Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.

Chris Caldwell

Analysis of Christopher Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement

Few political books have had a greater political impact in the United States than Christopher Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties. The book functions as a brilliant narrative that is influencing right-wing intellectuals and has meaningfully pushed the Overton Window on several sacred cows that were politically hazardous to touch prior to its 2020 release. For far too long, Christians and Conservatives have been inundated to believe the Civil Rights movement had a positive impact on America and that the keynote legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was good for America, but Caldwell’s thesis is that this law was the undoing of the American Revolution, replacing the US Constitution with the Civil Rights regime which has ruled America since its passage. Through contemporary sources, Caldwell lays the foundation for his argument as he takes the readers on a journey of America since 1963.

On Race and the Civil Rights Movement

The book begins with the premise that 1963 marked a turning point in American history, that while many of the subsequent social movements were perhaps inevitable, the assassination of John F Kennedy served as the catalyst for the destabilization and the constitutional usurpation. Caldwell then works into the conception of race in America, which contradicts the modern view often touted. For example, Caldwell cites polling from August of 1963, at the same time MLK gave his “I have a dream” speech, where Americans by a 5:1 margin believed that America was moving too fast on integration (pg. 19). White Americans in the “northern and western states saw…racial harmony had been achieved long ago” (pg. 21). This was paired with a belief that the South’s Jim Crow laws were antiquated and could be easily upended. In other words, most Americans did not see civil rights as a major issue at the time and favored moderate or persuasive enforcement of the Civil Rights Act rather than the forceful, coercion eventually received. Similar to the bicoastal elitism of today, the South was looked down upon by the rest of the country as backwards, and the problem of civil rights was viewed as a southern issue.

In the 1960’s, blacks and whites had opposite views on these issues, something Caldwell details without making judgment. Blacks consistently favored federal anti-poverty programs and viewed progress as too slow when compared to whites.

We can say, though, that where the black consensus differed from the white consensus, it was blacks’ views that were more congruent with the reality of what would be required, and what would be effective, in bringing racial equality about. (pg. 25)

Caldwell’s case is that blacks accurately and increasingly viewed civil rights as a revolution. A plurality of around 40% of blacks favored riots in big cities and college campuses, versus whites who disapproved by a supermajority of 74%. Whites did not believe that riots and violence were positive towards civil rights, and would, following the Civil Rights Act’s passage, have increasing distrust of blacks as a result of the violence. In the immediate aftermath of the passage of the 1964 act, the death of James Powell in Harlem at the hands of police ignited a riot, establishing a recognizable pattern.

Observers were slow to tie the wave of violence to the movement for civil rights, describing it as kind of coincidence…The riots were the civil rights movement—not the whole of it, but an important element of it. (pg. 28)

The connection can be made that the modern Black Lives Matter movement is not an aberration of the civil rights movement, but a continuation of its violent tendencies, which erupt especially between black encounters with law enforcement. He specifically cites Los Angeles 1992, Baltimore 2015, and even OJ Simpson’s acquittal. Caldwell articulates that nothing has changed since the ’60s, and the cycle repeats itself, and though he does not mention George Floyd, this was yet another iteration of the same violence that has been occurring since the Civil Rights Movement. That race quotas, affirmative action, and mandatory busing happened within a decade of its passage is further evidence that these things were not deviations from the Civil Rights movement, but measures desired by its most ardent opponents. The increasing demand for “reparations” is a continuation of this revolutionary spirit. Nothing is new under the sun.

Rethinking Ronald Reagan

Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement is very much an analysis of the boomer generation, who were coming of age during the social transformation of the 1960s. They became the largest generational bloc in America, giving them the power they hold to this day. He describes the 1980 election as the first election with full participation of the Baby Boomer generation. Rather than argue that Reagan was a contrast to the social revolutions of the ’60s, Caldwell writes, “The 1980s are what the 1960s turned into” (pg. 93).

At the time, a credo mixed untrammeled capitalism (deemed “conservative”) with untrammeled sexuality (deemed “liberal”) seemed self-contradictory. It was not. It was logical and powerful. (pg. 100)

Caldwell articulates the contradictions of the Reagan presidency, that while giving him flowers for stabilizing the economy, preserving the US dollar as the reserve currency, and his foreign policy accomplishments, he is not afraid to confront the libertine record of Reagan as governor of California and how he was more of a conservative orator than a conservative president.

