Conservatives the world over are taking back power and restoring sanity, but where is Peter Dutton?
2022 is the year that nation-first politics entered a bull market. In Sweden, the Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats) grew from 1 per cent of the vote in 2002 to a controlling majority of 20.5 per cent this year, with leader Jimmie Åkesson – in true Scandinavian pragmatism – vowing to ‘make Sweden good again’. Likewise in Italy, where Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party went from winning 4 per cent in 2016 to 26 per cent today. In France, Marine Le Pen recorded her highest result ever – and in Hungary, Viktor Orban secured his fourth consecutive Prime Ministership. The EU Commissioners, it can be assumed, are losing their minds.
It doesn’t end there. In Biden’s America, there’s a New Right in town. ‘Populism isn’t over’, Simon Kuper wrote in the Financial Times, ‘It’s getting an upgrade.’ What started in 2016 as a gut-feeling backlash against ‘ruling elites’ has since morphed into something more sophisticated: think tanks, talk shows, op-eds, and policy-based publications. It brings together dissidents, populists, nation-first conservatives, the working class, and ‘outsider elite’ alike, all with one mission: save America. Trump 2024 or no, what he started six years ago has now taken on a form of its own. The head was cut off, and three more appeared.
‘Somehow he [Trump] just busted through that wall. That’s when I started paying attention. I thought that could be powerful,’ said Blake Masters, the Republican Senate candidate for Arizona.
Like Meloni, Masters’ priority is to put family and nation before tax cuts and the economy. He wants to cut both legal and illegal migration so that Americans can return to the ‘American dream’. Where they differ is that while Trump instinctively sensed a tectonic shift at the hands of globalism, people like Masters and Meloni lived it firsthand. Unlike the older generations who enjoyed growing up in functioning, safe and monocultural countries, the young today have grown up to find that their countries have become, as Masters put it, ‘dystopian hell holes’. This is to their advantage: it’s easier to fight back against free trade, big tech, and mass migration when you’ve seen the damage it does – and besides, if you don’t own anything, what do you have to lose?
While Trump 2016 was a one-man army riding high on gut instinct, America’s New Right has gone professional. There’s the political candidates (JD Vance, Joe Beck), think tanks (Claremont Institute), publications (American Mind, IM_1776, Compact), philosophers (Michael Anton, Curtis Yarvin), and an ever-growing online community. These are not outliers either, Tucker Carlon’s Tonight program – possibly the movement’s best-known ally – is America’s most popular cable show.
Others are putting their money where their mouth is. Knight Takes Rook is a digital advertising firm that works solely with ‘based’ businesses, while New Founding is an investment firm that wants to ‘take billions of dollars out of Woke capital’ and create an entirely new structure that sees strong families as a basis for good business. Matthew J. Peterson, the founder of the firm, argues that conservatives need to stop ‘rallying against the decline of the west’ and instead focus their energies on ‘creating the future that they want to live in’.
Such is the changing of the times that strange bedfellows are starting to form. Mary Harrington, a writer and self-professed ‘radical feminist’, has found a following among former Trump backers. Taking on the prevailing trans dogma of today’s left, the two sides have met in the middle to defend womanhood, femininity, and the sacredness of sex. ‘Defending women means defending the human… The interests of 21st Century feminism has converged with those of conservatives,’ she said. Once bitter enemies, a coalition between feminism and the populist right is forming against the more destructive sides of today’s Wokeism.
Even the digital cultural elite are starting to give new ideas serious airtime. The Red Scare podcast, perhaps the best example of this ‘vibe shift’, started off as a Bernie-supporting leftist podcast. It now hosts people like Curtis Yarvin and reviews underground classics like Bronze Age Mindset. ‘New York’s hottest club is the Catholic Church,’ headlined one New York Times article, detailing how after decades of dating apps and pleasure-seeking, the young are ditching modernity for meaning. In other words, casual sex and night clubs are out, starting a family and moving to the country is in. As one friend told me recently, ‘religion is based’.
The movement is growing. The National Conservatism conference held its third and largest event ever last month in Miami, Florida. Topics ranged from the religious; ‘Catholicism in the next America’, to the institutional; ‘Confronting the National Security State’, to the very online; ‘Against the black pill’ (meaning a feeling of defeat against the Wokeist world). Peter Thiel challenged the movement to come up with a viable alternative model to tech-rich California, and the former ‘never Trump’ Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts ate humble pie, offering his allegiance to the nation-first movement: ‘I come not to urge national conservatives to join our movement, but to say that Heritage is a part of yours.’
The main event was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, setting out National Conservatism’s key differences from previous Republican governments: ‘The United States is a nation that has an economy, not the other way around.’ Rachel Bovard put forward the agenda: ‘We’re winning the argument, the next step is winning the fight. It’s about creating a political strategy and policy reform, powerful enough to realign our politics and rescue our nation,’ she said. ‘Because ready or not, National Conservatism is becoming America’s political majority.’
The same may soon be said for Australia. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Sydney, audience members booed senior Liberal Party figures for urging support after years of lockdowns and leftist concessions. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s sole criticism of Labor’s recent hike in migration was ‘too little, too late’ – not that it would hurt families or workers.
The Liberal Party problem is much the same as the GOP problem: sclerosis has set in, and focus on families, people, the nation, and community as the basis for a healthy country is all but forgotten. Now it’s just money and GDP, most of which funnels upwards. Vague notions of ‘liberty’ and ‘a stronger economy’ spouted by current conservative think tanks and politicians don’t resonate anymore, especially not for the young.
For us to avoid a revolution, there needs to be a realignment: new think tanks, leaders, public figures, events to drive a movement. More than that, there needs to be a new donor class that sees commercial value in a healthier nation, not just pride of place atop a ponzi scheme. If this doesn’t happen, it won’t just be dark days ahead, it’ll be the dark ages. Europeans and Americans are realising what time it is – will we?