In Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow, one of the characters explains a ‘European-style gangster hit’, which he says consists of three shots: head, heart, and stomach. Yes, that should definitely ensure the target’s demise!
It strikes me that this comprehensive approach to high-certainty murder provides a pretty good analogy for what is going on in America and in many other Western nations. In my analogy, ‘stomach’ represents the basic, essential physical infrastructure of society–energy and food supply, in particular. ‘Head’ represents the society’s aggregate thought processes: how decisions are made, how truth is distinguished from falsehood. And ‘heart’ represents the society’s spirit: how people feel about their fellow citizens, their families, friends, and associates, and their overall society.
In the year 2023, all of these things are under assault.
Stomach: The suicidal energy policies of Germany could serve as a poster child here, but similar trends are in place in other countries, although mostly not so far along. (The US state of California seems to want to be next on the list of bad examples.) The destructive farming policies of Sri Lanka, implemented with the enthusiastic cheerleading of Western experts, now have echoes in Canada and in the Netherlands. And energy and agriculture are of course closely coupled…for the production of fertilizer, for the operation of farm equipment, and for the transportation of supplies to the farms and the transportation of agricultural products to process and distribution centers and ultimately to consumers.
Nearly all physical goods and products come ultimately from farms or from mines. At least in the US and in much of Europe, regulations and litigation have made it very difficult to open new mines and even to keep existing ones in operation. Yet there are very extensive materials requirements for the wind, solar, and battery systems required for the envisaged ‘energy transition’…and the answer, if one asks where these materials should come from, seems to be only ‘not from here.’
Pressuring people and entire economies for maximum use of wind and solar…while at the same time amping up the difficulties and disrespect facing the people and companies involved in the extraction and processing of the necessary materials…is a sure recipe for shortages and Greenflation.
Speaking of disrespect, the American businessman and politician Michael Bloomberg, has made some rather remarkable assertions about both farming and manufacturing. With regard to farming, he said:
“I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Bloomberg told the audience at the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”
…and regarding manufacturing:
““You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job. And we created a lot of jobs.”
All of which elides the vast array of knowledge and skills required in order to do either farming or manufacturing successfully. I doubt that Bloomberg, for all his knowledge of information technology and finance, has much comprehension of any of these areas. What projects here is a feeling of contempt for people who are involved in the physical world rather than his own symbolic world of information technology and media.
Journalists and politicians, in particular, seem to have little grasp of those essential technologies which I have metaphorically classified under ‘stomach’, even at the most fundamental levels. And too many political leaders think…even while preaching about their respect for Science, that they can ignore people with actual, practical experience with energy and the other technologies which they wish to control. For example:
Trudeau’s green hydrogen announcement, as big an international energy policy statement as there’s been in memory, was held far from Canada’s energy heartland, and included no one from the energy sector that is currently shouldering the load.
Not only were they not invited, but Trudeau went out of his way to make an absurd statement about the lack of an economic case for LNG that was akin to a drama teacher going on stage at the Detroit Auto Show and telling the audience to get rid of all their wrenches because he didn’t think they were needed anymore.
Head: The cognitive methods that have made Western societies thrive are under assault. Such benign things as asking students to get the right answer and to show their work are denounced as racism. Debate and discussion have become difficult as disagreement is often perceived as a threat. In law, the adversary system itself is under attack as lawyers are pressured not to represent unpopular clients…something that has long been the case in totalitarian nations and in areas dominated by mobs and by lynch law.
A vital part of the toolkit that has driven progress–social progress as well as technological progress–has been the open discussion enabled by the spirit of free speech. This is under severe attack, not least on university campuses. A recent Quillette article provides multiple data points on campus hostility to allowing speakers whose view might offend somebody. Link A 2017 study, based on a sampling of all US registered voters, shows that 30% of Americans favor banning speakers “if the guest’s words are considered to be hateful or offensive by some.” Among Democrats–and professors and administrators are much more likely to be Democrats than to be Republicans–the corresponding number is 40%. And for Democrat women–a demographic which is in the ascendency in key roles on campus–the opposition to free speech, as measured by the above question, is 47%. Link Not a hopeful sign for the future of campus free speech or for the direction that American society will evolve as students who have come of age in its universities move out into the wider world.
In science, ideas and conclusions which conflict with established views and prestigious people are increasingly likely to be condemned and suppressed as ‘misinformation.’ This paper Link argues persuasively that identity politics and censorship go hand in hand. Major scientific publications are now evaluating submitted papers based on (what someone thinks are) the moral implications of the proposed conclusions, not just on the truth or falsity of those conclusions–see Alex Tabarrok’s recent post as well as this Quillette article.
