In a New Magazine, the Illiberal Right and the Illiberal Left Converge

Compact brings "labor populism" and "political Catholicism" under one roof.


Post-liberalism has a new online home: Compact, a "radical American journal" launched yesterday by Sohrab Ahmari (formerly of the New York Post) and Matthew Schmitz (formerly of the ecumenical religious* magazine First Things). 

As you might expect from two Catholic converts known for their intense religious conservatism, the site boasts contributors such as controversial Harvard Law School Professor Adrian Vermeule and articles bearing titles such as "Why We Need the Patriarchy." But close readers may notice something curious besides: Is that a whiff of socialism?

It's not your imagination. The final co-founder of the site is Edwin Aponte, identified in a New York Times write-up as a "Marxist populist"; according to the paper, he agreed to join up with Ahmari and Schmitz only on "the condition that more than half the articles focused on material concerns." 

The first paragraph of the site's "About" page gets right to it: "Our editorial choices are shaped by our desire for a strong social-democratic state that defends community—local and national, familial and religious—against a libertine left and a libertarian right." As Britannica defines it, social democracy is a "political ideology that originally advocated a peaceful evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism," which later came to be associated with more moderate calls for "state regulation, rather than state ownership, of the means of production and extensive social welfare programs." 

Americans are primed to think of their politics in terms of a left-right spectrum. But these days, the more interesting and important divide is the liberalism schism, with liberal in this context referring to the principles of classical liberalism rather than left-of-center politics. Both left liberals and right liberals generally support due process, free trade, religious liberty, and the like, although left liberals are usually less concerned with economic freedom than are right liberals.

For the most part, the left illiberals and the right illiberals have maintained a considerable degree of separation, with the socialists tending to inhabit one social and professional world and the nationalist, populist, and theocracy-curious conservatives tending to inhabit another. (The Christian socialist contingent, which has blessedly failed to achieve much mainstream appeal in this country, arguably constitutes an exception.)

Compact appears as a high-profile effort to introduce a united illiberal front, one that couples support for state enforcement of traditional social mores with a healthy appetite for redistribution and central planning of the economy. (For what it's worth, the first day's offerings point as well to a strong anti-interventionist bent on foreign policy.) Gluing it all together is the editors' certainty that liberalism, whether on the left or on the right, is the enemy.

There were hints before now that a convergence was afoot. In summer 2019, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made headlines for praising progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "economic patriotism," while former Mitt Romney adviser Oren Cass came out strong for a top-down "industrial policy" to prop up domestic manufacturing. More recently, the "Buy American" section of President Joe Biden's 2022 State of the Union address might as well have been written for his predecessor. 

The overlap thus far has been largely confined to economic issues, however, and has been limited even there in its scope. By bringing a "labor populism" with deep roots in the socialist tradition and a "political Catholicism" that questions the very separation of church and state under a single roof, Compact has built an intellectual meeting place not just for post-liberal conservatives but for anti-liberals of every stripe. Watch out.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to First Things as a Christian publication; it is ecumenically religious.

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  1. Um, most Catholic activists in the past 100 years, including priests, have been Marxists.

    1. I've noticed the Marxist leanings of Opus Dei, Pope Benedict, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Raymond Burke, etc.

      Because it's hard to convey in text, that's sarcasm. Catholics are some of the worst paleoconservatives out there.

      1. Because it's hard to convey in text, that's sarcasm. Catholics are some of the worst paleoconservatives out there.

        Which makes them pretty much the same as progressives: war mongering, big spending social justice totalitarians obsessed with sex.

        1. I know you read a lot of reviews and news to earn jobs online. thj Some people don't know how to make money and say they're faking it. I have my FIRST check for a total of $10,000, quite interesting. Just click and open the page to click on the first statement and check....
          The jobs….

      2. Catholics are some of the worst paleoconservatives out there = American Catholicism is Catholicism in general"

        You've never met a South American bishop. There's a reason why Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chávez are/were so religious. Cuban atheism was the exception.

