Credit where it’s not due.

Drew Austin, whose newsletter I enjoy, managed in the latest to link to an Alex Gutentag piece for Compact, which made me mentally exclaim, “Oh, no” for two reasons—the first of which being Sarah Jones’ recent piece for New York Magazine.

Compact magazine, which launched on Tuesday, boasts grand designs. “Our editorial choices are shaped by our desire for a strong social-democratic state that defends community — local and national, familial and religious — against a libertine left and a libertarian right,” it declares on its website. Yet there’s Glenn Greenwald, a libertarian gay man, and Slavoj Žižek, who’s difficult to categorize as anything but an elevated troll, on the masthead, along with Adrian Vermeuele, a Catholic integralist. What interests do they share with Vermeule, a legal scholar who’d put the world under a theocratic yoke and call it liberty?

The question matters because Compact is a symptom of something larger than the magazine itself. There is a rich business to be done in subversion or the imitation thereof. Greenwald is an expert purveyor of this pseudo-contrarianism, having fashioned himself a victim of the liberal media. Grievance is what he shares with Compact’s other contributors: a sense of being shut out from a world that should welcome him. For all Compact’s pretensions to the contrary, there’s nothing novel about this contemporary contrarianism. It’s just reactionary to the core.

(This in itself makes me think now of Lyz Lenz complaining this week about being “trapped in a hell where the people who believe they are silenced get all the headlines”.)

The second reason for my internal dismay is the actual content of the Compact piece in question.

It isn’t difficult to see how increasing desperation, ignorance, and instability can make the global population easier for elites to control. Along with these economic and social shifts came political transformations that subverted liberal-democratic norms. Although there is much concern about the potential development of a social-credit system in the West, many people don’t realize that a precursor to social credit has already been tested on us: the vaccine passport.

[…] In Canada, for example, unvaccinated people weren’t permitted to travel on trains or planesprecisely one of the punishments that can befall individuals who find themselves on the Chinese Supreme Court’s list of “discredited” people.

I can’t decide if this idea of vaccine passports being a trial run for a Chinese-style social credit system is a stone’s throw or spitting distance from the 1980s conspiracy theory that the advent of bar codes was evidence of the rise of the beast.