There are of course precedents for this kind of thing. As the blogger Neo notes, “The Soviets actively squelched science that contradicted certain political messages they wished to get across.” The agricultural catastrophe that was brought about by the nonsensical but politically-correct and politically-enforced theories of Lysenko is well-documented history, but the damage is much broader than that. This article mentions that the Soviets at one point banned resonance theory, in chemistry, as “bourgeois pseudoscience.” The field of cybernetics–feedback systems and automatic control–was at one point denounced as “a misanthropic pseudo-theory”, among other things. (It is interesting to note that “few of these critics had any access to primary sources on cybernetics”…the denunciations were largely based on other Soviet anti-cybernetics sources.)
In Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon, protagonist Rubashov is an Old Bolshevik who has been arrested by the Stalinist regime. The book represents his musings while awaiting trial and likely execution.
A short time ago, our leading agriculturalist, B., was shot with thirty of his collaborators because he maintained the opinion that nitrate artificial manure was superior to potash. No. 1 is all for potash; therefore B. and the thirty had to be liquidated as saboteurs. In a nationally centralized agriculture, the alternative of nitrate or potash is of enormous importance : it can decide the issue of the next war. If No. 1 was in the right, history will absolve him … If he was wrong …
Note that phrase in a nationally centralized agriculture. When things are centralized, decisions become overwhelmingly important. There will be strong pressure against allowing dissidents to “interfere with” what has been determined to be the One Best Way.
The assault on what I have called “cognitive methods that have made Westerns societies thrive” has not originated only from the universities, but they have been the most influential source of this destructive challenge. Which is ironic, given that the great growth of educational institutions was driven by and premised on the Enlightenment ideals that all too many of these institutions seem focused on negating.
There was once a rather sinister toy: it consisted of a box with a switch on the side. When you turned the switch to on, the box would open, and hand would come out, and the thing would turn itself off. The behavior of much of western academia seems modeled after the behavior of that box. Unfortunately, it’s not just themselves that these institutions may succeed in turning off.
Heart. The late Dr. David Yeagley, a Comanche Indian (traditional name ‘Bad Eagle’) and a college professor, described an interaction that took place in one of his classes. (excerpted)
“LOOK, DR. YEAGLEY, I don’t see anything about my culture to be proud of. It’s all nothing. My race is just nothing.”
The girl was white. She was tall and pretty, with amber hair and brown eyes. For convenience’ sake, let’s call her “Rachel.”
I had been leading a class on social psychology, in which we discussed patriotism – what it means to be a people or a nation. The discussion had been quite lively. But when Rachel spoke, everyone fell silent.
“Look at your culture,” she said to me. “Look at American Indian tradition. Now I think that’s really great. You have something to be proud of. My culture is nothing.”
Her words disturbed and offended me in a way that I could not quite enunciate.
When Rachel denounced her people, she did it with the serene self-confidence of a High Priestess reciting a liturgy. She said it without fear of criticism or censure. And she received none. The other students listened in silence, their eyes moving timidly back and forth between me and Rachel, as if unsure which of us constituted a higher authority.
Yeagley saw a resemblance between Rachel and those Frenchwomen who were quick to associate with the conquering Germans…and he wondered:
Who had conquered Rachel’s people? What had led her to disrespect them? Why did she behave like a woman of a defeated tribe?
(Dr Yeagley also cited a Cheyenne saying which seems relevant: A people is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground.)
It is not only the value of our national and cultures that is increasingly held in low esteem–it is something even more fundamental, humanity itself. Here is a meme which was circulated on Facebook–the world without bees–the world without humans:
The top panel of the meme is unobjectionable; it does seem likely that a world without bees would lead to very bad consequences. The lower panel, though, with its image of a beautiful and peaceful Eden–but no people–is just flat-out nihilism. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is no longer limited to the fringes. Stacey Adams, a candidate for governor of the US state of Georgia (45% in the most recent polls), recently asserted that the reason people are concerned about inflation is that they have kids. No kids, no problems!. (And in a hundred years, with no kids, there will be even few problems, as the above meme suggests.)
The plague of opioids and other drugs that currently afflicts America has many causes–irresponsible marketing by manufacturers, unwise or worse prescribing by some physicians, people who start on a pain-suppression drug for legitimate reasons, typically, injury but then can’t stop, and the almost complete failure of federal law enforcement. But one major factor is surely the desire to escape from reality–to disappear in dreams, to borrow a line from a song–similar to the way in which Chinese laborers with hard lives and little hope became habitues of the opium dens, though with much less-straightforward proximate causes. Loss of a sense of meaning, driven by lack of social connections as well as lack of a strong belief system (whether religious, humanist, or other) surely plays an important part. Unrewarding and seemingly-meaningless jobs drive some people to drugs and others to extreme video game obsessions.
