Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.
Matthew Continetti discusses today’s Progressivism in the light of Irving Kristol’s 1969 lecture on â€œUrban Civilization and Its Discontents.â€
Beginning in the 19th century, writers, artists, philosophers, and intellectuals adopted an adversarial stance toward the dominant â€œbourgeoisâ€ ethos of orthodox religiosity, marital fidelity, conventional morality, and traditional manners. With the advent of mass media and the rise of higher education in the 20th century, the adversarial impulse permeated the institutions of culture. It gained more adherents in each rising generation.
What Roger Scruton described as a â€œculture of repudiationâ€ revised inherited understandings of history, politics, economics, society, art, psychology, and behavior. The philosophy of Darwin, Marx, and Freud deprived individuals of agency. It reduced them to mere products of the environment. The will of â€œthe people,â€ no matter its direction, was considered a good in itself. â€œWhat we may call the transcendental-populist religion of democracy,â€ Kristol said, â€œsuperseded an original political philosophy of democracy.â€
The population fought over the dispensation of entitlements. But it shared a state of mind. â€œIt is, to be precise, that state of mind,â€ Kristol went on, â€œwhich lacks all those qualities that, in the opinion of the founding fathers, added up to republican morality: steadiness of character, deliberativeness of mind, and a mild predisposition to subordinate oneâ€™s own special interests to the public interest.â€
The most important question, Kristol liked to say, was, â€œWhy not?â€ Why not do drugs, consume porn, abandon your children, break into and steal from a Target store? The institutions that once supplied the answers to such questions â€” the family, the church, the community â€” receded in importance and withered in strength against the power of an adversary culture that embedded itself in media and government and the liberation of desires that accompanied conditions of security and affluence.
It became difficult to justify submission of the will to external moral authority. That those authorities were often bigoted or unjust gave rise to the additional demand of justice as a precondition of civil peace and order. But this was a non sequitur. Order is the basis of justice, not the other way around. â€œTo demand â€˜justiceâ€™ as a precondition for political or social stability,â€ Kristol wrote in 1979, â€œis to make a demand on this world which the world has ever refused to concede.â€
What I find remarkable is how the Left had managed to enroll not only the naive and romantic Dummer Jungen, but also the Boobs and Babbitts; the Christers, Wowsers, and Reformers; the Goo-Goos and the energetic ladies whose sex lives are over under a single virtue-signalling, self-congratulatory banner.
“Ever since 1980 I’ve heard liberals hyperventilating about the menace of the “far right” in this country. I’ve heard dire warnings about theocracy about to descend on us. We’re just one Trump EO away from the Handmaid’s Tale. Progressives actually believe this.
“Of course, all of this is so silly, it’s hardly worth refuting.
“But you know what? At this point, I don’t care. In fact I can’t wait. I actually want this to happen. Bring on the theocracy! I want to see liberals silenced by force for a change. I want to see the things they hold dear smashed and mocked and degraded before their eyes. I want to see feminist bakers forced to produce cakes with “A woman’s place is in the home” written in icing. I want to see progressives keeping silent out of fear. I want to see them brutalized by thugs who know they won’t be punished. I want to see their gender studies classes disrupted by screaming goon squads. I want to see their politicians obscenely mocked, slandered, and ran out of restaurants. And I want them to realize the laws won’t save them.
“Because they were okay with lawlessness when it was directed at someone else. What are they going to do when it comes back at them, when they’ve destroyed the only means that could save them?
“In short I want every f*ing progressive in America to have their faces ground in the dirt the way they’ve been grinding the flag of this country in the dirt.”
(h/t Trimegistus for providing the material for today’s rant.)
The Swedish car company Volvo this week shared two similar looking ads on Facebook — one to their main page and one to their Polish page — which had one glaring difference.
In the post on their main page, the ad showed two [Interracial] homosexual men holding hands in front of a little girl driving a Volvo toy truck.
The ad copy reads: “Focus on your career, or your family? From now on you can do both at Volvo Cars, because we offer employees within the EMEA region six months of paid parental leave, regardless of gender. …
In the comments, Volvo posted a message saying they’re deleting all negative comments which violate their “social media house rules.”
The ad on Volvo’s Poland page featured a straight couple with a little boy in the Volvo toy truck.
The comment section was filled with Poles laughing about the difference between the two ads.
I saw this originally on the Chateau Heartiste blog last night. A few minutes later, when I came back to that blog to capture the image of the ads, I found this:
If you have a blog on WordPress.com, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a new hosting service, one without political opinions and “Terms of Service.” WordPress.com, just like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, will punish you for WrongSpeak.
