Contesting the culture

Usually I leave the political stuff to Gitabushi, but I’ve been thinking about something. Gita recently talked about the current struggle between Right and Left.

Well, I was talking a little with Kaiju the other day about the continually raging culture war. After decades of liberal takeover and entrenchment in entertainment, news media, and education, I feel like some of those on the Right have finally begun to wake up.

The Alt-Right is part of a reaction to the spreading decay of political correctness and social justice crusading. I’m not going to dive into what I think of the Alt-Right other than to say I think some of their impetus is understandable and that though there are a lot of decent folk who have been driven to join or sympathize with them, they are just a different shade of what is being termed the Control Left. They’re all collectivist bomb-throwers.

A popular talking point of the Alt-Right is that Conservatism has failed and therefore the Left’s own tactics must be taken up against it. “We don’t like the Alinsky dirtbaggery of the Left, but we need to win,” they say. As if it’s a binary choice – become what you despise or lose.

I’m of the mind that there are several reasons the Right has lost so much ground up until now. First, it’s unorganized. Until the Tea Party, I can’t think of any concerted efforts to primary squishes and run staunch, fighting candidates. And because the Right hasn’t infiltrated and embedded itself into high levels of educational institutions or media outlets, workers in those industries who don’t subscribe to orthodox liberalism are usually closeted and fragmented.

Second, not everyone realizes there’s a cultural war on. I think especially over the past few years more people have awoken to this fact, though. They tire of being called bigot, sexist, racist, transphobic, or whatever the slur de jure is for folk who don’t agree with the latest Leftist dogma. Remember a few years ago when transsexualism was seen as disordered and abnormal? Well now if you haven’t all of a sudden changed your mind because Bruce Jenner has boobs, you’re a terrible person.

Third, we’ve failed to contest. How many “family” sitcoms these days now inject random normalizing messaging about SJW pet issues? How many gay characters do we have now compared to the actual size of the gay population? If you watch TV, then the gay/pedophile Catholic priest joke is probably within your realm of experience, as is the criticism of the Church and Christians in general as anti-Science™, but when’s the last time you heard a joke about Islam? Why are the chief pop-star spokesmen for Science™ major celebrities of the Left?

The first two reasons, I think, have begun to swing. As a result, the Right is beginning to fight back, if not reclaim some lost ground.

Twitter and Facebook are largely Leftist spaces, though Twitter’s got a healthy Conservative population. Many of the Pulp Revolution crowd and allies have kindled dialogue and offered alternatives to Lefty-dominated publishing outlets like Tor.

Gamergate, for all it’s slandered, has woken up some to the rank hypocrisy of the Left.

On YouTube and in other new media, we’ve got a lot of fresh talent pushing back against virulent Leftism, from the Conservative brand of Louder with Crowder and Ben Shapiro to the Classical Liberalism of Dave Rubin.

In the spiritual sphere, Bishop Barron, of whom I’ve written before, has also created a huge online presence.

 

By engaging with different, often younger, audiences in a variety of places -but especially online- and with talented communicators to carry our messages, I think we stand a chance of reversing some of the damage that’s been done. The up and coming Generation Z is apparently the most conservative generation since WW2. By reaching out to them and engaging in outlets that they’re more likely to find, we can counter some of that cancerous liberal PC programming. We have strong voices working to take back the culture, and so as Kaiju mentioned the other day on Geek Gab – if we don’t see the kinds of shows, stories, commentary that we like, we can’t just bitch. We need to support what we like, and we need to create.

-Bushi

bushi

 

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13 thoughts on “Contesting the culture

  1. You don’t *have* to leave the politics to me.
    I sure as shootin’ ain’t going to leave the fiction to Kaiju and the SFF to you, at least.

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  2. Culture is collective. You can’t when a culture war without a collective. A bunch of people all doing their own thing with no unity just creates a chaotic nothing which the left then dominates. Its why they traditionally won. An Individual can’t beat a collective.

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  3. I second Blume’s comment.

    Historically, left and right didn’t have as much of a divide as today because they were two voices of the same collective – America, for all the disgreements in practice, had a mostly homoegenous culture built around protestant values. Yes, there’s always been an independent streak, but this was always tempered by the natural human desire to live communally – we are political (of the polis) animals. In the past century (really past 50 years), though, the center collective collapsed (huge debate about when and how, but I don’t think most disagree that it collapsed). Thus we’ve fallen more and more into moral and political anarchy, only the fear of absolute anarchy keeping us in line (well, mostly).

