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Monday, February 20, 2017

All the secret geniuses you've never heard of

If you ever wanted evidence that we inhabit conversational echo chambers, the endless "discoveries" by mainstream media of Straussianism in its various forms must be it. How many times can the NYT and similar liberal-ish publications possibly uncover from total obscurity the same half-dozen old professors, vaguely describe their studies, and claim they're pulling all the strings in politics? How many times can they tell us, upon shedding their probing light into this apparently shadowy underground network (that has institutional homes at such remote institutions as Harvard, Yale, UChicago, Claremont...), that they've located the philosophical key to whatever conservative idea happens to be current, in the person and errant scribblings of this or that previously unknown dude who once took a class/did a summer program/passed in the hallway one of these professors and could thus be said to have been intellectually formed in their mold and sent into the world to covertly propagate their ideas? 

For example:
The Intercept called his writings the “intellectual source code of Trumpism.” Salon put him alongside Stephen K. Bannon and Stephen Miller in the administration’s “white nationalist ‘genius bar,’” while the conservative writer (and staunch Never-Trumper) William Kristol, writing on Twitter, compared him to the Nazi theorist Carl Schmitt. 
It certainly added up to a publicity coup for a small West Coast institute known for summer seminars at which young conservatives immerse themselves in the Federalist Papers and other classics of American political thought. Suddenly, The Claremont Review, an erudite journal with a mere 13,000 subscribers, was being hailed as the bible of highbrow Trumpism — “crucially important,” as the journalist Damon Linker wrote, “for anyone seeking to understand the evolution of the Republican and conservative movement.”
Has it ever occurred to the writers of these discovery articles that these secret geniuses "behind" whatever conservative policy or program are just like their unsecret, ungenius counterparts on the left, only they've never heard of them because they never talk to any conservatives?

UPDATE: This hot take on the foundational role that a UChicago education played in the development of a different Trumpian Secret Genius recently pulled from the shadows is a good antidote.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, yes and no. There clearly is a man behind the man who has been very influential over the past 15 or so years, yet he is completely unmentionable for obvious reasons.

Miss Self-Important said...

Really? Will he be the subject of your scoop for the NYT?