Category Archive 'Culture War'

17 Apr 2023

Budweiser Clydesdales

, , ,

15 Aug 2022

The Community of Fashion’s Nightmare

, , ,

Former CIA Analyst Martin Gurri explains what the American Establishment, what Mencius Moldbug calls “The Cathedral,” is really afraid of.

There is a tremendous asymmetry in the alignment of ideological forces in this country. Politically, we are fractured: war-bands of every denomination prowl restlessly through a zone of perpetual conflict. Electorally, we are divided. Voting is binary: in practice, this means that the war-bands get artificially squeezed into one of two mega-tribes. On Election Day, we must choose one or the other—and, because of the dynamic among war-bands, any one of which can defect at any moment, majorities rest on a razor’s edge.

Culturally, however, we are monolithic. From the scientific establishment through the corporate boardroom all the way to Hollywood, elite keepers of our culture speak with a single, shrill voice—and the script always follows the dogmas of one particular war-band—the cult of identity—and the politics of one specific partisan flavor, that of progressive Democrats.

The imbalance between a divided nation and a monolithic culture warps our shared perception of reality. A potentially scandalous story about the son of the Democratic presidential candidate, though entirely true, can be smothered to death by Facebook, Twitter, and Google. On the other side, if you are a former Republican president, you can expect to get locked out of social media permanently, even though 74 million Americans voted for you.

These decisions don’t reflect a consensus of public opinion. None of us was polled on the proper informational treatment for Hunter Biden or Donald Trump. This was control at a far more elemental level—and only here, in the murky depths of truth and post-truth, can we discern the motive for this year’s meltdown over disinformation and its avatar, Musk. The elites, confronting what they believe to be a political tempest of biblical proportions, are terrified of losing their monopoly over culture as well.

Whether this will actually happen is beyond the reach of analysis: culture evolves in mysterious ways. But it may be useful to speculate on the matter. In this spirit, let me propose three strong countercurrents, already visible across the American landscape—that might, in time, threaten the cultural supremacy of the elites.

The first is the intrusion of the political into the cultural. Since conservatives and Republicans are politically strong but culturally nonexistent, they will flex their political muscle to try to right the imbalance. Virginia and Florida have banned the teaching of certain progressive doctrines in public schools. When Disney, Florida’s largest employer, vocally condemned these laws, the company was punished with the removal of local privileges. Should Republicans win Congress and the White House, I would expect American politics to experience a cultural Armageddon. The output of culture can’t be legislated on demand: otherwise, the Soviet Union would have been a golden age of creativity. But raw political power can make the cost of cultural monopoly—and of idle posturing, Disney-style—unpleasantly high.

A second threat to elite culture is the defection of the victim class. The cult of identity generates an insatiable demand for victim groups, which, by necessity, must become ever smaller and more marginal not only to the mainstream but also to traditional minorities. Even as the elites solidified their grip on culture, the focus of their performative outrage was drifting from civil rights and pocketbook issues to more esoteric questions of sexuality and climate justice. The new causes simply don’t resonate with Hispanics or blacks, whose socioeconomic interests lie in other directions. According to recent polls, significant numbers of both groups are threatening to abandon the Democratic Party.

Progressivism is essentially a protection racket. If the elites ever lose the undisputed right to shout “Racism!” at the producers of culture, the latter will begin to fracture like the rest of the country and to look to the marketplace, rather than ideology, for inspiration.

The last countercurrent may be the most potent of all: the internal churning and dispersal of populations spurred by the pandemic and the availability of remote work. The number of Americans moving from their home regions, a recent survey found, is at the highest level on record. Though conservative writers are quick to observe that this is predominantly a flight from Democratic-controlled states to Republican strongholds in the Sunbelt, the political implications strike me as unclear. Many of the newcomers, I’m guessing, will be Democrats.

Far more significant will be the impact on the culture. Migration is a powerful solvent. Millions of people are leaving home in pursuit of change. They wish to be reborn, reinvented, liberated from the dead hand of the past; pick your metaphor for personal transformation. Such sweeping tides of humanity have always exemplified the central tenet of the American creed: that we are not captives to fate. Each wave of immigrants will begin a strange new story. To tell it, the culture, too, must be reborn and reinvented—and the mold of progressive dogmatism will be shattered in the process.