Surely the unrelenting demonization of Western societies, as perpetrated by many influential voices and ‘elites’ of these very societies, contributes to the sense of despair on the part of many individuals. This is probably especially true of men, who find their gender as well as their societies and countries under continuous attack. Years ago, the author Doris Lessing described something she observed in a UK school:
I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men. You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives.”
Lessing said the teacher tried to “catch my eye, thinking I would approve of this rubbish”.
This isn’t good for anybody; it is destructive both of the self-concept of the boys and of the sense of agency of the girls–and especially destructive of the possibilities for good relationships between the sexes.
Societies have become extremely politicized. Everything from science to art to history to sex is viewed by many as nothing more than markers in the endless power struggle of group against group. The recent attacks against famous artworks by climate fanatics in the UK and in Germany provides an extreme exemple of this trend: these paintings were not something that could be appreciated for their beauty, they were merely targets of opportunity in the struggle.
This all leads to an increased focus on tribalism. And tribalism, when it goes too far, makes a high-trust society impossible. And a low-trust society is at a considerable disadvantage as concerns its future economic development.
The metaphorical shots to the Head, Heart, and Stomach are individually very harmful to a society; when they occur simultaneously, as is happening now, the impact is devastating.
So, is the situation hopeless? While the situation is indeed dark, I don’t think it’s hopeless, for several reasons. The extreme nature of Woke positions is bound to generate pushback, as is the extension of Woke theology across virtually all areas of human life. To focus on some specifics:
Misdirected kindness has sometimes has its limits: There are people who have aligned themselves with some forms of Wokeness because they want to be kind to people who are different in some way and to avoid bullying…but come to the realization that much of Wokeness is all about bullying. See for example this thread at Twitter:
Melonie Mac @MelonieMac: For those who at least to some degree fell into the woke cult then snapped out of it, what was it that woke you up? For me it was cancel culture. I found myself defending cancelled people because it seemed so cruel. That’s when I realized woke ideology is evil parading as good
Some responses to her tweet:
It’s trying to combat bullying by becoming an even worse bully.
Being canceled online for a clear joke and watching 1000s of people contact my work/family
I didn’t fall for it persay I just thought they were people doing the right thing. I went and would deliver supplies to dc for the blm protests and talked to the people actually there. They were all so warm and kind, from lower class situations. Then I looked up BLM leaders.
It was when I got “canceled” for having a “problematic” guest when I realized how horrible it all was.
I was a leftist anarcho punk that got turned off by all the racism pointed in the other direction, policing what a person could wear or style their hair like based on skin color. It’s the same intolerance and hate with a different coat of paint.
Used to have a woke friend. Said friend basically turned on me when I attempted to defended my gf because she was having a laugh over me accidentally using her soap and smelling like roses. He got mad because “scents aren’t gendered”, and basically never got along with us again.
If you’re on Twitter, there are many more responses worth reading through.
Personal experience can trump narrative. There are lots of people who may superficially agree with some position that sounds good…the claim that wind and solar are both cheaper and less-polluting than other energy sources, for example…and who may not have the time or the kind of background/experience needed to see the flaws in things like some of the ‘Levelized Cost of Energy’ claims being made for ‘renewables’…but can & will perceive that something is wrong when they suffer repeated blackouts and sharply-rising electricity bills. And if you are an avid cook, then ‘going green’ is less-likely to feel warm and fuzzy after you find out that it is being interpreted to require confiscation of your gas stove…and maybe rewiring your kitchen for 220 for your new, required electric stove.
The same point is true about crime. Reducing unneeded imprisonment, having the cops act nicer to suspects…these goals may sound very good, but your views are likely to become more…nuanced…when vast areas of your city–maybe even your own neighborhood–become unlivable.
Credentialism is being challenged. Universities are major engines of Wokeness, and their claims of being the only path to success are being challenged. Some face declining enrollments. Some young people, especially men, are being warned off by the career and financial struggles of those who spent 4, 6, or 8+ years in higher education, and are looking at other options. Some employers are placing less emphasis on college degrees…rather ironically, in some cases this is a side effect of Wokeness. The work of Peter Thiel’s fellowship program, and the affiliated 1517 Fund, are helping to build the case that an ‘elite’ college degree is not the only path to financial and career success.
