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Furthering the neoconservative diagnosis

A while back I noted the oddity of Catholic neocon George Weigel praising Philadelphia in the 50s as “a town of ethnic neighborhoods in which Catholic kids unselfconsciously identified themselves by parish … dang, it was great” and in a few lines without explanation attacking those who wanted to maintain ethnic and religious boundaries in Philadelphia. Now there’s a short but rambly piece at the First Things weblog in which the author (a Southern Catholic girl who went on to become a German lit professor at Columbia) that comments positively on the moral life of the 50s and negatively on “the segregation and hermeticism that characterized American life then.” Such pieces are part of what lead me to view neoconservatism as the view of ambitious and upwardly-mobile careerists (the First Things writer appears to have achieved a career beyond her intelligence) who now identify with those who rule the world, and thus denigrate particularities that obstruct the power of their new class, but remember fondly the local and communal life of their childhood and so look for rhetorical or programmatic ways to support certain moral and social aspects of that life under conditions of enforced liberal universalism. It is truly conservatism as the politics of nostalgia.

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