Where am I? What is this?
My name is Damon Linker. You may know me from my opinion columns in The Week, my books (The Theocons and The Religious Test), my weekly appearances on The Bulwark’s “Beg to Differ” podcast, or my occasional book reviews in The New York Times. Or maybe you just encountered a tweet about something I’ve written. In any case, welcome to my Substack. I hope you’ll stick around.
Eyes on the Right is a subscription newsletter devoted to thinking deeply about the most significant political development of our time: The rise (or resurrection) of the antiliberal right in the United States and around the world. I come to this issue from a unique background. After growing up a moderate liberal, I studied in graduate school with students of conservative political philosopher Leo Strauss and spent several years on the intellectual right early in the aughts, contributing to a range of center-right publications and editing First Things magazine. I also converted to Roman Catholicism in this period from the secular Judaism in which I was raised.
I broke rather dramatically from the political right when I published The Theocons in 2006 and began to drift away from Catholicism around the same time. I was liberal and secular once again—but this time with a difference. I’d rejected conservative and reactionary politics and piety but only after being drawn to and passing through them. That means I “get” the right in a way that few liberals do.
That intimacy informs the commentary and analysis you’ll find published here. I am often sharply critical of the right in both political and intellectual terms, but not always. My liberalism has been shaped by the right and its insights into human nature and history. I give those insights a fair hearing, as I also do the right’s sometimes cogent criticisms of certain liberal and progressive trends.
My goal, above all, is to further understanding of the right—for its own sake, but also for the purpose of better preparing partisans of liberal democracy to defend it against a potent and sometimes dangerous challenge.
I consider this important-enough work that I’m devoting myself to it full time. I am no longer employed by The Week, and nearly everything I write will be appearing here. Subscribing supports this effort and makes it possible. That’s especially so when you opt for a premium paid subscription.
But subscribing isn’t an act of charity. It gets you everything I write (public as well as private editions of the newsletter) delivered directly to your inbox. Those emails invite you to join a conversation about right-of-center politics and ideas. I will be leading that conversation with at least three substantial posts per week. But paid subscribers can also take part in it, by following and contributing to discussion threads, interacting with me and other subscribers in the comments sections, and submitting questions I respond to in special posts devoted to that purpose. Paying subscribers also receive podcast-style audio versions of every post delivered in a second email.
If that sounds a little like we’re building a community here, that’s because we are. Please join us.
What critics say
Damon Linker is one of the most arresting and honest writers of his generation on the subjects of faith and politics.
“Our saints will not be statesmen and our statesmen will not be saints.” With this lapidary sentence, Damon Linker concludes his literate and stirring defense of pluralism as a prerequisite of decent politics. His deeply thoughtful alternative to both know-nothing and know-everything politics will instruct readers who remain open to persuasion—whatever their persuasion.
—Todd Gitlin on The Religious Test
The Theocons constitutes a major step toward reclaiming the liberal heritage that has made America great.
The Theocons is a beautifully researched book on a vitally important yet underappreciated development in our governance and intellectual life.
God made all men equal. But men make religions, and they are not all equal. Some beliefs—and arguments against belief—are simply incompatible with life in a liberal democratic society. So argues Damon Linker in [The Religious Test], the freshest and most intellectually stimulating book on church and state to be published in some time.
I always read Damon Linker.
Linker handles ideas, and their collision with politics, with uncommon skill.
For anybody who wants to understand the growing public role of American religion, [The Theocons] is a book to reckon with.
—The New York Times Book Review
[The Theocons is] important in assessing a fanaticism on the intellectual right.
An engaging and invaluably informative account of the roots of theoconservatism.