    2. Which is very ironic.

    3. Yes. The concept of "social justice" originated with South American priests in the late 19th century.

  2. Yeah, I would totally want to read something that featured tanks in battle on the masthead.

    1. think-tank, illustrated.

      1. That’s what I’m saying, terrible pun.

        1. Treadful!

          1. Tanks for that!

    2. Tanks a lot!

      1. Tanks for the memories.

      2. Sher nan no prob!

    3. Every time Sohrab Armani Garts, Reason writes 10,000 pearl clutching words on it. I’ve never heard of him outside of Reason’s elevation of him into some cultural force

  3. We believe that the ideology of liberalism is at odds with the virtue of liberality. We oppose liberalism in part because we seek a society more tolerant of human difference and human frailty. That is why, though we have definite opinions, we publish writers with whom we disagree.

    I don't see where there's anything to quibble about in there, especially given that every "freedom" granted by liberalism seems to amounts to "one more topic you can be fired for publicly disagreeing with".

    1. Sorry, but disagreeing with not burning Witches means supporting the burning of witches, which means talking about, preparing for, and caŕrying out the burning of Witches, something that will get you not just fired, but prosecuted and at least imprisoned in any society with any measure of respect for rational human existence.

      Fuck off, Witch-Burner!

  4. Go far enough right and you end up on the far left. The adjectives and adverbs may be styled differently, but they're essentially the same tribe. "People must be rigidly controlled by the elite."

    It's not populism, but neither is it liberalism (in the classic sense). Josh Hawley has become Elizabeth Warren. Not too long before he too claims special racial exceptionalism.

    1. The narrative of those supporting the Golden mean. Basically self delusion.

    2. If you look hard enough, you can find evidence for "both sides" wanting to restrict freedom. And Reason always looks hard enough.

  5. Marxists are the worst people.

    1. The worst are those Marxists that say "But we've never tried True(tm) Marxism".

      1. I don't know, those people at least look at the Soviet Union and Maoist China and recoil in horror.

        Worse is the marxists who think that was good.

      2. we've never tried True(tm) Marxism

        Nor will we ever.

        1. Nor should we try.

          1. In the 90s, before the Russian press was fully co-opted, I read a very interesting interview with Russian philosopher Dmitri Sergeyevich Likhachev in either Argumenti I Fakti or Moskovskie Novosti. The interviewer asked him about this never-ending quest for True Marxism. Dmitri Sergeyevich had an interesting solution: He thought we (“we” = all of humanity) need to find an island somewhere where all these Marxists can get to work creating their utopia while leaving the rest of the world alone. They’d have full autonomy to try various schemes with only one condition imposed from outside: Anyone who chooses to move there and then later regrets that decision MUST have the right to leave at any time they choose.

            1. The aerial shot of this island and it's smoldering ruins would make an interesting poster for

              ("It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.") 🙂

              And the rescue of those who didn't want to stay might make a great final sequel to the Escape From New York and Escape From L.A. movies starring Kurt Russell as "Snake" Plissken. Perhaps it could be called, just off the top of my head, Escape From Hive Island.

              A movie like that would easily one-up The Island of Dr. Moreau as a place of horrors! It might even be unrateable!

  6. Stephanie briefly alludes to the fact that "Compact" does scramble her liberal/illiberal dichotomy a bit by being pretty aggressively anti-interventionist, which tends to unite them with the "Reason" style "right liberals" while separating them sharply from the "National Review" style right liberals, but, to my mind, doesn't offer enough detail. Maybe you should offer Excel spreadsheets with your analysis? Anyway, a brew that might be unkindly described as "National Socialism WITHOUT All the Hitler Stuff" (and, I guess, a lot more Jesus) doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

  7. "National Socialism WITHOUT All the Hitler Stuff" is just the sort of rag Sohrab Ahmari would start.

    As he is font of thinking to himself, "The problem with totalitarianism is that the wrong people are the dictators..."