Get Woke Go Broke. Doesn’t always happen, of course…there are plenty of organizations whose Wokeness does not appear to have yet seriously harmed them…but there are such well-known examples as CNN’s poor showing in ratings (resulting in terminations and layoffs) and the reactions to Disney’s Woke virtue-signature, which reactions were likely a factor in the replacement of its CEO.
Challenging the Censors. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter–the dismantling of much of the censorship apparatus on that platform–and the public release of The Twitter Files are phenomena of the first importance. The rise of Substack…basically a reinvigoration of the old-fashioned concept of the personal blog, but with the option of easy monitorization for those who need/want it…is also important.
Individual Courage. Bari Weiss, writing in Commentary, says We got here because of cowardice. We get out with courage. She cites several examples of courageous behavior, including:
–Maud Maron, a Legal Aid attorney in NYC who spoke out against the mayor’s proposal to get rid of admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant and who believes that ‘racial essentialism’ is racist and should not be taught in schools. She was the target of a witch hunt, and was eventually forced out. Instead of quietly finding a new job, she has filed suit against the organization under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
–Paul Rossi, teacher at New York private school, who raised questions about the ideology being preached at a mandatory (whites only!) student and faculty Zoom meeting. A few days later, all the school’s advisors were required to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school. Unwilling to disavow his beliefs, Rossi blew the whistle: “I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.” As Bari Weiss says, “That’s courage.”
–Peter Boghossian, who resigned his post at Portland State University, writing: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division…For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who would destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?”
(Commentary, November 2021 issue)
Parents, seeing the realities of public K-12 education. One side effect of the Covid lockdowns is that many parents got their first view of what is really being taught in their kids’ schools, and often they don’t much like it. This was certainly a major factor in the Virginia gubernatorial race and in several other races as well. A lot of parental activism has been inspired by these revelations, and the reactions of many local authorities and of the Biden administration have themselves been…quite educational.
Some of those who have been most forthright in speaking about local school issues are those who themselves come from totalitarian countries. For example, Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who endured Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child and spoke up to the Loudoun County School Board:
“You are training our children to loathe our country and our history. Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this feels very familiar…The only difference is that they used class instead of race.”
The “progressive” Left and the “Woke” movement have tremendous inertia. Institutions ranging from universities to churches to banks have been largely captured by its worldview. Derailing the crazy train will be difficult–but I do believe it is possible. By no means certain…but possible.
15 thoughts on “Head–Heart–Stomach”
Related: The environmentalist assault on civilization
How has wars slaughtering millions followed by socialist ideologies that slaughter millions more affected the European psyche, mind, culture, zeitgeist, whatever you want to call it?
We know how the collapse (by war and disease) of North, Central, and South American native societies affected their peoples. Down for the count and apparently not going to rise again.
Europeans aren’t immune to the affects of mass slaughter by suicidal stupidity.
Hollywood has shown us the world without bees. It’s called “Jurassic Park.” Flowering plants evolved during the Cretaceous.
ErisGuy…”How has wars slaughtering millions followed by socialist ideologies that slaughter millions more affected the European psyche, mind, culture, zeitgeist, whatever you want to call it?”
Pretty clear that WWI, in particular, had a severe negative effect on the European psyche. See Western Civilization and the First World War for some thoughts on this:
The US, though, hasn’t suffered proportionate casualties in any war other the the Civil War–which did not seem to have the same kind of psychological impact on the US that WWI had on Europe.
An interesting typology. I especially approve of your quoting David Yeagley’s “Who conquered Rachel’s people?” because in many ways the dominant discourse is basically similar to that which an invader would impose on a conquered people. Let me take your typology a step further and ask two questions, who (in a grammatical sense) is the subject in doing the gangster hit and when did it happen.
To use your mob hit analogy or as Gunny would say,who is the doing the shooting?
We can all sit back and shake our heads at those blue-haired shriekers with their pronouns making nonsensical statements such as calling blacks “white supremacists” but they are the tip of a large and coherent intellectual movement that has taken over not only academia, but the intellectual high ground in our society. This first group is the post-modernists which has its foundation in academia and whose projeny in journalism, arts, politics and elsewhere we know as the Woke.
For the post-modernist all knowledge is constructed, not discovered, as such there can be no truth since any such notion is relative to the person who holds it. For a post-modernist the idea that “These truths are self-evident” and to construct a society upon such notions is nonsensical. For the post-modernist, Focault takes the notion of society and “Truth” one step further and states that values and truths in a society are a reflection of power relations, this has close parallels to Marx’s theory of social superstructures but for the post-modernist the superstructure supports race and sex and not class.