An unexpected blow against the progressive hold on culture came on May 2, when an anonymous leaker within the Supreme Court made public Justice Samuel Alito’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and devolve the regulation of abortion to Congress and the states. By the time the formal ruling came down on June 24, traumatized elites seemed ready to repudiate the one branch of the federal government that they did not control. The Supreme Court had “burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had,” Senator Elizabeth Warren proclaimed. “They just took the last of it and set a torch to it.” Abortion on demand—an early victory over traditional culture—has become sacramental to the left, with Roe v. Wade as holy writ. If Republican governors can align with Republican-appointed justices to demolish this once-settled arrangement, then every facet of the culture will be up for grabs. Justice Alito’s opinion “is not just about a woman’s right to choose. It is about much more than that,” cautioned Hillary Clinton, after the draft leaked. “Once you allow this kind of extreme power to take hold, you have no idea who they will come for next.”

Are we on the cusp, then, of an anti-elite cultural revolution? I still wouldn’t bet on it. For obscure reasons of psychology, creative minds incline to radical politics. A kulturkampf directed from Tallahassee, Florida, or even Washington, D.C., won’t budge that reality much. The group portrait of American culture will continue to tilt left indefinitely.

But that’s not the question at hand. What terrifies elites is the loss of their cultural monopoly in the face of a foretold political disaster. They fear diversity of any kind, with good cause: to the extent that the public enjoys a variety of choices in cultural products, elite control will be proportionately diluted.


10 Nov 2019

“The Flight 93 Election Crashed”

, , ,

Hunter Hearns argues trenchantly that winning some elections is not enough, if the Left continues to consolidate control of the Culture.

Republicans have controlled the presidency for 32 out of the last 52 years, a time during which they have appointed 15 of 19 Supreme Court justices. In the last 25 years, they have controlled the Senate for about 15 of them, and the House for 20. For a party to be so remarkably successful politically while losing on practically every issue requires a deep rethinking of where things have gone wrong.

Conservatives for two generations now have worried that immigration was turning the country more liberal. Yet even while it has continued, the massive leftward shift of college educated white women has emerged as much more electorally significant in the short term. In 2016, President Trump won the election and had both houses of Congress, yet his only legislative accomplishment of note before losing the House was tax cuts.

Many Trump supporters were motivated by his taking on political correctness and the collection of myths about identity-related issues that distorts practically every political debate. Yet social media censoriousness continues unabated, so much so that the sense of urgency to actually deal with the issue has faded away. And now banks have gotten into the act too, recently cutting ties with companies that support ICE in its mission to detain illegal migrants, and even with individuals who violate PC orthodoxy. This level of oppression would have been unthinkable in the McCarthy era, and yet the best we can hope for in any particular case of censorship from our “Flight 93 President” is an ineffective tweet.

Trump may squeak by another electoral college victory in 2020. Yet even if he does, there is little actual hope that he will fundamentally change the trajectory of the country. Conservatives thought that they might take their nation back in 2016; that hope is now gone. Electing more Republicans means at best getting a few-years-long reprieve until the next time Democrats control Washington. At which point we will see universal healthcare, the release of violent criminals, open borders, the stamping out of religious liberty, and a government that sees its citizens less as the American founders did, and more as communist leaders who divided the population into classes of oppressors and oppressed for purposes of implementing policy.

In other words, in the Flight 93 election, the passengers seized control of the plane and it crashed anyway. Why are things so hopeless? If the mistakes of the past are not to be repeated, we need a clear-eyed understanding of the American conservative movement of the last several decades.

I am a social scientist by training and have never been involved in electoral politics. Yet when I look at the American conservative movement, what I am struck most by is what an oddity it is from a historical perspective. Practically every significant movement—whether ancient or modern, religious or secular, totalitarian or liberal—knew that to succeed in the long run it needed to gain control of the institutions that manufacture public opinion. Yet from this perspective the American right has not simply failed in its efforts to build a more conservative society; it has not even tried.

