CA as Incubator for Trumpism

In “How the Golden State Became the Intellectual Capital of Trump’s GOP”, Jason Willick & James Hitchcock note the affinity that iconoclastic, California-based, Alt-Right styled conservatives have towards Trump, and believe it is because CA is experiencing first the radical disruptions (both economic and demographic) that will eventually make its way across much of the rest of the country.

Since William F. Buckley’s rise to prominence, the intellectual capital of the American right has lain along the Washington-New York axis, home to a sprawling complex of journals and think tanks that define and develop conservative orthodoxy. This orthodoxy has faced its share of heresies over the past generation, but the heretics usually found support in corners of the East Coast intellectual infrastructure. The 1990s’ paleo-conservatives carved out an outlet in The American Conservative; the post-Iraq War libertarians were welcomed in think tanks like Cato and the broader Koch network; Tea Party-friendly writers and scholars gradually became integrated into mainstream outlets such as National Review.

Unlike these earlier heresies, Trumpism has thoroughly laid waste to the establishment GOP’s defenses, and it has done so overwhelmingly through the force of populist media, like Twitter, Facebook, talk radio, Fox News, and lowbrow blogs. Support for the Republican nominee among the legions of credentialed writers and scholars in the capital of right-wing intelligentsia is sparse (though not nonexistent). And Trumpism certainly has no institutional base in posh Washington think tanks or erudite New York City editorial boards.

Over the course of this tumultuous election year, however, a Trump-friendly intellectual base has come into focus—far from the Atlantic Coast, in a territory so thoroughly in the grips of liberal politics that it might be said to be seceding from the Washington-New York conservative empire altogether: the State of California…

The authors discuss Curtis Yarvin (aka Mencius Moldbug), Steve Sailer, Peter Thiel, Mickey Kaus, Publius Decius Mus, the Claremont Institute (“A recently published list of pro-Trump intellectuals disproportionately consisted of signatories who were either Claremont scholars or alumni of Claremont Graduate University.”)

“What explains,” the authors ask, “the distinctive temptation of highbrow reaction along the deep-blue lower Pacific Coast?”

There are a number of partial answers to this question. Park MacDougald has perceptively chronicled the appeal of neoreaction in pockets of the Bay Area tech world, describing it as a “heretical offshoot of Valley nerd culture,” complete with utopian futurism, glorification of the all-powerful “CEO,” and an emphasis on “disruption.”…

Claremont scholars are disciples of the German-American philosopher Leo Strauss. But the “West Coast Straussians” at Claremont have introduced esoteric variations on the philosophy of “East Coast Straussians,” including a particular antipathy toward Woodrow Wilson’s managerial progressivism and an affinity for revolutionary political change forged in periods of conflict and clash. Heer sees in the West Coast Straussian tradition an affinity for outright regime change that has attached itself to Donald Trump’s radicalism.

As I have said repeatedly in this blog, if you want to see what the future of America will likely be — not just in terms of demographics, but in terms of the fiscal irresponsibility and cultural totalitarianism which comes with unbridled and unopposed progressivism — turn to California.

If the Alt-Right and NRx ideas brewing in tiny pockets on the West Coast can ‘pop’ (and Trump’s election is a very big ‘pop’), perhaps there is a chance.

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