So to the post-modernist, American society and government is not constructed on bedrock principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but rather on whatever notion will support the power of the ruling faction (cis/hereteronormative/white) The weak tea of the 1619 Project attempts to reframe American history using these concepts by depicting the American project as simply a means to justify white supremacy (e.g. the American Revolution was merely attempt to protect slavery) To the post-modernist, a conservative such as Larry Elder and Clarence can easily become “white supremacists” because they support the philosophical and cultural superstructure that maintains white power. In the case of sex and, gender, and pronouns, the notion of gender dependent on biological sex represses people from constructing their own gender identity
To the post-modernist there can be no political or social superstructure that allows for a degree of pluralism, a space for all. Politics is about power or to paraphrase Lenin who is applying the beat down to whom. Postmodernism really isn’t about truth, it is about power, and therefore it nihilistic. You cannot be neutral in this conflict, to not be avowedly antiracist is to be racist, and not to actively affirm another’s constructed truth amounts to violence.
Group #2 is on the other side of the divide in being focused more on technocratic and executive functions. Some come from progressive roots, some actually believe in the postmodenrism/Woke from academia, and other simply want to reshape the world to fit their utopian image. All despise bourgeois values, all see the middle class as something to be crushed, and all desire power in order to do so in order to construct what they feel is a just society. The transnational elite that we see at Davos wish to bring order to a chaotic, wasteful society; the idea of a contractual society of microtransactions as depicted by Adam Smith within the bounds of a nation-state places power in the hands of Al Bundy and Homer Simpson and not their social betters
Others, those who are more focused on social and government functions, come from progressive roots. They are more recognizable than the post-modernists because they use a more accessible language and their arguments are reflected in current political debate. They wish to suborn the American system of government with its check and balances, concessions to political pluralism and natural rights in order to build what they believe to be a more just society. They are in many ways like the post-modernists in that their truths are constructed and not discovered, they are beings of pure reason and not empiricists, and refuse to read history as a guide or warning to politics. When confronted with their socialist drams with the historical record of their futility, they simply say that this time will be different… that is if they deem to respond to you at all.
When did this great shift toward postmodernism/Woke and Davos happen? Some say sometime in the 2010s, some say since the Great War, I think the inflection point is in 1991-1993 range. Yes the wars and economic dislocations of the 20th Century unhinged the Western nations from their traditional roots and allowed to development of toxic ideas but an equilibrium was reached in the 1950s; the same with the social dislocations of the 1960s with a new equilibrium in the 1980s. What made the period of 1991-1993 different needs to be seen through the prism of generational change. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War released a brake on intellectual and social discourses, to discuss undermining and reconstituting Western societies was no seen as a subversive act performed in the presence of an existential enemy but rather a strange and harmless academic phenomena inspired by trendy dead French people and cloistered in academia.
The other two phenomena also deal with the release of society brakes/barriers and focus on generational shifts. The defeat of George H.W, Bush and the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 reflected a massive and unappreciated change in American politics and society. The exit of Bush mirrored the exit of a generation that not only led the country to victory in the Cold War but that had experienced or observed first hand world war, depression, and the horrors of utopian philosophies such as communism and Maoism. In other words they had a sense of the tragic that only comes from direct existential threats, a confirmation that truth is something to be discovered through experience and not constructed from fevered dreams of rational thought. Bill Clinton on the other hand reflected a generation that experienced little of that trauma but was raised in the peace and prosperity of the post-war years (yes there was Vietnam but how many actually served?) Combined with large-scale exposure to higher education, this generation was the first in modern American history to see social capital, the stash, as an inexhaustible resource and to see the barriers constructed by their elder s as not guardrails against chaos but as obstacles to social progress. Draw a comparison between the responses to the environmental movements of the 1970s (or even the 1990s) with that of today with the universal push among elites to destroy our energy infrastructure, would anybody who had experienced the Great Depression entertain such a notion?
The other generational change was within academia itself and one I experienced first-hand, though only in the middle of the process. By early 1990s I saw the rise of postmodernism and the early stages in the transformation of the history, philosophy, and various social science departments. The professors leading that change were the flower children of the 1960s, their acolytes in the 1990s were the ones who have achieved institutional dominance by the 2010s. The long march, at least through academia, was complete.
This is why I say the critical point was in the early 1990s and not the 2010s, that was when that not only momentum began to build but that brakes and safeguards were released,. Modernity has created its own challenges, in terms of the family, religion, tradition; however the critical action began in the 1990s with the rise of elites who felt that truth was constructed and became enthralled with their own narcissism and significance. “We are the one we have been waiting for” was a long time in the making. The 2010s saw the breakout of postmodernism into the wider culture born on the backs of millions of college degrees soaked in the Telos of the academy.