David Brooks notes the paradox in which conservative Republican America is able to win at the ballot box, but commonly loses anyway because the Left controls the culture.
Republicans control most legislatures. To get anything passed, I thought, it would be necessary to separate some Republicans from the absolutist N.R.A. position. To do that you have to depolarize the issue: show gun owners some respect, put red state figures at the head and make the gun discussion look more like the opioid discussion. The tribalists in this country have little interest in the opioid issue. As a result, a lot of pragmatic things are being done across partisan lines.
The people pushing for gun restrictions have basically done the exact opposite of what I thought was wise. Instead of depolarizing the issue they have massively polarized it. The students from Parkland are being assisted by all the usual hyper-polarizing left-wing groups: Planned Parenthood, Move On and the Womenâ€™s March. The rhetoric has been extreme. Marco Rubio has been likened to a mass murderer while the N.R.A. has been called a terrorist organization.
The early results would seem to completely vindicate my position. The Florida Legislature turned aside gun restrictions. New gun measures in Congress have been quickly shelved. Democrats are more likely to lose House and Senate seats in the key 2018 pro-gun states. The losing streak continues.
Yet I have to admit that something bigger is going on. It could be that progressives understood something I didnâ€™t. It could be that you can win more important victories through an aggressive cultural crusade than you can through legislation. Progressives could be on the verge of delegitimizing their foes, on guns but also much else, rendering them untouchable for anybody who wants to stay in polite society. That would produce social changes far vaster than limiting assault rifles. …
[P]rogressives are getting better and more aggressive at silencing dissenting behavior. All sorts of formerly legitimate opinions have now been deemed beyond the pale on elite campuses. Speakers have been disinvited and careers destroyed. The boundaries are being redrawn across society.
As Andrew Sullivan noted recently, â€œworkplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago.â€ There are a number of formerly popular ideas that can now end your career: the belief that men and women have inherent psychological differences, the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, opposition to affirmative action.
Whatâ€™s happening today is that certain ideas about gun rights, and maybe gun ownership itself, are being cast in the realm of the morally illegitimate and socially unacceptable.
Thatâ€™s the importance of the corporate efforts to end N.R.A. affiliations. Itâ€™s not about N.R.A. members saving some money when they fly. Itâ€™s that they are not morally worthy of being among the affiliated groups. The idea is to stigmatize.
If progressives can cut whatâ€™s left of the conservative movement off from mainstream society, they will fundamentally alter the culture war. We think of the culture war as this stagnant thing in which both sides scream at each other. But eventually there could be a winner. Progressives have won on most social issues. They could win on nearly everything else.
There are obviously plenty of conservative intellectuals. Conservatives at universities are, frankly, smarter than liberals. Conservative ideas, conservative critiques of Progressivism are more substantive, more rigorous, and more serious.
The Left always wins, it seems, by a combination of appeals to sentimentality and emotionalism communicated by simplistic, manipulative slogans which obfuscate and commonly totally misrepresent the issue and the facts. Their final victory comes by making their preferred position a class identifier and a fashion statement. Once that happens, the entire elite establishment is committed and on board.
Standing in opposition to the edicts of the God of Fashionable Opinion is undignified, uncomfortable, and has recently become a very possibly career-limiting decision.
Conservatives are perfectly able to win the debate. We can even win elections. But we seem, as David Brooks recognizes, totally impotent at affecting the Culture or having the slightest influence on Fashion.
Why is this the case? How can it be possible that the better ideas consistently lose in the marketplaces of ideas that matter the most? Any thoughts?
“The BBC has filmed a series on the Trojan War and will broadcast it on Netflix. Not very original. Suddenly, the British public channel has gone all up-to-date on its casting: Achilles will be played by a black, in this case the actor David Gyasi. I believe that at this New Year, we have reached the stage of allegory. Everything is there. …
So, in 2018, note well: Achilles is black, having a child is the business of two moms or two dads, Syrian refugees were born in Kabul, feminism stops at the entrance of the eighteenth arrondissement, sleeping with an 11 year old girl is not so awful but flirting with her neighbor makes you a pig. I do not think Huxley, Orwell, Dick or Bradbury would believe it. Things change so far, so fast. No need to burn the books as in Fahrenheit 451: no one reads them (except for such future classics as: ‘Papa disconnects his IV’ or ‘Mom sleeps with the baker’). No need to organize the two minutes of hate, as in 1984: there is Twitter, which does it very well. ‘The lie is the truth’: not complicated to swallow, in a world like this.”
