A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars by Andrew Hartman

By Andrew Hartman

When Patrick Buchanan took the level on the Republican nationwide conference in 1992 and proclaimed, “There is a non secular conflict happening for the soul of our country,” his viewers knew what he was once speaking approximately: the tradition wars, which had raged through the prior decade and might proceed until eventually the century’s finish, pitting conservative and spiritual american citizens opposed to their liberal, secular fellow electorate. It was once an period marked via polarization and posturing fueled by way of deep-rooted anger and insecurity.
Buchanan’s fiery speech marked a excessive aspect within the tradition wars, yet as Andrew Hartman exhibits during this richly analytical historical past, their roots lay farther again, within the tumult of the 1960s—and their importance is far more than commonly assumed. excess of a trifling sideshow or shouting fit, the tradition wars, Hartman argues, have been the very public face of America’s fight over the unparalleled social alterations of the interval, because the cluster of social norms that had lengthy ruled American existence started to collapse to a brand new openness to various principles, identities, and articulations of what it intended to be an American. The hot-button concerns like abortion, affirmative motion, artwork, censorship, feminism, and homosexuality that ruled politics within the interval have been indicators of the bigger fight, as conservative americans slowly started to acknowledge—if in the beginning via rejection—many primary modifications of yankee life.
As an ever-more partisan but in addition an ever-more different and accepting the US maintains to discover its means in a altering international, A battle for the Soul of America reminds us of the way we came, and what all of the shouting has relatively been about.

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This included the massive American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), led by cigar-chomping George Meany. 52 Labor’s disenchantment with McGovern grew out of its anger at him for heading the reform commission that overhauled the demographic composition of the Democratic Party delegation. When youthful party insurgents failed to stamp their imprint on the party platform in 1968— a failure that was due, they determined, to the corrupt delegate system, with its “secret caucuses, closed slate-making, widespread proxy voting, and a host of other procedural irregularities”— these so-called “New Politics” Democrats had struck back by forming the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection.

But whether or not he was aware of CIA largesse, it is doubtful that such sponsorship shaped his editorial guidance. Even prior to editing Encounter, Kristol was a stringent anticommunist. The Cold War revealed that anti-Stalinist leftists like Kristol were typically more anti-Stalinist than leftist. Kristol’s anticommunism ran so deep that he publicly defended the pugnacious Joe McCarthy— a breach of Cold War liberalism’s avowedly moderate style. “There is one thing the American people know about Senator McCarthy,” Kristol wrote.

51 If gay liberation represented the apex of sixties-era liberation for some, for others it signaled the decline of Western civilization. ” Conservatives were those most likely to take a dim view of gay liberation. But they 34 C h a pt e r one were not alone. Many on the Left implicitly connected the decline of organized labor to the rise of gay liberation and the other identity movements of the New Left. This was most evident in responses to George McGovern’s 1972 campaign for presidency, which ended in a landslide loss to Nixon.

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