One of the strange contradictions of modern life is how the Right, generally defined as not-Left, is sure they understand the Left, while they are convinced the Left has no understanding of the Right. A standard job in Conservative Inc. is the position of explaining every event in terms of the Left’s motivation for or against it. Cable chat shows have a roster full of these guys they use to pad out their segments. Often, this is someone employed at some minor league operation in Conservative Inc.
The argument from the Right is that the Left controls everything, so it is impossible for normal people to escape left-wing proselytizing. At your work, it is angry single women and bitter minorities lecturing you on diversity. At school, it is the same, supplemented by emotionally unstable coeds. In pop culture, it is the usual suspects peddling the latest Progressive fads. There is no escaping the tidal wave of cultural and political sewage that gushes from the Left, so everyone understands it.
On the other hand, so the argument goes, the Left lives in their isolated bunkers, free of contrary opinion. This is why they are hell-bent on stifling opinion on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They wish to be free of dissent and have the ability to isolate themselves from it, so they live in ignorance of opinion and culture outside their bubbles. There is a lot of truth to this, given how they describe people like Gavin McInnes and Stephen Crowder as no different from very bad people like Mike Enoch and Richard Spencer.
The truth is though, the not-Left really does not understand Left at all. People outside the Left continue to believe, for example, that the Left has good and logical reasons for the things they do, like woke capitalism. In that post, Sailer goes through the possible reason for the sudden rise in wokeness, using statistical data to illustrate the emergence in the late Obama years. He does not settle on an explanation, but the underlying assumption is there is a good, or at least logical, reason for it.
Now, by good reason, it is not to imply morally good in an absolute, transcendent sense of the idea. The Unabomber had good reasons for sending bombs through the mail, at least as far as he was concerned. From his perspective, there was no good reason for not mailing bombs. As nutty as that was, it is comprehensible. The same can be said for logical reasons. They may not be, strictly speaking, logical, but they are at least understandable. The desire for power, sex, money and so forth.
This way to trying to understand the Left, however, has one flaw. The Left is not reasonable or even thinking through this stuff. There was no meeting at the NY Times back in the late Obama years where it was decided that they would run Emmett Till stories every time black crime became a national story. There was no meeting among the heads of Big Media to agree upon a strategy of pushing the Russian collusion hoax after the election. The Left is not motivated by good or logical reasons.
Instead, it is better to think of them as a school of fish. When you watch a school of fish or a flock of birds, that is another useful analogy, it appears as if they are coordinated in their actions. It’s as if one of the fish is the brain, operating in secret communication with the rest of the school, to have them dart left or right through the water. It’s almost as if they were designed to be of one mind. We know, however, that there is no conspiracy of fishes secretly controlling the school using secret communications.
Instead, it is one fish responding to the fish around him. When the fish on the outside of the school twitches, those around him twitch. The cascade of movement happens so fast it is imperceptible to the observer on the dock. The same is true of birds. That murmuration of a flock of starlings looks like a highly coordinated ballet, but in reality it is the result of a million reactions within the flock. That’s how the Left operates like a highly coordinated religious cult. They are tuned to react to one another.
This is why facts and reason are useless weapons against the Left. People in the 2A community have all had the experience of carefully explaining the facts and arguments of gun control to their lefty friend or relative. They nod along, seeming to understand what has been explained. The next time you see them, it is the same old shibboleths, as if they have no memory of the last conversation. The reason for this is the very definition of who they are is their membership in a civic religion.
A part of every religion is ritual. Even the crudest, most simple of religions have some rituals that reinforce the belief system. Those ceremonies and rituals are physical manifestations of the shared belief. Step inside a synagogue and it is nothing but ritual and ceremony. The same is true of the Catholic Church. Old religions have had a long time to develop and fine tune their rituals and ceremonies. Without those rituals, the religion ceases to exist, just as the death of the body kills the consciousness.
That is the power of Progressivism. It is a self-contained, self-validating shared reality for the adherents. It’s why so few people break from it. More important, its immune system has evolved highly complex defenses against the way in which the Right prefers to debate. Those appeals to facts and reason are quickly turned into fuel to energize the believers into huddling closer in common defense. It’s how the Left maintains its power. It has turned the enemy’s best weapons into fuel.
It is why engaging with the Left is a tactical error. As much as dissidents like to accuse the Buckley conservatives of being controlled opposition, they never really got the value of the Buckley types to the Left. They were not their designated punching bags. They were the ritualized manifestation of the devil, the universal threat against which the Left is organized. It is a reminder of why they believe, why they must stick together and why they must fight by any means necessary.
An authentic alternative to the Left will therefore not confront the Left, but hide from it, refusing to engage in the traditional way. More important, it can never manifest in the traditional ways. Those white boys in fashy haircuts at Charlottesville were the best controlled opposition the Left has had since David Duke. They were what the Progressive prophesies foretold, thus confirming the shared beliefs of the coalition of the ascendant. It’s why Charlottesville looms so large for the Left.
The authentic alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy will have to evolve in the shadows and evolve its own immunity from the weapons of the Left. Instead of being attracted to confronting the Left, it will have to be repelled by it. The decisive weapon will be never manifesting in a way that allows the Left to anathematize it. Instead of playing the role carved out for them by the Left, the successful dissidents will seem formless and inexplicable. The people in charge will never see them coming.
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