Back in the 1980’s, when I was a young man, being a young conservative was the best of times because it felt like the war had turned. The enemy’s lines had broken and we were on our way to a great final victory over the forces of darkness. Every right-wing hack in America had a laundry list of things that had to be done, once the battle was over and our tropaion was placed on the battlefield. First the military would be rebuilt, then we would win the Cold War and then we would roll back the welfare state. Party time.
Young people can be forgiven for getting ahead of themselves, but there were plenty of old coots talking about the triumph of conservatism in the 80’s. Even though Reagan did nothing to tame the welfare state or even slow its growth, it felt like we were still on the right side of history. Once the Soviets cracked, it just seemed like a matter of when, not if, the great return to normalcy would happen. Of course, that did not happen. The Left regrouped and the Right sold all of us out for cushy jobs in Washington.
That’s the first bit of advice I offer to the alt-right. Trust no one. In the Reagan Revolution, it was impossible to tell the grifters from the committed. Lots of people attached themselves to conservatism, as writers, thinkers and commentators, simply because there was money in it. The term “Conservative Inc.” did not exist in the 80’s, but the idea of it sure did. Just ask Charles Krauthammer. He was a liberal speech writer for Walter Mondale and then he changed teams, because there was more money in being a right-winger.
Related to this is the recent Milo flap, where he was cut down by previous statements he made in one of his “look at me I’m outrageous” performances. He was ever so close to finally getting onto the big stage, making it to the show, but now he has been sent down to the minors and his career is in doubt. The people in charge of the stage have strict rules about who gets on and what they say while on the stage. You either submit to these rules or they toss you from the stage.
Conservatives in the 80’s made this blunder. They truly thought they would be accepted into the club if the public embraced them. The people in charge don’t give a damn about the public’s opinion. They care about controlling the message and the media stage is the platform from which the message is broadcast. If you want onto the stage, it means signing a blood oath to promote the message and there is no room for compromise. There are two sides in this, pick one and live with the choice.
That’s why it is important to no-platform the people in charge. It would glorious if all Trump voters dropped their cable sub this month, but that’s not happening. People like their entertainments. What you can do is build your own media platforms by relentlessly supporting the new ones coming on-line now. Gab is becoming a useful platform that is beyond the control of the Cloud People. Vox Day is starting a news service designed to curate news stories in a way that undermines the media model. .
Supporting the media that supports you means looking for a friendly source before going to the mainstream source. It also means the leaders and big shots of the movement need to stay the hell off the mainstream platforms. Milo doing Maher did everything for Maher and nothing for Milo. Anyone who tries to get onto the big stage and mix it up with the mainstream media should be suspect. It is the Golden Rule, the man with the gold makes the rules and in media, it is the man who owns the stage who makes the rules.
The big lesson from the Reagan Revolution is that optimism is easily used as a weapon against the optimistic. All the “Morning in America” bullshit in the 80’s fooled a lot of people into thinking the fight was over and the results were a foregone conclusion. Young people were convinced they had been born into the springtime of a cultural revolution, when in fact they had been born into the early winter of a declining civilization. Instead of being clear eyed about what was possible, people got caught up in the excitement of the times.
It will never be morning in America. The alt-right will never amount to anything unless it maintains a clear eyed view of its own position. It was a failure to grasp the reality of our age that allowed a legion of hustlers to rush in and turn the conservative movement into Conservative Inc. We live in an age where charlatans take advantage of fools, while pedants lecture the critics on matters of style. There’s no sweeping this away in order to start fresh. The question of the modern age is how will the story end.
Finally, the key to lasting success for any mass movement is to take over the institutions that can be re-purposed and destroy those that cannot. The institutions of society are the high ground of every civilization. The Left co-opted the schools, government, media and finance. They obliterated religion, local institutions and, to a great degree, the family. The grand success of this weird religion offers a lesson for the alt-right. It’s not enough to fight and build alternative institutions. You have to begin to infiltrate the exiting ones.
The Masons, for example, are constantly advertising for members. That’s the sort of opportunity a young a vibrant Left would have infiltrated and re-purposed. The point is to organize a million Jacobin societies by taking over what has been abandoned and infiltrating what is not well guarded. The demolition of twitter is a great example of how to destroy an organization by turning its rules into a weapon. Twitter is now now the dying brand of vinegar drinking prudes. That’s the lesson. If you cannot own it, destroy it.
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