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The World the Civil Rights Movement Wrought:
Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement

1,664 wordsCover of Christopher Caldwell's book, The Age of Entitlement.

Christopher Caldwell
The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020

The 1960s forever transformed America. Race relations, sexual relations, popular culture, music, foreign policy, trust in government, and urban life were all dramatically changed.

It’s not uncommon for conservatives to lament the 60s, though few have done it as boldly and convincingly as Christopher Caldwell in his latest book The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties. The book is a serious national populist critique of our current power structure and holds no punches. Unlike most conservatives who praise the civil rights movement as one of the good things about the 60s, Caldwell argues it’s the rotten core of our current paradigm:

Civil rights ideology, especially when it hardened into a body of legislation, became, most unexpectedly, the model for an entire new system of constantly churning political reform. Definitions of what was required in the name of justice and humanity broadened. Racial integration turned into the all-embracing ideology of diversity.

Radical feminism, mass immigration, hedonistic consumerism, economic inequality and foreign crusades for liberal values are all fruits of America’s Second Reconstruction.

Caldwell’s book asserts that the civil rights movement created a second, rival Constitution that’s incompatible with the original. The battle over which Constitution should reign supreme lies at the heart of our current polarization. A reader will come away with the impression that we should repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a major heresy to liberals and conservatives alike.

Caldwell is not a writer of the Dissident Right. He is a respectable conservative who served as a long-time writer for the defunct Weekly Standard. He’s a frequent New York Times contributor and is currently a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, an esteemed conservative institution. His book is published by one of the titans of the industry and is being noticed by the mainstream media. The back cover carries the endorsement of mainstream historian Andrew Roberts, Victor Davis Hanson, and Shop Class as Soulcraft author Matthew Crawford.

His arguments will not be easily ignored.

There are hardly any disclaimers in The Age of Entitlement about the evils of “racism” or “sexism;” there’s no queasiness at striking our age’s sacred cows. The book remains on target and concedes nothing in its observations of the civil rights movement’s disastrous effects; Caldwell argues that the revolutions of the 1960s hurt white men the most and stripped them of their country. The Age of Entitlement is not exactly an identitarian work, and it is firmly rooted in conservatism. He shapes his argument to appeal to conservative, and even centrist, readers. His claims that the Second Reconstruction is “a military assault against the Constitution” that eradicated freedom of association equally resonates with conservatives and identitarians. He also focuses on the United States’ massive public debt — an oft-mocked conservative concern — and ties it to the civil rights regime and its dictates.

According to The Age of Entitlement, the civil rights revolution was enacted by an elite coalition of activists, judges, university administrators, lawyers, politicians, and, most importantly, businessmen. Some were true believers in the cause. Others just wanted to accommodate the new paradigm and not cause any trouble. This cadre was empowered to transform our society with the encouragement of Supreme Court decisions like Brown v. Board of Education and legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Most of the judges and lawmakers who supported these developments did not comprehend the far-reaching effects of their decisions. Lawmakers were promised the Civil Rights Act wouldn’t create racial quotas; it did. Lawmakers thought the Immigration Act of 1965 wouldn’t change America’s demographics; it did. The new laws enabled activists and bureaucrats to wage war against the old Constitution — and the old Constitution is losing.

While the book discusses the 60s revolution’s effect on sex, work, the economy, foreign policy, and many other topics, it’s most incisive on race. As previously mentioned, Caldwell does not offer the usual paeans about the civil rights movement and how it lost its way after Martin Luther King’s death. Many conservatives believe there was a “good” civil rights movement hijacked by radicals who wanted political correctness and affirmative action. The “good” civil rights movement just wanted equality, not special privileges or a radical transformation of America. Conservatives believe that all that needs to be done is to reject the radical regime and revive the “good civil rights regime.” Caldwell pours cold water on these delusions: “Affirmative action and political correctness were the twin pillars of the second constitution,” he writes. They were what civil rights were. They were not temporary.

Caldwell also doesn’t offer the usual conservative lies about MLK. The civil rights icon is not presented as some secret conservative: He’s a radical who perfectly embodies the negative effects of the civil rights movement. Caldwell cites a 1967 King speech that savages America and its destructive sway over the world. The speech does not evince a conservative view of the country, but one at home with the “radicals” who represented the civil rights movement after his death.

The author savages Ronald Reagan, another conservative icon. Conservatives hail Reagan as the man who saved America and took a stand against big government. Caldwell incinerates this delusion. In reality, Reagan expanded the size of the government and made the civil rights regime worse. His amnesty worsened the immigration problem, adding migrants to the civil rights regime’s clientele. Caldwell disputes that Reaganism was even conservative — it didn’t restore America’s traditions or values, it entrenched the spirit of the 60s revolution in governance and society. The Gipper simply tapped into conservatism, instead of representing it:

The return of power to communities that Reagan promised never happened. On the contrary, the world that his supposedly conservative presidency left behind was more indulgent of the anti-conservative impulse to “cut the past away,” provided the cutting were done heedlessly by businessmen rather than purposefully by bureaucrats.

