the Rhodes scholar and former foster child accused of making false claims about her background. Surprise! It turns out to be a whole lot more complicated than originally reported.
Next: Vanity Fair has done a deep dive into EcoHealth Alliance, the nonprofit at the centre of the lab leak controversy. A reminder that this entire line of inquiry was totally off limits for a year. (For more on the lab leak theory, listen to our podcast episode with Toronto investigative journalist Elaine Dewar.)
The most interesting media development of late, though, is the arrival of a new outlet, Compact. The magazine is billed as a “radical American journal” that aims to challenge “the overclass that controls government, culture, and capital,” and is the brainchild of two Catholic conservatives and a Marxist populist.
It’s pretty much guaranteed to accelerate the scrambling of left/right politics. New York magazine is not impressed (and manages to get in a dig at the “contrarian crypto-libertarians of Substack,” whatever that means). This obviously makes me want to read Compact even more.
Here’s one of the highlights from the first batch of articles, rethinking the conversation on patriarchy, by the English writer Nina Power (whose new book, What Do Men Want?, is a feminist defence of masculinity):
In recent years, “patriarchy” has been dug-up and reanimated as a term to describe the supposedly poor behavior of men. It now functions as a sneer-word, one of the many used as a shorthand for indicating the right stance to be assumed by progressive-minded folk everywhere.
Yet there is something ironic in attributing our social ills to an excess of paternal authority. According to the US Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children live without a father of any kind (biological, step, or adoptive), a situation the National Fatherhood Initiative suggests is a factor in “nearly all social ills.”
It really is time to start talking about the state of things between men and women, is it not?
Did you know that in America, according to Pew Research, roughly 4 in 10 adults between the ages of 25 and 54 are not married, and living without a partner? And men are now more likely to be unpartnered than women.
While we’re on that topic, here’s a short talk from the Romanian podcaster Alex Kaschuta, “Men and Women at the End of History,” which she delivered this week at a conservative conference in Brussels. Here’s the money quote:
Liberal individuals do not need each other … In an environment of algorithmic dating, pick-up artistry, dating market strategy, optimizing for long-term optionality, the other becomes another thing to be consumed and discarded. The ultimate proof of our disconnection is that we are dying out. The stark reality, and strangely the glimmer of hope as well, is that this flavour of liberalism is a death cult. The rational individual loses because it cannot replicate itself; it is too busy finding itself. The perfect producer/consumer is barren, because there is little immediate utility in commitment, there is little immediate utility in sacrifice, and there is little immediate utility in expensive, loud little creatures called children.
Finally, on a hopeful note, next week I have one of my favourite writers on the podcast. Shaka Senghor is a tech executive, a New York Times bestselling author, and a past MIT fellow. He’s also a former inmate; he spent nineteen years in prison, seven of which were in solitary confinement. Shaka joins me to talk about his poignant new book, Letters to the Sons of Society, on expanding the narratives around masculinity and fatherhood. I can’t recommend this book enough; stay tuned for that conversation.