Note: In the Iliad, Achilles has blonde hair (Â«Î¾Î±Î½Î¸á¿†Ï‚ Î´á½² Îºá½¹Î¼Î·Ï‚ á¼•Î»Îµ Î Î·Î»ÎµÎÏ‰Î½Î±Â» = “she (Athena) grabbed Achilles by his blonde hair”; Iliad, 1.197). That’s probably the most persistent characteristic given for him and is repeated numerous times. The word “xanthÄ“” (Î¾Î±Î½Î¸á½µ) can be translated as “yellow”, “fair”, “golden”, “blonde”.
5th Ward councilmen Chip Smith and Chuck Warpehoski were joined by 1st Ward council members Sumi Kailasapathy and Jason Frenzel in taking a knee when it came time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the city council meeting, M Live reported.
Warpehoski said his decision to kneel was an â€œact of attention, concern and respect.â€
â€œI canâ€™t speak to what is in each personâ€™s heart, but for me to â€˜take a kneeâ€™ is an act of attention, of concern, and of respect,â€ Warpehoski wrote on his website ahead of Mondayâ€™s meeting and also stated at the meeting. â€œAnd it is in that spirit that I take a knee at tonightâ€™s City Council meeting: out of respect for the aspiration that we be a nation â€˜with liberty and justice for all,â€™ with full attention that we fall short of that ideal in many ways, and with humble dedication to continue to work that the promise of the pledge may be fulfilled.â€
Kailasapathy said during the meeting that she was kneeling for the pledge in order to demonstrate she was committed to upholding Democratic values.
â€œFor me, taking a knee is also showing solidarity with the group of people who have been doing this at the national level,â€ she said.
The demonstrations reflect the NFL national anthem protests that began last year. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last season in order to draw attention to racial injustice. Some other players in the NFL followed suit, but it didnâ€™t become a national phenomenon until late September of this year after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should not tolerate kneeling during the national anthem.
Meanwhile incoal mining country, Josh Stowers delivers the national anthem for his workmates before his shift underground in West Virginia every day:
Jack Cashill observes that, over the course of his lifetime, the Left has politicized more and more of everything, at the same time marginalizing dissenters like himself.
As recently as 1980, for instance, almost no one in the media openly disrespected people like me. As a young Reagan fan, I had come to that enthusiasm almost entirely through the mainstream media. There was no conservative talk radio to speak of, no Fox News, no Internet, and I caught up with National Review only occasionally at the public library. I watched the evening news and the Sunday morning shows without feeling aggrieved or abused, and I listened to NPR all day long.
Fresh out of graduate school, I worked as Director of Management at the Kansas City Housing Authority. NPR helped me keep my sanity. I was one of only a handful of conservatives working at this place, but no one mistreated me because of it.
Being a witness to the leftâ€™s stealthy corruption of the black community, I wrote several articles on what I saw. My African-American boss advised me to use a pseudonym but otherwise had no objection. The Kansas City Star, then still a nonpartisan enterprise, welcomed my insider perspective. Up until about ten years ago, the Star even reviewed my books.
At the time, I served on the board of a local professional theater, had a play of mine produced, and wrote and directed a couple of fundraising mystery spectacles for the theater. Today, like the editors of the Star, the theaterâ€™s decision makers will not even read what I submit.
Throughout the 1990s, I produced a series of historical documentaries for the local PBS station. In that the audiences supported my work, I kept getting asked back. For years, I appeared periodically on the stationâ€™s weekly news program. That has dwindled away to nothing. The Star reporters will not be on the show if I am. The station needs the Star more than it needs me. Nor have I been on the areaâ€™s NPR station in a decade. Like its mothership, the station no longer even feigns an interest in the sixty percent of its red state market that voted for Donald Trump.
In that my wife is a university professor, so were many of our friends. Although they knew my politics, they did not hesitate to welcome us into their world. Although my politics have not changed, we have not been invited to an academic dinner party in at least a decade. Nor have we gone to see a speaker or see a play at the university three blocks from our house in twenty or so years. Chelsea Clinton? Angela Davis? The Vagina Monologues? No, thanks.
Kurt Schlichter explains that the left keeps changing the rules in order to keep winning.
