There are many cultural critics on the American scene who address American classical music, or politics, or literature, or pop culture, or urban life. Very few have the reach or the dexterity to wrestle capably with all those subjects -- and to make it look effortless. Stanley Crouch falls squarely into this category. A former jazz drummer himself, his output comprises numerous books, essays, and lectures on everything from jazz and blues to graphic novels to identity politics to the successes and failures of America's post-Civil Rights era. His works run the gamut from the polemical (The All-American Skin Game) to the fictional (Don't The Moon Look Lonesome) to the biographical (Kansas City Lightning), but a few common themes unite them all: a profound and defiant humanism, a rejection of essentialist thinking, a thorough awareness of human complexity, and an ironclad faith in the creative power of disciplined improvisation -- which finds its truest expression, according to Crouch, in the art form of Jazz and in the American experiment which gave birth to it.
The American Conservative comes closer to the ideal of principled advocacy than any other conservative publication -- from Daniel Larison's consistent opposition to dangerous militarism, to Gracy Olmstead's winsome embrace of localism and tradition, to the urgency of Rod Dreher's Christian-inflected Southern blues, anchored at the crossroads of culture and religion.
The Foundationist Society is not a religious organization, but we find much to appreciate in the writing at Catholic publication First Things: learned and well-written without being stuffy, opinionated and insistent without being strident.
HBB, founded by Alison Tieman, is an organization run by happy warriors: women who are fighting the good fight for true gender equity -- in other words, against feminism. Two standouts: Karen Straughan's witty and sometimes sarcastic polemics -- backed up by her deep scholarship and rigorous examinations of the history of gender relations and politics -- and Hannah Wallen's calm but withering indictments of mainstream feminism, which are similarly rooted in fact and case-law study.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is on a quest to rescue what is best in Western society from those who would destroy it. His prescription most closely resembles the Foundationist one: to see deeply into things, to direct one's efforts first toward the self, to change the world by building from within. His attacks on the (post)modern Left have made him the enemy of the cultural establishment, both on and off college campuses; but his method of argument -- learned, passionate, reasoned, nonpartisan, and deeply humane -- has earned him the respect and admiration of a huge and politically diverse audience.
Peter Hitchens is a British conservative journalist and essayist. He is the author of several books, including "The Rage Against God", "The Abolition of Britain", and "The War We Never Fought". He is also a believing Christian, and this partly informs his eloquent and principled defense of tradition and family as the keystones of civil society. He is by his own admission a former Trotskyist, but it is a testament to his integrity that having rejected one belief system, he does not reflexively embrace its opposite; that is, he rejects both the (redistributive) state and the so-called free market as the foundation of a just and humane society. Mr. Hitchens has a regular column in the UK newspaper The Mail On Sunday.
To his enemies, Tommy Robinson is a dangerous man. It is more accurate to say that Tommy Robinson is dangerous precisely because he is a man: that is, a man as we used to understand the term. Courageous, plain-spoken, patriotic, family-oriented, and -- worst of all -- daring to be angry at his enemies for their attacks on civil society, particularly the most vulnerable members of UK civil society. His voice is one of the most prominent among the many which have risen to protest the grooming gangs which have been preying on underage girls in the working-class towns and cities of the United Kingdom. Reasonable people may disagree with his politics, but not with his fundamental message: that religion can be criticized without hatred, and society can be defended without bigotry -- but when children are attacked, men of good conscience must stand and fight.
James LaFond is a fighter -- and a writer. In both occupations he uses a variety of weapons: fists, knives, sticks, satire, history, humor. In neither occupation does he give in to the deadly temptations of softness and sentimentality. One gets the sense from his writing -- which ranges from scholarly to bleakly humorous to frankly offensive and back again -- the that he is at war with a society which is determined to destroy itself by destroying its men. His humor reads at times like gallows humor, but in the fight he asks no quarter, and gives none. (Professional offense-takers of all colors -- and both genders -- take note: his numerous books, essays, and blog posts are not safe for those who seek safety or comfort.)
In his "Harm City" pieces, which cover the many troubles in his native Baltimore City (including the Freddie Gray riots), we get an uncompromising picture of social breakdown, delivered in the uncompromising language of a working-class white guy who knows how to spin a hard-boiled narrative: equal parts Archie Bunker and Elmore Leonard. His writing is devoid of bourgeois evasions and pretensions concerning ethnic conflict and human wrongdoing, but he never indulges in the collective white narcissism of alt-righters who frequent the same territory; he does not proceed from assumptions of, for example, Northern European racial superiority (LaFond, as a serious student of history, knows what "Aryan" actually means). He simply looks around him at street level, and casts an unsparing eye -- a fighter's eye -- on the best and the worst of what is there.