Reagan’s libertarian vision had as much of Martin Luther King’s “dream” in it as it did of Ayn Rand’s capitalism. It was sunny and it was progressive. It assumed that an untrammeled thriving was possible… (pg. 101)

The 1980s were a decade defined by materialism, consumerism, and ruthless capitalism, something even Hollywood has depicted in movies like Wall Street and the image of decadent shopping malls. It was the decade of “have your cake and eat it too” or as Nike says, “just do it.”

At first, the American Baby Boomer appeared to be doing with little effort what other generations had only managed to do by the sweat of their brow. But that was an illusion. What they were doing was using their generation’s voting power to arrogate future generations’ labor, and trading it to other nations and peoples for labor now. Reaganism meant Reaganomics. Reaganomics meant debt. (pg. 103)

Caldwell is referencing outsourcing, which is the inevitable result of “free markets” and libertarian economic policy as opposed to a protectionist policy framework, where corporations’ interests are placed above the populace’s interests. To Caldwell, Reagan introduced the notion of deficit spending with tax cuts, much in line with the 80’s “have it all” mindset. In this most scathing comment on the boomers, Caldwell claims they sold out the future generations through deficit spending and outsourced labor. Rather than confront the New Deal and the Great Society, the 1980s created the “Age of Entitlement” wherein both entitlement and tax cuts were the new normal. Reagan’s victories were a sign that while civil rights were important, “Americans were unwilling to bankroll with their taxes the civil rights and welfare revolutions of the 1960s and the social change it brought in its train” (pg. 109). Simply put, Reagan saved The Great Society and the Civil Rights regime through Reaganomics. But ultimately, this was merely kicking the can down the road. Eventually, this debt spiral will be beyond control if it is not already.

In a chapter entitled Debt, Caldwell connects Reaganomics and outsourced manufacturing to Reagan’s amnesty on immigration, ingratiating these people into the civil rights regime. This chapter is a rebuke of Koch Brother Conservatism that places profits over people and GDP over quality of life.

If we were judging open immigration and outsourcing not as economic policies but as U.S aid programs for the world’s poor, we might consider them successes. But we are not. The cultural change, the raced-based constitutional demotion of natives relative to newcomers, the weakening democratic grip of the public on its government as a power disappeared into back rooms and courtrooms, the staggeringly large redistributions of wealth—all these things ensured that immigration would poison American politics right down until the presidential election of 2016. (pg. 126)

Caldwell confronts the myth that immigrants benefit America’s economy by demonstrating how it is a glorified wealth transfer. But the failure to confront immigration in the 80’s has been a perpetual problem in America, one he subtly credits with the election of Donald Trump. Though he does not use the phrase Great Replacement, this is one of the key aspects of the Civil Rights Regime which would forever solidify its gains. Increasingly, Americans can observe the special treatment illegal immigrants receive via cash, housing, and other programs, which makes these arguments all the more relatable. Moreover, the “back rooms and courtrooms” is a reference to the bureaucratic state and the activist courts which nullify the will of the electorate, just like mass immigration.

It should be noted that Trump’s tax cuts were very much Reaganomics, sold as a means of making America more “competitive” and attracting manufacturing jobs back to America, but this is mostly just a talking point. Trump’s corporate tax cuts led to corporations using the savings to repurchase trillions in shares to stimulate further stock market gains rather than invest in economic growth. Whereas the corporate rates were permanent, the income tax cuts expire on December 31, 2025.

Conclusion

Christopher Caldwell presents eye-opening arguments that craft a narrative against the Civil Rights Movement that is frequently viewed with rose goggles. Increasingly, Americans on the right and within the church are becoming MLK-pilled, in that they are coming to the realization that the man who has been designated a federal holiday is not the caricature presented by the civic culture, but a radical Marxist and sexual degenerate. The veneration of MLK is the embodiment of the civil rights movement and its solidified gains, so attacks on his legacy are an attack on the Civil Rights constitution. Without a doubt, The Age of Entitlement has been an impactful tool whose arguments have been increasingly adopted by those on the right, knowing or unknowing.

Christians need to come to grips that the Civil Rights movement has been a net negative that has been weaponized against them while advancing every social degeneracy the church currently battles. What might have entailed good intentions was wielded for wickedness from its inception.

Receive the Evangelical Dark Web Newsletter

Bypass Big Tech censorship, and get Christian news in your inbox directly.

Support the Evangelical Dark Web

By becoming a member of Evangelical Dark Web, you get access to more content, help drive the direction of our research, and support the operations of the ministry.
Facebook
Twitter
Telegram
Reddit
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Get Evangelical Dark Web Newsletter

Bypass Big Tech censorship, and get Christian news in your inbox directly.

Join 5,675 other subscribers

Trending Posts