All social orders are supported by “legitimation stories”. These are the reasons orders give us to support them, or at least to stay out of their way. Legitimation stories don’t have to be true, but they have to be persuasive. The social order has to create a set of conditions that are similar enough to the stories that we mistake what we have for what we were promised. Legitimation stories are chiefly about “good order”. Order is straightforward–social orders promise to protect us from violence, starvation, instability, and precarity. They promise to make us feel secure. “Good” is less obvious, because “good” tends to mean different things to different people in different contexts. Liberal legitimation stories understand “good” in three senses:
The trouble is that terms like “free”, “equal”, and “representative” don’t have stable social meanings. Our understandings of these terms can easily slide out of alignment with the understandings we need to have for legitimation stories to work. If we understand “equality” to mean “a fair distribution of resources” but the liberal order wants us to understand “equality” as “everyone gets to have their say”, the order has to convince us that we’ve misunderstood the meaning of equality. It has to get us to think about it in a whole different way. When gaps open up between the conditions the order produces and our expectations, it is often because the order has lost control over how we understand the words it uses to tell its stories. When this happens, the order appears “hypocritical”–it appears to say one thing and do another, to tell stories it has no intention of realising. That’s what today’s post is about–the liberal order’s hypocrisies.
This week, Elizabeth Warren overtook Bernie Sanders on the Morning Consult poll. This is the first time she’s placed second on Morning Consult. She’s now up a full point on the RealClear poll average, including 11-point advantages on Quinnipiac and YouGov. She’s up a point on Emerson too. Sanders hangs on to two-point leads on Harris and FOX News’ polls, but trails everywhere else.
Sanders led by 4 points as recently as June and 10 points as recently as May. He’s dropped from 23% in the average to 17%. In April, Warren’s campaign looked moribund. She polled at less than 6% and was getting obliterated in fundraising. We have screwed this up. But the good news is that we have time. Iowa isn’t until February. There’s four full months to turn this around. But if we’re going to do it, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and the role we’ve been playing in the race.
Today I’m happy to announce a new podcast I’m co-hosting with Aimee Terese called “What’s Left“. Adam Rensch, co-host of the Stop/Rewind podcast, is the producer. On “What’s Left”, Aimee and I will discuss left-wing politics, including, among other things:
There are many different places you can listen to the podcast:
I’m on the Dead Pundits Society podcast with Adam Proctor and Aimee Terese this week. It’s one of my favourite interviews I’ve done–it’s theoretically rich, both in terms of depth and breadth. Adam and Aimee are sharp and witty and do terrific work. You can listen to it here:
There will be an additional hour-long “B side” released shortly for those who subscribe to the podcast. On the B side you can hear us discuss “The Left is Not a Church.”