The French Right: Living in Liberals’ Heads, Rent Free

From a NYT book review of Mark Lilla’s book The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction:

The second half of Lilla’s book explores recent reactionary thought on both sides of the Atlantic, on the political left as well as the right. “The Unintended Reformation,” by Brad Gregory, a history professor at Notre Dame, is noted as an example of work that posits a “road not taken,” one in which medieval Christianity could have produced a modern world much like our own, only better: less consumerist, free from relativism, more humanly fulfilling. Works by the radical philosophers Alain Badiou and Jacob Taubes are analyzed for the uses to which they put St. Paul as a source of revolutionary inspiration. And the currency of reactionary writing in today’s France, as seen in the popularity of Éric Zemmour and Michel Houellebecq, is examined at length.

“Over the past quarter-century,” Lilla writes, “French society has undergone changes that almost no one is happy with, and neither left-leaning intellectuals nor centrist politicians seem capable of addressing them satisfactorily.” Reactionary critics have filled that void. Might they do so in the United States as well?

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