There is nothing mysterious about its lack of long-term success. It was predetermined given the ideological commitments and priorities of movement leaders. One does not need to read ancient or modern philosophy or social science to understand what practically all political theorists throughout history have agreed on: most people do not have the time, motivation or inclination to think deeply about political and social issues. They will take the opinions that have been prepared for them by higher status individuals and institutions. If these opinion shapers are liberal, the public will be liberal, and this includes intelligent people naturally inclined to live in accordance with moral ideals.

Gramsci famously promised that society would change through his “long march through the institutions.”


He’s not wrong.

02 Aug 2015


, , , ,

How many people who shoot at Camp Perry support Gay Marriage?

America in 2015 is more poisonously divided than at any time since 1861. Every policy and cultural issue seems to be successfully imposed de haut en bas by an arrogant pseudo-intellectual minority living in big cities, occupying all the establishment seats of privilege, and ruthlessly controlling the levers of power. When they want to get their way, the newspapers they control take a poll of a few hundred people they select, and then announce that national opinion is running 60-40 their way. When Republicans have a majority in Congress, you can count on John McCain and some Republican senator from Maine to vote with the democrats. When they can’t possibly get something through any legislature, you can bet that first some radical federal judge will proclaim that the Constitution mandates the sort of thing that was generally looked upon as a capital felony in 1789 is constitutionally obligatory, and then Justice Anthony Kennedy will join with four liberal justices to cement that scoundrel’s theory into stone.

The system is broken, and they broke it. We’ve long stopped being either a republic or a democracy. What we are is a country of suckers sitting in on a rigged game of cards.

The question is just how far can things go on this way? Liberalism becomes increasingly arrogant and intolerant every year. Kurt Schlichter wonders aloud if the establishment left ever asks itself, what would happen if all their lawless power-wielding went even a bit farther and that proved to be just a little too far?

In 30+ years as an active conservative, I’ve never heard people so angry, so frustrated, so fed up. These emotions are supposed to be dissipated by normal political processes. But liberals are bottling them up. And they will blow. It’s only a matter of how.

Liberals need to understand the reality that rarely penetrates their bubble. Non-liberal Americans (it’s more than just conservatives who are under the liberal establishment’s heel) are the majority of this country. They hold power in many states and regions in unprecedented majorities. And these attacks focus on what they hold dearest – their religion, their families and their freedom.

What is the end game, liberals? Do you expect these people you despise to just take it? Do you think they’ll just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, I guess we better comply?” Do you even know any real Americans? Do you think you’ll somehow be able to force them into obedience – for what is government power but force – after someone finally says “Enough?” …

[L]iberals would be well advised to ask themselves who will be willing to fight and die to preserve their power and policies. In contrast, there are an awful lot of people willing to fight and die for their religion and our Constitution.

And let’s be blunt – these are the people with most of the guns and the training to use them. That’s the reality of the rule of force. …

Now, this will no doubt draw the lie that I am somehow advocating violence. The current liberal habit of shamelessly lying about their opponents makes civil debate impossible. Similarly, the mockery of non-liberals before stacked audiences of trained seals a la Jon Stewart is part and parcel of the same strategy of delegitimizing any opposition. Closing down the option of discussion leaves their opponents with only the option of action. So far, the action has only been in funding campaigns for oppressed pizzerias and in the voting booth – though they’ve trying to nullify that too.

I’m not advocating violence – I am warning liberals that they are setting the conditions for violence.

And that better worry them, for the coastal elites are uniquely unsuited to a world where force rules instead of law. The Serbs were, at least, a warrior people. The soft boys and girls who brought us helicopter parenting, “trigger warnings” and coffee cups with diversity slogans are not.

I know the endgame of discarding the rule of law for short-term advantage because I stood in its ruins. Liberals think this free society just sort of happened, that they can poke and tear at its fabric and things will just go on as before. But they won’t. So at the end of the day, if you want a society governed by the rule of force, you better pray that you’re on the side with the guns and those who know how to use them.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Culture War' Category.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark