Our Myth Brooks


In his NY Times col today, David Brooks tags Reason as one of "the major conservative magazines" in the country.

Significant ideological confusion aside, Brooks' larger point is that rancorous debate among and within a broadly construed right has a generally positive effect:

In the early days of National Review, many of the senior editors didn't even speak to one another. Whittaker Chambers declared that the writings of Ayn Rand, a hero of the more libertarian right, reeked of fascism and the gas chambers. Rand called National Review "the worst and most dangerous magazine in America."

It's been like that ever since–neocons arguing with theocons, the old right with the new right, internationalists versus isolationists, supply siders versus fiscal conservatives. The major conservative magazines–The Weekly Standard, National Review, Reason, The American Conservative, The National Interest, Commentary—agree on almost nothing.

Brooks laments an analogous debate among liberals and concludes that

If I were a liberal, which I used to be, I wouldn't want message discipline. I'd take this opportunity to have a big debate about the things Thomas Paine, Herbert Croly, Isaiah Berlin, R. H. Tawney and John Dewey were writing about. I'd argue about human nature and the American character.

In disunity there is strength.

Whole thing here.

The column is worth reading, even if it does smack of the inverse of the old liberal canard that liberals are too smart for this world.

Hit & Run yapping about libertarian-conservative divorce here.

Example (and critiques) of smug liberal self-love here.

Memorable Philadelphia Magazine takedown of David Brooks here.