Exploring why conservatives have lost almost every political argument since 1945, Ed West looks at this endless litany of failure from the perspective of one of the losers, in a semi-autobiographical, self-deprecating way.
Since the 1950s the western world has gone through a huge cultural shift, comparable to the rise of Christianity during the late Roman period and the 16th century religious revolution unleashed by Martin Luther. Both of these led to profound changes in public ideas about morality and sexuality, and eventually to ‘culture wars’ between two deeply opposed groups. Today what we’re witnessing is a sort of second Reformation, and that’s why it’s going to be long, painful and boring, and both sides are going to get more idiotic and hysterical, just as religious divisions once drove Catholics and Protestants into prolonged insanity.
Conservatives, like the pagans and Catholics before them, are very much on the losing side. The future appears progressive and their defeat is inevitable, part of an ‘arc of history’ that leads irrevocably to a progressive utopia in which they’re left in the dustbin. As Barack Obama said of al-Qaeda, another group of guys not entirely comfortable with the modern world, conservatives are ‘Small Men on the Wrong Side of History’.
Too many polemics and articles on the Right are tediously shouty, and too few of them explore where their arguments have fallen flat and why people find conservatives so repulsive. Small Men on the Wrong Side of History is aimed at being the rare conservative book that someone on the Left will enjoy.
West will look at some of the idiocies of the modern Right and the strange characteristics shared by conservatives, including himself, but he will also offer explanations as to why people are conservative, and explain some of the benefits conservatism offers. In particular he argues it’s now necessary as a break on ‘runaway liberalism’, the competitive desire to appear Woker Than Thou which is driving progressive politics to extremes, and which has provoked a reaction with figures like the psychologist Jordan Peterson and his legion of fans.