In his first campaign for the presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama, D-Ill, declared that the phrase “culture war” was “so 90s.” Nevertheless, there are strong indications, seven years later, that the conflict is still with us, late and soon.
“But ask yourselves this question: apart from conservatism, what have been the most important intellectual and social movements of the past forty years?” historian George Nash asked rhetorically at a meeting of the Philadelphia Society in Philadelphia last month. “As a historian I will give you my answer: feminism, environmentalism, and multiculturalism.”
“Since the 1970s America has been moving Right and Left at the same time.” The Philadelphia Society is comprised of a group of conservative intellectuals formed in the wake of the Goldwater defeat of 1964.
“Many conservatives, of course, including many in this room, are laboring valiantly and effectively in the realm of cultural renewal,” Nash said. “But as a historian I am constrained to note that the ‘progressives’ in this country continue to predominate in the production of culture, and in the manufacture and distribution of prestige among our cultural elites. As long as this imbalance continues, the fate of post-Reagan conservatism will be problematic.”
Nash is the author of many bestselling histories including The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945.