    This is probably why number three has not been addressed. The conservative side of things is not only disorganized (with some few glimmers here and there), but is also not, ultimately, a collective. You’re seeing certain fringish folk recognize this – look at the neoreactionaries especially – but they don’t know how to organically address it – thus the really dark turns to cynical absolutism among that group.

    Culture (and thus art and fiction and movies) is downstream from cult – from that which unites us. We could, as most conservatives seem to want to do, claim “freedom” or “freedom of conscience” as our cult. But that’s less trying to fix the problem as patch up the old model – that’s been the cult of America since it’s inception and, after much warring, the cult of Europe since the Revolution. Once we have an actual cult again, we can actually form a culture.

    Look at the left – they’ve given up random “be yourself” (beyond their rhetoric) in favor of forming a new cult (of the devil, but that’s another convo).

    I recommend two specific writings on these matters, both relatively short: Patrick Deneen’s Unsustainable Liberalism (https://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/08/unsustainable-liberalism) and Pope Leo XIII’s Libertas (http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas.html). There’s something contradictory in wanting to form a collective around not-being-a-collective.

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    1. Points well-taken, but I’m not convinced collectivism is necessary just because it’s worked for the Left in recent years. I do agree that shared values are important, which I think is what has served us as a country for a large part of our history. When that breaks down, you get civil war, as we’ve seen.

      A big part of it is, as you identified, individual rights, as opposed to group rights. That’s an important battle.

      I am encouraged by the uptick in public, media-creating conservatives. The Left pushes PC culture, but I don’t think they do so with impunity. It’s part of what got Trump elected. People who aren’t even conservative by and large are getting tired of being called racist, homophobic, Islamophobic. That may be cause enough to shift things. It may take another generation to see.

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      1. It’s not just now. Think of the renaissance. It only kicked off as a movement once Italy as a whole had enough wealth to support art, a class of people interested in leaving an artistic legacy and schools of artist focussed on developing specific artistic styles and then improving them. Or look at the pulp revolution. Does it take off at all of Vox Day doesn’t give Jeffro, Vox’s big ass micro phone and then Jeffro organizing people with similar out looks on sci-fi and fantasy?

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      2. Sure, shared values. The Pulp Rev scene may be due to the microphone of an Alt-Righter, sure, but it’s not an Alt-Right group. We’ve got a lot of folk of various (mostly right and libertarian) leanings who all appreciate the traditional values and themes of the pulps, want plain ol’ fun stories back, and are sick of PC SJW “pink slime” garbage.

        Some may see us as cultish, true, but from in here it looks like we’ve got ideological and aesthetic differences within the group, as is healthy.

        You’re right, it takes resources and sometimes patronage. Ultimately we gotta create.

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  4. The excitement I found when I discovered how many Catholic SF/F nerds and anime fans on Twitter – including you guys and your projects – shows both how ideologically dominated online communities are still, but also the fact that things can change and are changing.

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  5. I was emphasizing collective action. Not that vox is an alt righter but that his micro phone allowed all the people that think alike to hear about each other and then jeffro organized it into a movement with goals and purposes. Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin all had differences of opinion on the nature of the communist state but worked together to build it. Collectivism isn’t a bad word. Jesus Christ was a collectivist.

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  6. Coalitions are great things. I’m not a fan of collectivism because when corrupted by men (everything always is) it tends toward groupthink and the devaluing of the individual. Saying Christ was a collectivist is like trying to claim Him for a political group – you can pick lessons and phrases from the Bible to support the assertion, but there are usually others that directly contradict it.

    I’m on board with you regarding like-minded individuals coming together, organizing, and getting crap done.

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    1. I have no idea where you find even one positive mention of individualism in the bible. It is all kingdom of God first every where. To put yourself first is pride and a sin.

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      1. That is so – God comes first. But in the story of the lost sheep, the good shepherd leaves the 99 to find the lost one. In the story of the talents, each man is judged individually.

        I’m not saying Christ glorified individualism. But sometimes the individual comes before the group (not before God, of course!) or is considered separately.

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  7. I don’t want to start a flame war. So if you want to move on from this topic, feel free to ignore me.