So what to do?
We must first realize what we are dealing with, to understand as I have tried to here on its own terms. We see the blue-haired, non-binary, pronouned freaks of LibsofTikTok and laugh or even troubled or the insane ramblings of Ocasio-Cortez (never call her AOC) and roll our eyes. However they are just the tip of the iceberg of an intellectually coherent, and for many without traditional ties attractive, revolutionary movement. It purports to explain to people the way society actually works and how their place in it came to be. More importantly it gives them both the means and a map to enact the change that the ideology demands.
For these people Lenin’s theories of revolution, Focault’s theories of power, and Chomsky’s theory of linguistics are not warnings but rather tools. These people form a self-conscious revolutionary group who see themselves engaged in a transformational struggle. Noe that blue-haired K-12 teacher who is indoctrinating her 6-year old students on gender queer may not have read Derrida or understand all the intellectual in-and-outs but she knows she is part of a larger, thrilling struggle and she is not alone. Every year our K-12 system that has been captured by the long-march pumps out millions of high school graduates, few of whom have much attachment to the country or the current system and a sizable minority who wish to topple it. Through its capture of the educational system, postmodernism has become self-perpetuating.
I mentioned Lenin and Foucault as tools. Our opponents draw on a rich intellectual experience (discovered truth!) going back 100+ years. While their philosophical ideas may be out-dated their tactics are up-to-date, they know how to demoralize, undermine, and capture. Look at their language – racist, multiracial democracy, white supremacy – which touches on a historical nerve in the American psyche but at the same means something quite different from what the average American thinks. The goal is, through manipulation of language, is to demoralize supporters of the existing regime. Another method of demoralization is to otherize or place beyond the respectable pale those who wish actively oppose the postmodern or its handmaiden progressive agenda. MAGA and the Canadian trucker convoy become insurrectionists, wreckers, and even to echo Soviet propaganda fascists. Every person who is not actively engaged in the Revolution is offered the choice of dissociating themselves from such people or risk being canceled.
In short this is not some sort of social movement can be defeated within an election cycle or two but will take a long time and considerable effort to defeat. Some say that the Revolution will collapse of its own self-contradictions. Some say that this is merely a passing fad and that like those 60s radicals it will run its course and they will be reabsorbed back into bourgeois society. I say that is shortsighted. While any such movement not rooted in discovered truths will eventually collapsed, it can run for a very long time before doing so especially for a self-conscious revolutionary elite that is still in its ascendant, confident stage. As for reabsorption of the our disaffected teens and young adults? Why would they wish to? They are in the thrall of a revolutionary movement that is many senses a religion, they feel they have a home of sorts and besides where they would go? The bourgeois society of the 1970s of faith, family, and nation that could bring the 60s radical back no longer exists. No… no matter what short-term reverse the postmodern/Woke endure either in the courts or elections we will be dealing with is for a long time.
Mike..thanks for a thoughtful analysis. Detailed competitive analysis of one’s opponents, including segmentation, is useful, much more so than the sweeping statements that are often made about the whole batch.
A couple of relevant posts from Zion Lights about her experiences in the environmental and ‘climate’ movement:
Either you believe that human activity is contributing to global warming, or you do not. If you do not believe in global warming at all, then you are not paying attention.
One of the problems of a purely capitalistic society, is that things like power will have to be a capitalistic solution. That will be a minimal effort that just fits the problems, while making as much money as possible. Texas is a good example of a system that is on the edge of failure whenever it gets cold.
As many of us are moving to electric vehicles, they are just better in every way, systems like the ones in America are not really able to deal with the switch from gasoline to electricity.
As a long time commie it is entertaining to watch these systems fall apart. Money talks, but its stupid. ;)
If you do not believe in global warming at all, then you are not paying attention.
The troll speaks up on a subject dear to his heart. The global warming scam has made billions for some of the scammers. The reason why the name of the scam has been changed to “Climate Change” is that there has been no discernible warming in the past 20 years.
The eventual outcome is that things that cannot go on forever eventually stop. The environmentalist crazies will run out of public tolerance when it has become obvious that they are crazy. Perhaps it will take mass starvation like that in Sri Lanka or perhaps cold deaths in Germany will be enough. Germany has been the home of a number of suicidal ideas in the past century and a bit. Maybe it will stop there.
I had realized that while I went long, I did not deal with other part of the revolutionary conspiracy the executive as opposed to intellectual movement.