    1. It's like I've said before, Sohrab Ahmari fell out and hit every branch of The Authoritarian Ugly Tree going down.

      With obvious exception of the Shia Islam he was raised in, Ahmari swan-dove into the rest!

  8. In a New Magazine, the Illiberal Right and the Illiberal Left Converge
    Compact brings "labor populism" and "political Catholicism" under one roof.

    The hard-copy version of this is something a libertarian would roll up and use for kinky BDSM sexplay.

    Dom/Domme: (Slaps submissive on the ass with rolled-up copy of Compact) "SAY IT, YOU WORTHLESS LIBERTARIAN WORM! SAY IT!!"


    1. Go on…

      1. I liked where this was heading.

        Which one was Robby and which was KMW?

        1. The Dom needs to be Robby dressed as the pope.

          1. Secundum quas fideles. (Latin for: "To be sure.") 🙂

            1. Sometimes I wonder about myself.

    2. You'll notice I referred to the characters as Dom/Domme (a.k.a. Master/Mistress) and Libertarian sub (which I left without a capitalized "sub" and without sex or gender.

      Thus, either character could be Robby, KMW, Stephie, The Jacket, ENB, Sullum, Billy, Baylen, Scott, Alan, Welchie, Bailey, or (both roles) Deirdre McCloskey. Or any two other characters your pruient interest desires.

      Me, I love mixing and matching here in my bunk. Please excuse me if I'm away for a while.

      *Puts fedora over nether regions.* 😉

  9. On the positive side, a merger of illiberal groups on the left and right might finally provide the foil necessary to mobilize the generally-libertarian sentiments of the vast majority who just want to be left alone.

    1. Yes, if they are all in one place, they are much easier to watch and, if we're lucky, one of them will accidentally go NBC and all variants of Statism will be gone from the face of the Earth. Oh! Happy Day!

    2. The problem is they never will get left alone, and they're finally starting figure that out.

      Libertarianism amounts to unilateral disarmament. All they're good for is telling you that you have to keep accepting the shit show you're getting handed because to retaliate against your opponents using the same club they're beating you with would be statist. Yeah, fuck that.

      1. You've been huffing burnt carcasses from your Witch-Burnings.

        1. Gay.

          1. No, Pan. And this here Pan don't burn.

            Fuck off, Witch-Burner!

            1. Is it true what they say about Pan? You get to date some real Dishes?

              1. Pan the pervert god?

                1. Now now, this mini Pan thread can just Peter out if it’s gonna be like that…

                  1. Party pooper.

                    1. No worries! The party can still go on if everyone's game. (And by "game," I mean willing, not wildlife. 🙂 )

                  2. It's all right. I can take a gentle ribbing and witticism at my expense and Vulgar Madman was quite funny. 🙂

                    Fret not. I am a Gotham Steel Pan: Non-Stick, Scratch-Resisstant, and Receptive to Metal Utensils. Ready for use in The Batcave by Batman and Robin and Batwoman and Catwoman. (*Ooooh! Kinky!*)

                    I'm even Dishwasher-Friendly, provided the Dishwasher is sturdy enough to hold a person of modest U.S. weight and produces good vibrations. 🙂

                    To further clarify what Pansexual means, it does not automatically mean "anything that moves."

                    Naturally, Pansexual means consenting adult human beings and, maybe more broadly, sapient beings such as Mutants, AI, Cyborgs, or--assuming they exist and are sexy--Extraterrestrials.

                    No children and dumb animals! They are right out! I run like Hell from any tag line in porn like "Teen" and I stick to ones like "Mature," "MILF," and "DILF."

                    Also, like individuals of other orientations, Pansexuals can be Cis or Trans (I'm Cis,) and can have preferences in body types and personality types.

                    My preference in both is healthy and sane. For me, sexy bodies can be many sizes and shapes and shades but no "feeding," no "binging-and-purging," and no steroids.

                    And like other orientations, Pansexuals can have sexual kinks too. I'm open to experimentation as long as it doesn't cause disability, draw blood, or leave a corpse.

