CRB: Will the real authoritarian please stand up?

When we previewed the Spring issue of the Claremont Review of Books earlier this year, we celebrated editor Charles Kesler’s receipt of a 2018 Bradley Prize at the 15th annual Bradley Prizes ceremony in Washington. I declared it the week of Charles in his honor. A good time was had by all. The CRB is of course the flagship publication of the Claremont Institute. Charles has turned the CRB into a great and essential magazine. The Bradley Prize paid tribute to Charles’s work with the CRB and its contribution to our understanding of the principles and institutions of American exceptionalism. I find in every issue an education in the true understanding of politics.

We turn now to the new (Summer) issue of the CRB. I have selected three review/essays from the issue to preview on Power Line this week along with a bonus review by our own Steve Hayward. We will have a big, beautiful share of the intellectual heart and soul of this issue. Purchase an annual subscription here for $19.95 and get immediate online access to the whole thing.

You may recall that the CRB published Michael Anton’s essay “The Flight 93 election” in the run-up to the presidential election the following November. (Anton wrote the essay under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus.) The essay made a difference; it was certainly the single most important piece advocating the election of Donald Trump. Anton went on to serve as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration until this past April. He is now Lecturer in Politics and Research Fellow at the Hillsdale College Kirby Center in Washington and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.

Well, of course, we all know that the Trump’s election foretold the descent of the dark night of fascism in the United States. Who better than Anton lead off our preview of the new issue of the CRB with his review/essay on books of varying quality bearing on the descent? Anton’s essay poses the pointed question “Will the real authoritarian please stand up?” It opens:

One of the nice things about a core curriculum—sadly disappearing from most of higher education—is that it forces you to read books you would otherwise have skipped. Although this can be painful in the moment, it often pays off in unexpected ways.

Sigmund Freud is not a writer I would have picked up had he not been assigned. But I’m glad he was. The older I get, and the more of the Left I see, the more useful becomes Freud’s concept of “projection,” an unconscious defense mechanism that protects the ego from guilt or anxiety. It has amazing explanatory power and can help one make sense of a trove of recent books by left-wing writers, and one disgruntled former conservative, that blame Donald Trump for “authoritarianism” in American politics.

I commend this witty and learned essay to your attention.

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