The most sophisticated forms of nationalism exist only in the abstract. The actual, on-the-ground versions are far less defensible.

Tucker Carlson (L) and Pat Buchanan (R). (Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty)

The first annual National Conservatism Conference took place in Washington, D.C. in July of last year. It featured talks by nationalist intellectuals like Yoram Hazony, author of The Virtue of Nationalism, and Rich Lowry, author of The Case for Nationalism.

What brand of nationalism were they advocating? The website expressed a shared desire to “recover and reconsolidate the rich tradition of national conservative thought.” This flavor of nationalism, the conference framers argued, has the “power to bind a people together and bring about their flourishing.” Who could possibly find fault with a project like this?

That’s precisely one of the…


Part of the left might be “losing its mind,” but far from all

Noam Chomsky in May 2014 (Uli Deck/picture alliance via Getty Images)

“It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact,” Matt Taibbi recently wrote in a widely shared Substack post, “but the American left has lost its mind.” Taibbi’s post is largely about public defenestrations taking place at media organizations across the country, in which editors and writers have been mobbed and fired for publishing views that run counter to the dominant narratives on the left after the killing of George Floyd.

New York Times editorial editor James Bennet was pushed out for publishing an essay by Sen. Tom Cotton that called for the U.S. military to “disperse…


Want to stop the condescension to ordinary Americans? Stop treating them like fragile babies who can’t help but throw tantrums.

A jeep equipped with a military style mounted gun that was used by Kris Kobach, Republican primary candidate for Governor of Kansas in 2018. | Credit: Steve Pope (Getty)

In early 2018, Niall Ferguson moderated a conversation with Francis Fukuyama and Charles Murray at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. The subject was “inequality and populism,” and Murray made one of his favorite arguments: “Along with not understanding the lives of ordinary Americans, the cognitive elite increasingly despises, has contempt for … ordinary Americans. I think that is at the heart of Donald Trump’s election.”

To illustrate his point, Murray happened to mention a place I know well. After observing that members of the cognitive elite often have an “intense interest in the most oppressed, deprived segments of American society,” he…


Like the cable news pundits they criticize, Glenn Greenwald and the Intercept have an agenda

In a recent article for Politico Magazine, Steven Perlberg wonders if the Intercept — a magazine that started as an “obsessive anti-surveillance reporting enterprise” and an “activist voice for privacy and civil liberties” — will “handicap the only Democrats who have a serious chance of capturing the White House” as it becomes increasingly enmeshed in party politics.

It’s a good question. The Intercept has become one of the most prominent and relentless foes of the Democratic establishment, particularly since the 2016 presidential election. …


Instead of betraying its Kurdish allies yet again, the United States should do its part to defend them

In a September interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, Noam Chomsky urged the United States to defend its Kurdish allies in northern Syria:

In my opinion, it makes sense for the United States to maintain a presence which would deter an attack on the Kurdish areas. They have the one part of Syria which has succeeded in sustaining a functioning society.

Chomsky pointed out that the consequences of abandoning the Kurds — something President Trump decided to do when he announced a full withdrawal of U.S. forces a month ago — could be horrendous: “The idea that they should be…


I’m told I should cut Trump supporters out of my life. If I did, I’d be forced to disown half my family.

A map of the United States hangs on the wall in my brother’s apartment. It’s divided into counties, each of which is shaded either red or blue, dark or light. Our home state of Kansas is blanketed in just about every shade of red, from deep maroon in the west to a mix of blood red and pink across the rest of the state. There are only two splotches of blue near the eastern border (Wyandotte County and Douglas County, where you’ll find the city of Lawrence and the University of Kansas, our alma mater).

The map displays the results…

Matt Johnson

Writer and editor in Kansas City. Bylines: Quillette, Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Bulwark, Areo Magazine, Editor & Publisher, Arc Digital, etc.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store