    I’m not quite sure it’s right to say that the individual ever comes before or is treated separately from the group. In the examples you gave – the 99 sheep and parable of the talents – the community acts as a kind of stellar body around which the individual orbits. The one lost sheep is sought by Christ, yes, but because he left the flock. Further, his restoration is not being healed on his own, but being grafted into the flock.

    In the parable of the talents, each is treated individually for the way he contributed to building up the King’s property – His kingdom, his community. This is emphasized especially in the final curse – the talents of the one who looked after himself, sought to protect himself from risk and the king’s wrath, these talents are entrusted to him who built up the kingdom’s wealth. Never forget, the talents are not those of the servants – they are the king’s.

    There never really is a point where the individual comes before the community. There’re instances where the individual is treated separately, but that is often when the individual is keeping to the ways of God and the community is falling away (or vice versa). Paul’s epistles always treat the Christian life as life in community, conforming one’s mind to the ways of the Church Christ founded. Individuals are only individuals in relation to the community. Never, as far as I can tell, are God’s ways to be practiced “on one’s own” – that’s one of the major contentions between Catholics and (especially modern) protestants. Christ didn’t create a body of knowledge the Church simply helps in dispensing. He founded the Church, period. One cannot know Christ or God outside of the community, the Church.

    This has a lot to do with how we see culture and how we fight the culture wars. Are we fighting to allow the individual the space to “do his own thing”? Are we fighting to allow peoples to think what they want, express what they want, read what they want, and do what they want? All “within reason”, of course – though this seems, to me, code for assuming no harm (though what harm is is becoming debatable).

    Thus what is the “culture” that we, the right, are fighting for. We can use terms like a culture of “individual freedom” or “freedom of expression”, but these are terms so amorphous that it amounts to almost nothing. There’s a reason there hasn’t been a powerful coalition of libertarians and that the “don’t tread on me” sort of culture can only work as a reaction and not as something positive.

    I think we’re seeing this in the recent fight for the soul of SFF. Read anyone who defends more right wing voices, especially around matters of homosexuality in their literature, and you’ll notice its far less about having a SFF culture which allows every voice an equal spot on the table – though that’s the rhetoric. It’s about putting forth an opposing culture, one with a specific content. Vox Day gets this. Jeffro gets this. John C. Wright gets this. I think they all have a streak of individual-over-collective (we’re fed this in American school systems from the 1st grade), but you can see it cracking. It’s almost completely cracked for Day (though I find his culture something I’m against – the Catholic in me can never agree with something so Protestant and ethnocentric).

    However, while these guys get it, not everyone does. Most of us still want to defend what we’ve grown up with – the vision of the individual-over-the collective. This is what worries me about the latest right-wing rousing. I think it’s something that can only feed on reaction – it’s only forged by a bunch of people who can agree in what they’re against, but not what they’re for. It cannot build a substantive culture. The Left, consciously or unconsciously, has figured this out. They cannot just react to perceived slights on freedoms, but must posit a specific cultural vision with it’s own heresies. It’s not for infringing freedom that they call for people to be fired or arrested – it’s because they are heretics to their societal gods. Thus they are actually coalescing into something – something demonic I contend, but something nonetheless.

    The right is starting to do something similar itself, but I’m not pleased with cultures founded upon “whiteness”.

    Have you come across the Benedict Option discussion in Catholic circles? I have problems with Dreher, but his basic thrust is important – religious groups, if they want to remain (or better, if they really believe what they say they do), have to commit to forming communities not just flavored, but radically formed by their faith. To go back to the parable analogy, to let Christ take them back and graft them into the flock. I think more and more people are getting this, but are having trouble sloughing off faith in protecting the freedom of the individual as among the highest goods.

    Alright, I’ll stop combox preaching now.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Tomas. You make some great points and observations.

      I may come across as if I’m advocating for a pure individualist philosophy, but I think I’m clumsy in articulating my thoughts. I don’t think Christianity really conforms to any of the political philosophies we’re discussing. Just as socialism and capitalism are both capable of great evil in their extreme forms, I feel that the same can be said of collectivism and individualism.

      It’s true – we are a collective under God, with Christ as our head. We’re individual members (parts) making up a body. But I’m not sure of the good in extending this way of thought to secular/political institutions.

      I don’t think I have all the answers, by the way. ;)

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