Whatever is happening to the American right, ideology, as it was once understood, has very little to do with it. At most it has become an afterthought, an improvisational wardrobe for the playacting that constitutes contemporary conservatism. Milo represents the transformation of a politics into a pure aesthetic, a self-conscious elevation of style over substance, the apotheosis of reactionary camp.
Perhaps this isn’t so counterintuitive or surprising as it first appears.
As defined by Steve Bannon and Breitbart, the new political force that has swept Trump into the White House borrows far more from the epater le bourgeoisie toolkit of 60’s counterculture, which the Reagan Revolution was once ranged against, than it does from the writings of Burke, Kirk or Friedman. The only discernible goal now is to undermine and upend rather than defend and preserve. Flawed institutions exist not to be reformed but dismantled. All in the name of tradition. If “Make America Great Again” seems a parody of Stephen Colbert’s parody of a rightwing blowhard’s slogan, that’s because it is…
The course correction, then, was always bound to be a knowing, winking cultivation of lying as a pleasurable pursuit in and of itself, which means that liars and bullshit artists were to eventually take on the role of a new cultural vanguard. Society, hip to their game, could not but welcome them after so many years of stultifying realism.