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A Debate Renewed

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Conservatives are questioning their allegiance to capitalism and the Founding

It is a season of rethinking. Old assumptions are being reexamined. Years of economic stagnation punctuated by crisis; rising nationalist sentiment; shocking political developments throughout the world’s richest countries: All of it has left intellectuals of various stripes disoriented and unsettled.

You can see it on the left, where socialism is getting a new hearing. Progressives are losing faith that the neoliberal policies of the Clinton era are enough to counter rising inequality, restore economic growth, or beat back a populist Right. They also have a new sense that the limits of the possible have shifted. If Donald Trump can be elected president . . . if the major parties of France and Germany can go into free fall . . . if Britain can vote to exit the European Union — maybe other previously unimaginable causes can win. Maybe it isn’t necessary, maybe it is even folly, to dismiss some ideas as politically unrealistic.

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