Are these "the five worldviews that define American politics"

From a recent article by Michael Lind. American politics is driven by five “worldviews” which cut across what we think of as the “left-right” divide:

Neoliberal globalism: “This is more or less the official ideology of the political and corporate and financial establishments, shared by centrist New Democrats as well as by most Republican conservatives in their practice as opposed to their preaching. Shared by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton with George W. Bush, neoliberal globalism combines moderate conservatism in economics with the idea of beneficial U.S. global military hegemony.”

Social democratic liberalism: “In the U.S. and Western Europe, neoliberal orthodoxy has displaced the former social democratic liberal consensus, which in various forms dominated the Atlantic democracies until the inflation and slow economic growth of the 1970s gave ammunition to its opponents, including the ultimate victors, the centrist or center-right neoliberals. Bruised and battered, social democratic liberalism has survived and continues to provide the major alternative to bipartisan neoliberalism.”

These are the big two – one currently dominant, the other formerly dominant. There are three more worldviews which “are often represented in public debate, but they have less influence on public policy than neoliberal globalism and social democratic liberalism”:

Populist nationalism: “Populist nationalism in the U.S, as in Europe, tends to combine an inherently exclusive, ethno-religious definition of American identity as “Western” (that is, European or white) and “Christian” with a distrust of elites and a spirit of egalitarianism among the members of the “authentic” American Volk. In the realm of policy, populist nationalism tends to favor restriction of legal as well as illegal immigration to protect the “core stock” of the tribe-state from “dilution” by different races, ethnic groups or religions. Populist nationalism also tends to favor protectionist policies that shield American workers and businesses, particularly small businesses, from foreign competition.”

Libertarian isolationism: “Libertarian isolationism draws its adherents from both the left and the right. According to the libertarian isolationist interpretation of history, the U.S. changed from a decentralized republic into a militarized, authoritarian empire in the late 19th century, when the Spanish-American War made the U.S. a colonial power and trusts and cartels took over the economy. . . . If the libertarian isolationists had their way, the U.S. would abandon foreign alliances, dismantle most of its military, and return to a 19th-century pattern of decentralized government and an economy based on small businesses and small farms.”

Green Malthusianism: “This worldview synthesizes mystical versions of environmentalism with alarm about population growth in the tradition of the Rev. Thomas Malthus. The Green Malthusian perspective holds that the Industrial Revolution ended humanity’s allegedly harmonious prior relationship with Nature, permitted an explosion of the human population beyond the alleged carrying capacity of the planet and threatens to produce runaway global warming, along with pollution, resource depletion and mass species extinction. . . . Many Green Malthusians attribute virtue to the technologies and landscapes of the First Industrial Revolution – the railroad, the trolley, the streetcar city – and bitterly denounce as wicked the technologies and landscapes of the Second Industrial Revolution – the car, the truck, the plane and the suburb and edge city.”

Is this an adequate schema? Is there anything to add to the list?

Where does American Idolism fit in?

Before reading the text:


After reading the text:


For one thing, if I understand Lind’s idea of social democratic liberalism, it was never in favor in the U.S., not even during the New Deal. The U.S. has always been more socially libertarian, with lower taxes and less governmental involvement than Europe.

Green malthusianism is a non-mainstream idea in the U.S. The American viewpoint is that we can wave a technological magic wand that will result in zero-emission SUV’s and clean-burning coal.

I can’t tell what “social democratic liberalism” is supposed to value, by that description.

I’d find most agreement with the last two viewpoints, though it’s clear Lind is skeptical at best.

Well, I presume he would mean “by American standards,” so that “social democratic liberalism” is his name for what was the prevailing default ideology in American national politics and government from 1932 through 1980.

Certainly it is, but it’s here. The question is whether it is important enough to make such a list. I think it is.

We dabbled, in a way with Social democratic liberalism during the strong-labor period of the 50’s, with Johnson’s Great Society in the 60’s and even into the 70’s with Nixon’s dark authoritarianism. It seems like the tea party movement represents sort of a blurry and sometimes uncomfortable merging of the Populist nationalism and Libertarian isolationism factions. Seems like Green malthusianism is about the only thing we haven’t tried in recent years. It isn’t exactly mainstream, but a lot of people acknowledge it in principle at least. Until they find out that actually practicing it would put a dent in their comfortable lifestyle.

ETA…I see that** BrainGlutton** has said nearly the same thing, only better.

Lind’s characterization of the five worldviews read to me like “one sensible view plus four stupid ones that other people believe.”

His characterizations could be summarized thusly:

  1. The sensible one where america leads the world and is generally awesome.
  2. The one that tried to drive america into a ditch.
  3. The one where uneducated people hate brown people and/or third world countries that make stuff for cheaper than we can.
  4. The ones who think america is an evil empire.
    5 the tree huggers.

I didn’t read the article. Which one does Lind associate himself with?


I notice the theocons don’t make the list. Wonder why not? Aren’t they influential enough?

And don’t forget the technocrats.

“American Volk”?

I didn’t read any further than that. Such cheap, blatant Godwinizing does not have any place in a reasonable argument.

No. This is equally as stupid as the other “worldview categories” (weren’t there 10 or 12?) that you were peddling here for years. Obama and Bush do not share the same worldviews. And the 2nd one isn’t even defined.

Agreeing with the article linked in the OP strikes me as being impossible for a sane adult, because the linked article isn’t even coherent. It has no clear thesis or direction at all. I challenge the OP to clearly explain just what the hell the article’s actually saying. To be honest, it reads as if it’s been over-edited - it might not be the author’s fault.

But that said, you can wank a sociologication observation into any number of categories you want. I can define American politics into ten “worldviews,” three “worldviews,” seven, twelve, or eight, with just as much factual and logical basis as the linked article.

This sort of thing is the purest sort of intellectual masturbation, and it’s about as useful as whacking off, too.

I dislike Lind’s caricature of Greens. Yes, there are lots of people who think that way, but I feel like he’s just reinforcing the caricature of conservationist=Luddite=vegan.

But yeah, those probably are the groups more or less. Just, with that construction, some of us progressive Greens are more in his social-democrat box, which is what he wants, the louse.

I guess those complaining that Lind doesn’t define social democratic liberalism aren’t familiar with his work. I’m pretty sure he’s a social democrat, & would define social democratic liberalism as, “the stuff I’ve been advocating here, & the sort of thing Harry Truman did.” You want to know what it is, look at US domestic policy between 1940-1973.

This is not an exhaustive list, it’s a descriptor of common sets of biases, often sort of silly ones that people hold unexamined.

While I am generally sympathetic to the idea of examining unexamined biases, there might not be a lot of difference between examining *someone else’s *unexamined biases and creating a strawman argument.

Which is basically what **kevlaw **is suggesting.