The Davos crowd is what politely be could called corporatism, the partnership of business and government to direct not only economic but social policy. I say the politely because from a historical perspective, the proper term is fascism. However, that term has been reserved for opponents of the regime from MAGA to the little old lady who lives down the street who just purchased another gun. Everything inside the state and nothing outside of it. In many ways this is simply an updated version of medieval serfdom because while there is still the ability to live your life free both economically and socially and any such illusions will be crushed when you have a regime not only to enable a digital currency but micromanage the energy to heat your home, the diet you consume, and information and education you receive. All in the name of stability and sustainability of course.I haven’t even gotten into digital currencies. So there is the stomach for you, play nice average American or we’ll make everyday life tough for you…. it’s for your own good
COVID was a trial run for these people as governments granted themselves license to micromanage people’s lives, their movement and essentially what medication to be injected into their veins. Information from this trial, what worked and what did not, what people would accept and where resistance was encountered will be used for the real show which is of course the fight against “Climate Change” which will touch on every aspect of society
The other executive element is more particular to the U.S. , the progressive movement in politics. Historically as an intellectual movement, Progressivism strives to undermine the regime as envisioned American founders, with its belief in self-government and separation of powers, in favor of a more “efficient” government run by technocrats. These bureaucratic supermen will have sufficient expertise and breadth of wisdom to divine the optimal policies (cue the laughing of a Soviet apparatchik) and then implement them through the administrative state. Yeah right.
The problem becomes when you take the radicalism of postmodernism and place it within a governing apparatus as envisioned by Progressives, that is optimized by efficient implementation. Nasty obstacles such as the Constitution, Congress, or even changing popular opinion can be bypassed or ignored. The best part is that for all external appearances the institutions of the Republic will remain but behind the facade the machinery of government will operate much differently than envisioned by the Founders.
Think I’m exaggerating? There has been a lot written about how the Republic has been undermined by the growth of the administrative state from the time of the Wilson Administration, but that’s nothing compared to what waits in the wings. The mask dropped in September 2020 as the Democrats were forecasting not just winning the White House, but also controlling the House and the Senate with substantial majorities. There were stories about how the Democrats would spend their electoral bounty: first nuke the filibuster, then eviscerate the Supreme Court by packing it, lock in long-term control of the Senate by adding D.C. and even Puerto Rico as states, and then bust open the administrative state with a massive budget increase (sticker price $7 trillion) and the attached government and regulatory agencies. Even if the Republicans regained power, the new administrative apparatus would be locked in tighter than the New Deal was. As for the courts? They can be subverted when possible by packing or if push comes to shove ignored.
So what can be done?
This is not simply something that can be solved with winning a few election cycles. We have a postmodern regime that has near-complete control over our educational, cultural, and media institutions. The control over K-12 and its curriculum means that their mind share of the youth population is growing at a rapid rate and the higher ed system overproduces college graduates with useless degrees that simply provide disaffected fodder for the revolution. The postmodernists are also asserting control over the STEM field, big business, and many Christian insinuations and churches. Needless to say this not going to be resolved in a few election cycles. It took a long time to get into this mess and it’s going to take a very long time to get out of it. I don’t have a extensive plan for that action and if I did I would probably by in an FBI gulag somewhere but here are some general thoughts.
First the postmodern Woke/Left whatever are not 10 feet tall unstoppable behemoths. Their coalition, as with most such groupings has a number of weak spots; your Davos Fortune 500 CEO may throw a bone to the DEI crowd but really has little in common with a Nicole Hannah-Jones let alone that blue-haired Queer Studies professor. The former prefers money, the latter likes money but also fancies themselves revolutionaries. Historically this contrast is resolved by something akin to the fable of the scorpion and the frog though which one is which is unknown,
Also while we see the postmoderns as omnipotent they are in fact quite isolated, we see them in terms of how much they control while they see how much they do not control and that worries them; that is why any dissent is quickly squashed Trust me when you talk to them they see the world as a big, scary place populated by white supremacist neanderthals, the proverbial enemies at the gates. That paranoia is useful for building solidarity but also exposes weaknesses that can be exploited.
Lastly they have weaknesses because they are human with all the frailties of the mind and body that entails. Part of their theology is the belief in their intellectual superiority and being on the right side of history. Well if these guys actually spent time studying history they might learn a thing or two about Achilles and hubris. So much of postmodern Left’s power derives from the perceptions of others that they are the strong horse and this attracts if not adherents then at least quiescence and fear among the population. Remember one of the cornerstones of politics is successfully conducting information warfare and when doing this the image you want to provide is of being in the ascendant so that you can both overawe your opponents and draw your adherents closer to you. What happens when that perception of ascendancy and inevitability is punctured? What happens when the bill collectors comes around to collect on your hubris? You get crisis and with crisis you have opportunity.