                    Once again, it's not everybody's cup of meat, but Pansexuality is a thing. There are many people, both real-life and fictional, that now identify as Pan:

                    List of Pansexual People--Wikipedia

                    List of Pansexual Fictional Characters--Wikipedia

                2. No, I, of course, exist. 🙂

                  By "Pan," I mean "Pansexual." It means attration to persons regardless of sex or gender. It's distinguished from Bisexual by the lack of binary.

                  Not everybody's cup of meat, so to speak, but it' is real. I won't erase you if you won't erase me and like Bob Dylan might put it, I'll let you be in my libertarian dream if you let me be in yours.

              2. It"s kinda dry now, but when things are cooking for a Pansexual, there's lots of fun spooning, forking, and even with spatulas. It's all a matter of how the cooking spirits move you! 🙂

                1. *Hickup!* 😉

      2. So turn the Justice Department on government staffers who violate the civil rights of citizens, instead of on the citizens.

    3. Except that "vast majority" curled up like a dog to let Fauci kick it.

  10. "social democracy"
    Been there, done that, didn't like it.
    The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party

    1. Don’t be stupid, be a smarty!

      1. Such a great film.

  11. Come on, there is no left or right, liberal or conservative anymore.
    You support individual freedom, or you support government control of the individual.

    1. ^ this

    2. And so it always has been (beneath various layers of BS). At what point will this distillation become obvious to significant swaths of the general populace though?

      1. Most people don’t really like freedom, so never.

        1. I see where you’re coming Fromm.

          1. Ha!

  12. I wish all Catholics were like Stephanie Slade. Where even if they consider abortion to be "baby-killing" (spoiler: it's not), they still support the "pro-baby-killing" political party. Because Charles Koch's demand for more immigration supersedes protecting "innocent babies" from slaughter.


    1. I wish all Catholics gave up on Supernatural nonsense, turned in their child-abusing molrster Clergy to the appropriate Local, State, Federal, or Interpol law enforcement, then converted their houses of worship and monasteries into art museums, observatories, and for-profit wineries and bakeries....

      I know this is dreaming, since Supernaturalism dies very hard. But as for the rest, that is all very possible....

      Soon, Francis, soon... 🙂

      1. Supernaturalism never dies, and it will never be possible without the threat of force, as all the athiest states of the 20th century discovered.
        And even then, as soon as the Society of the Godless and various Kirchenkampfs stopped burning churches and beating babushkas, the supernatural came roaring back as Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia prove.

        1. With Stalin, the Church made it's comeback when Htller turned on him after The Non-Aggression Pact. Stalin re-opened Churches to provide morale support in the war effort and as a vehicle for spying on the Citizenry. Also, he disbanded The League of Militant Atheists.

          As for Hitler, he didn't close any Church that went along with Positive Christianity.

          Hence, in the Twentieth Century, Superstition never died here either. It just got temporarily co-opted.

          1. Oh, wnd how could I forget, the Nazis also outlawed the German Freethought Society and other Atheist organizations.

  13. Superstition-addled bigots, authoritarian prudes, and downscale populists?

    The modern America liberal-libertarian mainstream should be able to withstand this assemblage of obsolete misfits.

    1. It’s managed to survive you,

    2. Interesting prediction, Art. I hope you're right.

      Then again I hoped you were right about Joe Biden expanding the Supreme Court to 13 Justices within 6 months of inauguration and you were embarrassingly off-base with that one.


      1. Oh would you just PACK it in with SCOTUS already?!

    3. You won’t….. survive.


  14. The Catholic hierarchy has supported, in words and deeds, top-down control of secular issues since the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Catholicism around 313 CE and placed the Patriarch of Rome (later called the Pope) as an active participant in the government of Rome. An interesting book is "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church" by Malachi Martin. Mr. Martin was a Jesuit Priest stationed at the Vatican with very rare access to the Vatican archives. The book details machinations in the top levels of the Church throughout its 2000 year history. Mr. Martin also asserts that while he loved the Church, he eventually left the priesthood because the dominance of secular politics overrides the spiritual mission bestowed upon it by Christ.