Caldwell argues that “Reagan was put at the head of a victorious insurgency and handed away its victories.”

His analysis of campus insanity is astute. Many conservatives imagine that campus political correctness and identity politics are the result of “helicopter parents” and snowflakes who can’t handle Ben Shapiro’s epic takes. All that needs to be done is for these kids to grow up and face the real world. Caldwell argues that the real world is far more like campus totalitarianism than the world that exists in boomer fantasies. Campuses are the way they are due to the civil rights regime: Speech codes, ethnic studies, non-white empowerment programs, etc. are a result of the Civil Rights Act, not coddled snowflakes. The changes are top-down, and administrators are the ones to blame. Student radicalism is inspired by the environment that surrounds them.

It’s silly to think these kids will grow up when they get a real job. HR departments and corporate execs share their values and concerns. As Caldwell notes, corporations are arguably more zealous in rooting out political incorrectness than campus administrators. The student extremists of today will be the boardroom directors of tomorrow, just like the student radicals of the 60s.

The civil rights movement imposed several negative effects on white America. Ethnic enclaves were carved up after the Civil Rights Act’s repeal of freedom of association. Qualified whites were rejected from competitive colleges and prestigious jobs. Corporations enforced political correctness in the workplace and society in general. Banks scrapped sensible lending policy to accommodate the push for more non-white homeownership and opportunities. (This development helped cause the Great Recession.) Affluent immigrants who just got off the plane now reap the benefits of affirmative action. Free speech is constrained by the dictates of employers and journalists. Whites are not allowed to say certain words or thoughts while non-whites can say whatever they please. Whites can’t even think they built this country.

The winners of the new regime are minorities who can all unite together against the heterosexual white man. The losers are obvious.

Some right-leaning commentators were not thrilled with the book’s conclusions:

Woke centrist Wesley Yang complained in the Washington Examiner that The Age of Entitlement is too much “a narrative of white male victimization.” Yang didn’t buy Caldwell’s argument that the civil rights regime hurt whites, and critiques the author for “settl[ing] into a long rant against political correctness.”

Yang, the author of The Souls of Yellow Folk, counters that the system somehow puts non-whites at a disadvantage, too. The critic makes big-brain arguments that identity politics and affirmative action hurt non-whites and cites Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — how original! — as proof that non-whites are upset with the civil rights regime. Yang tries to argue that political correctness was never part of the civil rights movement, and its current pervasiveness is all Barack Obama’s fault.

Yang also asserts that minorities hate political correctness, but fails to mention that the overwhelming majority of non-whites support hate speech laws. Whites are the only group where the majority opposes criminalizing hate speech. The centrist critic concludes with the cringe declaration that “a multiracial America” preserves freedom, civility, and economic growth “amid the hysteria unleashed by Trumpism.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat largely agrees with Yang in his more positive assessment of The Age of Entitlement. Douthat is uncomfortable with Caldwell’s racial focus and pines for a more inclusive populist polemic. You know Caldwell’s book is close to the mark when respectable conservatives and faux-populists squirm when reading it. Serious national populism is not supposed to comfort those who seek validation from the system.

The Age of Entitlement is one of the most important books of our time. Dissident Right readers will come away with a better grasp of how we got here and the way our power structure operates. Along with Tucker Carlson’s Ship of Fools, it’s a terrific redpill for conservative relatives and friends.

Every conservative despises affirmative action and political correctness — they just need to realize these maladies were baked into the civil rights revolution from the start.



  1. Europa Invictus
    Posted February 3, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Just bought two of them. Thanks for the review. Cheers

  2. D.M.
    Posted February 3, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    These mainstream titles are growing bolder. The cat is out of the bag. And, to mix metaphors, a trickle or stream can turn into a torrent. If only these great reviews–by R. Hampton, G. Johnson, J. Taylor and others–could find their way into major print media.

    I had beers with a young friend who works for AT&T the other day. He had just completed some management training in which “unconscious bias” was emphasized. I immediately said to him that what they’re calling “unconscious bias” is merely expectations derived from experience, which are entirely rational and can be stated as statistical generalizations.

    This corporate propaganda is also the result of the civil rights era. It tries to correct “visceral racism”; that is, to destroy not only white ethnocentrism but rationality. That way people are more susceptible to the flawed reasoning and forced social arrangements of the Left. Young people receive the same messages in their college English classes and corporate training sessions.
    The “legacy of civil rites” is the undoing of common sense and reason.

