The left/progressives back in 1900 were shoved out on the edges of society. Mostly they congregated in the universities or as radical underground groups dreaming of overthrowing the establishment.
Their ideas were malformed and incoherent, but everyone had will to fight the “oppressors” and bourgeois. What they needed were clever arguments and robust criticism. And definitely tactics. They decided on using revolution by the working class as the process, and deconstruction and scepticism as the weapons.
So a number of people worked to organise their ideas by rhetorically fighting the status quo ideas of the West (not exactly capitalism, but not quite royalism either. The status quo was itself changing at that time as a result of the industrial revolution). Those great minds of the status quo weren’t easy-beats, so the left's arguments needed to be tough just to receive attention.
The left ideologues practised and practised until they knew all the tricks to defeating the status quo and could beat them at their own game. This didn’t make the progressives/left correct because they had discovered “the truth.” There is no truth in politics. The status quo doesn’t fear the truth, it only fears people believing a more effective lie.
And progressivism is a very effective lie inside a democracy – perhaps the most effective. After all, socialism will always be the ultimate end point of democracy. If power comes from getting the majority on your side, then doing what the people want will always be the goal. Democracy unbounded becomes the tyranny of the majority, even if the majority is an amalgam of thousands of tiny minority groups. If you can control those groups by pretending to give them what they’ve been told they want, then you will secure power. Actual power. None of its pathetic nominal power.
As the progressives/left gradually took ideological control over the Western system (their revolution was a guise to take power, not introduce real change), their enemy royalist ideology vacated their positions until no opposition remained. What’s the point in practising for combat, or keeping your rhetorical weapons sharp when your enemies are either in the dungeon or co-opted to believe in your ideas anyway? In effect, the left’s verbal weapons armoury doors are shut by chains, forgotten to quietly rust in the dark.
In its place was delivered a sort of ideological equivalent of a police force. It looks scary and full of authority, but underneath the blue uniform and the glove holding the blunt truncheon is just a man. A man with fears and vulnerabilities. So long as enough people believe in the law – as an analogy, speed limits only exist because people agree a car travelling 50kmph is cool but a 55kmph is not cool – then the ideological police force doesn’t have to do much to keep everyone under control. People control their own behaviour because the threat of police consequences is sufficient to keep them docile.
In 2016, it’s clear the post-Christian progressives have become the establishment. We can argue whether this was their original goal, or if the movement was corrupted. But it is irrelevant. One of their main thought-police tools is the idea of human neurological uniformity (HNU), or that all humans share the same intelligence levels.
It is so ingrained in everyone by schools that calling someone a racist is enough to scare someone into silence forever. It’s precisely as powerful as a Christian society calling someone a heathen or a witch. It ostracises and marginalises, and if the accuser wants to take it further they can call down the fire of heaven on the thought-criminal in the form of mob violence. It doesn’t take much to whip a frenzy against racists. In this world, being racist is the worst possible thing.
But if you called someone a heathen today, they’d laugh at you. Or, they’d agree with a smile and wear it as a badge. They certainly wouldn’t cower. That reaction is because the spell of traditional Christianity is broken and it is just another ineffective lie on the scrapheap of ideological history – the psychology of Western society was captured. And it’s happening again to the progressive movement.
A growing number of people now look at the ideology controlling their thoughts and push back. They don’t think they’re racist or homophobic or Islamophobic so those words aren’t having a silencing effect. They see the establishment as old soldiers or policemen, wielding a truncheon and scowl. If enough people stop believing the thought laws, they’ll start seeing policemen as just men. The progressives/left will then have three options: concede, ramp up the propaganda or grab the bolt-cutters.
But the progressive’s weapons of rhetoric are no longer sharp. They haven’t had a real enemy in decades, and no matter how much muscle memory you have, you can’t expect the brain to kick in if you’ve had zero practice. Even worse, if you’ve been fighting amateurs for years and a professional enters the ring, I know who’s getting a bloody nose.
If the game of society is the never-ending flow of psychological capture of the people, then the progressives/left have a problem. They are no longer the voice of change. They have become the status quo. Their vanguard ideas revolve around outdated oppressor versus oppressed narratives, and those targets are imaginary.
Racists, misogynists and homophobes are rare – the demand far outstrips the supply. Even when they're found, they are caricatures, ballooned to Godzilla-size. When we look at the evidence for racists, the numbers are minuscule and hardly worth worrying about. The progressive witch-hunters are stuck in the golden era of radical leftism back when the enemies were clear and their rhetoric sharp.
They cannot fathom how the ideological battlefield has shifted in the meantime. We saw a bit of this with Donald Trump. His supporters are, admittedly, reactionary which means this amorphous, shifting, whatever-it-is counter-ideology lacks the initiative (if you are reacting to something, you are not in control). As an aside, the longer a movement goes without naming itself, the stronger it becomes. To name a force is to own it. So when a movement enters the media, it no longer exists. The key for this shifting whatever-it-is will be to avoid the temptation of spreading its message in a media they do not own. Remember the first two rules of Fight Club, guys…
Today the people with the sharpest rhetorical weapons are the ones forced outside of the establishment. They are in the same position as the leftists in 1900. Their enemies have become fat and lazy in victory. Even while, more than anyone, the left should recognise how dangerous an insurgent ideology is for an establishment structure – especially within a populace primed to be receptive to insurgent tactics. The twin tools of grassroots activism and the reach of the internet are creating conditions for open-source insurgency. The insurgency will flow around establishment obstacles like water, just as the progressive movement did a century ago.
The game of power is about psychological capture, and in an age of globalisation whoever commands this open-source insurgency will command the world. But first, it is imperative to start at home: in the digital domain. Protest outside all you want, but it won’t change minds if people's social network echo-chambers aren’t penetrated. If you can’t break into the compartmentalisation created by Google and Facebook algorithms, you won’t stop the tide of open-source insurgency.
This counter-progressive whatever-it-is seems to understand this at an operational level. Fewer people are afraid of the ideological police, choosing to stand still when they are told to move. If this whatever-it-is follows the right steps, power will flow to them as the psychologies of the majority of progressives are captured, just as their psychologies were captured by earlier in their lives. There's no need take the establishment behind the shed to Castro their asses. Most of them believe in progressivism not because they think it's the truth, but because that's where the power is. Change the power, change the beliefs.
The left’s rhetorical weapons aren’t going to be re-sharpened. The best thing about a status quo getting fat and lazy is they believe there's no need for weapons anymore. I don’t even think they remember where the armoury is.