The Brooke Baldwin mammary mess is just another example of how liberals leverage their ability to create new rules out of thin air as a means of asserting their power over us normals. What was A-OK yesterday is now forbidden, and what was forbidden yesterday is now mandatory. Their goal is to keep our heads spinning and paralyze us with fear, like nearsighted corporals caught in a minefield and terrified that if we take one wrong step we will detonate a concealed wrongthink booby-trap. They want us living in fear of their fussy wrath, and that is precisely why it is so important for us to keep abreast of pseudo-scandals like this so we can nip these libfascists’ schemes in the bud and deny them the ability to rack up yet another victory in the culture war. …
Part of the strategy behind the new rules is to not actually have any firm rules, to make you so uncertain and timid that you’re unwilling to take any action because anything you do, at any time, can be a violation of a rule that didn’t exist 30 seconds before. If you do talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you’re insulting womyn, and if you don’t talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you are invisibling womyn. Basically, if you don’t have any female body parts, you’re just wrong all of the time. Unless you have fake female body parts and betrayed your country; then you are America’s greatest hero and a martyr to Harvard’s infamous legacy of transphobia. Or something.
David Gerlenter writing in the Wall Street Journal says something self-evidently true. The Left seems to have won every single culture battle fought.
Although the right reads the left, the left rarely reads the right. Why should it, when the left owns American culture? Nearly every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation. The left wrapped up the culture war two generations ago. Throughout my own adult lifetime, the right has never made one significant move against the liberal culture machine.
The late Andrew Breitbart noticed the same thing. Observing that “politics is downstream from culture,” he argued the Left has made us the villains of our own stories.
Our lives â€” indeed, our very species â€” has storytelling wound into our DNA. … Popular culture is delivered to us in the form of story via books, TV, film, music, video games, and new media. …
Thus we come to politics … the vast majority of those with the power of content creation are Liberals. … Liberals control story. …What is some of that messaging? Think about movies and TV. Corporations are evil â€” using unwitting poor Africans for pharmaceutical testing (Constant Gardener) or dumping toxic chemicals into nature (Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action) or responsible for the end of mankind (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). American soldiers are bloodthirsty lawbreaking maniacs (Any military film). The CIA conducts illegal, secret operations that have nothing to do with protecting America. Radical Muslim terrorists are never villains. Trial lawyers are crusading do-gooders. David Letterman and Saturday Night Live ridicule the Right 95% of the time. Jon Stewart pretends to be centrist, but in fact jumps all over the Right far more often than the Left.
Liberal political candidates are the embodiments of those Liberal tenets. The goal is to associate them in voter minds via the vehicle of popular culture.
Even before Breitbart’s warning there was Orwell, who understood that the Left’s ultimate ability was to uproot the past and plant their chosen seed for the future. His famous dictum “he who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past” is an unsurpassed indictment of groupthink totalitarianism. There seemed no doubt they would succeed. Within its bubble, the Left’s control of culture is so absolute they can watch 1984 without realizing it’s about them.
Yet the real mystery — one which even Orwell himself did not anticipate — is why,
Look around you. Every single country that adopted socialism as an economic system went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. Now the Western Gramscian project is self-immolating in the fires of its own absurdity. The current political crisis is the collective shudder of mortality passing through “every university, newspaper, TV network, Hollywood studio, publisher, education school and museum in the nation.” The left may have “wrapped up the culture war two generations ago,” but it is rotting inside the wrapping.
Ben Hersh, at Backchannel, discusses the ability of different fonts to make cultural and political statements.
The US is not so different from the rest of the world when it comes to tribalism and conflicted identity. This has crystalized in last few months, and weâ€™ve seen typography play a substantial role.
Hillary Clinton ran for president with a slick logo befitting a Fortune 100 company. It had detractors, but I think weâ€™ll remember it fondly as a symbol of what could have beenâ€Šâ€”â€Šclarity, professionalism, and restraint.
Donald Trump countered with a garish baseball cap that looked like it had been designed in a Google Doc by the man himself. This proved to be an effective way of selling Trumpâ€™s unique brand.
Iâ€™m not interested in whether Clinton or Trump had good logos. Iâ€™m interested in the different values they reveal. Clintonâ€™s typography embodies the spirit of modernism and enlightenment values. It was designed to appeal to smart, progressive people who like visual puns. They appreciate the serendipity of an arrow that completes a lettermark while also symbolizing progress. In other words, coastal elites who like â€œdesign.â€
Trumpâ€™s typography speaks with a more primal, and seemingly earnest voice. â€œMake America Great Againâ€ symbolizes â€œMake America Great Again.â€ It tells everyone what team youâ€™re on, and what you believe in. Period. It speaks to a distrust of â€œcleanâ€ corporate aesthetics and snobs who think theyâ€™re better than Times New Roman on a baseball cap. Its mere existence is a political statement.
The two typographies are mutually intelligible at first glance, but a lot gets lost in translation. We live in a divided country, split on typographic lines as cleanly as the Serbs and the Croats.
OKLAHOMA CITY â€” The owner of a local goth bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for an â€œunbearably happyâ€ couple last week, sparking a swift and immediate backlash, according to multiple reports.