I love Mark Judge. Now, I don’t know Mark, nor have I ever met him, so don’t get worried. Judge is a journalist, filmmaker, and author who has some very strong opinions about conservatives and culture. He’s given to hyperbole, but I love his passion and insight. In a recent article, Judge says that if he could talk briefly to a conservative billionaire, he would implore him to fund a Conservative Chair in Popular Culture:
I’m thinking of a position helmed by a thinker who can contribute substantive thought and lengthy essays about American popular culture. Topics wouldn’t have to just be blockbuster superhero movies or silliness at the MTV awards; the scholar could delve into jazz, old movies, crime fiction, experimental music, whatever. Greil Marcus by way of Robert George.
A Conservative Chair in Popular Culture would address the left’s control of popular culture, but could do so in a way that was not reactive. By acknowledging that the battle for culture is a long one and that pop culture speaks to the deepest values and longings of people, a conservative focus on films, novels, comic books, and music could do what plain old conservatism has not been able to: change hearts and minds.
Obviously a fantastic idea, but this has been happening to one degree or another at The American Culture since 2006! And the Liberty21 Institute, of which this august publication is a part, has a mission in line with exactly what Judge is advocating. In the context of stating the obvious, that the left owns popular culture, he makes an assertion that we here at Liberty21 and The American Culture would contest:
[T]he right has nothing to contribute to the conversation.
He is primarily speaking of the media and entertainment infrastructure that the left has built up over the last 50 years, which gives its messages resonance with average Americans. Yet in one sense this is hyperbole, because the right’s cultural conversation is more robust than ever, though Judge makes the salient point that this is not enough. Responding to the liberal assault on traditional American values is understandable, but playing defense will never create a culture where the Founding values of liberty and personal responsibility reign. This assertion is undeniable:
Saturday Night Live changed more people than National Review.
Thus some of the billions of dollars that go into political advocacy must be redirected to sponsor an effort to build popular cultural institutions that can challenge the leftist progressive hegemony we currently must endure. We must also support, with dollars, right-of-center artists, entertainers, authors, screenwriters, and all of the other types of cultural producers who affirm what the left denies.
Judge is absolutely right to state that this is a long game. Generations of Americans to come will benefit from the cultural mandate Judge and many others are now calling for.