We have turned a corner in the public discourse, and in how discourse translates to institutional behavior, and it is not progress. While "progressive" social, economic, and onto-theological ideas have failed at every ballot box except the chief executive, these ideas have won in business. The New Right is right on this one. They're wrong in so many places, but they are right on this one. Ross Douthat, Sohrab Amari, Michael Brendan Dougherty. They are onto something here.

Progressives, and increasingly moderate liberals, pay lip service to progressive ideas, because the institutions that write their paychecks are doing so. Grievances have won in business because disadvantages in race, gender, and disability are the only legal categories, which protect people from the utterly arbitrary decisions of potentially abusive employers. Rather than balk at the developed world's weakest system of labor protections, workers fall all over themselves to obey in advance.

It is time for the pendulum to swing back to some semblance of sanity. Free speech is not a joke. Anyone who is from a country where it is lacking knows that it is the only bulwark standing between the American way of life, and authoritarian rule. It may be fashionable to "cancel" people for failure to be perfectly neutral on every fraught topic, as if neutrality were even possible. But it's a road of good intentions leading straight to hell.

Wanting to avoid discriminiation in an office setting is a noble cause. Letting your office concerns bleed into your entire being, including who you are outside of the office, is a grave error, in my view. Your career is not a personality, and waking up at age 58 only to realize you lost yourself is not OK. Our era of chicken shit politics is directly caused by a sort of category mistake of our values. Like, it may be the case that you can't proselytize your religion at work, but you're still allowed to have faith!

None of the liberal friends I have so much as know a trans person. They don't have any queer friends at all. But they dutifully put pronouns in their email signatures. They whisper in their marital beds, "I don't know. I think maybe the whole surgery thing is a little crazy..." Meanwhile in public, they're championing behavior, which they would experience as a downright tragedy, if it were to happen in their own family.

All of the liberal friends I have live in exclusive zoning, and send their kids to schools with diversity rates that would bring tears of joy to Jim Crow. And yet there they are, putting diversity bullshit on LinkedIn. Clearly, people do not actually believe that all axes of diversity are an inherent good. They do not want housing for poor people built in their public school zones, and they will fight to the death to block it. And if they lose that battle, they will put the kids in private.

Most of the liberal friends I have are ostensibly godless, contemptuously godless, and yet they have sacrificed their would-be first born children, their friendships, their marriages, and their very personalities, at the alter of careerism. Clearly, they do think there is an objective standard for what constitutes "the good life," which is more or less the same thing, in my mind, as admitting that there is a God. It's just a really cold shouldered God they have chosen to worship. A God that will never love you back.

All of the liberal friends I have, in essence, have made choices that are flagrantly sociopathic, i.e. greedy, contemptuous, vain, even murderous, etc (myself included). And yet, nobody would cry more crocodile tears or excommunicate you faster for calling them out, than they would. Like, who is the victim for real? Why can't we dish it like we take it? Why is it ruthless competition for the, and tender love and mercies for me?

All of the liberal friends I have, as part of their Careerist religion, clearly worship talent, narrowly defined. And yet asked whether they think abilities are preferable to disabilities, they will tell you that everyone is equal. What is the point of confusing our children into thinking that nothing matters, and that the world owes them the same amount of respect, regardless of whether they fail or succeed? That is a recipe for disaster. Nobody knows better that abilities are awesome and disabilities are tragic than the disabled themselves, of which we are all at least in part.

The claim of being "offended," in the public discourse, seems like a trump card. Unlike the mythical race card, or gender card, which are not actually good cards to have in your hand, the offended card seems to give you magical powers, especially if you are an elite member of the ruling class. You can extort apologies paid to accounts bearing your name, to be signed over to their rightful beneficiaries in some yet undefined future–entrap people in litigation or mediation, get people fired, and push people into social exile–using the offended card. So often, it literally turns into "offended" mobs writing into people's employers, trying to destroy their livelihoods for failing to have a pleasing opinion online.

Slowly, as each of us on an individual level seeks to avoid confrontation, as each of us apologizes to people with no standing to be offended–professional whiners who feel offended on behalf of other people, with whom they share no solidarity, and whose plight they don as a cloak in a game of moral cosplay–our institutions slowly become hostage to the loudest complainers amongst them. Paralysis takes hold, one muscle cell and one nerve ending at a time.

This is a real threat, and it remains such. Countless people, some of our funniest and best, are ensnared in the bullshit everyday, to say nothing of the mundane bureaucratic traps of paperwork and infinite personnel referral loops. The conservatives are right on this. Their critique of bureaucracy may be facile and a little dumb, but at least they have one. I can't tell you how many progressives have told me that their vision for America is, "Higher taxes. Myself included." Like, seriously dude? We might as well lay down our swords and die with that one.

And this is why the populists of the right are not going away. "Bureaucracy" is the shorthand for being held hostage to the most offended. Donald Trump is the anti-bureaucracy candidate, insofar as he represents the dream that you can be eccentric and offensive, and still succeed in life. Clearly, without his family money, he would be destitute and irrelevant.

The Trump revolution is in no way over. Anti-bureaucracy is about to make a comeback bigger than MAGA. Truly I sympathize with people who feel frustrated and powerless on all sides of the political spectrum. People don't just want to be offended to extort kindness. People want to be offended because they want to have a cause, a purpose, a telos. There is nothing I sympathize with more.

It seems so clear to urban professionals that their rural counterparts are the losers–with their sore loser confederate flags (you live in Spokane dude), and their sore loser January 6th riot, and their sore loser politics–yet they take no notice of the increasingly joyless vacuity of their own "successful" lives. They have no notion of how their own lukewarm offerings might occasion a taster to spit them out. Their rural counterparts at least admit that something has been lost, that America's greatness is waning, however wrong they may be on details.

I want nothing more than for there to be enlightenment on race, gender, disabilities, and poverty. Without a change of heart, it's clear that we not only lose each other, but everything. However, cowing to losers whose only shot at power or recognition is to be offended is not the path to change. We need courage most of all. We need the courage to redirect rage towards the actual structures that keep us down. And most of all, we need to consider it a duty to speak up.

So instead of rehearsing apologies on social media, rehearse this: "What do I owe you? Why do you think I owe you anything?" These are the questions to ask. Who is more likely to display courage? A bureaucrat? Or a criminal? Who is ready to fight in a future in which the stakes are existential? Is it a staid ladder climber? Or a rabid individualist? What stock is your hero most likely to come from, in a random sample? Now that is a question to consider.

Hannah Arendt brilliantly connected the dots between widespread mendacity, loneliness, and totalitarianism in the aptly named Origins of Totalitarianism. When we become accustomed to a public sphere, in which only lies are admissable, we become so practiced in lying, that we accidentally brainwash ourselves. We thus become unable to renew ourselves at the very fountain of our own being, and become as fundamentally alone as the man in solitary confinement. Alienated subjects become ready vectors for heinous ideologies.