Carl­son’s pop­ulist quar­rel with cap­i­tal­ism

Pawtucket Times - - BLACKSTONE VALLEY - By CHRIS­TINE EMBA Chris­tine Emba is an opin­ion colum­nist and editor for The Post.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And so it hap­pens that Tucker Carl­son – diver­sity op­po­nent, South Africa fan­ta­sist, noted Erik Wem­ple Blog an­tag­o­nist – has de­liv­ered a re­mark­ably cor­rect opin­ion to kick off 2019.

The bell tolled last week on the Jan. 2 edi­tion of “Tucker Carl­son Tonight,” his Fox News show. Carl­son spent sev­eral min­utes in the first half of the show be­moan­ing the plight of Amer­i­can men, who, as one seg­ment ti­tle put it, are “in de­cline as the rul­ing class looks away.”

Much of his mono­logue (and the fol­low-up seg­ment the next day) bor­dered on the ab­surd: Ris­ing rates of al­co­holism and drug use among men are a di­rect ef­fect of fem­i­nist vic­to­ries; the 1950s were only “al­legedly” sex­ist (ac­cord­ing to his guest, Man­hat­tan In­sti­tute fel­low Heather Mac Don­ald), and sex­ism is al­most im­pos­si­ble to find to­day.

Still, there were some un­com­fort­able truths to be found in be­tween the fin­ger-point­ing. Men are strug­gling: Even the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, the coun­try’s largest pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion of psy­chol­o­gists, agrees, and is craft­ing new stan­dards to ad­dress it. Mar­riage rates are erod­ing, es­pe­cially among the poor, and trade shocks – es­pe­cially to the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor – have low­ered men’s earn- ings and their mar­riage mar­ket po­ten­tial. Yes, well-ed­u­cated elites do tend to value stable mar­riages for them­selves, even while cham­pi­oning atyp­i­cal fam­ily struc­tures and lais­sez-faire life­styles in pub­lic.

Carl­son’s Wed­nes­day night mono­logue was part of a larger cri­tique of Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial sys­tems and the fail­ures of free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, and his com­men­tary was on tar­get there, too.

“Any­one who thinks the health of a na­tion can be summed up in GDP is an id­iot,” he scoffed at one point, and later elab­o­rated: “Mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism is not a re­li­gion. Mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism is a tool, like a sta­ple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to wor­ship it.” His speech reached a re­mark­able crescendo: “Any eco­nomic sys­tem that weak­ens and destroys fam­i­lies is not worth hav­ing.”

This par­tic­u­lar soap­box was oc­ca­sioned by Mitt Rom­ney, who had pub­lished a crit­i­cal ap­praisal of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in The Post on Jan. 2. Still, it was of a piece with a strand of com­men­tary – big busi­ness-skep­ti­cal, vaguely pop­ulist – that Carl­son has been weav­ing into his show for months.

In a fol­low-up in­ter­view with the news site Vox, Carl­son elab­o­rated on his coun­ter­in­tu­itive views. He even seemed ready to walk back – at least a lit­tle – some of his in­flam­ma­tory past state­ments about the cul­tural rea­sons for black poverty. “What I missed, what I think a lot of peo­ple missed, was that the eco­nomic sys­tem you’re liv­ing un­der af­fects your cul­ture,” he told reporter Jane Coas­ton. “The rea­son I didn’t think of it be­fore was be­cause I was so blinded by this lib­er­tar­ian eco­nomic pro­pa­ganda that I couldn’t get past my own as­sump­tions about eco­nomics.”

In­trigu­ingly, now that Carl­son is speak­ing the truth, it’s pro­gres­sive out­lets and per­son­al­i­ties who seem most will­ing to en­gage with his rather out-of-char­ac­ter com­men­tary. (There were pos­i­tive write-ups in the At­lantic and the above piece in Vox, as well as ap­prov­ing chat­ter on social me­dia and thought­ful dis­cus­sion else­where.) And while con­ser­va­tives were quick to de­fend his less-than-fact-based scape­goat­ing of fem­i­nism, they seem less ea­ger to coun­te­nance his newly woke ideas.

That’s a shame. Carl­son’s fiery new take should ap­peal to his tra­di­tional con­stituency, which pur­ports to have an in­ter­est in is­sues of the fam­ily and social sta­bil­ity. But con­ser­va­tives could also use this to fi­nally con­nect with those mar­ket-cri­tiquing pro­gres­sives across the aisle – or at least to un­der­stand them. If even Tucker Carl­son fi­nally knows what time it is, it’s a sign that ev­ery­one should be check­ing their clocks.

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