  15. Political spectra are always oversimplifications, especially when you're talking about the two axes of authoritarian–democratic and capitalist–socialist. Furthermore, I don't think capitalist–socialist is all that meaningful a distinction in the modern world. Every government that functions is paired with an economy that is market-based but heavily regulated. Many failed societies have an economic system that was too dogmatic in structure, and none of them really resembled what they were trying to be anyway.

    Being pro-freedom means, roughly speaking, a democratic government and a democratic economy. To the extent that authoritarianism is warranted in either, it should be the exception and not the rule. It seems to make little sense to value democratic government but demand authoritarian workplaces. And it's hardly a free society in which people spend most of their waking hours in an authoritarian regime (the workplace).

    1. The workplace is only as authoritarian as you tolerate.

    2. Yes, workers should totally have an equal say in how the owners deploy the capital.

      1. Maybe workers should be the owners.

        1. That's the magic of a free market economy - they can be the owners by simply starting up their own company.

          1. Tony wants to murder the owners.

        2. What you mean is that the workers should petition the government to steal ownership of the company for the, and put it in their hands.

          1. On paper on day zero, it looks great for the workers. Communists are great at nationalizing things.

            It’s the managing things where it always falls apart.

        3. Maybe you don’t sound very certain of that.

        4. It's called stock ownership. Many workers already do have stock shares in their own employers. In fact, that is a testiment to the inadequacy of of Social Security that workers own stock shares as part of their retirement plans.

    3. re: "Being pro-freedom means, roughly speaking, a democratic government and a democratic economy."

      Nothing of the sort. A pure democracy under the influence of a few demagogues can be every bit as bad as the worst totalitarian dictatorship. What matters are the constraints and blocks you put in the way of those with totalitarian tendencies. A democratic form of government is one of those blocks but even it needs multiple other blocks.

      re: " Every government that functions is paired with an economy that is market-based but heavily regulated."
      I disagree again but here only because you included "heavily regulated". On the contrary, economies that function in the long-term are market-based and relatively lightly regulated. It is notable that the "Scandinavian Model" that folks like Bernie Sanders like to tout are economies that are actually considerably less burdened than the US economy already is.

  16. Hmmmm.... Is that 'new' more government sales magazine part of the COVID relief funds for journalists?? Funny how our federal Nazi-Regime does EXACTLY what Russian government media is doing yet everyone still thinks they live in a Free-Society...

    The transformation from the USA to "social democracy" (Nazism) has already taken place. The only question now is if it's possible for the voters to "clean the swamp" and get the USA back again and that's not going to happen by insisting we still have a USA intact. (i.e. illusions of a USA nation)

    1. It isn’t. Real action must be taken. Nothing changes until the democrats and RINO’s are dealt with. Elections and the courts have failed us.

    2. "not going to happen by insisting we still have a USA intact"

      Just be careful when it comes to divvying up the nukes. You don't want your neck of the woods ending up like Ukraine.

  17. "No Donny, these men are Libertarians. There's nothing to be afraid of..."

  18. They stole your color scheme.

  19. Meanwhile, Radical Left and Reason Libertarian converge over the concept of "redefining words to mean whatever the hell we want."

    As they have for years.

  20. I bookmarked the magazine - thanks!

    1. I'll do it know one set of my enemies, of course.

  21. What the fuck is wrong with you people?

    You can’t just talk about issues, debating them with a common purpose, finding the truth.

    You have to be sock puppets for an ideology first and foremost the only common purpose you share is to be divided.


    1. Hey Misek, Jooooosssss are gonna fit ya!

      1. They’re under his bed, they’re in his head, what else need be said?

        1. They also steal his meds!

          1. And take a crap in his bed!

        2. These days they have Space Lasers.

    2. Thanks for demonstrating my point.

    3. "common purpose, finding the truth" ---

      The USA is a CONSTITUTIONAL Republic
      NOT a Democratic National Socialist (Nazi) Nation.....

