Conservative activist Christopher Rufo has outlined a strategy for American conservatives to regain influence in elite institutions following the resignation of Harvard’s then-president Claudine Gay. Rufo, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, played a role in exposing plagiarism allegations against Gay, leading to her stepping down. He has since written a manifesto titled “The New Right Activism” for IM-1776, detailing how to achieve similar shakeups elsewhere.
Rufo’s manifesto criticizes the tactics used by past conservative movements, arguing that they are no longer effective. He believes that conservatism needs a new form of activism focused on winning back language, recapturing institutions, and reorienting the state towards rightful ends. Rufo argues against the myth of neutrality, stating that no institution can be neutral and that any aiming for neutrality will be captured by a faction more committed to ideology.
He also critiques the free market mentality of the past, pointing out that institutions like public schools, public universities, and the state are now government-run monopolies. Rufo emphasizes the importance of political force in shaping culture, rather than relying on an ‘invisible hand.’
Rufo’s approach to “new right activism” involves focusing on three domains: language, institutions, and ends. He argues for building a new vocabulary to overcome the regime’s euphemistic rule and for conservatives to recruit from or join the ranks of the elite. He emphasizes the need for conservatives to produce knowledge and culture at a scale and standard that shifts the balance of ideological power.
Rufo also suggests that activists must balance intellectual purity with institutional reality, working to legitimize their language in environments often hostile to their wishes. He advocates for reminding the public of the fundamental purpose of institutions and communicating that purpose to counter the degradations of American institutional life.
Rufo concludes that conservatives have a path to victory by focusing on truth, liberty, and happiness, rather than efficiency, diversity, and inclusion.