You want to beat the postmodern Left? Then start thinking like them in terms being revolutionaries. Stop defending and go onto the offensive, stat our own long march. Step one is to not think what you do have and not what you don’t. When you start thinking what you don’t have the battle is already half-lost as you slip into despair.
First step recognizes that being revolutionaries, the postmodern Left will be wise to any attempt by us to recapture those institutions that they have captured. That means for the most part forget about cleaning out the rot in your local school district, it’s a Sisyphean task because the Left controls the bureaucracy and can simply wait you out. All that enthusiasm in Loudoun County in 2021? Come back in another year or 2 and tell me what has changed. The trick is to convert thee opportunities created by these moments of crisis into lasting institutional change, that is what the Left does. Lasting institutional change does not mean winning school board elections, it means building a competing system of elementary and secondary education through vouchers and homeschooling. With such a system in place the next time you had the situation as in Loudoun County where the administration covered up the actions of a gender-fluid rapists, you provide a pathway for parents to exit the system. Students leaving a school system means less money and less money means budgets are cut which means zero-sum, internecine warfare in those postmodern school districts. Good times.
Another method, though limited, is the use of elections. One virtue of elections is that while you may be restricted from what you can do while in elected office it most certainly means the other side will not hold elected office. In this instances winning elections can be seen as a delaying action or if you like, a spoiling attack (which is what I would call the Democrats failure to gain large majorities in 2020) There are significant, though limited, gains to be made by simply playing for time.
However elections can also be used in offensive mode. The American system, despite the trend toward centralization, still provides many alternate centers of power. We see that today with DeSantis and his educational initiatives in Florida, last year with education policy in Arizona, and in Texas with the use of state resources to patrol the border. Having the right people as governors, mayors, in statehouses matter because they build competing narratives. Remember from the postmodern Left’s view, they see the world not in terms of the power they wield but in what they don’t control.
Third start with a full-blown information warfare campaign stealing strategies and symbols from the 60s. I think it’s time to return to the Mall in Washington with a massive rally filled by protesters that have marched to it through the liberal strongholds of Bethesda and Arlington. The Mall itself should be filled not with anger but as in Ottawa with bouncy castles and merriment To counter the inevitable cries of Jan 6th insurrection and extremism, we should control the narrative with designated crews roving the Mall reporting, distributing images , and filling Twitter with good ole American patriotism. Take that Jennifer Rubin.
Just some ideas and these of course are only starters but remember we are the revolutionaries here and going on the offensive beats taking it on the chin and falling into despair. Be the happy warrior but be the warrior
and yet India and China, consume more Russian as well as Iranian oil (the Indians are selling us Russian oil at a Discount,)how did Oceania come to be in most everywhere from Canada to Australian and New Zealand, now the BRIC alliance, now includes Iran by proxy, with Lula the corrupted taking power
Wells the Fabian socialist, was also a prophet of dystopia ‘the shape of things to come’ predicted a Great War, that reordered the world, in the time machine, the eloi (denatured
aristocrats) are at the mercy of the morlocks, who summon the eloi klaxons,
Davos genesis, is very interesting, of course his father’s firm having served the third reich, as with many parties on each side of the alps, at some point he found sponsors with herman kahn, (the philosopher of mega death) galbraith the philosopher or obscurantism liberalism and kissinger, in retrospect, I realize ed mooneys lecture to Howard Beale, this transnational transhuman spiel was pure Schwab,
Eric Hoffer: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
Many aspects of Wokeness now manage to be at all three of these levels simultaneously.
Wretchard the Cat: The Real Great Reset
I think part of Richard’s post falls within the framework of truth and generational change I described above.. A postmodernist or.progressive would look to solve the issue of war with constructed truths that align with their belief systems. For the postmodernist it is about dealing with power relations within society (white supremacy) while for the progressive the problem can be resolved by creating an agency (League of Nations) A person with discovered truth would reject.these reductionst.solutions.and.turn to history.
I’m surprised Fernandez did not Inter weave Biden s.reversal on sending tanks to the Ukraine as he mentioned that in an earlier tweet and fits within his concept of a normalcy bias. Biden or anyone does not conceive that giving offensive weapons can lead to an out of control escalation. Biden does j t have the same grasp of the tragic his predecessor s had
A proper history of the Cold War would realize that peace was.kept not because of the U.N. and not just because of the presence of VII corps in west Germany backed by Minute man missiles but also by the fact that VII corps stayed on its side.of.the intern German frontier
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