      The 'truth' is Government has over-reached it's authority x1000000.
      And sh*t all over the principles of Individual Liberty and Justice.

      Not that the 'truth' is out; How can the Nazi-Regime be dealt with.
      1. Violence
      2. Hoping Nazi's will LEARN and vote for a USA instead of a Nazi-Regime.

      Which is what most on this site is doing.
      Is there a problem with that?

      1. Liberty for national socialists includes national socialism.

        Do you have a problem with that? If so, you don’t want liberty.

        1. Idiot; No one is stopping the Nazi's from starting a voluntary club.
          It's Nazi's packing around the Gov-Gun forces / law....

          Course you know this; that's why you try to manipulate, deceive and jump around like a G.D. rat..

          Which represents the foundation of every Nazi's (National Socialists) failure of ideology and their deep desire to enslave, dictate and be authoritarians..............

          If they really believed their "plans" worked they could go start their OWN club without the use of Gov-Gun's shoved down others throats (LAW)... But they DON'T.... NEVER.... They want Dictation...... They want NATIONAL dictation... They're Power-Mad, Enslaver's, Theives the worst of the worst....

          The left could Liberate the USA by being a club... A Obamacare club, A solar club, A whatever idiotic 'idea' they have.... Their 'ideas' are B.S. and that's the only reason they have to grab Gov-Guns and FORCE/ENSLAVE...

          The party of slavery; always has been, always will be.

          1. So you’re okay with the liberty to choose the form and authority of our government.

            Whether it is extreme capitalism or extreme socialism, we are at liberty to choose.

            Do you agree?

            1. Not as a [WE] mob Prom King dictates. As each Individual Person.

              There is no such thing as the [WE] mob liberty (collectivist) the left pretends exists. But Yes; Each Individual should be free to associate and be bound by contract as they see fit.

    4. Sooo...You're not being a sock-puppet by parroting Neo-Nazi Holocaust Denial ideology or Putin's Revanchist Authoritarian propaganda?

      Fuck off, Nazi!

  22. Authoritarians Unite!

    1. Or else! 😉

  23. "Both left liberals and right liberals generally support due process, free trade, religious liberty, and the like,"

    These are all issues of the Enlightenment, the 18th to the 20th century. Wars were fought over them, political parties torn asunder. They seem a little quaint and out of step with the times. It's understandable that the mainstream continue to hold on to the Enlightenment status quo, but the dispossessed on the left and right margins have other concerns.

    1. The Enlightenment is quaint? And what comes Post-Enlightenment? The Endarkenment?

      Go push your rickshaw ride to superstition, squalor, and slavery somewhere else!

      Fuck off, Wtermelon!

      1. Correction: Fuck off Watermelon! (You couldn't do that in your world without crumpling up parchment and starting over.)

  24. Yeah, can't attack muslims or jews, but Catholics? Always fair game. Isn't that how the KKK got started? But don't worry -- anybody who thinks there's a "libertarian right" is smoking something. Libertarianism is a left-wing movement that wants big government results without paying the taxes.

    1. Have you paid attention for the past 21 years? The Four Hoursemen, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, have been lambasting all three of the Abrahamic Religions and especially Islam. And Ayn Rand and George H. Smith were arguing for Atheism decades before The Four Horsemen were popular.

      And what are you smoking to assume Libertarianism wants big government results without taxes?

      Look, all I want from government is Police, Border Patrol, and National Defense strictly limited to protecting Life, Liberty, and Property, and an Independent Judiciary strictly devoted to trying crimes against Life, Liberty, and Property and upholding contracts. Everything else can be done by private individuals, business, and non-profit organizations.

      How's that for blister-popping, Vesicant?

  25. Well, Tikkun found a niche selling Jewish National Socialism. (Go ahead, read some!) So no surprise the New Looters have felt the shrinking area under the sigmoid market-share curve for coercive hate lit and joined their dwindling forces. It's another Hitler-Stalin pact, on the face of it.

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