Note: The Monday Taki post is up. After sending it off I thought about the idea of world building, so I addressed than a bit today. The Sunday podcast is up behind the green door and it is mostly about the usual stuff.
The old paleo-conservative gag about the demand for Nazis exceeding the available supply has become something of an iron law of the universe. Each generation discovers that the American Left is obsessed with fascists, white supremacists, the Klan and so on, despite these things no longer being real. Other than some cartoonish play-acting by those desperate for attention, these things are no longer real. They certainly play no role in politics or the general culture.
The lack of supply, however, has been no deterrence, especially now that the internet allows people to create these reality from thin air. The intensively on-line far-left invests all of its time finding someone they can label as the bogeyman or one the many members of the bogeyman army. The Antifa subculture, for example, is organized around the hunt for fascists and white supremacists. They spend all day looking for new baddies and obsessing over the prior baddies.
This being America, this means there is a subgenre of fringe-left media that caters to this subculture with ghost stories about Nazis. Hoffer said that all mass movements in America become a corporation, a racket or a business. The world of on-line hate-hunters is a racket that supplies world building materials to the intensively on-line Left so they can maintain their fantasy space. The witch hunters need witches, so there are people supplying them with witches.
This obsession with imaginary fascists is written off as the work of the mentally unstable, which is true, but it is more than that. What these people are doing is world-building within the alternative reality of their own creation. They live in a reality that says they are the guardians of the future utopia, keeping the world safe from its enemies, which come in many styles and guises. In order to keep this fantasy going, they have to find characters that fit the role of the villain.
In a way, this subculture has become something like the massive on-line role playing games that sprang up a dozen years ago. People can join, but they have to assume a character and then join a band on-line. This band is a set of social media accounts that support one another in their imaginary struggle. Doxing is both a weapon and a world building tool. The revelation of someone in league with the Dark One helps perpetuate the fantasy by supplying social proof to the members.
This is why these people look so outlandishly weird when they turn up in public to riot with other fantasy groups or hold what amounts to a street convention. They take their on-line character out into the real world, but the real world does not have these sorts of people or the bogeymen they are chasing. Antifa, BLM, furries, cosplayers, the alt-right and so on are normal in the alternative reality of their subculture, because the rules of that subculture have been created to normalize this stuff.
That is how to view the now defunct alt-right. Like the intensely on-line far-left, the alt-right formed up on-line as a form of escapism. They quickly became a foil for the intensely on-line far-left, because the interaction with that subculture shaped them into the much needed opponent. The intensely on-line libertarians became intensely on-line fascists because that gave them an enemy, the intensely on-line antifascists, who were happy to have the new villain in their version of reality.
It is not just the intensely on-line far-left that lives in an alternative reality. The anti-Trump movement quickly evolved into an alternative reality. Of course, its was the existing alternative realties of neoconservatives, the intensely on-line far-left and others that coalesced around this new boss introduced to the game. Trump allowed these alternative realties to align against a commonly imagined enemy. It is why they cannot stop talking about him, even after he has been defeated.
Eric Hoffer famously said that mass movements can survive without a god but they must always have a devil. This seems to be true of these alternative realities that are shaping the reality of the modern age. The inherent conflict with reality is masked by the obsession with imaginary adversaries. This has now become a form of world building where the players invest their time inventing new bosses to fight, always based on the general archetype required of their alternative reality.
While this phenomenon is mostly a product of the internet, it is jumping from the virtual into the physical world. The ridiculous Spotify story is a good example. The people running this company are responding to a fictional controversy, when they could easily ignore it. This is because many of the people who work at the firm are also deep into one of these alternative realities where Joe Rogan is the devil. In other words, the alterative realty is spilling into the reality of the CEO.
Of course, the people occupying the C-suites at these companies are not exactly living in reality either. Theirs is a world that is as alien to the daily reality of normal people as the reality of the intensely on-line far-left. In their world, the gesture counts for more than an action. If the Spotify CEO were to tell these loons to bleep-off, that would be viewed as a bad gesture in his reality. It would suggest he is not sensitive to their perspectives and in that reality, insensitivity is a mortal sin.
Much like the intensely on-line far-left, our ruling class is now increasingly occupied with world building in order to make their reality more realistic. The Covid panic is a great example, where a whole industry grew up to feed materials to the world builders of this fantasy game of pandemic. A bizarre aspect of the mass media age is that the ruling class now has an unquenchable thirst for crises. In the absence of real problems, they busy themselves creating them.
Of course, there are real problems, but those problems are boring. Like the kid who has played the game so many times he no longer finds it interesting, the ruling elite no longer has an interest in fixing roads or addressing the issues of society. As Pete Buttigieg made clear the other day, fixing potholes is boring. Instead, he will focus on make traffic fatalities more equitable. This new quest will allow him to have much more fun and feel much more important.
Diverging realities is not exactly new. The French Revolution featured at least two alternative realities. There was the reality of the Old Regime that had lost contact with reality in the late middle-ages. Then there was the new reality of the radicals, forming up in salons and public houses. When the reality of the Old Regime was no longer sustainable in the face of reality, it collapsed. Into the void rushed the new false reality of the Jacobins, which soon foundered on reality.
What is unique about this age is both the novelty of these alternative realities and the proliferation of them on-line. America is becoming a balkanized collection of alternative realties increasingly disconnected from actual reality. The tech giants are now promising to strap VR goggles on every face, which will only accelerate this phenomenon. Instead of people taking soma and living in a dream state, the drug of this brave new world will be the virtual reality and the world building it requires.
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