The strange cult of personality that emerged around Ronald Reagan is a phenomenon of passing interest. For the Left, he was literally not just Hitler, but Satan (seriously); for the so-called Conservatives, he was some kind of American emanation of the Divine. The difference is one of perspective; as Emile Durkheim observed, Satan is a type of God. Read more
“‘Committing Sociology’ After Trump’s Election” was the provocative title of a session of the Canadian Sociological Association 52nd Annual Conference. Here is the statement of purpose of the session:
The goal of this session is to have a critical discussion of the role sociologists can play in an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance. […] The goal of the session is to have a dynamic discussion of issues and the roles sociology and sociologists can play in navigating them. It is also to see if a network of sociologists can and should be formed to challenge the rise of non-sociological times.
The language strongly suggests Leftist political commitments on the part of the panelists, and the reference to “an era dominated by identity politics, the feeling by some people of being ignored or the fear of declining, post-truth, fake news, and the rise of xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance” seems to allude to the rise of the new dissenting Right. What’s really remarkable here, though, is the suggestion that the rise of the new politics of the Right, which found partial expression in the election of Trump, is a harbinger of “non-sociological times”. This idea seems worth discussing at some length.
This very long article, which you can find at Thermidor Magazine, represents at stab at the intellectual project of a “full reboot of the social sciences” associated with the political project of the new Reaction. I propose that this reboot entails overhauling the canon of historical founding figures of the discipline, among which an 18th century English writer by the name of John Brown should be counted. Brown clearly saw, at the very time the present Liberal order was only beginning to really get off the ground, that this order bears within itself an inherent potential to create self-destructive pathology. There is, of course, nothing unusual in this broad claim- but what is interesting is the way Brown makes it. Brown poses the problem of social pathology (“degeneracy”) in terms of a systematic feminization and overall degradation of the governing caste, which if carried far enough is guaranteed to render elites utterly unfit and the State incapable of functioning. In short, Brown looks at social problems of his times exactly the way the new Right does now, and uncovers that much of the pathology of the present was already clearly present in the England of 1757 in an early form. I critique some shortcomings in Brown’s analysis of the etiology of the disease, and go beyond him to discuss what has changed since his day, how, and why. I have brought almost everything I have in my intellectual arsenal to this piece- more accurately, short treatise- and dare say that you won’t have wasted your time by reading it.