    • HamburgerToday
      Posted February 3, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      In the background of the post-Civil Rights Act (CRA) era is separate history of ‘civil rights’ lawfare. The threat of legal action on behalf of ‘protected groups’ with the hope of big pay-days for lawyers and ‘civil rights’ NGOs is part of the story of how capital became so ‘woke’. Now’s it’s just second nature. However, if the CRA was destroyed, the fear would end because the lawfare would end and the at least some of the ‘protected classes’ would find themselves exposed to a bit more bracing environment than in the past.

  3. Archie Bunker
    Posted February 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I just looked into this title on

    Guess what… it’s the #1 Best Seller… in Gay & Lesbian Civil Rights. >:|

  4. Corday
    Posted February 3, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Strikes me as a metapolitical victory for our guys – another sign of mainstream people checking out of the establishment dialectic. Thanks for the review.

  5. Viv
    Posted February 3, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    “According to The Age of Entitlement, the civil rights revolution was enacted by an elite coalition of activists, judges, university administrators, lawyers, politicians, and, most importantly, businessmen.”

    Does he go into more detail about why they did this? Civil Rights-era legislation had the Deep South as its target. But it’s not as if the North was a racial egalitarian paradise. There was a system of racial control in the North, too, but it was based on soft power, such as the patronage system, selective incorporation of blacks into the Establishment, etc.

    For some reason, this “coalition” was uneasy about explicit, legally-sanctioned white supremacy in the South. Why? It can’t be because they were against racial inequality, since that also existed in the North. Conventional historiography claims the US passed Civil Rights legislation and abolished white supremacy in the Deep South as part of the metapolitical war against Communism, which has never seemed convincing to me. Why was the animating core of this “coalition” so opposed to white supremacy?

    • R_Moreland
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      “According to The Age of Entitlement, the civil rights revolution was enacted by an elite coalition of activists, judges, university administrators, lawyers, politicians, and, most importantly, businessmen.”

      Add “media & PR specialists” and we end up with what James Burnham described as the New Class of the managerial revolution. These are the technocratic managers who will run the economy – and the society behind it – according to centralized-rationalized concepts, superseding the older system of free enterprise and republican virtue. The New Class goal is to maintain and expand their own power, which means unseating the former elites and neutralizing the middle class.

      This got started with the Civil Rights Revolution which created a new client base among various minority pressure groups, as well as breaking up White ethnic neighborhoods and their political machines. Say what you want about a George Wallace, but the oldline segregationists were also regional populists, standing in the way of the technocratic regime. So they had to go. Hence, the managerial class of activists, judges, university administrators, lawyers, politicians, businessmen and media mobilized to bring down the old order (“White Supremacy,” if you like), not just in the South but nationwide.

      The second phase came with flooding the first world with third world migrants to replace traditional American and European peoples which really took off during the Reagan years. Again, the same coalition supported all this and with the same goals: destroy the old political machine, wreck the middle class, create a new client base.

      The third phase can be seen today in cities like San Francisco where the underclass of drug addicts, released criminals and “homeless” are given control of the streets. While the middle class is being cleared from the public square and politicians jump on the strings of their campaign contributors, the technocratic managers live high in their gated communities and from their industrial fortress-parks push forward the agenda of globalism to expand the system worldwide.

      It’s like some kind of bizarre James Bond movie in which the SPECTRE plot succeeds and they really do gain global domination.

      Let’s note that Burnham points out in his The Machiavellians that the objective of politics is not equality but power.

      Blofeld would understand.

    • Dr ExCathedra
      Posted February 4, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      He does not mention the leaders of the churches, who bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the catastrophe that is in process.

    • Lord Shang
      Posted February 10, 2020 at 1:46 am | Permalink


      They used the Civil Rights laws along with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments, both of which they, more than any other white group, had pushed for, as a dual battering ram to de-whiten America (they used various false constitutional interpretations to de-christianize us).

  6. Dr ExCathedra
    Posted February 4, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Once I started to awake from my conservative slumbers, I eventually came to conclusion that, while there were many breaks and leaks in the dam during prior years, especially since WWII, it was the double-whammy of the 1964 Civil Rights Act paired with the 1965 Hart-Cellar (Kennedy) Immigration Act which sealed the death of the older Republic. Which was itself a distant post-Jacksonian, post-Lincolnian, post-Wilsonian, post-Rooseveltian descendant of the original.

    Since I tend to see things through a religious lens, I hold that the 64 Act effectively destroyed the American Church-State relationship by making the Federal Government the supreme arbiter and enforcer of morals in every area of life without exception. The churches became superfluous, mere chaplains to whatever new doctrine or mandate the Feds, including the Deep State, of course, came up with.

    Glad to see Mr Calwell caught up with my lachrymose assessment…

    All of which make WN the only route we have to survive as a people now.

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