At Aeon, Max Harris urges us to adopt, as an alternative to the commonly practiced politics of fear, a "radical politics of love":
Love should, in my view, be a virtue in, and an end-goal of, politics: this is what I mean by a ‘politics of love’. Put another way, the capacity to practise love – to direct a deep sense of warmth towards another – should be a character trait that is valued in politics. We should admire and encourage those who are motivated by love in their political practice (rather than being motivated by the ‘power and domination’ to which hooks refers), and who express love through political action. We should then also come to see the securing of love as a fundamental aim of what is done in politics.
The main purpose of a general politics of love is to make love a lodestar – a starting point or standard – in political discussions. A general politics of love connects politics to everyday felt experiences. It reminds us that the personal is political [and] it steers us away from individualism and self-interest...It takes us in the direction of an other-regarding politics: a politics of other people.
At Chronicles, Daniel McCarthy says we have only ourselves to blame if we're living in a dystopia:
Progressive ideology and the administrative state have tempted, cajoled, and outright coerced Americans into submitting to behavioral correction in many respects. Yet much of the 21st century’s dystopian assault on the human spirit has come from the choices that individuals freely make. No one is forced to buy a “smart” television that observes its viewers or an Amazon Echo, which responds to voice commands by listening to every word you say. Consumers instead surrender their privacy for the sake of convenience, much as travelers surrender their dignity for the sake of security—or an illusion thereof—as they consent to be stripped down by millimeter-wave scanners and groped by TSA officials. In the dystopias of Zamya tin, Huxley, and Orwell, all-powerful states employed overwhelming coercion to transform human nature. In the United States today, human nature is what makes our dehumanization possible: When the higher self is deprived of the habits and social contexts on which it depends, the lower self subsumes it. Utopian leftists in the past sought to destroy the old ways of society in order to build a perfect new order: They gladly used violence to achieve the first step, though no amount of force proved sufficient to realize the ultimate goal. Today the progressive, technocratic spirit wields force only sparingly: It is enough to weaken old institutions and habits, rather than destroy them, and then let human weakness forge its own chains. The patient will seek help willingly.
Of course, if you don't think we're living in a dystopia, then McCarthy's claims about "utopian leftists" and about "the progressive, technocratic spirit" will seem overblown, if not hyperbolic. In other words, your mileage on this essay will vary.
Dr. Carlson’s case for the development and decline of the family and civilization is well-argued and quite convincing. His argument that capitalism was the cause for that decline is another matter.
“Simply put, capitalism—at the most basic level—has a vested interest in family weakness,” he argues. Traditionally, and well into America’s founding period, autonomous, self-sufficient families and communities were considered the ideal and necessary foundation for civilization: culturally, educationally and economically. This was indeed a view espoused notably by Thomas Jefferson. “Capitalism, however, grows as it takes over tasks and functions once performed by families or within closely knit communities, and reorganizes them on the industrial model.” Capitalism’s takeover begins with yarn, then clothing, food processing and transportation, and finally almost everything, supported in its efforts by the state, which takes over culture through mandatory schooling and child-welfare regulation.
Capitalism’s need for efficient, low-paying, and universal labor, Carlson charges, is undercut by marriage, which keeps women and children at the hearth rather than the factory. Capitalist consumption is increased by divorce and the resulting two households with more furnishings. Capitalists likewise support feminism, LGBTQ rights, and free trade to increase labor supply and lower wage costs. Family-held and private companies are more positive toward traditional families, but even their tendency over time is to capitulate to the power of market rationalization.
Devine's response is that Carlson has confused true capitalism—free markets and small, independent entrepreneurs—with what is commonly called "crony capitalism" in which large companies team with government to restrict competition. One problem with that response is that crony capitalism is the inevitable outcome of capitalism itself; the only way to prevent it is through government regulations that prevent corporations from acquiring inordinate power (power which they use in turn to capture the regulating agencies). You would have to impose "too big to fail" restrictions, not just on banks and other financial institutions, but on retail giants like Walmart as well.
The larger problem with Devine's defense of capitalism is that it ignores the impacts of (a) the spirit of acquisitiveness and (b) the ascendancy of individualism, both of which go hand in hand with capitalism ("crony"-style or otherwise) and both of which undermine traditional social structures, including the family. Mr. Devine will have to work harder to convince us that the baleful consequences of capitalism are somehow separable from the thing itself.
Finally, at The Baffler, J.M. Bernays gleefully mocks liberals for their obsession with Russian interference in our election. Bernays acknowledges that "it is perfectly possible that some collusion between Trump’s agents and Russian hackers did indeed occur." But that trifling detail, insists Bernays, is beside the point:
The empirical question of whether or not it happened is secondary to the deeper psychological need for media pundits, policy wonks, and the professional-managerial strata to maintain their sense of self when the objective historical conditions in which they flourished are being actively dissolved. For liberals, the continued libidinal investment in the drama of the as-yet invisible Trump-Russia scandal actively blocks any realization that the neoliberal order they are trying to restore is already dead on its feet, and that Trump is the uniquely bizarre American expression of a visible worldwide trend: the virulent, deepening nationalist backlash against a financially-integrated global economy based on the relatively free movement of commodities and people. His ascent is a death knell for an entire era and the basic assumptions about economic and political life that shape the worldview of contemporary liberals.
Bernays is no fan of Trump; rather, he is making the left-wing case for the bankruptcy of liberalism, which he is certain is going to be replaced by a socialist alternative just as soon as we get through this interregnum of Right-Populism. I don't know if Bernays is correct or not, but I do know that his schadenfreude is more than a little unseemly; if Trump does even half as bad a job as some of us fear, it won't only be liberals who suffer the consequences.