The Power Line Show, Ep. 141: The Primal Screams” of the Sexual Revolution

Just in time for your Labor Day weekend listening, our new episode offers a conversation with Mary Eberstadt, whose new book Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics Paul previewed here a couple days ago.

The old saying is that “sex sells,” and after the sexual revolution of the last several decades who can dispute that? Meanwhile, “identity politics” is the obsession of the current moment. Is there a connection? Most emphatically Yes, Mary argues. Eberstadt, currently a senior research fellow at the Faith & Reason Institute, takes up an aspect of the current scene that ironically hardly anyone really wants to talk about.

Mary summarizes the question in this recent excerpt in Quillette:

Yes, racism, sexism and other forms of cruelty exist, and are always to be deplored and countered. At the same time, the timeline of identity politics suggest another source. Up until the middle of the twentieth century (and barring the frequent foreshortening of life by disease or nature) human expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; and that, conversely, it was a tragedy not to be part of a family. The post-1960s order of sexual consumerism has upended every one of these expectations.

In our conversation, Mary and I range widely, from man buns to the opioid crisis, to the defects of pure libertarianism to the greatness of the late Christopher Lasch. Eberstadt also reviews her recent spirited plenary address at the first National Conservatism Conference, which you can watch here, and also commentary about the responses to her book from Rod Dreher, Mark Lilla, and Peter Thiel.

You know the drill: listen here or download from our hosts at Ricochet. And do I really need to bug everyone to subscribe to Power Line in iTunes (and leave a 5-star review!)? Why yes, yes I do. The leisure time of Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to do you duty in boosting our podcast. Do it before the NFL season starts up in earnest of Sunday.

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