Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The homogenisation of America

Let’s get one thing straight: politics in the US isn’t more volatile today. No one’s assassinating rivals and the National Guard isn’t shooting students. But I won't deny there’s tension and it's worth asking where it comes from.

The human inclination to separate “them” from “us” is an essential quality of civilization. Pockets of uniqueness are pockets of variety, not pockets of evil. What progressives refer to as “diversity” or “multiculturalism” is, in fact, its opposite – homogenisation. That’s the sort of thing you can’t hide from people who are good at painting what they see, and not painting in symbols.

Mr Paul Bourget himself
If you want to know what America was like before the progressive movement, read a travelogue by a European visitor – such as Paul Bourget’s Outre-mer. If you have any actual liberal conscience, you will be shocked and saddened at the rich social tapestry that the last century turned into mulch. And other countries, too, had their own cultures – before America conquered everything.

Most of the hurt seems to come from the US Heartland, while the greatest noise emerges from progressive camps. You can pretty much ignore any “problems” from the latter side. Yelling is far less impressive by someone on the side of the big battalions.

The reason American conservatives believe the things they believe is that those things seem obvious to them, and no one has yet succeeded in convincing them otherwise, despite the concerted attempts. But over the long term, it's pretty obvious there's been a gradual retreat of traditional conservative thought, as you can see from evidence like this.

(Yes, in 1963 it seemed obvious to an overwhelming majority of Californians that segregated housing was a good idea. Fortunately, the new enlightened Californians have proved them wrong with the enlightened rainbow society. If only 1963 could see how great California is today! Ha, ha, ha.)

Fox News is an entirely demotic, grass-roots organisation. Its goal is to make money, and it makes money by showing its viewers a reality they find credible. You could say it reinforces their existing beliefs, but even this would be ascribing some conspiratorial intent beyond making money. And Murdoch sure does make a lot of that. When you watch Fox News, you're eating very, very low off the hog. No, I would not recommend Fox News as an introduction to conservative thought – try Burke. Or better yet Maistre.

It's only the American left that has genuine leadership institutions working to frame the debate. There is no right-wing Harvard. There is no right-wing New York Times. There are only various small scattered circles of intellectuals, generally poorly funded. The only professional conservatives are neoconservatives, in other words, post-Trotskyists. Nothing at all survives of either McCarthyism or isolationism, the two even remotely effective oppositions to the New Deal heritage – both comical by pre-20th century standards, American or European. In short, American conservatism is a pathetic joke, and any liberal who worries about it is paranoid.

Why do so many progressives have this vision of Dr Evil cleverly twisting the minds of innocent Ohioans? In a word, projection. It is simply impossible for the progressive to fathom how pathetic and inept his so-called “opponents” actually are. In part, this is because he wants to think of himself as the oppressed underdog, rather than the ruling establishment. Which he most certainly is (re: the link above).

Progressives think that just because affirmative action is a lonely and isolated victory doesn’t mean they should abandon it. Fighting for other lonely and isolated victories is the best they can do. They know they won’t get the apathetic white moderates on board with a radical change, but they can hope to somehow create a new more radical status quo and then over time get those apathetic white moderates on board with what’s now the status quo.

So each policy progressives manage to enact is shaky and not well-supported for, like, 50 years. Then it will become normal enough that they can repaint the landscape. The policy will probably still be contentious, but if they gradually repaint things, it will be the people trying to undo the policy that will look like radicals.

Rinse, repeat.

You can see the same thing happening in New Zealand. National has been stealing Labour's policies for years and now Labour just looks like a me-too bit player. This is the 20th-century progressive mind. They are playing 3-D chess. Their “opponents” are playing tic-tac-toe, and not very good tic-tac-toe at that.

The same thing happened in Europe last century. Although, whatever it is the enlightened citizens of those countries believe today, they were far more right-wing than America until (approximately) 1945. For the last millennium, these ideas were considered normal and only a few people doubted them. That’s what I mean when I talk about a power transition. Reactionary ideas are the default for most people in the Western world because they reflect the nature of reality.

I can't be sure whether Germany’s collective mind was changed by the US Eighth Air Force, or by Washington's close allies in the Red Army. Perhaps the first seeds of "change" were planted even earlier, by the British Navy. And of course we can't forget about Napoleon, now, can we? What's certain is that with the right application of military force, this same enlightened populace could be compelled to either return to its old views or adopt new ones even more enlightened. That’s the kind of tension you want to watch closely especially as the vice of force multiculturalism is squeezed on the traditionalist white men in Europe. Those guys don't make a fuss very often, but when they do the whole world burns.

If an American communist ("liberal" and “progressive” being, of course, euphemisms) tries living abroad they'll discover just how many cultural tropes they share with American traditionalist Christians and don't share with European communists. It's funny to see them squirm.

(Also, if you think there's a meaningful difference between American communism and "socialism" or "radicalism" or "progressivism" or "liberalism," I suggest the following exercise: pick an arbitrary NYT obituary of anyone over 80, i.e. anyone who was an adult in the 1940s, and try to classify your subject as "communist," "socialist," "progressive" or "liberal." Unless you say that only a card-carrying CPUSA member can be a "communist," which is an abuse of the English language, you'll find no basis for any such distinction.)

The tension we’re all seeing in the US it is more accurately described as a slow process of one power structure being defeated by a rival. The chaos of transition can feel overwhelming for anyone even marginally connected to the old structure – like the folk in Ohio. It doesn’t mean they’re being targeted. It just means the new structure is consolidating and the fading structure no longer has their back.

This political game manifests as dissipated energy as people pointlessly lash out at whatever symbol they feel is responsible for their plight – it doesn't matter if their frustration is over a burst tire, late payment fees or comments on Twitter. The key point is violence is never directed against those who are actually causing the tension. Power won't allow it. That's what pawns are for.

I just hope the emerging elite (not Trump, obviously) speedily assumes responsibility/power. The only important role of government is to provide security. You can’t do that during a transition. They need to hurry up and be honest that the fight is over and the traditionalists have lost utterly, so they can start governing the US.

1 comment:

Philips Huges said...

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